Saturday, 25 April 2015

Radical Short Film Awards 2015

Call for entries - Deadline 15 June 2015 - Enter at:
View this email in your browser

Call For Entries

SMALL AXE a short film competition for people with something to say.
No film can be too political.

We accept everything - from direct polemic, to experimental film, from original fiction to observational documentary from complex discussions to 30 second virals.

We want opinion, analysis, personal stories, ideology, vision and fresh perspectives.

In short, any film that will contribute to a culture of positive social change is welcome. As long as it is short (under 30 minutes).

Deadline for entries: 15 June 2015

Full details and entry form on the website:
Awards in the following categories:

Activists and full time film-makers:
Best Factual Film
Best Fiction Film

Best Fiction Film
Best Factual Film

Part of the Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival:
17th - 19th July 2015

Letter from Natalie Benett Green Party

Over the next few days in the run up to May 7th we would like to sum up what is really at stake for the country at this election – please forward this on to any undecided voters you may know, who share your views.

Hello Mark (Hollinrake),

This year the most important climate talks in history will take place in Paris.

Leaders from around the world will come together to decide the world’s course of action in addressing the most important issue of modern times.

​Yet, despite the looming threat of a climate crisis, during this election you could be forgiven for thinking that the threat had lifted.

The truth is, politicians from the other parties simply aren’t speaking about climate change. In fact I was the only party leader to raise the topic during the three and a half hours of Leaders debates.

You and I know both know that the science is unequivocal – fortunately we have the plan to tackle the crisis.

The Green Party is the only party calling for the urgent action required and at the heart of our pledge to protect the environment is our conviction that we must also reconfigure our world to work better for people.

We will cut public transport fares – because everyone should be able to afford to get to where they want to go – and because the air pollution caused by cars is a crisis that must be tackled.

We will invest in home insulation – because no one should fear family members getting ill or even dying from the cold – and because we want to cut carbon emissions.

We will generate 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 – because we know we must leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

We are using three times as many resources as our planet can sustain - we must change course, and we can.

I, like you, want to leave a better future for our children. I want the next generation to look back on what we did at this time and think ‘my parents generation did something to protect our world’. I want them to be proud of us. 

To keep climate change on the agenda and to continue our fight for social justice we must elect more Green MPs.

We can do this if we have a strong Green voice in parliament - but we need your help now more than ever with a Green vote on May 7th.

Thank you,

Natalie Benett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

p.s. Please share this email with someone you know who shares your concerns and urge them to vote Green on May 7th or if you have been forwarded this mail please add your name at

Friday, 24 April 2015

ILP at the Red Shed, Wakefield


Saturday 9 May 2015
1-4pm at the Red Shed (Wakefield Labour Club), Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1

'The Story of the Independent Labour Party -and Lessons for Today'

Iain Dalton: West Yorkshire Organiser for the Socialist Party; author of "The Battle of Leeds"

Barry Winter: Independent Labour Publications; author of "The ILP: Past and Present"

Chair: Kitty Rees

Free admission and free light buffet.
Excellent real ale.

Organised by Wakefield Socialist History Group

For more information contact Alan Stewart, Group Convenor, on 07931927451
Or see/join our Facebook site: Wakefield Socialist History Group.

Radical Islington & Still the Enemy Within

UK 2014, Dir. Owen Gower. 112 min. (Speaker TBC)

Some 30 years after the end of the 1984-85 miner's strike Radical
are organsing a special May Day screening of 'Still the Enemy
in collaboration with Reel Islington.

Date: Fri May 1 2015
Time: Doors open at 6PM, film starts at 6:30PM
Cost: £5 / £2.50 unwaged or low wage concession.
Location: The Rocket Complex, London Metropolitan University, 166-220
Holloway Road, London N7 8DB

STILL the Enemy Within is a unique insight into one of history’s most
dramatic events: the 1984-85 British Miners’ Strike. No experts. No
politicians. Thirty years on, this is the raw first-hand experience of
those who lived through Britain’s longest strike. Follow the highs and
lows of that life-changing year.

