Friday, 19 September 2014

Delays at Knowl View down to MP!

IN a letter in last Saturday's Rochdale Observer Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, was accused of holding up the inquiry into what happened at Knowl View Residential School in the 1980s and 90s.  Les May, a Rochdale resident, wrote to remind readers 'that had it not been for two interventions of Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk we would already have known a lot more about what happened at Knowl View School' with regard to the allegations of sexual abuse.

Mr May claimed that an early 'inquiry was abandoned after the publication in April of "Smile for the Camera" which Mr Danczuk co-authored.'  He wrote:
'in this book Mr Danczuk conflated two quite separate issues, the report into the health issues surrounding homosexual activities between the boys at the school, and the question of whether Cyril Smith continued the sort of activities he had been involved in at Cambridge House and which had already been revealed by Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) in 1979.'

After this book's publication a second inquiry was started with more scopeand to report at the end of July.

Yet again, this second inquiry was halted when Danczuk introduced the so-called Dicken's 'dossier' after a Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into historic child sexual exploitation in early July this year. 

The problem is that these delays benefit the political pundits who want to seek continuous publicity for themselves; it benefits the Home Secretary and the government to have the results of the investigations placed beyond the next General Election; and the delays produced by 'overarching inquiries' help to provide journalists and newspapers with constant copy:  the people who suffer from all this are the victims who never seem to get closure.

Another Grooming Probe in Rochdale & Beyond

Not 'a homogenious group acting in concert' 
GREATER Manchester Police claim they are focusing on 30 suspects and have interviewed over a hundred people in the course of an inquiry into yet another potential grooming scandal in Rochdale and beyond.  This follows on from the jailing of nine men in 2012 for the sexual abuse and exploitation of at least five young girls in the Rochdale and Heywood areas. 
The police have said that this time the suspects have not been 'acting in concert' as 'a homogenious group'.
Besides the Rochdale area this alleged abuse is said to have been carried out in other parts of Greater Manchester.  These new revelations of grooming in the North West come on the heels of the recent exposure in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, of the abuse of 1,400 girls over a 16 years period.
Roughly a quarter of Greater Manchester's most senior detectives in the major incident teams are examining sex cases dating back to the 1960s.  This includes allegations about the Rochdale MP, Cyril Smith, first published in the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) in May 1979, to more recent cases of alleged grooming gangs and abuse in local care homes in the Greater Manchester area.
Following the outing of Jimmy Savile in 2012, Northern Voices helped to finally unmask Cyril Smith by supplying evidence to the local Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk.  He then included this material in his speech in the House of Commons on the 13th, November 2012.
In the past in has been claimed that there are rings or gangs of sexual abusers operating in the North West, this time the police have said that there is no 'homogenious group acting in concert'.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

British Political Posters 1914-2014

Politics, Posters, Protest: British Political Posters 1914-2014
THE People’s History Museum is delighted to be hosting an exciting conference, ‘Politics, Posters, Protest: British Political Posters 1914-2014’ on Friday 10 October 2014, organised in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).
Posters have been used in every general election of the 20th century. In the run up to the general election 2015, curators, campaigners and designers will explore the significance of the poster to the past, current and future British political debate.
Topics will include the history of posters, design as activism, the management and manipulation of billboards, subversions and internet spoofs and the influence of new media on how political posters are conceived and deployed.
Confirmed speakers include Jeremy Sinclair, founder of Saatchi & Saatchi and creator of many of the Conservative Party’s most famous adverts, and Peter Kennard, Senior Research Reader in Photography, Art and the Public Domain at the Royal College of Art, best known for the images he created for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1970s-80s.
Come and debate posters at this exciting event at the People’s History Museum.
For full programme and booking details, please visit our website:
Notes to editors:
About People’s History Museum
People’s History Museum is a national museum telling the story of the development of democracy in Britain - ‘there have always been ideas worth fighting for’. The museum is based in Spinningfields in Manchester city centre. The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) is one of the museum’s main funders.
For further information, images and interviews, please contactKaren Moore or Daisy Nicholson at People’s History Museum on 0161 838 9190 or /
People's History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER
Tel/fax 0161 838 9190 Web Twitter @PHMMcr Facebook PHMMcr Blog PHMMcr
Registered as National Museum of Labour History, Charity no. 295260

World War I - Day School

No Glory in War- Manchester
World War I Day School
Saturday 15th November 2014, 10.30am-4.30pm
Manchester Metropolitan University
This day school will develop a creative and inclusive space for activists, researchers and anyone else interested to explore different narratives of WW1, share our knowledge, views and ideas, take part in debate, and plan events for the next four years.

We will create a timeline of events, individual stories and family reminiscences during the day which we will use to stimulate planning activity to create a timeline for activism 2014- 2018.
Professor Karen Hunt, Keele University, will speak about Food and Austerity, workshops include research on conscientious objectors and other WW1 themes, building an anti-war movement today, making handbills – lessons from the past, and ways of getting our messages across. There will be space to discuss these and other topics you are interested in and to express your artistic side by contributing to the No Glory in War Manchester banner we will be making through the day.

Booking details online at
This event is kindly supported by the Manchester Centre for Regional History at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Working Class Movement Library.

Peace History Lecture

THIS year’s Peace History Lecture will take place on Saturday 20th September 2014 with the guest speaker Dr John Westmoreland, Head of History at York College.

