Thursday, 27 July 2017

Stalybridge Tesco raided by immigration officers looking for illegal workers!

Immigration officers raid Stalybridge Tesco

Last Friday, officers from 'Immigration Enforcement' raided the Tesco car park in Stalybridge looking for illegal workers. An eyewitness, who took this photograph, told NV that on early on Friday morning, immigration officers were seen questioning two people who were working at the Tesco Hand Car Wash.

As with a lot of countries, the subject of immigration is a sensitive subject for many who live in Britain. Although 52% of people last year, voted for Britain to leave the EU on the grounds that they believed that it would curb immigration into the UK, the minority Conservative government of Theresa May, now say they want a flexible approach to migration and a transition period when Britain leaves the EU in 2019.  

Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has stated that there will be no "cliff-edge" in the migration system when the UK officially leaves the EU in 2019. Senior political figures such as Michael Gove, a staunch Brexiteer, have stated that the cabinet is in favour of allowing free movement of labour to continue during an implementation phase of two to four years after 2019, when EU workers will have to register their details. No doubt this is aimed at reassuring British businesses, who rely on migrant labour, and others who see Brexit as a ruinous economic policy for Britain. 

Never the less, many people may be wondering what it is they voted for last June when they voted for Brexit. According to one distinguished academic, all the talk about hard or soft Brexit, is utter nonsense. Professor Ian Begg, of the London School of Economics (LSE), said recently that the choice between a hard or soft Brexit was a "false dichotomy" and that there was in reality, only two choices facing the UK - either we leave the EU or we decide to stay. My guess is that at the end of the day, we will finish up not with a Brexit, but a fudge called a BINO - Brexit in name only. 

We understand that following the Tesco raid last week, the car wash at Tesco Stalybridge has now been closed.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

U.S. Senators support bill making protests against the Israeli occupation of Palestine a crime!

GAZA 2014

When the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said that Adolph Hitler had supported 'Zionism', he was denounced in some circles as a Hitler apologist. However, when he was dragged before Labour's National Constitutional Committee, he wasn't charged with anti-Semitism, but with bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, the catch-all clause favoured by many organisations aimed at silencing and censuring critics within their ranks.

Likewise, when the former chair of 'Momentum', Jackie Walker, stated in a private conversation that: "Many Jews, my ancestors too, were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade..." she was outed by the 'Israel Advocacy Movement' and accused of anti-Semitism and suspended by the Labour Party. 

Some pundits have argued that many of these type of accusations of anti-Semitism are not only bogus and spurious, but are really  aimed at trying to silence the critics of the Israeli State, such as the peaceful 'Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions' (BDS) movement and anti-Zionist supporters of the Palestinians. The type of people, for example, who condemned the shelling, bombing, and drone strikes, that killed 1500 civilians in Gaza in 2014, one third of them children. When the man who ordered this attack, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, addressed the US Congress in February 2015, he was given 25 standing ovations.

Other critics have also drawn attention to the way in which countries like the UK have adopted the 'International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance' (IHRA) 'working definition' of anti-Semitism which includes over-sweeping condemnation of the state of Israel. Over 400 words long, this definition of anti-Semitism equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and has already been adopted by the British police to help them decide what can be considered anti-Semitism, previously considered as "hostility or hatred of Jews as Jews."

Spurred on by this new IHRA 'working definition' of anti-Semitism, a group of Democratic Senators in America, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and fellow Senator Chuck Schumer, along with twelve other Democratic Senators around the country, are supporting a bipartisan bill that will make the act of protesting against that Israeli occupation of Palestine a crime in the U.S. If the bill gets passed and is signed off by the U.S. President (Dr Strangelove), Donald Trump, then protests action such as supporting the BDS movement, could result in a million dollar fine and 20 years in prison.

Some argue that if the law passes, it will act as a Trojan Horse to dismantle the first amendment that guarantees free speech and a free press and will define those who engage in peaceful political protests as "terrorists."

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Crummy Jobs: Park Cake Bakeries have their cake and eat it!

Park Cake Bakeries

Anyone who has had the misfortune to be pressed ganged by the Jobcentre onto a so-called government training scheme in Greater Manchester, will have heard of John Hill Biscuits in Ashton-under-Lyne and Park Cake Bakeries in Oldham. For donkey's years, both firms have relied on seasonal casual workers and temps to meet their production needs particularly in the run up to Christmas and other festive periods.

In 2011, employees at Park Cakes in Bolton and Oldham threatened industrial action following the introduction of new employment contracts, which were described as tantamount to "slave labour." Park Cake were accused by the 'Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union' (BFAWU), of seeking to circumvent the EU 'Temporary Agency Workers Directive' which came into effect in October 2011. This directive (which Conservative leader David Cameron tried to block), entitles agency staff who work for twelve consecutive weeks, with the same employer, to equal rates of pay and basic working conditions with permanent  employees. The cake and dessert maker was accused by the union of creating a "two-tier workforce" by introducing about 30 new permanent staff on minimum wage contracts to drive down terms and conditions, in order to bring in cheap agency labour and zero-hour contracts. 