Using interviews and a wealth of rare and never before seen archive, the
film draws together personal experiences – whether they’re tragic, funny
or terrifying – to take the audience on an emotionally powerful journey
through the dramatic events of that year.

Still the Enemy Within is ultimately a universal tale of ordinary people
standing up for what they believe in. It challenges us to look again at
our past so that in the words of one miner, “we can still seek to do
something about the future”.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

On the stump with Ashton's prospective parliamentary candidates. Elections 2015!

A series of election events known as ‘question time hustings’, have been organised by Community & Voluntary Action Tameside (CVAT), to take place in Ashton-under-Lyne, Hyde and Denton, prior to the General Election in May. On Tuesday evening, I attended the first of these meetings at the Holy Trinity Centre, Dean Street, in Ashton.

Angela Rayner, the Labour candidate for Ashton-under-Lyne, - who was selected from an all women’s short-list - was the first to speak. She began by paying tribute to her predecessor David Heyes, who is retiring at the next election. Ms. Reyner is a socialist but doesn’t believe that people should get something for nothing. Although she is now a trade union official with UNISON, she began her working life as a home help and didn’t go to university. Referring to the financial cut- backs she told the meeting that Tameside Council had lost 50% of its budget and that over 1 million people, were relying on food-banks in Britain in order to feed themselves and their families. “I’m not here to manage the decline she told the meeting.” She also told the meeting that public services should be defended and should remain in the public sector.

Charlotte Hughes, the Green Party candidate, is a single parent who was born and bred in Ashton. She believes that because of this, she is fully aware of the needs of her constituents. Unlike many of the other mainstream parties, who are only interested in ‘hardworking families’, Hughes believes that everybody should be helped, not just those who are in work. She told the meeting that she was sick of the way in which the Labour controlled council in Tameside were using people as guinea pigs to pilot Tory government projects, such as Universal Credit and the so-called ‘Troubled Families’ phase 2 initiative, which is bullying and harassing  single-mothers who are unemployed. She told the meeting, “So far there has been no consultation with the public” about these schemes or the way in which, the Labour council in Tameside, are implementing Tory policies. A community activist, Ms. Hughes, can be seen on a regular basis protesting outside Ashton Jobcentre against unfair and illegal sanctioning. She told the meeting that this year, she had stopped two people from committing suicide.

Another candidate who was born and bred in Ashton is bungling Maurice Jackson, the UKIP (Kipper) candidate. A former Tameside Labour Party member, he was hopelessly out of his depth on the night. Jackson declared that he would not be making a three-minute speech but was happy to take questions. At times, he was barely audible or coherent and struggled to even string a decent sentence together. For most of the evening, he could be seen reading from what presumably, was a UKIP leaflet, in order to check what the party’s policies were. Judging from his performance on the night, he had obviously drawn the short straw.

A Canadian study that was published in January 2012, in the Journal of Psychological Science and reported in the Daily Mail the same month, stated that people with conservative beliefs, were likely to be of ‘low intelligence’ and were receptive to ideas that appealed to their basest and stupidest impulses. 

As right-wing Thatcherites, UKIP seems to draw their fair share of English cranks into their ranks. The former UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom, resigned from the Party after calling women ‘sluts’ and after complaining of foreign aid going to ‘bongo-bongo land’. Another UKIP member declared that the floods which brought havoc to parts of Britain two years ago were caused by the Wrath of God, after the introduction of ‘Gay Marriage’.

Most of the evening was taken up with questions from the floor. One questioner complained about a lack of political leaflets through the door. All the candidates said it was either down to lack of funding or resources. Bungling Morris said that UKIP didn’t have any money to back the candidates and that he was a paper candidate.

Ms Rayner, was asked how she would retain public services in Tameside when the Labour Council was a privatizing council? She responded that it was all about giving adequate funding to local government. Asked if she thought the number of councillors could be reduced as they now had less to do, since many public services had been hived-off to the private sector, she said she didn’t believe in reducing things to their lowest common denominator. 