As a counter to the ‘glorious war’ jingoism the theme of the Peace History Lecture will be ‘No Glory in War: Noble Cause or Capitalist Adventure?’
Venue: Friends Meeting House. 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scotland: Federalism and the English

The problem of idée fixe in the politics of the Left   

LATE last year, Paul Salveson, a Labour councillor for Golcar, a constituency near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, submitted an article for a forthcoming printed issue of Northern Voices in which he argued that whatever the result of the Scottish referendum this September, that there would be far reaching constitutional consequences and that things would never be the same after that.  Yesterday, a leader writer in an editorial in the Yorkshire Post echoed these sentiments: 
'Whether or not Scotland opts for independence on Thursday, the one certainty is that the governance of Britain will be changed forever by the result.'   

The issue, as Mr. Salveson foresaw it, is that while a Yes vote may cause confusion, constitutional disarray and the break up the United Kingdom; a success for the No lobby will still bring in a range of devolved powers (labelled Devo-Max) and possible demands for further referendums.   

 In last Saturday's FT the economist, Martin Wolf, described the prospects in the following terms:
'If the vote is a Yes, it will be forever.  But what about a narrow No (vote)?  That too would be a nightmare.  We could then look forward to more referendums.'   

Even as I write this I understand that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), are proposing to develop proposals to put to the Chancellor George Osborne before his Autumn Statement in December, in which he has already promised to have thew northern economy at its heart, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg  launched his 'Northern Futures' project in Leeds in July, calling for ideas on creating an 'economic hub' in the North. 

The editor of the Yorkshire Post goes much further in the leader yesterday: 
'The new mood for a move to a more federal Britain certainly shames the pitiful power-sharing efforts made so far by Westminster...  This must now change.  With a population and an economy of similar size to those of Scotland, there is no logical reason why Yorkshire should be denied far greater powers of its own.'   

The problem in Britain is that it is a nation state whose power has been for so long centred upon London, and that its people don't have a great understanding of federalism.   Its English culture, even on the Left among the radicals and so-called revolutionaries, is one of 'Utilitarian liberalism' in which seemingly everyone wants to protect his or her pension, career, dole, or other perks and benefits provided by the centralised state.  Thus, the British Left is instinctively centralist, including paradoxically many who describe themselves as anarchists. 

In Europe, especially in France and Spain the reaction to the reality of the centralism imposed by both the French Revolution with its destruction of local interests and privileges, and the Spanish Liberal Revolution, was inspired by the anarchist Proudhon.   In France, Proudhon believed that the French Revolution had come into existence to fulfil the notion of greater local and municipal liberty, but had been diverted in this task by the ruthless political actions of the Jacobins.  In Spain, federalism was  rescued by a Catalan, Pi y Margall, who had read Proudhon, and saw how the Frenchman's ideas would suit the regional aspirations of the Spanish people.   

Pi y Margall wrote:  'Every man who has power over another is a tyrant.'  And the Englishman, Gerald Brenan, writing about Py y Margall says: 
'Discussing the meaning of “order” – that word which for more than a hundred years had been the excuse for every act of violence and injustice – he (Margall) says that true order cannot be obtained by applying force.'   

Given that Pi y Margall's federalism in Spain evolved and developed into a form of Spanish anarchism, it is surprising in England that the current tiny tribe of anarchists have not had much to say about the issue of Scottish independence and regional devolution.  It is something that I would have thought their more distinguished predecessors at Freedom Press such as Colin Ward and Nicholas Walter, would have had much to say.  Instead today, it is left to the main stream parties and the likes of Paul Salveson (who someone from the anarchist federation, recently described as a 'Labour Party hack') to wrestle with the issues of federalism and Scottish independence.  The problem with much of the English left, including the anarchist faction, is that it suffers from a form of  idée fixe* that serves to cut it off from real life situations.
idée fixe, ( French: “fixed idea”) in music and literature, a recurring theme or character trait that serves as the structural foundation of a work. The term was later used in psychology to refer to an irrational obsession that so dominates an individual’s thoughts as to determine his or her actions.

Scottish Referendum Campaign

by Craig Murray (September 14, 2014 11:56 am) in Uncategorized
I am heading for the train back to Scotland for the final, frenetic stretch of campaigning to achieve national independence. Rather strange feeling on leaving the house, because I know that if we succeed I shan’t be coming back here to live, but rather staying to help build the new Scotland, in however minor a way.
I receive far more email than I can possibly reply to, about which I feel somewhat guilty.  But I both replied and obtained permission to reproduce this one from Fiona Mathieson:
'I am sure you will be receiving hundreds of messages from so many in Scotland at the moment. I would just like to say how grateful I have been for the information you have provided.  I have been able to direct people to your blogs and videos which have helped them to start questioning and delve further into unveiling the truth.
'Last week at work a colleague who was undecided came to me and said that not only was she voting yes, but her entire family of 47 were voting yes.  I gave her the wee blue book and some of your video links and they all went off and looked into it and discussed it. They decided that yes was the only way forward for a future of hope and positive change.

'I was late in joining the yes campaign only becoming politicised in the last 2 months as the light bulb slowly went on.  I have never in my life felt so engaged and enthusiastic and am amazed to be part of something that is making history.  The sad part being that I went through the entire grief cycle in a week moving between stages quite erratically as I came to grips with the level of corruption and deception from the government and the media.  I know there will be many others who have been dealing with the same issues as myself.

'However, onwards and upwards as we continue to engage with our sense of humour, passion and creativity in these last few days of the campaign.  Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge as it has helped many of us to stay on course as the continued scare tactics are dropped down on us from on high.'

I think the greatest achievement of the campaign has been that half the population of Scotland has awoken to the fact that the mainstream media, and the BBC in particular, pump out a stream of propaganda in collusion with the state and corporate interests, and that much of it is untrue.  If I have contributed to that realisation, I am very happy indeed, but I am only one of a number of alternative sources of information now available on new media. The great triumph of the Yes campaign has been the united force of social media and community mobilisation.
Thank you, Fiona, for your kind message. I hope and believe that your account will encourage others to make the same journey.