This afternoon I spoke to a young woman outside Ashton Jobcentre who told us about her experience of working at Park Cake Bakeries in Oldham on a wonderful zero-hour contracts. She explained that there are two agencies now based in Park Cake Bakeries who recruit staff on zero-hour contracts. Having been recruited initially via the Jobcentre, she receives text messages from the agency calling on her to attend the bakery for possible work. She then explained that she was told to sit and wait for two-hours, in the expectation that there might be work, but she would be paid for the second hour. If nothing was available, she is sent home. According to this young woman, around 90% of the staff at the bakery are agency staff. When I asked how she could know this, she said because she could tell agency staff by the colour of the hairnets - red and purple for agencies workers and white for those directly employed by Park Cake.

When  I asked this young woman how she managed to live when she was not getting temporary work, she said she relied on the goodwill and generosity of friends and neighbours. This is the world of work that many now face daily in Tory England. Data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in March of this year, shows that the number of UK workers in zero-hour employment has rocketed to reach a staggering 905,000 people, an increase of 101,000 over the past year alone. Recent research undertaken by Middlesex University found that one-in-20 workers do not get statutory holiday pay and on-in-12 does not get a payslip. Around £1.2bn in wages are unpaid annually. 

As Britain prepares to leave the EU, expect more of this race to the bottom and precarious employment. This country will sold on the basis of low-taxes for the bosses and little or no rights or regulation for the workers. This, we will  be told, is all in the national interest. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Bill Christopher: A radical born on Bastille Day

From South Africa to West Yorkshire

Brian Bamford peruses the politics of the 1960s, 

as he talks to Joan Christopher about her husband, Bill

THE early 1960s was a time of great expectations in radical left-wing politics.  There had just been the Campaign to Boycott South African Goods, called by the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The boycott attracted widespread support from students, trade unions and the Labour, Liberal and the then Communist Party.  The Anti-Apartheid Movement had begun as the Boycott Movement, set up in 1959 to persuade shoppers to boycott apartheid goods.

The Campaign to Boycott South African Goods had been preceded by another single issue social movement the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which was founded in 1957 in the wake of widespread fear of nuclear conflict and the effects of nuclear tests.  In the early 1950s, Britain had become the third atomic power, after the USA and the USSR had recently tested an H-bomb.

 Joan and Bill Christopher on holiday in France
Politically this was the atmosphere of the early 1960s, especially in London where Bill and Joan Christopher were to be activist members of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) for most of their adult lives.  However, there were unofficial strikes and industrial struggles going on at that time, and in 1960 Bill had left the I.L.P. to join the Worker's Party [1] formed by Brian Behan [2], when Brian and others had broken away from the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League in 1960.  The Worker’s Party later merged with the Syndicalist Worker’s Federation (SWF).

Later together with the Freedom Press anarcho-syndicalist Peter Turner, Bill Christopher was to become joint-secretary of the Industrial Sub-committee of Committee of 100 [3], that was a time of great conflict and activity during the national campaign against nuclear weapons and the Bomb.  It was to be out of this Committee of 100 London Industrial Sub-Committee that the industrially based National Rank & File Movement (N.R&F.M)[4], an organisation of militant trade unionists and shop-floor syndicalists, developed and was founded at a conference in London in January 1961.

An article in Freedom newspaper covering this National Rank & File founding conference, of which Bill Christopher was an active member,announced:
 
'This week-end there is to be held in London the first Conference of the newly-formed Rank and File Movement.  Much work has been put into the preparation of this conference by liaison committees; discussion meetings have been going on in London, resolutions and amendments have been drawn up, and it may well be that this event will be a significant one for militants among the industrial workers at least.' 
(FREEDOM: January 28, 1961)


Joan Christopher speaking to N.V. in Todmorden, West Yorkshire

  Introduction to the interview by Brian Bamford

These were the days before Spies for Peace and before my own trip to Spain on behalf of the young libertarians of F.I.J.L in France, before the arrest of Stuart Christie in Madrid in 1964, well before the student sit-ins at the L.S.E. in 1967 and before the French events in 1968 and the 'Donovan Report' into the trade unions .  Back then I and my then compañera, Joan Matthews, who were staying with the S.W.F. national secretary Ken Hawkes at his home on Parliament Hill, attended this London national rank and file conference of perhaps 200 workers and activists; we were both employed at that time at the same engineering firm in the North West. At this conference we were sat in front of the Freedom Press anarchists Colin Ward, Philip Sanson and his compañera.  It was the first time that I’d met people like

Bill Christopher, Brian Behan, Ken Weller of Solidarity, and Peter Turner of Freedom Press, with whom I became a close friend for the rest of his life.  

In a pamphlet authored by Bill Christopher entitled 'SMASH THE WAGE FREEZE!' (1960s), and published by the Syndicalist Worker's Federation, Bill wrote:

'It is obvious that today only a Labour Government would dare to implement a wage-freeze policy and arm it with heavy penalties for non-implementation...  The opening attack on workers' wages and conditions came with George Brown's Joint Statement of Intent on Productivity, Prices and Incomes.... shop stewards wishing to improve wages and / or conditions in their plant, are subject to the penalties of the Act.  The officials of their respective unions can also be penalised.'
 
The intention of the then Labour government here would be to discourage unofficial strikes, that is strikes not supported and financed by the trade unions: in the 1950s and early 1960s unofficial strikes represented about 90% of all the industrial action taking place.  Historically shop stewards were intended to be simply 'union card checkers', in the 1896 rule book of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, that later became A.U.E.W., this was stated to be the sole role of the steward.  Yet, after the Second World War the shop steward had become a key figure on the shop-floor.  Bill Christopher during his involvement with the S.W.F. and in his writings as an industrial editor on Freedom, was anxious to extend the responsibilities of the shop stewards as was the rest of us involved in the National Rank & File Movement.