For the Green’s, Ms Hughes said there was a lack of transparency in Tameside Council and that the council leader was getting an ‘obscene amount of money’. She believes that councillor’s allowance should be on a fixed ratio vis-à-vis council workers wages and salaries.

A questioner asked the candidates if they agreed that volunteering should stay voluntary and asked if the voluntary sector should be participating in the Government’s workfare (work-for-your-dole) schemes.  

Ms Hughes said that she was against workfare and was a member of Boycott Workfare. She thought people should be paid a decent wage for a decent day’s work. The UKIP candidate said his party didn’t believe in workfare. (UKIP have branded claimants a ‘parasitic underclass of scroungers’ and have plans to stop them buying tobacco and alcohol). Ms Reyner said that she didn’t want to bring back the work-house and opposed workfare (which the last Labour government introduced with their work-for-your dole schemes). She favours more apprenticeships as a way of getting people back to work.

Another questioner asked -  “If elected would your government remove the market principle from the NHS?” 

The Green Party candidate said yes. The Labour candidate said her party would repeal the Health & Social Care Bill. The UKIP candidate said his party would remove car-parking charges and was against the privatization of the NHS.

From the floor, another questioner asked: “Do you agree with Nigel Farage (UKIP leader) that the NHS should be replaced with an American style health system? Bungling Morris, denied that Farage had ever said this, whereupon, the questioner offered to show him where the quote had come from.  Ms. Reyner then said that both the leader and deputy leader of UKIP had said they wanted to privatize the NHS.

All three candidates were asked about their views of Europe. Ms Rayner said that she was pro-Europe but it needed reform. “I don’t believe immigrants come here just for housing and benefits. We’ve been enriched by Europe. It would cost us £6.5 billion if we came out of Europe.” Ms. Hughes said that it was Green Party policy to stay in Europe but the party favoured a referendum. “Immigration is positive. The NHS would not be what it is without immigrant workers.” Mr Jackson said that UKIP wanted a referendum. “We have an Islanders mentality”, said gaffe prone Morris, “I think we should come out of Europe.”

A questioner asked: “What do you think of fracking in Tameside, even if Tameside Council supports it?” 

Ms. Hughes said that the Green Party was against fracking. “You wont be able to insure your house if it is near to fracking. Fracking leads to pollution. Fracking is being rolled back in America.” The UKIP candidate said that his party were in favour of fracking. Ms Reyner said that Labour was not entirely against fracking but that it must be safe and the decision should be taken locally.  “I’m not going to rule fracking out.”

The outcome of the Parliamentary elections in Tameside next month, is probably a foregone conclusion even though Jonathan Reynolds is defending a 2,700 majority in
Stalybridge. Labour have held all three seats for as long as I can remember. Although UKIP have gained support from the blue-collar, male, working-class former Labour voter in the North, who struggle financially, and feel left behind and alienated from the political class, they are unlikely to get elected in Tameside. UKIP has virtually no support among the financially secure and the thirty-and-forty age group of university graduates. Support for UKIP is also weak among women, white-collar professionals and the young. The Green Party, who will probably struggle to retain their deposits in the Tameside elections 2015, do have some good policies such as the citizens basic income, renationalisation of railways, a living wage, a wealth tax, and a maximum pay ratio (no executive should receive more than ten times the salary of the lowest paid worker). However, these policies tend to get overshadowed by wackier policies like banning sporting events such as the Grand National and dog racing.

& Iain McKay's Misplaced Critique!

BELOW Iain McKay addresses an e-mail to me in which he gives me
too much credit.  I can only assume that has responded in
such haste that he has failed to notice that I am not the author
of the critique on which he exercises so much passion. 
The author of all the critiques about 'Who Killed Freedom'
is clearly Christopher Draper who lives in Llandudno, and
though Mr. Draper writes for Northern Voices he is, as any one who
knows him will realise, very much his own man.  Iain ought to
understand that the words Northern Voices is in the plural, and
 is not one of those smelly little orthodoxies in which everyone speaks in chorus.

