Monday, 22 January 2018

Kate Middleton's Uncle: a Chip off the Old Block?

THE DUCHESS of Cambridge's wealthy uncle, Gary Goldsmith, 52, was almost legless last Thursday night.  Together with some mates, he was wearing a Willy Eckerslike flat cap and careering around Regent Street in an decidedly unsteady manner.

The brother of Kate Middleton's mother Carole, who is reckoned to be worth £30 million, was later according to the Daily Mail reporter Dam Greenhill, spotted 'relieving himself on the road before heading to McDonald's'.

Last November,  Mr. Goldsmith received a 1-year community order and ordered to take rehabilitation sessions following an incident in which he socked his wife Julie-Ann, 47, to the ground in front on their house as they came back from a charity auction.

Alas, Mr. Goldsmith is not the first in his family to show signs of inebriation.  Another of Kate Middleton's ancestors, was a radical supporter of a dozen Women’s Suffrage Societies called Edith Lupton, who in the 19th century was commited to anarchism being picked up, charged and occasional found guilty of disorderly conduct being the worse for wear in drink.

The Northern Voices' historian Chris Draper on this Blog wrote at length about the anarchist Ms. Lupton's exploits: 
'Described in court as, 'well-educated, 56, an artist and social reformer', Edith denied spitting in the policeman’s face but explained "that it was her custom to show her contempt for the force by going into the middle of the road and expectorating on the ground whenever she met a policeman".'

Some may now be wondering if this kind of odd behaviour runs in the family of the Middletons.  It is not unknown for aristicrats to be anarchists particularly in Russia, think of Prince Kropotkin and Michael Bakunin's ancestors, though not perhaps in Spain.  

Rather than being concerned about how he holds his drink, I'd be more worried about Gary Goldsmith wasting his time going in a McDonald's.

Reflections on Easter Rising 1916. Book Review.

Hidden Heroes of Easter Week – Memoirs of Volunteers from England who joined the Easter Rising.
By Robin Stocks

Review: by Derek Pattison

TO this day, the armed rebellion that took place during Easter Week of 1916 in Dublin, known as the ‘Easter Rising’, remains controversial.  Some see it as a courageous and brave act that led to the birth of the Irish Republic, whereas, others, see it as a reckless act of folly, an attempted revolt against Britain while we were at war with Germany.  British intelligence was certainly aware of the planned rising and the armed shipments from Germany, which also went to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), formed in 1913.

Most of the people, who died during the six days of the rebellion, which was supported by Germany, were Irish, mostly civilians, and the poor of Dublin.  And they died for a cause that they hardly understood or supported.  Moreover, many Irish people were aware in 1916 that Irish Home Rule was on the cards and that partition was inevitable.   In January 1913, the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill had been carried in Parliament and the Government of Ireland Act 1914, provide home rule for Ireland.

According to the author of this book, nearly a hundred Irish rebels travelled to Ireland from cities in England and Scotland during the early months of 1916 to participate in an armed uprising which they had heard about.  Those from England were frequently described as ‘London Irish’ despite being from other parts of England, such as the city of Liverpool.  Some of those who participated during Easter Week also came from the Manchester area and Stockport and this book, is largely about four of those Manchester volunteers.  Only two of the volunteers were born in Ireland. These are Liam Parr and Redmond Cox. Gilbert Lynch, was from Reddish in Stockport and Larry Ryan, was born in Salford. 

Liam Parr had left Dublin about 1910 when he was 19-years-old and had settled in West Didsbury, in South Manchester.  He left Manchester in February 1916 to travel to Dublin and undertook military and munitions training at Kimmage Mill, Larkfield, Dublin.  On Easter Monday 1916, Parr was in the Liberty Hall office, the headquarters of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union (ITGWU) and was one of the first to take over the GPO office on Sackville Street, on Monday afternoon.  After the surrender on Saturday afternoon, he was arrested and returned to England where he was interned in a camp in Frongoch, Wales. 

Redmond Cox was born in Boyle County, Roscommon, in 1893.  As a 22-year-old, he’d been living in Cheetham, Manchester, with his sister.  He travelled to Dublin in February 1916. Before surrendering, Cox had been in ‘Four Courts’ and he was later arrested and returned to England.  He was released from imprisonment after a fortnight. 

Gilbert Lynch had been born in Reddish, Stockport, in 1892.  A devout Catholic, he joined the National League of Young Liberals in 1908 and was involved with the Clarion in 1916.  He claimed to have been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (Fenians) in 1913 and to have joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1917.  A member of Stockport Trades Council, he said that his political outlook had been influenced by reading “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.”  A gun-runner, Lynch arrived in Dublin the week before Easter with 500 rounds of .303 ammunition and had been carrying small-arms.  During Easter week he had been based in Father Matthew Hall, which was being used as a first-aid station and to detain prisoners and spies.  Lynch escaped arrest because he had been in hospital having 'twisted his ankle getting over a barricade.'   He later made his way back to Stockport.

Laurence (Larry) Ryan was born in Salford in 1894. His mother lived in Seedley in Salford.  Unlike the others, it is not known when Ryan travelled to Dublin, but he did train at Kimmage Mill and was one of the first, to take up a position in the GPO building.  After the surrender, Ryan was arrested and returned to England. He was interned until Christmas in Frongoch camp in Wales.