Monday, 15 September 2014


The library services in Tameside seems  to be in a terrible state of disarray despite the councils offer two-years ago, to provide "a modern and comprehensive service which meets people's needs..."

Following a public consultation exercise known as the 'Big Conversation', the council decided to close five libraries and talked of a new chapter for libraries where there would be free wifi and e-books for the technological smart set who can afford such gadgetry. Cllr. Gerald Cooney, head of Learning, Skills and Economic Growth, at Tameside Council, told the local press:

"The library service is a top priority for the council and we know how much it is valued within our community... I strongly believe this exciting new offer will provide a modern and comprehensive service which meets people's needs while also remaining affordable in these challenging times of unprecedented government budget cuts."

Despite the passing of two-years, the public as yet to see this 'modern and comprehensive' library service come to fruition. Most libraries are still without wifi even though it was installed in some libraries months ago. The computer software is badly in need of an upgrade and is so old that it is impossible to run some applications. Several weeks ago, at Ashton central library, computers had to be removed from the computer room because rain was leaking in through the roof and there was serious concern that library users could be electrocuted.

The leaking roof has been a recurring problem at Ashton library for some time now. It's not unusual to see buckets placed throughout the library catching rain water which comes in through the roof. Problems with the boiler, also means that during winter, it can also be freezing throughout the library.  Despite  all the  bullshit about a modern and comprehensive library service, these  problems go unrectified. Since the construction company Carillion, took over the maintenance of council buildings several years ago, Ashton library has certainly deteriorated.

At Stalybridge, the library has now been commandeered by 'computer buddies' who are running courses for beginners. During the week the public are being allowed access to two computers for half-hour sessions. The reading room is also being utilized as a job club for the unemployed.

As the councillor with responsibility for libraries, Cllr. Cooney says libraries "are about services not buildings." Under his leadership, library staff have been leaving in droves to work in other council jobs or have taken redundancy. The latest, to announce his departure, is Adam Allen, (pictured) head of Community and Neighbourhood Service, who is leaving the council to take up the job of Chief Executive, for the Police Commissioners. A geordie with a penchant for hair gel who as a background in sport, Allen, has been responsible for spearheading  cut backs since he took over responsibility for libraries.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

ICO in "Contempt of Court" over blacklisting!

We are publishing below the latest briefing from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG). It is of interest to note that according to BSG, around 100 public bodies have now decided that contracts should not be awarded to blacklisting companies. Tameside Labour controlled council, in Greater Manchester, is not on this list and continues to outsource jobs and services to Carillion, a company that is currently facing legal action by workers in the High Court for alleged activites involving the blacklisting of trade unionists in the building trade.
1. Chuka Umunna pledges an inquiry into blacklisting in speech to the TUC Congress in Liverpool:
"I'm proud to say we will do what this Government has refused to: launch a full enquiry, held publically, into the inexcusable blacklisting of workers in the construction sector. Let me be clear. If am given the privilege of serving as Business Secretary in the next Labour Government we will deliver justice to those workers who lost their livelihoods and end blacklisting for once and for all."

BSG applaud Labour's pledge for a full enquiry for blacklisted workers.
Every stone needs to be turned to expose the full sordid details of this human rights conspiracy. bsg will continue to push for a full public inquiry to hear evidence from those who have been affected by the national scandal plus the directors of multinational construction firms and undercover police officers.
2. ICO in "Contempt of Court" over blacklisting.
GMB union has started enforcement proceedings accusing the ICO of being in contempt of court over their apparent favouring of the employers compensation scheme while still refusing to provide similar information to the trade unions.
3. Compensation scheme deadlines.
There are some deadlines that have been imposed by the firms blacklisting compensation scheme. BSG are not legally qualified to give advice, so we encourage any potential claimants to contact their trade union; UNITE, UCATT, GMB or RMT or Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors. But if you have a Consulting Association blacklist file and are still considering whether to join the High Court claim or accept the pitiful offer from the firms, please email on return and we will give you some pointers

4. No public contracts for blacklisters
Around 100 public bodies have passed motions stating that no public contracts should be awarded to firms involved in blacklisting. Islington Council recently threw Kier off of the £16.5m a year Housing repairs contract because of the firm's involvement with the Consulting Association blacklist. Its a pity some of the other public bodies who have passed symbolic resolutions are are not prepared to take a similar stand.

5. Blacklist Support Group - established 2009
Blacklist Support Group is the justice campaign and support network for anyone caught up in UK construction industry blacklisting scandal. Trade unionists, safety campaigners, journalists, academics and environmental activists were all blacklisted by big business. Multinational building contractors have for decades compiled a secret database of union members in the UK construction industry. It was finally exposed in 2009 after a raid on the offices of the Consulting Association that operated the blacklist on behalf of the major companies. Union members were denied work over many years because they had been stewards or safety reps on previous building projects. Raising concerns about asbestos, poor toilet facilities or unpaid wages could result in a union member being added to this blacklist. Evidence has come out over the past five years that proves beyond any doubt that the police and the security services were involved in the blacklisting.
Blacklist Support Group have demanded since 2009:
  • A full public inquiry by the UK government
  • A public apology from the firms
  • A compensation fund
  • Jobs for blacklisted workers on major projects
  • NO public contracts for proven blacklisting companies
  • Criminal charges against the human rights abusers
We have fought them in the courts, in parliament plus civil disobedience and industrial action on building sites. Blacklisted workers are still waiting for justice.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Bury Petition! What Petition?