*******

Political Journey - wartime South Africa to West Yorkshire



Bill Christopher in the North of England

Bill Christopher was born on Bastille Day in July 1924, and died in January 1993.

Brian Bamford's Joan Christopher interview on Bill Christopher:
Began April 2015 and was finally completed in July 2017.

Brian Bamford: When did you and Bill first move up to Todmorden?

Joan Christopher: We came here in July 1986. I was born an Essex girl in a town called Woodford in 1928, but my family moved to Walthamstow from around 1930.

Brian:  How did you find living up here?

Joan:  We didn't know how things were going to work out. Of course, we had been up to visit Aileen and Bob (daughter and son in-law) several times. But I soon learned to drive after coming up and I began to go to college to do A-level art. Some dear friends of ours Eric and Joan Preston (in the Independent Labour Party) lived in Leeds

Brian:  Has Todmorden changed much since you came?

Joan:  There has not been a great deal of change. There is more of a hint of tourism – a bit like (nearby) Hebden Bridge, and it's more gentrified now. We use to meet people who had not been out of Todmorden all their lives.

Brian:  How does life up here compare with London?

Joan:  Bill use to reminisce about about London. He didn't seem to settle down as much as me. For me I’ve liked living up here and I find ‘Tod.’ people very friendly – I like somewhere a bit rural and countryfied.

Brian:  How did you meet Bill?

Joan:  I use to work with Bill's sister, Jean; sewing. I started working when I was 14-years-old at a dress-making factory cutting, finishing and re-drawing from the pattern book on Hudson Street, Walthamstow for about 4 months.   I then worked at Cannels Ltd dress-making. It was through his sister Jean that I met Bill and we first went out at Xmas 1942. Jean use to say Bill only liked me because I liked playing monopoly.  He had asked me to go to the pictures a week before he went into the RAF.   Bill was a volunteer and didn’t wait to be called-up, nor was he influenced by his mates at the time into his decision to join up.   At that time he was at first doing air-training in St. Johns Wood.
Later he was based in South Africa training to be a navigator, and didn't come home until 1944. After that he was in the Army in India until 1947.
While he was in India during the troubles there; that is during the Bombay riots, I remember him saying that he shot into the air,.rather risk hitting anyone.
He didn't talk much about South Africa! It was the war that influenced his later political views as well as his later (post war) experience in India (in the Army).  When he went to the war he had been a Christian and as a boy he wanted to be a missionary in the Church of England. My Mum too had been a strong believer before she met my Dad.
After he left the Army, Bill (Christopher) went back to working in the print (industry) in the 1940s up to the 1970s.  He was an Imperial Father of Chapel (Works Convenor) at the Daily Mail in NATSOPA and Sogat. After he left school he worked flat-bed printing on 'The Queen' magazine, which was a glossy.  He was doing White Chapel preparation though his grandfather had been a copy-taker.   He left the Daily Mail, went on to Teacher’s Training College, and later began teaching in the early 1970s.  He taught at Leyton County High School for Boys.  Bill was a member of the NUT (National Union of Teachers).   Bill came into teaching as a mature student and ended up teaching sociology as part of his teacher’s training certificate.

Brian:  Why did you both come up North?

Joan:   In July 1985, he decided to retire, because Bill didn't have a degree and he assumed that he wouldn't get a job in a 6th form College or High School. He was 61 (Bill was born in July 1924). We already had a daughter living in Cornholme in Todmorden. Our daughter, Aileen, has lived in the North longer than down in London. She originally lived in Cornholme, Todmorden, but is now over the border in Burnley.
When we got here Bill studied for a Master's degree (entitled) 'The women's role in the factories in World War II'. An oral history involving (research) doing interviews with workers (who had) worked in the mills and factories in the Tod(morden) area (in the War). It was a dissertation for his MA (Master's Degree), and I typed it up for him on a Word. Processor. He started studying for a Phd shortly before he died.

Brian:  What do you reckon of today's politicians?

Joan:  You can see that I am a Labour supporter (a Labour Party poster is in the window). Both me and Bill voted Labour in the 1945 and 1951 general elections: although I haven't got a lot of faith in any of them. Because they make promises and then can't deliver. I look on Labour as being the lesser evil. I always vote, because people died to get the vote. The trouble is that big business has more control, although you do get the odd MP who does a good job.

Brian:  But you were both in the Independent Labour Party (ILP)?