On Easter Monday 1916, the rebel’s had planned to occupy the General Post Office building on Sackville Street, Dublin, and to use this building as their headquarters.  Many of the leaders including James Connolly, a socialist who had been born in Cowgate, Edinburgh, mistakenly believed that the English imperialists would not use artillery because they would not bomb their own property. Therefore, they expected an infantry attack on the GPO building and posted battalions in four main positions outside the city centre to command the routes that British soldiers would take to attack the GPO. The rebel plan also involved armed risings in the rest of the country.  Bolands Bakery, the Marrowbone Lane Distillery, the South Dublin Union Workhouse and the Jacobs factory, were all sites of revolt.  Some of the rebels did use Mauser rifles that had been provided by the Germans and brought to Ireland by Erskine and Molly Childers in their yacht ‘Asgard’ in July 1914.  The Easter Rising lasted six days before the rebels on the instructions of their leaders, surrendered on the Saturday.

On the third day of the rebellion, Patrick Pearse, a barrister, writer, schoolteacher and nationalist mystic with a martyr complex, had told the rebels in the GPO building that the country was steadily rising and that volunteers were marching from Dundalk on Dublin and that reinforcements would arrive and release them.  'They were later told by a visitor of the despondency in the city as well as the news that the country had not risen.'  Connolly was certainly aware, that after the surrender, all those who had signed the proclamation of the Irish Republic, would be shot by the British and that this was a cause he was happy to die for.  He told others that they were likely to be imprisoned and should keep quiet about what they had done. 

After the surrender, many volunteers recalled the hostility and abuse they had encountered from many Dubliners. Con Colbert, who was later shot in Kilmainham Gaol, said after the surrender: 'the people who we have tried to emancipate have demonstrated nothing but hate and contempt for us.'

Hidden Heroes of Easter Week is a book that is well worth reading.   Robin Stocks has done a great deal research on this book and many of the accounts given by the volunteers who took part during Easter Week in Dublin are based on witness statements, interviews with family members and research done in archives and libraries in England and Ireland.  Where I think this book is at its weakest, is in its lack of analysis of the rising itself and what effect it had on Irish society.

This book does not mention that 450 people were killed and 2,500 injured during the rising and nine reported missing.  Among the dead, were 117 soldiers, 41 of them Irish, plus 16 armed and unarmed policeman, all Irish. Some 64 volunteers out of a total of 1,500, who played some part in the rising, were also killed.  However, alongside 205 combatants who died, 245 wholly innocent civilians also died. The dead were mostly Irish civilians and Dublin’s poor, who died for a cause they barely understood or supported or were even hostile to.  Some saw it as an opportunity for looting.  Many of the civilians were killed by British forces using machine-gun fire, incendiary shells and artillery. 

As Robin Stocks makes clear, not all leading Republicans were in favour of the insurrection. Bulmer Hobson, a leading Fenian, considered it a reckless adventure.  Speaking after the rising, Hobson said that towards the end of 1915, Connolly (who had served in the British army in Ireland), had decided to have a 'little insurrection' with the citizen army. 

'His conversation was full of clichés derived from the earlier days of the socialist movement in Europe.  He told me that the working-class was always revolutionary, that Ireland was powder magazine and that what was necessary was for someone to apply the match.  I replied that if he must talk in metaphors, Ireland was a wet bog and the match would fall in the puddle.'

He described Patrick Pearse as a 'sentimental egoist, full of curious Old Testament theories about being the scapegoat of the people who had become convinced of the necessity for a periodic blood sacrifice to keep the national spirit alive.  There was a certain strain of abnormality in all this.'

Before leading his men out of Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), on Easter Monday, to start a rebellion, we are told that Connolly had said ‘smilingly’: 'Well girls, we start operations at noon today.  This is the proclamation of the republic.'  What we are not told in this book, is that on the way out of the building,  Connolly halted at the bottom of the stairs to speak with his friend and colleague William O’Brien. Connolly told him:

'Bill, we are going out to be slaughtered.  Is there any chance?', asked O’Brien.  'None whatsoever', said Connolly.  He then marched his men out of the building along with his fifteen year old son, Roderick (Roddy ) Connolly, who would survive the rising.

Although fifteen of the rebel leaders were executed, many of those who took part in the rising were treated with surprising leniency by the British authorities, including the four Manchester volunteers. Some 3,430 men and 79 women were arrested after the rising and 1,424 men and 73 women were subsequently released.  Of almost 2,000 men who were interned in England, over 1,200 were quickly released and most of the others were home by Christmas 1916.  All were freed under a general amnesty in July 1917.  Those who faced a court martial, included 170 men and one woman, Constance Markievicz.  Ninety death sentences were passed and fifteen carried out.  Those sentenced to life imprisonment, were released within 18-months.

Today, many Republican groups and trade unions in Ireland, have adopted James Connolly as their patron saint or founding father.  While it is true to say that the execution of the rebel leaders produced sympathy for the cause and turned the men into martyrs,  Connolly’s influence was marginalised after the rising – all of Connolly’s children took the anti-Treaty side. Ireland did not become the workers socialist republic that Connolly had wished for.  What emerged triumphant from the Easter Rising was Irish Catholic Nationalism and it was Pearse’s vision of Ireland, which was elevated.  There was little support for Marxism in Ireland before the rising and afterwards and many Sinn Fein and IRA members were fiercely anti-Communist.  Indeed, in the 1960s, communists were banned from the Republican movement. Ireland under Eamonn de Valera’s, Fianna Fail, was protectionist, isolationist, and obedient to the Catholic hierarchy.  Divorce, contraception and abortion, were all illegal.  It was a world of secrecy and obedience with its Magdalene laundries and the subordination of women. It survived by exporting its young, mainly to Britain, where they could earn a living.  The Irish Catholic Church supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War and some Irish Catholic’s, fought with the Blueshirt’s on the nationalist side under Eoin O’Duffy.  Others supported the Republican side. 