Dear Brian,

I'm sick and tired of your petty insults and smearing good comrades -- I also don't appreciate you twisting of my words.
Here is what I actually wrote:
'And what of "Total Liberty"  ?  If this analysis were accurate then that should have gone from strength to strength.  If I remember correctly, it became 'Anarchist Voices' -- does that still exist? I can find issues up to 2010 on-line.  It looks like it "lost its way" long before Freedom did...' compare that to Brian's 'Flaunting his ignorance, McKay celebrates the demise of the magazine "Anarchist Voices", which "lost its way long before FREEDOM did" but I can reassure Iain that it’s alive and well...'

The bad faith and dishonesty is clear. ' Flaunting my ignorance'... oh hum.  I guess that my going through the 'Freedom' archives from the 1880s to the 1960s to produce a Peter Kropotkin anthology amount to nothing... as does my reading of the paper from the late-1980s -- so I have 'flick[ed] through copies of FREEDOM before 2001.  Rest assured, the Freedom of the 1880s to 1930s was class-struggle focused, was communist-anarchist -- even if it opened its columns to others (and why not, if the articles are of sufficient interest and quality).   It is interesting to note that a single quote from 1919 apparently overturns the self-proclaimed communist-anarchist position 'Freedom' had from 1886.  Its recreation in the 1930s was also on this basis.  This did not exclude other anarchists writing for it -- as did other anarchists after 2001.  Something I have noted many times but which Brian fails to acknowledge.

So, all in all, I'm not sure why you are doing this Brian -- all you seem to be achieving is alienating people. Your insults on Richard Griffin are disgraceful (he is no 'useful idiot' and to suggest so shows you do not know him).   I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve by these poisonous emails -- given what you have written about me all I can say is that I would suggest that your readers take everything you write with a very large pinch of salt.   All in all, I really do have better things to do that reply to obvious distortions and insults. 

If you want to help build the anarchist movement in the UK, well, that would be good but, to be honest, it does not look like you want to do that -- if you did, you would not be writing such nonsense.   For the other people cc-ed into these bile-filled emails, if you want to do something constructive then please consider getting involved with Black Flag -- like the 'Freedom' Kropotkin helped create, it is a communist-anarchist journal. If that is not your version of anarchism, get involved with something more suitable for you (apparently 'Anarchist Voices' is still going).

Iain (McKay)

Richard Griffin reply to Chris Draper's critique

Jez.  I don't know where to start in respect of what you have written about me - 'a useful idiot'!  This is your answer to the FACT that my writing on the subjects I did for Freedom (and The Raven for that matter) undermines your whole argument that the paper closed off non class war contributors. You really think the collective used me as a cloak to mask its evil intent!?  I wasn't the only person to write on non class issues. 

I love the idea of you slagging me off for issues I didn't raise or was even asked to address (like a critique of AF).  I am not going to bore people with detailed responses to this rubbish other than this one.  You have a go at me for not offering an analysis of why Freedom failed.  Well you know what I wrote one and you know who for?  Jonathan Simcock and Anarchist Voices

I knew responding to you would be a mistake.  You are not interested in honest, constructive debate just twisting confirmation bias.  I thought anarchists were better than that. 

Sorry to anyone else whose inbox this nonsense is cluttering.  I wont respond again. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Who Killed FREEDOM?: update two: April 2015

by Christopher Draper

IN 2014 the world’s oldest radical newspaper, FREEDOM, ceased publication. In February 2015 I (with help from NV comrades) identified the culprits and causes of its destruction in a detailed critique, 'Who Killed FREEDOM?' (available on this website). If you’ve been following the thread, here’s the latest update…

1. Despite their angry responses not one member of the FREEDOM collective has had the courage to accept our challenge to come up North and publicly debate Who Killed FREEDOM? at a Manchester Bookfair.

2. Two recent FREEDOM respondents, Iain McKay and Richard Griffin, are no exceptions. Both signally failed to offer any substantive analysis of why a paper that had survived so long through such a variety of adverse circumstances should now find it impossible to continue. As the authors of an excellent analysis of the failure of alternative organisations observed:
'If we refrain from rigorous criticism for fear of upsetting our friends we can be sure our enemies will be much less restrained and when reality eventually kicks in our initiatives will continue to collapse' ('What a Way to Run a Railroad', Commedia, 1985).