Joan:  (The I.L.P. merged with the Labour Party in 1975) when the I.L.P. stopped being the Independent Labour Party and became the 'Independent Labour Publications'.
Bob Galliers (Bill's son-in-law) intervene here to say that Bill had always been a syndicalist or anarcho-syndicalist, and that they (Bill and Joan) had been raided by the police in 1963 after the revelations in the Spies for Peace documents.
Joan Christopher then continued:
In the mid-1960s Bill wrote and edited industrial and labour reports for the Freedom newspaper with Peter Turner, who was a carpenter in the building trade.
I wrote for Freedom (the anarchist weekly newspaper) a piece about that raid after the 'Spies for Peace' [5] incident at Aldermaston at Easter in 1964. (At that time this 'subversive' document was being widely circulated by anarchists, independent socialists and pacifists and) at a Conference of the I.L.P. in Yorkshire [probably Scarborough] everyone were asked to reproduce the 'Spies for Peace' leaflet.  (At that time) Eric Preston, Bill’s friend in the I.L.P., was being followed by the police as he moved 'Spies for Peace' leaflets and other materials from Leeds to London, but when he his copies in the Left Luggage, the police moved in and took them. The organisation 'Solidarity'* (nothing to do with the current Solidarity Federation) started the 'Spies for Peace' campaign. (Bob then intervened to say the journalist Natasha Walter published a book on the 'Spies for Peace'): (her father was, Nicolas Walter the well-known anarchist writer, and the only member of the 'Spies for Peace' to go public on this matter).
We also duplicated a rank and file newsletter the ‘Seaman’s Voice’ in Cumberland Road, and as I recall one of the seamen ended-up stapling his own finger, but he was still enough of a gentleman to avoid swearing in front of a woman, although I’m sure that he wanted to.
Bill unsuccessfully fought the Walthamstow parliamentary seat (at different times) for both the ILP and CND.. He was a member of the (anarcho-syndicalist) Syndicalist Worker's Federation (SWF) and produced both 'Worker's Voice' (then the paper of the Worker's Party) and 'World Labour News'. Earlier in 1959, we were both involved in the 'Worker's Party'* with Brian Behan* (the brother of the play-write Brendan Behan and musician Dominic), but Brian was very mercurial.
Bill rejoined the I.L.P. around 1980ish, and the 'Friends of the ILP' are now part of the Labour Party.

Brian:  What did you do in the Miner’s Strike?

Joan:  We supported the miners! 
We had an ‘I.L.P. Miner’s Support Group’ through which we channelled our support. We were awarded a Miner’s Lamp for our efforts. I’ve still got that lamp here at the bottom of the stairs.

Brian:   I believe that William Morris was born in Walthamstow?

Joan.:  Yes, in the 1930s the house were he was born was turned into a clinic, and when I was a kid, I attended the clinic for treatment in about 1935.

Brian:  Many of those anarchists and syndicalists in London in the 1960s, I remember as having a wide variety of other interests as well as politics. Over the years from the 1960s I often stayed in London on the Peabody Estate behind Chelsea Town Hall on Kings Road with Bill’s old mate, the joiner Peter Turner and his then wife Gladys, and we often would talk about you and Bill. Peter loved cinema, the arts and above all music. As I recall from talking to Peter, he Bill and Jack Stevenson were all very enthusiastic about Jazz – I think Jack and Bill had disputes over their tastes in Jazz?

Joan:  Yes, we all had a passion for Jazz! But at first I was into the Classics, and Bill was into Jazz. When we were living on Cumberland Road we made it open-plan, and, on Jack Stevenson’s advice bought a Pye Black Box. We liked Bruck, Mendelssohn, Mahler, and Oscar Peterson. But it was through Jack Stevenson we came to know the track by Jack Teagarden ‘Tribute to Sydney Bechet’ (Joan at this point started to hum the tune). ‘I want that played at my funeral’, she said.

Brian:  Did you know many other people at Freedom besides Pete Turner? People like Vernon Richards, Colin Ward and Philip Sanson?

Joan:    Indeed, we were close to quite a few people at Freedom Press, and would go over for lunch on the odd Sunday to Philip Sansom and his partner’s house. We knew Tom Cowan and his Italian wife Gabrella. He was in the building trade. We were also close to Ken Hawkes, a sports journalist on the Reynolds News and the anacho-syndicalist editor of World Labour News – the journal of the Syndicalist Worker’s Federation (SWF) in the 1960s. Brian Behan, the brother of the play-write Brendan Behan, was another good friend who we knew Brian was a bit eccentric, he lived in a pre-fab with his wife and use to wear bicycle clips, and we asked him about this he turned his pockets out and showed us the holes. The bike-clips were there to catch the coins in.  His wife later went into teaching.  Brian was a carpenter in the building trade who was blacklisted and ended-up at university. I’m still in touch with Dave Picket who took over the S.W.F., when Ken Hawkes, who lived on Parliament Hill in Hampstead, left to go to work for the BBC.


Brian:  Thank you for that Joan, and please express my thanks to Aileen and Bob for all their help in producing this short rendering of the life of Bill Christopher.
******

[1] The Worker's Party was a breakaway from the Socialist Labour League in summer 1960.

[2] Brian Behan, the brother of the Irish play-write Brendan Behan, founded a short-lived 'Workers Party', which published Worker's Voice and was active in support of the Seaman's Strike.
In 1964, Behan wrote his first piece on his family life, With Breast Expanded. Forced to give up building work due to an arm injury, he moved to live on a boat in Shoreham-by-Sea and studied history and English at Sussex University. He then studied teaching, before in 1973 becoming a lecturer in media studies at the London College of Printing.[3] In 1972, he contested in a swearing match at the British Museum, to mark the republication of Robert Graves' Lars Porsena.[2]
[3] The Committee of 100 was set up after a difference in CND about the use of civil disobedience as a political weapon between Canon Collins and the philosopher Bertrand Russell,