LAST night's Bury MBC full Council meeting turned out to be a bit of a damp squib when Daniel Barkness from Radcliffe, who was supposed to present an on-line petition of more than 2,500 signatures opposing the local authorities decision to reduce grey bin collections from every fortnight to every three weeks, failed to turn up.  Staff at Bury Town Hall were slightly upset at the non-appearance of anyone to present or argue the case for the petition, as the authorities had brought in extra security support to police the event.
Had Mr. Barkness or anyone else supporting the petition put in an appearance, the Leader of the Council would have been forced to respond, and that would have opened up a debate amongst councillors as to the wisdom of the Labour administration's proposed change.  While it was certain, given the Labour Party majority on Bury Council, that the measure would have been voted through by not showing up the campaigners against the change to three weekly collections of non-recyclable waste in grey bins let the Council bosses off the hook.
Had the case against the three weekly collections been put the Council members would have had the following options:
i)     To recommend to Cabinet that the request made in the petition be agreed to;
ii)    To not to agree to the request made in the petition;
iii)   To refer the matter to the Cabinet for further consideration;
iv)   To commission further investigation into the matter by the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

What must strike readers here is the impressive way in which an on-line petition can accumulate names in the thousands against a proposal like Bury Council's absurd 'zero waste' policy, but if this virtual world of electronic media can't turn up in person to finish the job the whole project becomes a damp squib.  Nobody expected a repeat of the Arab Spring at last night's full council meeting in Bury, but we did anticipate some reasoned arguments and debate on the issues.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Jim Dobbin MP, dies in the Saddle!

JIM Dobbin, Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, died suddenly died in Slupsk whilst on a Parliamentary trip in Poland, aged 73.  Jim was first elected as MP for Heywood and Middleton in 1997 which includes Castleton and Bamford, having earlier contested and lost Bury North in the 1992 General Election.

He had been elected as a councillor in the Borough of Rochdale, becoming the Labour group leader in 1994, and then became the leader of the Rochdale Council in 1996.

Jim Dobbin was a member of the Transport Scrutiny Select Committee as well one of Britain’s representatives on the Council of Europe.  A Roman Catholic he chaired the all-party Pro-Life Group, and he was awarded and invested as a Knight of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great from Pope Benedict XVI.  He married Patricia Russell in 1964; the couple had two sons and two daughters.

In his last Parliamentary Letter, in last Saturday's Rochdale Observer, he wrote:
'MPs have been back almost a week now in Parliament and colleagues are wondering what on earth is happening in Rochdale at the moment. The way in which Rochdale has been focused upon recently has dragged the town into disrepute and created a skewed perception of Rochdale.  I hope that people, including politicians, are mindful of the need for balance as well as transparancy in their communications about the community of Rochdale.'

Earlier this year Jim gave helpful advice to Northern Voices, when people associated with our publication presented written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee regarding material contained in the recently published book Smile for the Camera.  Being a regular reader of NV he recognised the contribution made by the publication in the outing of Cyril Smith in November 2012. 

After we contacted him about the existence of a blacklist in the British building trade he told me that he had supported Early Day Motions against the practise, and on January 13th, 2013 he spoke out on his website:
'Blacklisting is a national scandal which resulted in workers being denied employment and prevented from putting food on the table merely for exercising their human right to belong to a trade union, standing up for their colleagues or for raising legitimate health and safety concerns.'

And he concluded by saying:
'Allegations that the original intelligence for the blacklist came from police officers are especially chilling and need to be fully investigated as a matter of urgency. Sadly, we cannot say with confidence that blacklisting is no longer happening which is why we are urging ministers to act.'

Other MPs, ought to take notice of these sentiments by Jim Dobbin, and not just MPs, but councillors too:  Jim Dobbin warned that 'It is greatly concerning that blacklisting checks took place on high profile projects funded by taxpayers...’ 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Rough Justice on the Left!

ON the 8th, August the former Scottish correspondent of the Morning Star posted the following post on his Blog:

'My name’s Rory MacKinnon, and I’ve been a reporter for the Morning Star for three years now. It’s given me a lot of pride to see how readers and supporters believe so strongly in the paper, from donating what cash they can to hawking it in the streets on miserable Saturday afternoons. I was proud to represent a “broad paper of the left”, as my editor Richard Bagley always put it: a paper that saw feminism, LGBTQ issues, racial politics and the like as integral to its coverage of class struggle.

'It’s for this reason that I thought I would have my editor’s support in following up domestic violence allegations against the Rail, Maritime and Transport union’s assistant general secretary Steve Hedley. Instead the Morning Star’s management threatened me with the sack, hauled me through a disciplinary hearing and placed me on a final written warning.

'If you want to see my reasons for writing this, skip to the bottom. But I’m a reporter, and in my mind the most important thing is that you all know exactly what’s happened behind closed doors. So let’s get on with it.'

On the 30th, August Private Eye No.1373 published the following report on this matter by 'Blackleg' :

'LAST MONTH the Communist Morning Star gave space and prominence to a demand by Women’s Aid that Tory MP David Ruffley must face “strong disciplinary sanction” for assaulting his ex-partner. Short shrift was given to his claim that because the ex-partner had accepted his apology no more needed to be done. As readers were reminded: "Domestic violence is a criminal, not a private matter."

'Well, if it’s committed by a Tory MP, that is. When the alleged perpetrator is a senior trade union official, the Morning Star will discipline any of its hacks who has the temerity to pursue the story. That is what it did to Rory MacKinnon, its Scotland correspondent, who quit last week after three years on the paper.In March this year MacKinnon was sent to cover a women’s conference in Glasgow organised by the RMT transport union.