The FREEDOM collective’s continuing refusal to accept responsibility or properly analyse its own failure adds insult to injury.

3. Both McKay and Griffin have nothing to say about key issues such as FREEDOM’s refusal to print criticism of Anarchist Federation intimidation or the paper’s censorship of further specified articles. Neither confronts the fundamental criticism that FREEDOM abandoned its core role of fostering open-minded anarchist debate and instead introduced a regime of simplistic, sub-Marxist rhetoric enlivened by images of masked, missile-throwing juveniles.

4. When McKay claims FREEDOM from “the 1880’s until the 1940’s was always a class-struggle journal” he exemplifies his limited understanding of the FREEDOM tradition perhaps best illustrated by an example that appears in FREEDOM’s centenary edition, published in October 1986.  When Tom Keell, the paper’s editor in 1919 heard that anarchist William Charles Owen had returned to England he asked him to write for FREEDOM.  As Owen had grown sceptical of the merits of communism he wrote back pointing out that as an Individualist he thought his writings might not suit the readers of an Anarchist Communist paper, 'but on being told we were Anarchists first and foremost, he consented'. That is the point, for 115 years FREEDOM was 'Anarchist first and foremost'.  From 2001, in the words of editor Simon Saunders, FREEDOM 'enforced a strict class first line'

5. Griffin claims his contributions to FREEDOM on 'gardening, architecture, skateboarding etc' lacked class analysis and still got published.  Sadly he failed to draw the obvious conclusion that he served the collective as a 'useful idiot'.  His offerings challenged nobody, he had and apparently still has, nothing to say about the collective’s censorship or abusive treatment of critical contributors.  His sycophantic attitude is embarrassingly obvious from his pat on the back to Comrade McKay,  'Well said Iain, couldn’t have put it better myself'

6. It is apparent to impartial observers that Iain McKay and Simon Saunders, assisted by cabin boy Griffin are better suited to sailing off into the sunset under the 'Black Flag' of vicious old sea-dog, Captain Meltzer (deceased) who never let facts get in the way of a good story.  It is to my profound regret that before doing so they first drove the graceful old flagship FREEDOM onto the rocks.

7. Flaunting his ignorance, McKay celebrates the demise of the magazine 'Anarchist Voices', which 'lost its way long before FREEDOM did' but  I can reassure Iain that it’s alive and well and the current issue contains some excellent articles, including one by myself and a chap named Richard Griffin!   Interestingly, in his 'Anarchist Voices' piece Griffin reveals that he actually stopped reading FREEDOM many years ago but omits to explain whether it was his own or Iain McKay’s articles that caused him (along with many others) to loose interest in the paper.  

8. Echoing McKay’s mix of arrogance and ignorance, Griffin advises, 'Rather than spending hours on this (critique) why don’t you produce and distribute something along the lines you think FREEDOM should have taken?'  It’s clearly escaped Griffin’s attention that besides writing for 'Anarchist Voices' us Northern anarchists have also recently produced 'Boys on the Blacklist' and 'Northern Voices' magazine.  Anarchist campaigns and literature that not are only exemplify lots of imaginative ideas absent from FREEDOM but also popular and bought by ordinary people uninterested in the tired, formulaic nonsense trotted out by recent FREEDOM editors (copies available from the editor of this website).  For further ideas Griffin and McKay could also flick through copies of FREEDOM before 2001 where they’ll readily find articles written by myself and others that don’t simply reduce to their latter-day, 'fight capitalism and create heaven on earth' formula.  If they’re inspired enough they might belatedly reconsider another idea of ours, proposed back in 2001, that FREEDOM practices what anarchism preaches and introduce federated editorial control  (ie - each region contributing a couple of pages per issue through a local editor).  Despite the rhetoric, London wouldn’t accept our idea, retained central control and cultivated group-think.