None of the Manchester volunteers fought in the civil war which broke out in Ireland in 1922 following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, which was supported by a majority of Irish people.  It had been estimated that six times more nationalists were killed in the war than had been killed by the British forces between 1916-1922. 

Tragically, we now know that Admiralty SIGINT Unit, Room 40, had been intercepting decrypted messages dealing with German support for the Irish nationalists between the outbreak of WW1 and the eve of the Easter Rising in 1916.  Under interrogation at Scotland Yard, Sir Roger Casement, asked to be allowed to call for the rising to be called off to avoid a blood bath, but this was refused. Sir Reginald (Blinker) Hall is reputed to have told Casement – 'It is better that a cankering sore like this should be cut out.'

Defend jobs & UNITE the union

UNITE members at IT Services giant Fujitsu need your support.Manchester members have voted for a third time to strike in the long running dispute, following 27 previous strike days.  Members are opposing Compulsory Redundancies, opposing victimisation of their union reps, and demanding that Fujitsu honours its redundancy agreements.

Six Manchester members have been fighting their redundancy.  Of the six, a majority were ethnic minority, a majority were disabled, two were union reps and one had complained of sexual harassment linked to her selection.  Fujitsu dismissed Saj Patel despite jobs being available in her
department and her grievance not being heard.  The third of the six was dismissed on New Year’s Eve.  Fujitsu wrote to Ian Allinson, chair of Unite @ Fujitsu in the UK, while he was on
compassionate leave attending a family funeral to tell him he will be dismissed on 12 January despite having an outstanding internal job application.

Ian is one of three reps fighting victimisation. Ian is in a tiny fake redundancy selection pool where the company cut 100% of the jobs. Ian has worked at Fujitsu for 30 years and has led union growth there since the early 1990s. Fujitsu stopped Lynne Hodge doing most of her job in May 2016 and
told colleagues not to work with her. Denis Morris was selected for redundancy on the basis of scoring that mainly focused on his rep role and disability, not his skills, knowledge etc.

Fujitsu Services Limited, the main UK company, remains profitable, and one director got £1.635m last year, up 13%.  Fujitsu planned to cut 1800 UK jobs through offshoring, automation and outsourcing. First it terminated the UK works council through which the company had agreed
enhanced redundancy terms/protection leaving little more than statutory redundancy terms for the majority, removing the incentive for Fujitsu to retrain and redeploy rather than making avoidable compulsory redundancies.

We have always given and received great solidarity.  We are asking for your support now

Tameside Council's Deadly Embrace with Carillion

WHEN Carillion's share price fell last August, Nigel Pivaro, in the Tameside Reporter, asked:
'What then would it mean for the borough of Tameside being so entwined with the company should the worst happen and Carillion go into liquidation.'

At that time  Carillion was the Tameside Council’s favourite developer, but it was not only 'facilitating' the big building projects like the new council offices through Vision Tameside, it was providing school meals for thousands of Tameside children and managing and maintaining, council owned buildings and schools.

Nigel Pivaro put the obvious question:
'If Carillion did cease to operate what would happen to work such as this and the provision of school meals? and the still to be delivered building projects such as the new council offices in Ashton which will not expected to be completed for at least late Autumn?'

The Tameside Reporter then asked Tameside's Labour Council about emergency plans to be put in place in event of Carillion going pear shaped?

To which, Tameside MBC 'declined to respond'.

According to the Tameside Reporter, Tameside Council was never getting such a good deal from Carillion:

'The provision of school meals came in at 26 pence per unit more than central government gives to council’s to provide them.
'This has meant that one school is is having to meet the difference with £16,000 from its own budget over the year.
'It is understood that around 90 other schools across Tameside are having to meet a similar financial shortfall.
'Carillion are said by Russell Scott’s governors to still owe the school £100,000 for energy costs incurred during the building of the new school.
'It is fair to say that Carillion despite their global reach as a major player in construction and support services, has endured major criticism resulting from sub standard work across a range of contracts nationally.'

Critically Mr. Pivaro then argued that: 
'The dilemma for Tameside now is should it begin to divest itself from its exclusive relationship with Carillion and ask itself is it wise gong forward to have all the council’s eggs in one basket with one firm, on whom it depends too much.'

Time will only tell how lacking in prudence and foresight Tameside Council has been in engaging in a  deadly embrace with the notorious blacklisting company Carillion.


Sunday, 21 January 2018


LAST week Tameside Councillors were daggers drawn in the wake of the Carillion affair.  The Tory Doreen Dickenson wrote on Twitter:
'Nobody is friendlier with Carillion than Tameside MBC Labour controlled for 39 yrs.'
To which Councillor Ryan for the Labour administration made a remarkable retorted:  
'Tameside Council has had NO direct contracts with Carillion'

Weasel Words

Those of us who have read the responses of the Consulting Association administrator Ian Kerr, will remember his reply to a question at the Scottish Affairs Select Committee about his links to the Security Services.  Mr Kerr, who had previously pleaded guilty at Knutsford Crown Court to managing an illegal data base or blacklist, said; 'We had no direct contacts' (or words to that effect).  When he was then asked 'did you have any indirect contacts with the Security Services', the Chairman intervened and that query was never answered.  Mr Kerr's methods of blacklisting building workers were described in a recent book by Professor Rhidri Jeffreys-Jones* as 'effective but primitive'.