'For months, women he knew in the union had been talking about Caroline Leneghan, an RMT member who had written a blog-post about the violence allegedly inflicted on her by Steve Hedley, the RMT’s assistant general secretary, with whom she was in a relationship until last year. On one occasion, she wrote, he “threw me around by my hair and pinned me to the floor repeatedly punching me in the face”. She published photos taken at the time, showing her horrendously bruised and swollen face. Finding himself attending an RMT women’s conference – and one at which the RMT was launching its new policy on, er, domestic violence – MacKinnon thought it a good moment to ask if the union’s refusal to hold a proper investigation into the allegations against its assistant general secretary might affect female members’ perception of the union. He put the question at a Q&A session with the union’s national organising co-ordinator Alan Pottage, who declined to answer. Soon afterwards, however, the hack was forcibly ejected from the conference.

'The next day, Morning Star editor Richard Bagley told MacKinnon he was being suspended while his bosses investigated allegations of “gross misconduct” and “bringing the paper into disrepute”. A month later he was summoned to London for a disciplinary hearing, with the company secretary Tony Briscoe acting as prosecution counsel and Bagley sitting as judge. Briscoe told MacKinnon the question he’d put to the RMT official “feels more like something a Daily Mail reporter would ask than someone from the Morning Star. You should have known better. This indicates a lack of journalistic etiquette and has damaged our relationship with the trade union movement.” The public had “no right to know” about whatever occurred between Hedley and Leneghan...'

On the 26th, July, Rory MacKinnon had handed in his resignation to the Morning Star and went public with his story claiming the public had a right to know.  The two men who had castigated him at the Morning Star, Bagley and Bristoe, were not far behind stepping down days later:  Bagley resigned the editorship for 'family reasons', and Briscoe retired.

Since then Steve Hedley wrote the following letter protesting his innocence in last Thursday's issue of Private Eye No. 1374 (5th, September):
'I was very disappointed that you published  TUC News in Eye 1373 without contacting me to check this story out.  It refers to allegations of domestic violence made against me two years ago, about an incident that happened three years ago, by a lady with whom I was previously in a relationship. 

'I have never been guity of violent behaviour.  These allegations were investigated by the RMT union, which found that I had "no case to answer"; they were also considered by the police, who likewise decided to take no action.

'On the matter of Rory MacKinnon, the Morning Star reporter, he asked his question at a conference to someone who had no knowledge of the investigation and couldn't provide an answer.  Had he contacted me, which he didn't, I would have provided him with the correct information.

'Believe it or not I am a big fan of Private Eye and usually your work is much better researched than this.  I now wish you to publish this reply in the interests of fairness and to clear my name.'

It is unlikely that Comrade Hedley will live this down despite his protestations, and it is understood that he has already resigned from the Socialist Party over this issue.  





Friday, 5 September 2014

Events at Working Class Movement Library

1. A reminder that our first free event of the autumn takes place on Wednesday 10 September at 2pm.
In What happened to political theatre? A personal view, script writer and director Mike Harris explores the relationship (if any) between his own work in touring theatre, radio drama, community theatre, and theatre in education from the late 1970s to the present, and ‘The Great Tradition' of committed political theatre in this country which took a recognisably modern form in the 1920s and '30s.

2. The Library will be open to mark the Heritage Open Days weekend on Saturday 13 September from 11am to 4pm.
Free 'behind the scenes' tours of the Library will take place at 11.30, 12.30, 1.30, 2.30 - pre-booking advised
For ideas of other places to visit go to

3. The 4th Wigan Diggers' Festival takes place on Saturday 13 September, from 11.00am to 9.30pm at The Wiend, Wigan, to commemorate Wigan-born Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676) and the 17th Century "Diggers" (True Leveller) movement. It features live music, poetry and comedy, plus 40 or more food, book and other stalls and the "Occu-pie Wigan" beer tent.
More information at

4. On Saturday 20 September the 2014 peace history lecture takes place at the Friends' Meeting House, Manchester. In No Glory in War: noble cause or capitalist adventure? John Westmoreland, Head of History, York College, will propose alternative views to challenge the inevitability of was as the means to resolve conflict.
The lecture begins at 2pm, with stalls to browse and refreshments from 1.30pm; there is also the option of a guided tour of Manchester Peace and Social Justice Trail 10.30am-12 noon. Tickets price £5 in advance, £8 on the door - email or phone 0161 273 8283.

5. A talk by Nick Mansfield, 'The buildings of rural co-operation 1830-1945', takes place at Rochdale Pioneers Museum on Wednesday 24 September at 6.30pm. Price £2.50 including refreshments - book via 01706 524920/
Rochdale Pioneers Museum, 31 Toad Lane, Rochdale OL12 0NU.

6. The Mary Quaile Club holds regular events about working class history and its relevance to contemporary politics.
Their next event will be on Saturday 27 September. This will be a rare screening of United Kingdom, written by Jim Allen. The event will begin at 1pm with an introductory talk by Andy Willis, lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Salford, followed by the screening. There will then be a discussion on the issues raised in the play.
The venue is Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JG. Tel 0161 834 4517. Entrance is £3, payable on the door. To reserve places, please email

7. Truce tours at IWM North - Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays in September at 3.30pm
Join a free 20 minute Closer Look tour around the Museum reflecting on individual stories, including those who were Conscientious Objectors in the First and Second World Wars, and the idea of truce and conflict resolution and the causes and consequences of conflict.
IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ. Admission free.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Blacklisting campaign comes to Liverpool for TUC Congress!