9. None of this should have happened. Formally, the assets of FREEDOM are not ultimately controlled by the editorial collective but safeguarded by a Board, 'THE FRIENDS OF FREEDOM PRESS Ltd (FFP)'.  As the main purpose of the enterprise is to publish the newspaper FREEDOM if it ceased then FFP are supposed to step in and appoint others to take over production but this did not happen. We will, in the course of time, reveal exactly what has been going on at FFP, for the time being we will simply say all is not well.  In 1982 the FFP Board was constituted with seven directors.  There has been much irregularity since and suffice it to say there is now urgent need to appoint additional directors with integrity and political credibility to restore proper oversight of the activities of the collective and recommence publication of FREEDOM. On the 24th June 2015 FFP are scheduled to hold a meeting to consider the appointment of two new directors; long-time peace activist, Ernest Rodker and libertarian writer and academic, Dr. David Goodway.  Predictably, the collective are already scheming to promote their own tame, rival candidates so the outcome of the Board meeting will have critical significance.  The result is not a foregone conclusion as the legitimacy of some Directors is open to challenge and there is a serious issue of conflict of interest. We will most assuredly reveal more in a future update.

Reply to Martin Freeman (Labour Party)

[This is a reply to a letter sent out by the actor Martin Freeman on behalf of the Labour party which was forwarded to Northern Voices by Trevor Hoyle]
Dear Martin,
Thank you very much for your lovely letter which was sent out in a mail shot from the Labour party. Oh look, I said to myself, a letter from that guy who plays the hobbit in the movies and it’s addressed to me personally. But sadly the only wizardry on display was the magic of mail merge, and that wasn’t quite enough to convince me that you had actually sat down and directed yourself personally to my concerns. George Osborne might do a convincing impression of Sauron, but this isn’t Middle Earth and Ed Miliband sure as hell isn’t Gandalf. Middle Earth is a fantasy invented by a middle class guy from Oxford University, just like the claim of the modern Labour party to be a party of the left, come to think of it.
Thank you for assuming that I’m too thick to cope with the complexities of modern politics and require everything to be reduced to a binary opposition between Labour and the Tories. It’s that kind of patronising attitude that has caused Labour to lose Scotland. You are offering a fantasy Martin, a story for children like dragons and orcs. In the real world, the one we actually live in as opposed to the fantasy one where Labour lives, we have other choices, and we can make our own minds up about what our choices are. There are other ways to resist the Tories. Labour thinks it can resist the Tories by aping them, by turning itself into little monkeys who perform tricks for the Conservative press and offer working class people the occasional peanut. That’s not resistance, and even a hobbit should realise that.
Despite what you say I’m not confused by different parties claiming different things, I can weigh up multiple options. And I can see that the simplistic choice you offer on behalf of the Labour party is a false one. But then you don’t need to be a mental giant to resist the dubious charms of Jim Murphy. You don’t need to be an Oxford don to see through Magrit Curran’s lies. You don’t need the wisdom of Gandalf to be unconvinced by Ed.
Labour can claim what they like, and even if they were offering a winning lottery ticket for every voter, a free foreign holiday and a guaranteed shag with someone who is actually attractive and who doesn’t look like your average politician, I won’t believe them if I don’t trust them. And that’s your problem right there Martin. I don’t trust the Labour party as far as I could throw it. And I could throw it as far as missile strike in Baghdad. I could throw Labour as far as an ATOS assessment. I could throw Labour as far as Ed Balls and his promise not to undo any of George Osborne’s cuts. Labour has been promising invisible jam at every election I can remember, yet as soon as they get into power they morph into Murphy.