[4] The National Rank & File Movement. Affiliates of SWF; the Worker’s Party; the ILP; Commonwealth; London Anarchists; Socialism Re-affirmed (publication Agitator - later Solidarity).
[5] The ‘Spies for Peace’ was a clandestine group of individuals including we now know the Freedom Press anarchist, Nicolas Walter, later admitted involvement: His Wikipeadia entry states: ‘Walter was a member of Spies for Peace, the only member to be publicly identified, only after his death. In March 1963, it broke into Regional Seat of Government No. 6
(RSG-6), copied documents relating to the Government's plans in the event of nuclear war and distributed 3,000 leaflets revealing their contents.’
In his book ‘Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow’ the historian David Goodway wrote:
The Spies for Peace were essentially this group (Solidarity), locating and entering the Regional Seat of Government (RSG) at Warren Pow, Berkshire, and circulating the pamphlet, Danger! Official Secret: RSG-6.
[6] ‘Solidarity' publication of the Socialism Re-affirmed Group edited by Christopher Pallis and Ken Weller, was originally entitled the 'The Agitator' until 1961.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

William Morris at Wakefield Socialist History Group

Comrades
Forwarding the latest  newsletter from the William Morris Society.
The next Wakefield Socialist History Group event, DEMOCRACY UNCHAINED: TOWARDS A REAL DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT, is next Saturday (22 July)1pm at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1.
Fraternally
Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group
William Morris Society on behalf of William Morris Society
Sent: 15 July 2017 13:02
Subject: Latest news and events from The William Morris Society
Latest news, exhibitions and events from The William Morris Society
View this email in your browser

 

The William Morris Society

eBulletin no. 16

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

From Belfast to London

by Desi Friel
Where does one begin?  

Someone once told me to write about what I knew and to relate my history in the light of current events.  Many people from our Muslim community have just been victims of a callous and cowardly act of attempted murder.  Call it subliminal horror or a deeply sad series of memories; not buried, but faded over the years.  But as with many others, I grew up in Belfast during one of the worst periods in our recent history.  So imagine if you will, becoming conditioned (beyond the religious nonsense of course), to being forever on your guard and learning to avoid potential danger by taking the right steps at the right time.  

You avoided the choke-points of confrontation, the road blocks (when you could), the inquisitorial nature of the forces of law and order, because you had an evidently Irish name. You left your friends, usually musicians from all sides of your community, said goodbye and hoped that nothing combustible would happen on your way home.  You walk through a park and are forever looking over your shoulder to make sure you are not being followed.  In public places you sit with your back to a wall for the best 180 degree view of your surroundings.

In short, you learn that (beyond the messed-up politics), you are as likely an innocent victim as anyone else.  News seeps in that someone you knew has been abducted by a torturing murder squad; just for being of the opposite persuasion.  Their body is found up the Cave Hill in a pitiful state and your blood boils with the indignation of an affront to humanity. Above all, you cry to the universe that the vast majority of the human beings you know are good, caring, loving people to whom violence is abhorrent.

That wee, insidious , poisonous, deranged minority of lunatics has tried to spread their ignorance and fear to the rest of the reservoir of humanity with whom you live, cheek by jowl.  Retaliation and hatred breeds more retaliation and hatred and spreads like a copy-cat cancer until their ignorance and hatred runs out of steam and they turn their Neanderthal attentions elsewhere.  The dark clouds of our recent tragedies have unveiled a silver lining without parallel, to those who would marginalise the poor and the under-privileged, and who would ignore the calls of those in greatest need.  It screams from the roof-tops: "Look, we will not be cowed, this is how a good and caring community really works.   We give what we can and we help where we may.  We are not idiots and we will show government what caring for society really means".

Fear of what is on the other side of the wall, panting and snuffling and following, can be crippling because you know that at the end of the wall there is a gap and that soon you either have to turn face and run, or confront your ignorance.   When you get to the gap you have been fearing, the friendly poodle licks your hand and your relief is compounded by the pride you take in having overcome your fear.

Most rational people have little doubt that those in so-called power may be nothing else but the mouth-pieces of the mandarins and oligarchs; perhaps the puppeteers need to listen as well as pulling the strings.  Love really is all there is
Desi xxx

Are we facing a Biafran Genocide 50 years on?

by Solomon Egbo (Coordinator for IPOB Manchester)

THIS article is written in the hope that another genocide in Nigeria can be prevented.  Most of the developed world stood back as the Biafran War, which started 50 years ago on July 6th. 1967, descended into genocide.

During the war there were great shortages of food and medicine throughout Biafra, due largely to the Nigerian and British governments' blockade of the region. Furthermore the destruction of Biafra was as much about the protection of strategic British interests in Biafra as it was for the Federal Government to retain control of this oil rich region. Only when images of Biafran children flooded Western media, did the world began to pay attention. 

Whereas nations stood back many individuals showed their abhorence of the mindless slaughter.John Lennon returned his MBE order to the Queen in protest at the UK's involvement in the Biafran War. 20 year old Student, Bruce Mayrock,   burnt himself to death outside the United Nation’s Headquarters in protest against the killings.  He took his own life for people whom he never met before.

Two more young men in Lille, France, also took their lives  in January 1970. One 16 ‐year‐old set himself afire in his school  playground . His suicide note said “I offer myself to atone for the wrongs committed in Biafra, against war, violence and the folly of men.” The other, a 19 year old, left this message “ I did it as a sign of protest against violence, to see love again.” Both received church rites from the Right Reverend Adrien Gand, Bishop of Lille, who said “Only God, who gives us life, may take it back. But how can we fail to see that the cruel reality of the world is striking the young. They await our witness, the testimony of our hope and of our engagement.”

The recent death of Steve Jobs, co- founder of Apple, has propelled Biafra back into the news again. His  biography, written by Walter Isaacson, says that Biafra was instrumental in  Jobs  renunciation of his  Christian faith when as a  13-year-old he confronted his Church pastor with a photograph of two starving Biafran children on the cover of Life magazinebut failed to get a satisfactory answer as to why God allowed such things to happen.