We are publishing below the latest briefing from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG):

Friday 5th - Saturday 6th 
Campaigns for Justice Conference - organised by GMB 
John Moores University.
Dave Smith - secretary BSG is speaking along with Ricky Tomlinson (Shrewsbury Pickets) Margaret Aspinall (Hillsborough family Support Group), Andy Burnham MP, Tom Watson MP and many others

Sunday 7th 
2pm - National Shop Stewards Network TUC Rally
Jury's Inn 
Albert Dock
Roy Bentham - BSG national committee is speaking alongside Mark Serwotka, Ronnie Draper, Steve Gillan and many others

7pm - Institute of Employment Rights / Campaign for Trade Union Freedom TUC Fringe
85-89 Duke Street
L1 5AP
Len McCluskey
Professor Keith Ewing
John Hendy QC
Carolyn Jones 
IER are massive supporters of the blacklisting campaign 
Social after the Fringe meeting at Ricky Tomlinson's club (tickets only available to people who attend the fringe meeting)

Any blacklisted workers attending on the Sunday - please wear BLACKLISTED T-shirts which makes it more likely to get photos in the press. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Bury Bin's Debate over 'Zero Waste'

AT the next full council meeting of Bury Council on September 10th, the issue of 'zero waste' and the planned reduction of collections of grey bins from fortnightly to every three weeks from this coming October will now be debated.  This was forced upon the Bury Labour Council owing to the 3,318-signature petition opposing the switch collected by the Radcliffe lad Daniel Barkess.  This was far more than the 2,500 signatures needed to trigger a debate.

The Bury Branch of Unite that represents most of the Bury bin men has questioned the bin collection changes as wrongheaded, believing that it will lead to increasing amounts of 'side-waste' beside over filled bins, presenting potential safety issues for operatives.  The local Green Party has suggested that the non-recyclable rubbish is largely down to the creation of extra packaging by supermarkets, and that it 'is Green Party policy to set strict targets for supermarkets and food processors to reduce all food packaging and to phase out ... packaging that can't be composted or recycled'.

It would seem that local councils like Bury are seemingly afraid to take on the supermarkets.  The Green Party joint co-ordinator, John Southworth, argued in a letter in the Bury Times (24th, July 2014):
'Making supermarkets pay for the cost of recycling their unwanted plastic tubs is the only way they will change their ways.'

It would seem that the current problems with waste and the difficulties of recycling some rubbish are largely the responsibility of the era of the supermarket culture in which we now live.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Protesters target Ashton Jobcentre for sanctioning pregnant girl!

A two-day protest against benefit sanctions took place outside Ashton-under-Lyne, Jobcentre, on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. The demonstration was called after Eleanor Coulthard, a 19-year-old girl from Ashton-under-Lyne was sanctioned after telling her placement provider B&Q, that she was 23-weeks pregnant.

By all accounts, the DIY firm had offered her a placement working unpaid and had said that her pregnancy was not a problem as they would give her light duty work to undertake. She then discovered  that they had changed tack and contacted the Jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne to say they didn't require her services because she was pregnant. The Jobcentre then told her she was being sanctioned because she should not have declared her pregnancy.

Having first claimed claim Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) three months ago, this was her third sanction by the Jobcentre. On the first two occasions, she was told that she was not doing enough to find work although she was looking and applying for work.

Although the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), deny that they target people for sanctions, there have been reports that vulnerable people have been targeted and that DWP staff, are being forced to hit sanction targets or face disciplinary action. One Jobcentre Plus office is reported to have offered Easter egg prizes to staff who sanctioned the most customers.

Eleanor's mother, Charlotte Hughes, who attended the demonstration with her daughter, told Northern Voices:

" This was an unfair and unjust sanction of a pregnant young woman which left her with no money to eat or live. My daughter was sent to B&Q in Ashton-under-Lyne, for an interview for unpaid work while she was already sanctioned. She had to walk from Dukinfield to the Snipe Retail Park on the outskirts of Ashton-under-Lyne, because she couldn't afford the bus fare to get to the interview. When my daughter told Jobcentre staff that she had been left with no money to feed herself and her child, they told her - "you're pregnant, not ill, and you shouldn't have told B&Q that you were pregnant." As for B&Q, I think they should hang their head in shame."

The Demonstration which was organised by 'Tameside Against the Bedroom Tax and Cuts', 'Tameside Unemployed Workers' Alliance', 'Tameside Trades Union Council' and the 'Green Party' attracted local media interest. The protesters say that they intend to continue with further protests against unfair sanctions and intend to target businesses in Tameside that are participating in the government's unpaid forced labour schemes for the unemployed.For further details of future demonstrations contact:

Rotherham: Those who looked the other way?

THE Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said that social workers, council bosses and police chiefs who failed to act to prevent the Rotherham sex abuse scandal ought to resign.  This follows a damning report produced by Professor Alexis Jay. 

Mrs May has said:
'I’ve seen the horrific cases they have looked into where young girls were the victims of the most appalling sexual exploitation and threats of violence, grooming and abuse and yet their calls for help went unheeded by the council or the police. I think everybody needs to look at the role they played in this and their position.'

Among those identified for failing in their responsibilities are Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, who has so far refused to resign despite holding responsibility for children’s services on Rotherham council, and Joyce Thacker, head of the council’s children’s services.  Mr. Wright has resigned from the Labour Party after leading figures in the party told him he ought to give up his current job, but he has so far refused to resign his current position as police and crime commissioner.

Mr Wright, who was elected to the £85,000-a-year commissioner’s post in 2012, having previously served as a Labour councillor with responsibility for children’s services, said on Wednesday that he had no idea about the   'industrial scale' of the abuse that had taken place.

Prof Jay, for her part has insisted that, given her findings that 'nobody could say "I didn’t know".'