The methods of the former boss of Tameside MBC, Kieran Quinn and the Labour Council can be clearly seen as more sophisticated, and because he was a Labour coucillor and a trade unionist he could get away with murder forming cosy relationships with companies like Carillion.

The current protestations of the Tameside Labour councillors he has left behind following his well timed exit on Christmas Day, leaves them sounding like the chorus in a Comic Opera


 *  'WE KNOW ALL ABOUT YOU - The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America', published by Oxford University Press


by Martin Gilbert

A partial answer to avoid repeating the Carillion mess-up is a return to Direct Works – where services like school meals, hospital maintenance and road mending were controlled directly by Local Authorities.  There was local trades union input ensuring service conditions and some over-sight of quality control. Contracting out to local business occurred where the reputations of such firms elicited trust.  Large capital investments for big projects were done in conjunction with neighbouring Authorities.  Thatcherism killed Direct Works.

There was no big conspiracy, just some complimentary events benefiting thre Tories. 1984’s failed miners’ strike gave them further opportunities for union-bashing. It was accompanied by decreasing the power of Local Authorities. Rate support grants had been under attack - the money given back to Town Halls by central government from centralised taxations.

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s critics accuse him of trying to bring back Nationalisation (as if it was a revolutionary panacea).  Major industries were Nationalised post-1945.  They were directed by retired senior army officers, skilled at “man-management”.  Women were expected to give up the range of jobs they had done in the war while their men were at the front. Nationalisation was a long way from any kind of community decision making and workers control.

2018 sees us capable of widespread, quick decision-making, we can have selective use of the internet.  Re-introducing Direct Works would help to reverse the gross over-centralisation of successive Governments. It would contribute to preventing another Carillion-type mess-up, whatever form it takes.
martin gilbert, 22.1. ‘18

martin gilbert, 22.1. ‘18

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Working Class Heroes with nothing to do

Spikymike on libcom
Jan 16 2018 18:15
Not unsurprisingly this split in the AF has attracted some unwanted interest from other of the tiny groups claiming their place in the anarchist and communist milieu - from some confused sympathy for the 'Communist Anarchism' element by members of the SPGB to outright hostility towards both sides of the split and plain nastiness from the sectarians of the 'Northern Voices' outcasts, well known for their regular misinformation and lies directed at other anarchists. Not much sign here of cooperatively tapping in to any 'collective knowledge'.

INEVITABLY Christopher Draper's witty account of the decline and fall of the rather pretentiously labelled 'Anarchist Federation',  has stirred-up some chat room types who once spent their lives seeking out left-wing 'talking shops' in pub rooms.  Michael Ballard, who on libcom uses the pseudonym 'Spikymike'  and has lived in south Manchester for years, originates from the London-set and is one such figure.  He seems to have moved to the Midlands as a student and later settled down into  a career at Manchester City Council, ultimately rising through the incremental scales to ultimately reach the heights of Housing Manager.

Mr Ballard was very much a white-collar worker who fetishize the working class from afar.  He solemnly pontificates upon what he pretentiously describes as 'the anarchist and communist milieu'.  Milieu according to one dictionary means 'the physical or social setting in which something occurs or develops'.  

Yet just now it's easy to see that something has 'occur[ed] and develop[ed]', with everything falling apart and with the Anarchist London Bookfair organisers throwing up their hands despair rather than risk another disaster like last year with the feminist constituency and the Trans community disputing with each other over the who has the right to use of the 'Ladies' toilets.

Mr. Ballard, who although now retired was always anxious to protect his status as a housing manager, has never been at the centre of any action in Greater Manchester.  Though, he talks here of the 'anarchist milieu', he has never described himself as an 'anarchist' and he usually hangs around meetings pontificating on the actions of others:  like the Manchester electricians fighting the blacklist who he challenged for their lack of consciousness of the 'class struggle' as a bit of a boss himself he knows all about 'class struggle'.  Normally, these people represent an interesting 'type' who want to preserve their double life, often have very little to do with themselves, and on a recent thread Ballard has described himself as 'a loner' reduced to putting comments on libcom.

Yet, the fall out which followed with Nick Heath's 'Anarchist Fed.' splitting up, was a natural consequence of the slippage in Mr. Heath's strangle-hold on the federation, after several provincial sections took unilateral action supporting the trans-sexuals faction by signing open letters, and denouncing the feminists and the bookfair organisers.   


Anarchist Federation Splits!

by Chris Draper

REJOICE – the Authoritarian Fraud has been exposed and the AF come unstuck!  Once several AF branches issued an ‘Unauthorised’ statement on the disruption of the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair we knew they’d be trouble.  

Sharp eyed observers spotted the pronouncement didn’t carry the imprimatur of AF’s Supreme Leader, KIM JONG HEATH and predicted he might press AF’s nuclear button.  Admittedly Northern Voices thought he’d incinerate the enemy – those branches and individuals who’d challenged THE PARTY LINE would be expelled but instead the worms revolted and the Supreme Leader along with his entire Politiburo were forced to walk the plank! – Rejoice!