The choice I want to make is to prevent Labour from behaving like it has always done, to make Labour behave like a Labour party should. Voting Labour in Scotland doesn’t offer me that choice, all voting Labour offers is a return to being side-lined, marginalised, ignored and patronised. I choose to hold Labour to account. I choose another way, a Scottish way.
The Labour party started in Scotland you say. And that would be true. And values of community, compassion and fairness still hold true you say. And that would be true as well, only they’ve got little or nothing to with the Labour party in Scotland. Labour sold those values down a PFI river decades ago, then contracted them out to ATOS for a profit. Because Martin, all those cruel and horrible things that the Tories pursue with gusto, Labour wants to keep them – the creeping privatisations, the disability assessments, the benefits caps, the demonisation of the poor, the dispossessed, the migrants, the worship of weapons of mass destruction. In Middle Earth Labour would be on the side of the orcs. Look at Jim Murphy and you can see they already are.
The Labour party was born in Scotland, and it will die in Scotland too. There’s a poetic circularity to that if nothing else. Labour moved away from the communities that gave it root, and migrated to the City of London. Seduced by the precious ring of capital that promised absolute power, Labour deprived itself of its roots. So Labour shrivelled and died, cut off from the communities that gave it life and meaning and purpose. There is no point or purpose to the Labour party any more. They stand for nothing but power for power’s sake, the party of careerists who don’t know the difference between principles and press releases.
But those values of community, compassion, and fairness that you speak of Martin, they do still hold true, and unlike Labour they are alive and strong and breathing in the communities that gave birth to the Labour party. Like most in Scotland I hold them dear. It’s just that they are no longer to be found in the Labour party. Us hobbits, us wee folk with our hairy Caledonian legs, we’ve created another party where we can express those values.
Today Martin, this Monday April 20, another party presented its manifesto to the electorate in Scotland. It is a manifesto that Labour would once have been proud to present. It promises social justice, and fairness and compassion and community. It promises to resist weapons of mass destruction, to fight for the disabled, to include the excluded, to bring tolerance and sense to the media’s racist hysteria about immigration. It’s a manifesto that promises to do all the things that Labour used to offer but never followed through on. Those things that Labour no longer even offers. It’s a manifesto for Scotland, not a manifesto for the Tory press.
And unlike Labour’s litany of lies and broken promises and shattered dreams – I can actually believe it. It’s a manifesto that comes from a party that promises to lock out the Tories and to keep Labour on track. It’s a party that really is a mass movement, born in Scotland’s communities, unlike Labour’s hollowed out shell, focus grouped to death. It’s a party that can make sure that Labour has a spine, because Labour needs a moral conscience. When the Labour leadership are left to their own devices they find their moral conscience in Daily Mail editorials, and then they hope to convince us with children’s tales of orcs and hobbits presented by starry eyed stars. But we have our feet on the Scottish ground.
I vote for moral conscience, I vote for hope, I vote for compassion and care. And that Martin, is why I’m voting SNP.
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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Church leaders, Mr. Bryan & Noam Chomsky