There has been of persecution of the Igbos  and christians prior to and since the Biafran War. For now though, paraphrasing the Bishop's  words we need to bear witness  and engage  in preventing a repeat of the Biafran tragedy.

President Buhari came to power in 2015 in an election when he was actively sponsored by British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama. Seen as a strong figure, a former military dictator of his country, but as other administrations have done his  still 'tolerates' terrorism.

An example of this is state sponsored terrorism in allowing Fulani herdsmen freedom to herd their cattle anywhere and when  challenged they have killed thousands of unarmed men (mainly Igbos) and committed other atrocities. The killing goes unpunished by the state and a President who is a Felani himself! This is not a new phenomena as Christians across the north have been persecuted and killed in increasing numbers over the years.

However the emergence of groups like IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) peacefully campaigning again for Biafra to be recognised as an independent state has led to an extreme reaction from muslims in the north.

An ultimatum has been issued by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (ACYF), a coalition of socio-political groups in northern Nigeria, giving a three months ultimatum for all Igbos in the 19 northern states to vacate the region. If the Igbos fail to leave by the October 1, 2017, the group said, it would use force to evict the Igbos. They also threatened to take over all the  properties of the Igbos after they had left the region. In a press conference in Kaduna AYFC President,  Yerima Shettima, claimed that an event staged by Igbo groups, was a threat to the country’s national security. This was a 'sit at home' protest organised by the Supreme Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra groups, IPOB and MASSOB, in remembrance of the Biafra  war that led to the death of  an estimated 6.5 million people.#

What is the Federal Government doing you might ask? Althouh there is no attempt to prosecute terrorist attacks by Fulani herdsmen theNigeria Department of State Service (DSS) have previously unlawfully detained, by order of President Buhari, the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and thousands of IPOB and Massob supporters have  been killed by security forces, 'disappeared' or unlawfully imprisoned. This is nothing short of state sponsored terrorism.

These events are met with almost deathening silence across the world, indeed   under Cameron and now May, the British Government are condoning these atrocities by not speaking out.History shows the UK bears a large share of the blame because of how it organised the transition to an independent Nigeria.

I feel there is an urgent need for the United Nations to set up a commission for truth and recognise that Biafrans are an indigenous people exercising 'THEIR RIGHT FOR SELF DETERMINATION' .
The Biafran Genocide is pending and  I ask you to listen to this cry for justice and act  to alert politicians here and around the world of their responsibility to prevent a recurrence of the trajedy  50 years ago.

# See Nigeria: 'Bullets were raining everywhere': Deadly repression of pro-Biafra activists.
November 2016 Amnesty.
Https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr44/5211/2016/en/  

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Carillion's Share Price & other comments

 N.V. Editor:  
  Yesterday, Construction News reported:  
' “Grisly” is how one analyst described Carillion’s profit warning this morning.  
Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Laith Khalef was speaking after the Wolverhampton-based contractor issued a profit warning on contracts worth £845m, which could cost the business up to £150m in 2017 and 2018. Chief executive Richard Howson has stepped down with immediate effect, Carillion Building managing director Phil Wakefield has left the company after more than a decade leading the division, and a “comprehensive review of the business” will be undertaken.'
Below also is yesterday's website response of the well-know whistle-blower, Alan Wainwright, on the now notorious Consulting Association blacklist in the British building trade:  Her's what he has to say about Carillion:
As Carillion collapses and Howsen resigns, let us not forget all their lies in relation to the blacklisting.

It's all HERE

 PHILIP GREEN, CARILLION & THE PM
On 1 October 2016 Sky News reported that Carillion's Chief Executive, Philip Green had been in talks with Teresa May about a role advising her on 'responsible business'.
Sky News Report - 1 October 2016 
The report also revealed that Mr Green had been advising David Cameron on 'corporate social responsibility' during his tenure.
This beggars belief!
Now Carillion's position...
"Crown House, the only Carillion subsidiary to use the Consulting Association's database, stopped doing so back in 2004. The practice was proactively stopped because the HR manager responsible for checking the database believed it was wrong."
...is a total pack of lies.
I set out all the facts and evidence disproving their lies in my three letters to Philip Green and the other Carillion non-executive directors in January, March and April 2016.
You can view all three letters and the evidence HERE 
This was ignored by Mr Green, all the other Carillion non-execs, and the politicians who were copied in on this (see below).
This was recently highlighted to my MP, David Hanson in October 2016, who subsequently wrote to the Prime Minister highlighting the facts. The PM responded in late October 2016, stating that she had referred this to the business department.
Over three months has now passed and no further response has been received to date. David has therefore submitted a formal written question to the Secretary of State for Business, which can be viewed HERE 
Okay, so I expect nothing less from the Tories who are quite happy to turn a blind eye to Carillion's lies, but look who else was copied in on the correspondence over a year ago and did nothing about it.
Pete Wishart - Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee
Jim Eadie - Infrastructure and Capital Investments Committee
John McDonnell - Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Steve Mogford - Carillion Non-exec
Andrew Dougal - Carillion Non-exec
Alison Horner - Carillion Non-exec
Ceri Powell - Carillion Non-exec
Keith Cochrane - Carillion Non-exec
Meanwhile, Sam Dean and Rhiannon Bury in the Daily Telegraph report::):
Hedge funds pocketed huge windfalls yesterday after more than £300m was wiped off Carillion’s stock market value on Monday as the building contractor warned on profits, axed its dividend and parted company with its chief executive.
Carillion is the most shorted stock in the FTSE 250, with more than 25pc of its shares on loan to short-sellers. Its shares crashed 39.04pc at 117.1p, shedding £322.6m in value.
Short-sellers make one-way bets that a company’s share price will fall rather than rise, profiting when it does so.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Blacklist Support Group update 10th July 2017:

1. One word. Shocking. Undercover Police Monitored And Spied On Jeremy Corbyn for 20 years. Jeremy as ever has the BSG's full support
http://londonwebnews.com/2017/06/30/police-monitored-jeremy-corbyn/
2. Did Undercover Police Target Grenfell Residents Who Raised Fears About Safety?
Dave Smith representing. As above with Jeremy, the Grenfell residents can count on the BSG's support. As a Hillsborough survivor, i can assure the victims of the fire that they can count on our solidarity too
http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-fcb3-Did-undercover-police-target-Grenfell-residents-who-raised-fears-about-safety#.WWB_tX_TXYW 
3. Blacklisted worker Roy Bentham causes the establishment and mainstream media to go into frenzy after being elected to a union liaison role in Wavertree Labour Party 
 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4670494/Luciana-Berger-threatened-deselection-hard-left.html
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/06/labour-mps-critical-of-corbyn-fear-deselection-after-get-on-board-warning?CMP=share_btn_fb

4. Protest in solidarity with great comrade of the Blacklist Support Group Bob Carnegie  over Lendlease. Special mention to BSG member Keith Dobie in coordinating last weeks demonstration against Haringey Council regarding their partnership with the rogue company. 
https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=3aZbDY1MvOw
5.  There was a protest outside Housing conference  in Manchester Central (GMEX) on Thursday 29th June when the Mears CEO was speaking. 
Maintenance workers, employed by Mears and working on social housing in Manchester, are in the middle of 12 weeks of strike action over unequal pay and attacks on terms and conditions. 
The BSG sends its support and solidarity 
http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/mears-using-manchester-pay-to-suppress-wages/
6.  'Blacklisted' book (echoing union activists) describes umbrella payroll companies in the construction industry as a giant scam designed to deny workers basic employment rights and at the same time deprive the tax man of billions in revenue. 
Now the bosses who orchestrated these schemes are starting to be sent to jail.
http://www.constructionenquirer.com/2017/06/14/umbrella-payroll-cheats-jailed-for-pocketing-45m/
7. Blacklisted workers travelled from across the country to the big Tories Out demonstration last Saturday. 
#NotOneDayMore 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40468881
8.  Calling all blacklisted workers or associates in the Manchester area!
MIF are working with the Turner Prize-nominated visual artist Phil Collins on a project for the Manchester International Festival on July 16th. Phil’s project is a very timely examination of current day working practices - minimum wage, zero hours contracts, blacklisting and exploitation. 
Get yourself along if you are in the area. 
http://mif.co.uk/mif17-events/ceremony/
9. Great result at the Football Supporters Federation AGM on Sunday at the FA National Centre in Burton. 70 Football fan groups voted in favour of boycotting the S*n from their respective clubs. 
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hillsborough-disaster-latest-news-the-sun-boycott-fans-70-football-clubs-liverpool-sheffield-a7820391.html
10. 21st June. Jeremy Corbyn received one of our justice campaigns banner t shirts at a recent Unite Executive Council meeting in Holborn during an impromptu visit.
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/jeremy-corbyn-receives-special-scouse-13217190
11. Durham Miners Gala. 8th July
Plenty of BSG members in attendance at an event which garnered record crowds with Jeremy addressing a reported 200,000 supporters. Don't forget Tolpuddle this weekend.  
12. Private Investigators spying on union and fracking activists
https://thebristolcable.org/2017/07/private-investigators-spying-fracking-trade-union-activists/

And finally best wishes to brother Dave Smith who is studying hard to get his PHD nailed. 
I'd also like to thank everyone within the group for campaigning magnificently on behalf of the Labour Party during the election too. 
Never forget. We are the many 
Roy Bentham (joint secretary)
Blacklist Support Group 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

CLOWNS FALL OUT –

BIG TOP TO BE SOLD?
(“FREEDOM’s” posthumous annual report 2 – July 2017) 
by Christopher Draper


REGULAR readers will recall how FREEDOM – one of the world’s longest running radical newspapers was destroyed by authoritarian “class warriors” who refuse to vacate its valuable (£1.5m) London premises.  FREEDOM’s Board (FFP) is obliged to resume publication of the newspaper but for two years made negligible efforts to regain the building or restore FREEDOM and effectively colludes with clowns claiming rents from fellow occupants of their self-proclaimed “anarcho-hangout”.  This situation provides nothing for anarchists around the country and achieves even less in spreading anarchist ideas.  On the contrary this whole embarrassing episode is a text-book example of anarchist ineptitude.  NORTHERN VOICES will not collude with this nonsense and we’re happy to expose the absurdist antics of the clown “collective”.