This had to happen sooner or later.  In the words of 'Monty Python' this devastating split exemplified, 'The violence inherent in the (AF) system' for AF was never really Anarchist nor was it a Federation.   In reality, AF was nothing more than a small authoritarian political party, an ideological sect.

'Anarchist Federation' sounds very open and free – not only libertarian, but a federation composed of independent-minded local branches but the name was always a con, chosen for marketing purposes because the reality was deeply unappealing.  If we go back to 1980 the Supreme Leader’s sect called themselves the Libertarian Communist Group (LCG) with just 16 members who were regarded by most anarchists as at best, 'Anarcho-Trots'.

As if they were determined to rid themselves of the 'Anarcho' part of the label altogether LCG then fused with the Marxist 'Big Flame'!  By 1984 this Great Leap Forward had resulted in a party, BF, with a grand total of 17 members!

The next move was to abandon 'BF' and create the 'Anarchist Communist Federation', but as this moniker proved equally unappealing the sect adopted the more consumer-friendly but utterly deceptive 'Anarchist Federation'.   Anarchism is supposed to be a 'bottom-up' political philosophy, but this wasn’t AF practice.  Firstly there’s the Catechism or core of compulsory beliefs and policies, or 'Platform' as they prefer to call it.  

To join AF you not only had to fully embrace the Platform, but had to have your belief and sincerity tested.  Like the Moonies, a couple of party apparatchiks would call on prospective disciples to test out your worthiness before you were anointed with AF membership.  In a rare published interview, in 2003, the Supreme Leader, admitted,  'Each member has to agree with our ideas and is met by AF members before they join'.  Membership came at a cost, a compulsory levy on your income was demanded.  Lapses in regular payment or ideological deviation resulted in denunciation and expulsion.

Of course Comrade Nick Heath never referred to himself as, 'The Supreme Leader', he preferred instead to call himself 'Battle Scarred', but as his militancy was confined to a liking for abusive language and a career as a librarian perhaps he meant, 'Battle Scared'.

KIM JONG HEATH will doubtless come up with some new mini-political party although, rather amusingly, at the moment he calls his faction, 'Communist Anarchists',  whilst his Leicester ex-Politiburo associate names his faction, 'Anarchist Communists' !  A Federation of two.

There is a positive role for a genuine, open, bottom-up, 'Anarchist Federation' to play in Britain.  Perhaps the faction continuing the title, cleansed of the Supreme Leader’s sub-Marxist faction might fulfil that role but first they’ll have to ditch an awful inheritance of dishonest and authoritarian practice.  

Their published support for the violent disruption of the Bookfair suggests the new AF is no better than the old and in this instance Bakunin’s familiar aphorism seems appropriate:
 'The urge to destroy (the AF) is a creative urge.'


Friday, 19 January 2018

Why a Minister for Loneliness?

By Les May

MOST of us have felt lonely at some time in our lives but last year a commission found that nearly nine million people in this country either often, or always, feel loneliness.  So when Theresa May said a few days ago  'I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with',  I think she should be applauded.

For once it's right to say 'throwing money at the problem isn't the answer'. Giving money is the easy bit.   Giving time is the thing that is hard.  Ultimately the success of this initiative is going to depend on the willingness of volunteers to do just that.

Recently I met an enthusiastic young woman working in a building society who has decided not to let her university education in Art and Drama go to waste and who is giving up some of her free time to use these skills to help others gain the confidence to interact with others.

You can see something of what she is trying to do at the Rochdale Apna Ghar KYP centre on Wednesday 31 January 2018 at 6pm. (01706) 630 140 and

'Deep Throat' Delivers Rebuke

Who Knew What About Carillion?

Editor:  The observations below appeared in a post on the Alan Wainwright Blog yesterday.  It makes serious claims that the characters named were aware of the situation regarding Carillion.  Northern Voices is not in a position to judge the validity of what Alan Wainwright is saying.  But we believe Mr. Wainwright ought to be listened to.  In 2007, Mr. Wainwright performed the role of the 'Deep Throat' in the context of the blacklist in the British building trade.  Without the help of the whistle-blower Wainwright, the blacklist would very likely never have been exposed.

Thursday, 18 January 2018:


Theresa May, Greg Clark, Margot James - Government

John McDonnell - Land of Make Believe

Aidan Kehoe - Chief Executive Liverpool Royal Hospital

Board of Directors - Liverpool Football Club

Steve Rotheram MP 

Philip Green, Keith Cochrane, Steve Mogford, Andrew Dougal, Alison Horner, Ceri Powell - All Carillion

& many others
I was National Labour Manager at Carillion for seven years, reporting directly to the managing directors. With responsibility for around 2,500 mechanical and electrical operatives and a £60 million annual labour bill, I had access to key financial personnel and the relevant financials.

This post should be read in conjunction with the other Carillion Lies posts HERE.

As you will see from the three letters to Philip Green, Keith Cochrane and the other Carillion non-execs, John McDonnell was also copied in the correspondence and I have alerted both him directly and his team on many occasions to my concerns about Carillion.

McDonnell ignores me, as I continue to campaign to expose the trade union officials involved in the blacklisting, and current senior trade union leaders such as McCluskey, Cartmail and Beckett who ignore all the evidence I've presented to them about this and Unites cover up of the blacklisting back in 2006 to protect the millions they were receiving from the construction companies at the time, which is detailed HERE.

As no one was responding to the very serious concerns I was raising about Carillion, I asked my MP David Hanson to get involved and set out all the correspondence between him and Theresa May, Greg Clark, Margot James. No 10 and John McDonnell below.