Others who will be challenged for their alleged roles in the scandal include:
Paul Laker, a Labour councillor; Jahangir Akhtar, the former deputy leader of Rotherham council; Dr Sonia Sharp, the director of children’s services between 2005 and 2008; and Diane Billups, the council’s director of education and head of children’s services between 2001 and 2005.

Mr. Laker, a former steel-worker, a cabinet member for children's services since 2010 and deputy council leader is claiming that he had only recently grasped the 'depth and breadth' of the sex abuse problem in Rotherham.  Mr. Akhtar, another former deputy leader of the council, was temporarily forced out of office after claims that he was aware of a relationship between one of his own relatives and a 14-year-old girl.  The police cleared him of any wrongdoing after an investigation, and he lost his seat on the council last May.  Mrs. Billups has since retired, and Dr. Sharp now works in a department of education in Austrialia.  Joyce Thacker, 56, is currently on £115,000-a-year as director of children and young people's services; she was in charge four years ago when five Asian men were convicted of raping three girls as young as 12. 

Ms. Thacker has said by way of explanation and justification:
'I would put the responsibility back on the parents. It is their duty to protect their children and keep them safe.  We couldn't be with them 24-hours a day.'

Yesterday, the former MP for Rotherham, Denise MacShane, was more straight-forward in accepting that he should have done more.  On BBC News Mr. MacShane said:
'I should have burrowed into this.  Perhaps, yes, as a true Guardian reader and a liberal leftie I suppose, I didn't want to rock the boat I didn't want to raise that too hard.'

It seems that Mr. MacShane has previously admitted that he, like other politicians, had feared losing Muslim votes if he aired 'the dirty secrets about bad practices in the Kashmiri Muslim community'.

We must wait to see if this mentality is more widespread among the politicians in our northern town halls.

Bolton Council's Suspension of Trade Unionists

YESTERDAY, Bolton Trade Union Council called off a demonstration set to be held at 6pm outside Bolton Town Hall in support of some leading trade union activists who have been suspended by the Labour Council, and are threatened with the loss of their jobs.  It was halted because Bolton's Labour Council is holding talks with the trade unions concerned in an endeavour to solve a dispute in which three leading trade union activists from Unison and the GMB have been suspended from work, and a further 19 trade unionists have been notified that they too could face disiplinary action. 

A leading local trade unionist from Bolton told Northern Voices:
'This all relates to events that took place in Bolton on the public sector's day of action.'

That public sector 'Day of Action' took place on Thursday the 10th, July, and involved Unison, the GMB, and Unite.  An informant from Bolton Trade Union Council has told N.V. that he believes:
'It is clear to us that the objective is to remove key activists prior to the £25 million cuts to be implemented next year.'

Many trade unionists in the region are disturbed that Bolton MBC, as a Labour Council, are using what they see as Tory anti-trade union legistlation to seemingly intimidate the local authority labour in their employ.


Manchester Royal Exchange presents Secret Theatre


 The Lyric Hammersmith Secret Theatre Company presents
The Studio at The Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square
M2 7DH
Tuesday 21 October to Saturday 1 November

Fresh from the Lyric Hammersmith and the Edinburgh Festival, SECRET THEATRE – which features four new plays from four of the UK’s most exciting playwrights – arrives at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from Tuesday 21 October to Saturday 1 November.   

Presented in The Studio at the Royal Exchange Theatre by The Lyric Hammersmith Secret Theatre Company, all four pieces explore themes of love and loss, betrayal and revenge, failure and triumph and have been thrilling audiences with their brave, bold and inventive style.  

In 2013 the Lyric created the Secret Theatre Company – a 20-strong ensemble of actors, directors, writers and designers brought together to explore new ways of making theatre. Since their first provocative performance they have courted controversy and sparked debate across London. The Royal Exchange dates are part of a nationwide tour. 

CHAMBER PIECE (23 - 25 October) is a pitch-black comedy from up-and-coming writer Caroline Bird about power, lethal injection and the desperate need for a Twix. When an execution goes horribly wrong and the prisoner regains consciousness with no memory of his crimes the ruthlessly ambitious governor has 24-hours to prove his sanity before her death warrant expires.

GLITTERLAND (28 & 29 October) by Hayley Squires is a thrilling story of power, corruption and revenge inspired by John Webster’s THE WHITE DEVIL. The politicians and celebrities of the State of Glitterland collude to keep their people in a sedated stupor. The ruthless political advisor, Nemo, uses his starlet sister to manipulate those in power in a dangerous game of deception. As his enemies threaten to expose him, Nemo will stop at nothing in his quest for control.   

A SERIES OF INCREASINGLY IMPOSSIBLE ACTS (21 October - 1 November) is devised by the Secret Theatre Company. In this riotous and uplifting show the company try to complete a series of increasingly impossible acts. With the audience in charge of who performs each night, the show will be different every night.   

SHOW 6 (30 October - 1 November) is a new thriller by Mark Ravenhill which asks the question “Are you who you think you are?” The story weaves together a fatal car crash, a memory uncovered and a secret that leads to revolution.                                                                                                                                     
For further information please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /

Online information available at

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Liverpool Exhibition of Miner's Strike photos

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Liverpool Exhibition of Photographs on the 30th Anniversary of the 1984-1985 Miner's Strike by 
If you would like an additional image for your "Whats On" please email us with the size you require.

Note: The exhibition coincides with the annual TUC conference at the Liverpool Echo Arena.