Andy Exits the Circus
Two of the funniest clowns Simon Saunders (“Computer Game-boy”) and Andy Meinke (“Beer-belly”) are jealous performers.  Last year they laughably named and blacklisted four of our NV team for publishing critical reviews.  Simon issued a fatwah – the Northern Voices 4: “should not be given any support by anarchist or progressive organisations…they should not be welcome in anarchist spaces nor published in anarchist outlets – they are persona non grata…”   Now Saunders has banned his fellow clown!  Apparently Andy over-indulged in the beer tent, made off-colour remarks about female artistes and on 7th June 2017 was sacked by the clown collective.  Simple Simon is now ringmaster but the Big Top’s tatty, the audience has drifted away and new management is itching for change.

Last Laugh?
Just a year ago Andy taunted audiences mourning the loss of FREEDOM with his arrogant boast, “Kropotkin might have started it but we fucking finished it”.
You might recall, Simon first entered the Big Top selling Syndicalist programmes whilst simultaneously proclaiming ignorance of anarchist politics – now he claims infallibility.  What a funny old circus!  There’s no performance and the Big Top leaks like a sieve.  Can a pair of plucky new governors save the day?

  Vero Richard’s Dying Circus
Decades ago, when wily old ringmaster Vero Richards re-founded the FREEDOM tradition he was smart enough to create a board of management (FFP) to guarantee the set-up after his death but before he was in his grave miscreants moved in, drove away audiences and threatened outsiders. When aged ex-performer Brian Bamford turned up at last year’s FFP AGM he was knocked to the ground by clowns Andy and Simon, whilst FFP Company Secretary Sorba deleted the digital evidence from the victim’s camera.  What a performance!

New Friends of FREEDOM
Now the show’s over, the clowns have had their day and the audience want their money back. Fortunately, since last year’s AGM management has been refreshed. There are now nine FFP members and the majority are not amused.  FFP now comprises the following nine members;
Stephen Charles Sorba – director of a printworks
Carolyn Jane Wilson - cycle trainer
Jason Holdway - unemployed (rarely attends FFP meetings)
Martin Howard - compiled quizzes for “Black Flag”
David Goodway - libertarian writer and historian
Ernest Rodker - veteran peace campaigner
Jayne Clementson - long-time stalwart of “old” FREEDOM
David John Douglass - libertarian communist ex-coal miner
Peter Marshall - anarchist author of “Demanding the Impossible”

Past Failures
Until now the FFP Board failed every bit as badly as the “collective” to act as anarchists, both preferring to operate as secretive cabals, accountable to nobody.  Neither “collective” nor FFP publishes minutes or identifies its members.  Fortunately, our contacts abound and NV is proud to Wikileak details of what’s been going on.  Now it’s time for radical change.
Whilst the first four people on our FFP list - Sorba, Wilson, Holdway, Howard seem determined not to re-establish the open-minded anarchism that long characterised FREEDOM the last five named are more solid FRIENDS OF FREEDOM.  Significantly the sectarian four all exist in the London bubble (with at least 3, Sorba, Wilson and Holdway concentrated in the South East corner of that bubble), whilst Goodway travels to meetings from Keighley, Marshall journeys from Plymouth and Douglass from South Shields.
Northern Voices has always criticised FFP’s London bias only to be dismissed by ringmaster Saunders for speaking “from the other side of Britain”!
FREEDOM newspaper was formerly the forum for anarchists across Britain, now the Aldgate “anarcho-hangout” is no more than clubrooms for metropolitans.  Anarchists are supposed to reject structures that dis-empower yet the collective are content to exploit their privileged position as Londoners.  Merely to travel to the FREEDOM building is an expensive disincentive for many anarchists around the country yet neither the “collective” nor FFP rotates its meetings around England or even offers a fare-pool so for the recent AGM NV put its money where our mouth is and chipped in £40 to enable one of the northern FFP members to attend.

Anarchism Begins at Home
From their next meeting in October 2017, FFP need to start acting as anarchists and tackle this issue.   Either move your meetings around the country or share the costs.  It is written into FFP’s formal constitution (para. 32) that members attending should have their expenses paid but this has just been ignored by Company Secretary Sorba and guess where he lives.
Next, FFP must put the old FREEDOM building up for sale.  It was bought to provide premises to layout and print the paper but this is no longer required to publish either an electronic or print edition. A sale would raise £1.5m to £2.0m which could finance a publications fund split between maintaining a new high quality FREEDOM anarchist news site and a separate book-publishing programme of say two titles per year.  This could be overseen by a publications sub-committee of FFP.  A website editor could be appointed by this group and granted, say, a renewable, modest biannual stipend.
The existing fixed metropolitan asset must be liquidated to discontinue further privileging a London elite and refocus on the needs of the widely scattered, isolated anarchist community.  When the clowns trashed FREEDOM and cast aside the loyalty of former subscribers, only FFP member and FREEDOM stalwart Jayne Clementson expressed any sensitivity or understanding of the harm they caused to the anarchist movement.

Time for a Change
Since FREEDOM was shut down Northern Voices has ceaselessly campaigned for a revival.  We’re heartened by the exit of Meinke and appointment of Dave Douglass and Peter Marshall and encouraged by the response of someone close to the collective, “I have no doubt your group’s commendable efforts precipitated this”, but fine words butter no parsnips.  We call on Dave Douglass and Peter Marshall to put some iron into the soul of other well-intentioned but irresolute FRIENDSFREEDOM, like the Norwegian Blue, might appear deceased but now, in July 2017, the FRIENDS have the individuals, the ideas and the resources to get FREEDOM squawking again. They owe it to anarchists around the country not to let a few London clowns reduce our whole political philosophy and movement to chucking custard pies.

Christopher Draper – for Northern Voices (July 2017)