David Hanson to Theresa May - 18 October 2016 (download link)

David Hanson write to the PM, highlighting my correspondence to Philip Green (and the other Carillion non-execs) and questioning his suitability to advise the PM on Corporate Social Responsibility. Theresa May punts this off to Greg Clark on 28 October 2016.

David Hanson to Greg Clark - 10 January 2017 (download link)

David Hanson follows this up with Greg Clark on 10 January 2017, as no response had been received to date.

Margot James to David Hanson - 22 February 2017 (download link)

Margot James responds on behalf of Clark, stating that Mr Green was appointed by the previous PM, David Cameron and that she had been advised by No10 that he no longer held the position.

David Hanson to Theresa May - 17 March 2017 (download link)

David Hanson writes to Theresa May highlighting further questions from me about Mr Green and steps taken to ensure he was suitable for the role as Special Adviser on Corporate Social Responsibility.

David Hanson to John McDonnell - 17 March 2017 (download link)

David Hanson writes to John McDonnell, highlighting my letters to him from January, March and April 2016 and asking what steps he had taken in relation to the concerns raised about Carillion.

McDonnell ignores him for months, so I ask David to chase this up, which he did. McDonnell eventually responds by email on 2 August 2017 stating: 
'In response to the correspondence from your constituent Mr Wainwright, I was working on the basis from his past correspondence that Mr Wainwright had expressed such a virulent lack of confidence in me that he was continuing to pursue his concerns via yourself as his constituency MP.'

McDonnell had been aware of the fact that Carillion had blatantly lied to the City, their clients, shareholders and employees, and a parliamentary select committee since January 2016 and his first response 18 months later is that?

The response didn't even make sense, as I only contacted David Hanson for help as McDonnell had been ignoring me all this time.

10 Downing Street to David Hanson - 13 June 2017 (download link)

Andrew Paterson responds to the above 17 March 2017 letter to Theresa May, but does not provide the information requested.

So everyone knew about Carillion Lies and the fact that Howson & Co were prepared to lie to their clients, shareholders and employees, and a parliamentary select committee, but nobody did anything about it.

This Cotton-Built Town

Poem sent to Northern Voices by the Rochdalianm, Trevor Hoyle.

[after Betjeman.  A long way after]

It once were great, this cotton-built town
A grand night out for half-a-crown,
Go out now you get knocked down
Or summat worse.

We had cobbles and ginnels and gaslit streets,
A clip round th’ear from bobbies on beats.
No muggers or druggies, no benefits cheats,
Our nation’s curse.

Gradely folk they were back then
Slogged all week at mill for six-pound-ten:
Lancashire’s best – la crème de la crème,
Gone and forgot.

Walk down Drake Street now and weep
For Ivesons, Fashion Corner, the Carlton creep,
The legacy of civic pride sold cheap.
Who gives a jot?

It’s council top brass in the main
Who’ve least to lose and most to gain.
(1st class seats on the gravy train!)
Just hear their cries:

Sack the workers but keep the bosses!
That’s the way to cut the losses!
And round our necks like albatrosses
Hang the PFIs.

And where do all our taxes go?
You must be joking – don’t you know?
On bods with clipboards on go slow,
On Manchester Road –

Where roundabouts once did the job
The planners have incensed the mob,
Who write in fury to the Ob:
“Stop this load

Of nonsense, quick, it’s puerile,
Are they trying to compete in style
With illuminations on’t Golden Mile
And make things worse?”

Come, gentle Kong, and dump on Dale
Bury it deep so it can’t inhale.
Beyond a joke, beyond the pale,
Armpit of the universe.


Northern Buildings at Risk:

From HUT Newsletter - Thursday 18 January 2018:

Building of the month - Hexham Workhouse, Northumberland 

THE Hexham Union at Peth Head was erected in 1839, and is an early example of a purpose-built workhouse complex with large parts of the original buildings surviving.

Located within the Hexham Conservation Area, the buildings have been unoccupied since September 2015 and have suffered from neglect and vandalism. The council took action in 2017 to force the owner to repair a collapsed wall and clear some of the debris from the site, but the buildings remain at risk with an uncertain future.

A group of Hexham residents would like to convert the workhouse buildings into genuinely affordable community-led housing, and they are encouraging the County Council to acquire the site through compulsory purchase. For more information click here.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

'Construction News' on a quiet site today

A GROUP of birds are flying around three Carillion cranes which stand abandoned on a site in central London.

One hovers and eventually lands on top of the middle crane’s arm. The cab appears empty. After a while, the bird flies off. I wonder whether this is the most action the site has seen all week.
I ask the site’s security team, who seems to be closely monitoring who’s going in and out of the site office, whether work is ongoing. He replies, with a bitter laugh: 'No way man.  There’s been no work on here for days.'

One construction worker, working on a separate project over the road, tells me the site has been left empty for days.  “We haven’t seen anything happening since the beginning of the week.  It’s a mess.'

It’s a similar scenario in Carillion’s offices in London.  I went to see if the contractor could provide any answers, any information at all, about the chaos and confusion that has erupted following Monday’s announcement.

Surprisingly, a handful of people were still working. But the fact that a journalist can walk unannounced into the offices of a business that has suffered such a high-profile liquidation says it all.
People seem at a loss of what to do. I wander round the empty kitchen and communal workspaces.  It feels like I am standing on the decks of a sinking ship.