Exhibition of Photographs on the 30th Anniversary of the 1984-1985 Miner's Strike by

Thirty years ago Margaret Thatcher hoped to transform Britain into a "Greed is Good" society, "The method is economics" proposed Thatcher "but the aim is to change the soul". To do so the Conservative government declared war on the trade unions. They implemented a secret plan to take on the unions one by one, until they came to the National Union of Mineworkers. In March 1984 the government provoked a strike - expecting victory in a few weeks. The strike lasted 12 months. They were to be demonised and discredited by the media. Isolated, beaten and starved back to work - yet despite desperate circumstances and in the face of everything that the government could throw at them, 150,000 miners and their families fought back and very nearly won. In the years that followed, the most productive and efficient coal industry in the world was closed and whole communities were destroyed, wages were widely repressed, industry, utilities and housing privatised and the City of London deregulated... creating the seeds of the crisis we now face.
A small group of photographers stood alongside the miners as they struggled for their jobs and communities and endeavoured to picture it from their point of view. This exhibition shows you some of the best of those pictures.
Monday 8th to Saturday 20th September, 2014
Open evenings: Monday 8th & Tues 9th September, until 9pm
TUC delegates very welcome
Opening hours on other days:
Monday -Friday: 11am-4:30pm
Saturday: 12 noon-4pm
Sunday: Closed
The Fallout Factory, 97 Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2JD

Kind Regards

John Harris (NUJ)
Tel. +44 (0)1789 262151
Mobile: +44 (0)7831121483
Online photographic and video footage library at:

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Police to Interview Sir Cliff Richard

AFTER the search by police on Thursday of Sir Cliff Richard's Berkshire home, it is reported that they are planning to talk to him about an alleged sex crime against a young lad at an evangelist event in a Sheffield football stadium at Bramall Lane in 1985.  Sir Cliff now 73, is in Portugal right now, and he has described the allegation made against him as 'completely false'.

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, has said the investigation was at a very early stage and nobody had been arrested.   D.S. Fenwick said:  'A search warrant has been granted after police received an allegation of a sexual nature dating back to the 1980s. This involved a young boy under the age of 16 years.'

No arrest warrant has been issued and the police say that they have no plans to search other properties.  Sir Cliff's solicitors are already in touch with the South Yorkshire police, and there has been some disquiet about the presence of the BBC during Thursday's police search of the premises in Berkshire.

The evangelist event in 1985 that was led by the U.S. preacher Billy Graham attracted some 24,000 people to the first of eight nights of sermons at the Sheffield football stadium, according to reports at the time.  When Billy Graham invited people to come forward to show a commitment to Jesus, 2,000 people walked onto the pitch.

Sir Cliff Richard, OBE, was born in India, Harry Rodger Webb, in 1940, and  is the third-top-selling singles artist in the United Kingdom's history, with total sales of over 21 million units in the UK and he has reportedly sold an estimated 250 million records worldwide.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blogger accuses council of North Korean censorship. As Tameside becomes a 'one-party state?

READERS of Northern Voices (NV) will be aware that in previous issues of NV magazine, we have reported on how some local authorities such as Tameside in Greater Manchester, have attempted to censor local news stories on the pretext of promoting ‘community cohesion’.

In 2009 (see NV issue No 10), we reported that Tameside Council were holding regular meetings with local newspaper editors to 'gather information and stop sensationalist reporting which might otherwise start or add to rising tensions.'  The source for this information (also reported in Private Eye 3/10/08), was a document entitled: ‘Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion planning and tension monitoring’ (page 40) produced by the Department of Communities and local Government (DOCLG).  

Although the council denied practicing censorship – 'The council does not gather information with a view to censoring media reports, it has no powers to do this…', DOCLG told us that the information contained in their document had been written and supplied by Tameside Council (see NV issue No 11).
Having been caught with their trousers down, so to speak, one would have thought that the council would have learned a salutary lesson. Yet a local blogger, who uses the name Curmudgeon, recently posted on his blog that Tameside council bosses had decreed that council employees were to be denied access to certain websites.   Curmudgeon says:

“Not to be outdone and in an effort not to deviate one iota from the controlling ways of the young Korean dictator, Tameside Council bosses, have adopted a strict political strategy, strikingly similar to that of Kim Jong-Un, and as a first strike have allegedly decreed that all civil servants working on Tameside Council computers, will be denied the right to access the thoughts of certain ‘political bloggers’ in an effort to subvert and control access to opposing political opinions and block access to legitimate bloggers who frequently engage in the questioning of the Labour dominated council decisions.'

Curmudgeon claims that both his own blog of the same name and the blog ‘Tameside Citizen’ are forbidden to council employees.

Korea’s ‘Supreme Leader’, Kim Jong-Un, is well known for purging ‘factional filth’: he recently had his own uncle executed. But while some might think that comparing Tameside Council with the hermetically sealed society of North Korea is somewhat ridiculous, the analogy might not be that inappropriate.

Last year (April 2013), the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), stated that many Labour dominated councils in the North West, were 'failing the basic test of democracy' because many Labour councils held a ‘super-majority’ of seats. The ERS claimed that councils such as Tameside ran the risk of becoming ‘one-party states’ like North Korea, China or Cuba.

Daren Hughes, director of research at the ERS, told the Manchester Evening News that 'one-party state’ councils could be more likely to be ‘complacent’ and 'hand themselves increases to their allowances and expenses.'

While Tameside to all intents and purposes already resembles a one-party state, the borough is not quite yet in the league of Pyongyang, even though its councillors are as keen as mustard, when it comes to giving themselves increases in their allowances and expenses. Yet as the blogger, Curmudgeon, rightly points out, censorship is always a sign of a weak and frightened government that has something to hide from the rest of us, and secrets to keep.

The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 10 or N.V.11, may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,
Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.