I walk up to reception. Is there anyone who can help with media enquiries, I ask. 'No,' replies one receptionist.  'There’s no one.'

This summarises perfectly the situation in which hundreds of thousands of people have found themselves following the contractor’s collapse.

Carillion’s 19,500 UK workers have been told they will be paid until the end of January, but what happens after this is unknown.

Tens of thousands of subcontractors have been left in the dark about whether they will see any of the money they are due – or what will happen to their retentions.

In some cases, it can be easy to forget the impact a business can have on its workforce, stakeholders and suppliers. But in the case of Carillion, the human impact has dominated.
One Carillion pensioner says he thinks his pension may be cut by 10 per cent following the collapse. He raises an interesting point about how the auditing system has failed throughout this whole catastrophe.

'Senior people have been paid a lot since they have left the company. And yes, I think my pension will be cut by 10 per cent, but the story will come out in the wash,” he says. 'The key point is that we, the public, government, investors – everyone – should be able to rely on the audit process.'

He says it would be “ludicrous to think that these losses were accrued between the audit in December 2016 to the audits during the summer of 2017'

'Instead, these losses will have been accrued over a number of years,” he continues. “We rely on the auditors – who should be holding the company’s feet to the fire and weren’t.'

Despite the impact Carillion’s demise will have on him, he is refreshingly optimistic.
Instead of bearing resentment, he says the focus should be looking forward to how the industry can learn from these catastrophic mistakes and make sure they won’t happen again.

His comments are an example of the resilience of those who have or are working in such a volatile industry as construction. Support shown for others is sometimes astounding in times of real trouble. Never before has this been demonstrated so clearly than in the past few days.

Construction firms have been reaching out to those affected by Carillion’s demise, offering opportunities to discuss careers at their companies as well as messages of support.
In such worrying times for those who have families to feed and bills to pay, just a few kind words from others can be invaluable.

The Carillion catastrophe will roll on, but it is important we look forward and think about how we can operate best as a whole industry.
Lucy Alderson, features writer, Construction News

Manchester Mears Group Strike explained

NV Editorial comment on Mears dispute:  Dave Smith, joint secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, wrote to a shop steward involved in the strike at Mears Group plc [see e-mail below].  Mears is a housing repair and maintenance body.  The Mears workers walked out in a strike over pay and conditions, begining with a 48-hour stoppage on the 16th, November 2017.  Some  180 Unite members who work at Mears in Manchester and at 'Manchester Working', a joint venture organisation operated by Mears, voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot last in October 2017.  The affected employees undertake housing maintenance work across 12,000 properties managed by the housing association Northwards, via a contract tendered by Manchester council.
The dispute seems to be complicated by the fact that  Manchester City Council was in the process of breaking up the joint venture company and much of the workforce has been TUPE – [Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations] transferred to Mears.In the run-up to the TUPE transfer in January 2017, Mears reneged on a previous commitment to tackle pay differentials.  In the run-up to the TUPE transfer in January 2017, Mears reneged on a previous commitment to tackle pay differentials.  
The new contract the Mears workforce are expected to follow demands a more flexible approach to shift working, additional working hours and days as well as greater use of technology, without any real increase in pay.  Mears is also seeking to introduce a ‘productivity procedure’ which is effectively a ‘sackers charter’ and has been pressurising the workforce into accepting poorer conditions regarding sick pay and vehicle policies.
 Even before the collapse of Carillion, the workforce was disappointed with the attitude of Manchester City Council, which was aware of the ongoing problems at Manchester Working but went ahead with the TUPE process regardless.

Hi people,

SEE below email from the steward at Mears who are building workers in Manchester who have been on strike for the past 8 weeks now.   I've only just really heard about the dispute, so forgive me if its a really big deal up in the North West..  Any chance some of you guys contacting him and hopefully organizing some solidarity?

Hi Dave,

Unfortunately, Brother we are still very much out.

We are in our 7th week of a 12 week Strike Action with work only being undertaken on a Wednesday. This is our second wave of action in the same dispute.  Back in May 2017 we had our first 12 week strike that ended in 24/7 action against the companies MWL (a JVC) and Mears.

Any show of Solidarity is food for our members here in Manchester, be it a financial donation or just a message of support to remind us we are not alone.  This has been a difficult Winter for all involved in the action with Christmas falling within the period of action.  Truly a testing time for our members, there spouses and dependants.

Our Fighting Fund has helped releave the pressure on many of our younger members who are sole income householders woth young families and large mortgages.

One of my fellow Workplace Reps William Sinclair became a victim of Blacklisting here in Manchester back in the day.  He tells me how he had to find alternative employment away from the Building Trade at that time. Appalling.

Your Solidarity is greatly appreciated Dave and any monies raised will continue to go to those members in need to help bolster our resolve and prevent any considerations of a return to work through hardship. Our fund details are....

UCATT UD.393 Manchester 1st Branch
Sort Code  60-83-01
Account no.  46034412

Col Pitt

BLACK MEN WALKING at Royal Exchange


INSPIRED by a real-life Black men’s walking group based in Sheffield, BLACK MEN WALKING has been conceived by Eclipse in collaboration with Leeds-based rapper, singer, producer and performer Testament. Directed by Eclipse Theatre’s artistic director Dawn Walton, this new work mixes dramatic story-telling with original music written by Testament and performed by a four-person cast. An Eclipse Theatre and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production, BLACK MEN WALKING will premiere on January 18th, 2018 at the Royal Exchange Theatre before embarking on a UK tour.
Thomas, Matthew and Richard meet every month as part of a walking group to explore the dramatic landscape of the Peak District, Yorkshire. On this particular trip, the rest of group cancels and it soon feels like maybe they should have done too. The men find themselves forced to walk backwards through two thousand years of Black history, embarking on a dangerous journey that invokes an element of the supernatural, an encounter with the spirits of their ancestors and an exploration of what it means to be both Black and British today.
A rising star in the theatre landscape, Testament was most recently acclaimed for his one-man show about feminism, WOKE, which fused powerful first-person narrative with his signature beat-boxing and rapping. The walking group which inspired the production was founded in 2004 by a group of men of African and African-Caribbean heritage who started walking for health, wellbeing and camaraderie.
The cast includes Tyrone Huggins as Thomas (THE TEMPEST - Improbable/Northern Stage/Oxford Playhouse) Trevor Laird as Matthew (ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS - National Theatre) and Tonderai Munyevu as Richard (SIZWE BANZI IS DEAD - Eclipse Theatre Company / Young Vic co-production). Completing the cast is Dorcas Sebuyange (Hayleigh in THE ELASTICATED SOUND SYSTEM - 20 Storeys High).
BLACK MEN WALKING, the first work to be staged as part of the company’s ground-breaking REVOLUTION MIX movement will deliver the largest ever national programme of Black British stories produced and performed in UK theatres.
Eclipse Artistic Director Dawn Walton commented:
'This powerful story perfectly encompasses everything the Rev Mix movement stands for; turning the spotlight onto Britain’s missing Black history with a piece inspired by real people and real events. It is so important that these stories are told, especially when you look at the recent online backlash faced by Mary Beard who was accused of ‘re-writing history’ by pointing out the ethnic diversity of Roman Britain. This reaction is evidence of a real lack of understanding about our true British heritage. Open a history book and you’ll see that the Roman empire, Britain included, featured people from Ethiopia, Algeria and beyond.
'One of the earliest influences for Revolution Mix was Peter Fryer’s seminal book, ‘Staying Power’, which unearths a compelling history of Black people in Britain over the last 2,000 years. The opening line of the book is ‘There were Africans in Britain before the English came here.” That one statement is so wonderfully provocative and for me, it set the wheels in motion for us to produce a body of work that will bring to stage and screen an erased history.  This is just the first of several new works from Revolution Mix set to tour in 2018, which is also the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Windrush, a milestone which is often celebrated as the start of modern multicultural Britain. Acting as the antithesis to this, Revolution Mix will delve deeper to explore Black British history long before, and since,  Windrush, offering a new perspective and insight into the full Black British experience.'
Black Men Walking will run until 3rd February 2018 at the Royal Exchange Theatre, before embarking on a UK-wide tour including Belgrade Theatre, Coventry; Northern Stage, Newcastle; West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds; Hull Truck Theatre; Nottingham Playhouse; The Arnolfini, Bristol; Theatre Clwyd, Wales; Royal Court Theatre, London; Sheffield Crucible Theatre; Salisbury Playhouse; The North Wall, Oxford and Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Carillion collapses! Tameside Council says it's "business as usual."

It's Business As Usual But Where Are The Workers?

If Tameside Labour controlled council are to believed, the one thing that is not in short supply in this crumbling industrial wasteland, is VISION! But given this vision, they were totally unprepared for the predicted collapse of their partner 'Carillion', the construction giant that became insolvent on Monday.

Despite the collapse of Carillion, which runs a number of services for Tameside Council, such as school meals, project design and construction, events and facilities management, the council say that it is "business as usual" and that Carillion is continuing to "operate as normal", after going into liquidation earlier this week. 

Following the collapse of the "too big to fail" construction company, Tameside Council sent out emails to employees of Carillion working on council contracts advising them that they should continue to report for work and would be paid at the end of the month. Who is going to pick up the bill for this, isn't clear, because the Government have said they wouldn't be bailing out Carillion. Nor is it clear, what the situation will be for Carillion workers after the end of the month. However, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said that the government will continue to pay the wages of the Carillion employees providing public services.

In 2011, Tameside Council employees working for facilities management, were transferred to Carillion under a TUPE arrangement whether they liked it or not. At the time, they were told by Cllr Dave Sweeton, that this new "Service Delivery Model" would secure jobs and services and cut costs. Yet, only this week, Cllr John Bell, the Conservative leader of the opposition told a local newspaper that there had never been any proper oversight or scrutiny to hold the council to account and that there was no way of ensuring the public were getting value for money. Cllr Bell said: 

"The whole thing has been managed unprofessionally - they are like a bunch of Arthur Daley's if you ask me, they really are."

As previously reported, contractors who reported to work on Monday, were told by security staff that they were being denied access to the new council office complex still under construction on Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne. However, a council spokesman told the local press that "work would continue on site." When NV visited the site today (Thursday), workers were conspicuous by their absence. A lone security guard, refused to answer questions and scarpered off like a sewer rat up a drain pipe.

Cllr John Bell feels that Tameside Council in their relationship with Carillion, put far too many eggs in one basket and that the chickens have now come home to roost. He said:
"Tameside's relationship with Carillion is greater than with any other authority in Greater Manchester."

One suspects that few people will be duped by Tameside Council's reassurances of "business as usual" and that worse is yet to come as this fiasco unravels.