CHURCH leaders in Rochdale last Sunday said that they had to exclude the National Front parliamentary candidate for Rochdale from the political hustings because of fears that the far right party’s presence ‘may increase the likelihood of a breach of the peace’.  In doing this the Vicar of Rochdale defied the core ideas of the enlightenment and Voltaire, not to mention everyday democracy, by not giving the National Front an opportunity to present their views at an open forum in the Rochdale Parish Church. 

In a statement before the event the Vicar of Rochdale, the Rev Mark Coleman said: 
'The Parochial Church Council of St Chad’s and I have decided to not invite the National Front to take part in the hustings event.  We do not endorse any candidate and have decided, on the impartial basis that the presence of the National Front may increase the likelihood of a breach of the peace, to not invite the National Front candidate Mr Kevin Bryan.'

At the event last Sunday, Mr Bryan criticised his exclusion, and he said:
'It’s not a full, democratic election if all eight candidates aren’t there.  I am totally disgusted with it.  I have got a lot of support from people, they might not agree with my politics, but they agree I should be involved with the debate.  There’s eight candidates and they should all be there on the day.' 

Mr. Bryan also claimed that he was a Christian and that it was disgusting for him to be excluded from the House of God.  Shortly after he made this statement the police were called, presumably by the Church authorities, and Mr. Bryan and some of his supporters were escorted from the Parish Church.
Northern Voices' would like to draw Rev. Mark Coleman's attention to the stand on the right to freedom of expression taken by the highly respected academic Noam Chomsky, who happens to be Jewish and who has claimed to be a kind of anarchist, in relation to what became known as the 'Faurisson affair'.  What follows below is taken from Wikipedia:
'The Faurisson affair is a term given to an academic controversy in the wake of a book by French scholar Robert Faurisson, a Holocaust denier. The scandal largely dealt with the inclusion of an essay by American linguist Noam Chomsky, entitled "Some Elementary Comments on the Rights of Freedom of Expression", as an introduction to Faurisson's book, without Chomsky's knowledge or approval. Responding to a request for comment in a climate of attacks on Faurisson, Chomsky defended Faurisson's right to express and publish his opinions on the grounds that freedom of speech must be extended to all viewpoints, no matter how unpopular or fallacious.'

I believe that those of us associated with the Northern Voices' Blog would stand by what Noam Chomsky has had to say on this matter.  It seems to me that it represents the height of English hypocrisy for all of the other 'respected' politicians to sit in the Church last Sunday, and to fail to speak up on behalf of free speech. 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Governing without Government?

IN Saturday’s INDEPENDENT, 4. 4.2015, pages 35-36 by Boyd Tonkin; the best article on anarchists and anarchism I have seen for years.  It  points to the gap between the general election and when the new government will actually be working.  It could be weeks or months.   During that time things will function pretty much as normal but with no Government.  So lets make an absence of Government a permanent arrangement suggests Boyd.  He mentions Colin Ward’s contributions and refers to ANARCHY  IN  ACTION (a book by Colin Ward) .

Boyd mentions no support for Anarchist Federation’s class war claptrap.
martin  s.  gilbert, 16th April 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

CPS announces that Greville Janner will not be prosecuted over allegations of child sex abuse!

It has been recently announced by the Crown Prosecution Service that Greville Janner, (pictured), Baron Janner of Braunstone, will not be prosecuted over allegations relating to 20 charges of indecent assault and buggery against minors (mostly children in local care homes), because it would not be in the public interest, as 86-year-old Janner, is suffering from dementia.

A former President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Janner, a QC since 1971, was the Labour MP for Leicester West from 1970 to 1997 before he was elevated to the Lords. The seat of Leicester West had been previously held by his father, Sir Barnett Janner, a former chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain.

In 1991, Frank Beck, the director of a Leicestershire children's home, was convicted of child abuse and given five life terms. During his trial, he accused Janner of having abused a child and a witness claimed to have been one of Janner's victims while he was in care. Janner denied the claims and in a commons statement, said there was not a 'shred of truth' in the allegations that had been made against him. Janner was interviewed by the police in 1991, in the first of three previous investigations which did not lead to a prosecution. Accompanied  by his solicitor, Janner has been reported as having replied "no comment to the questions put to him." Further investigations took place in 2002 and 2006.

In April 2014, Lord McDonald a former Director of Public Prosecutions, told the Guardian newspaper that the decision not to prosecute Janner in 2007, had been made by officials in Leicestershire who did not contact head office in London about the case.

In September 2014, 'The Times' reported that Mike Creedon, a serving Detective Sergeant, (now Chief Constable of Derbyshire), had claimed that senior police chiefs had "severely limited his enquiries into paedophilia against Janner, despite 'credible evidence' that warranted further investigation."

Three years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009, Jenner was demanding that senile men in their 90s, who had been accused of Nazi war crimes, should be prosecuted. He told the Jewish Chronicle: " I don't care what bloody age they are....These criminals should have been dealt with years ago."

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Update on Blacklist Campaign

1. Blacklisting makes the General Election manifestos
"Some sectors and occupations have particular issues of concern that need to be addressed, such as the problems of false self-employment and blacklisting uncovered by recent investigations. Self-employment is a vital part of our economy, but there is evidence that in some cases it is being wrongly used to avoid tax and employment rights, notably in the construction industry. Labour will tackle bogus self employment in construction and a set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting. Recognising historic cases, we will release all papers concerning the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ trials". 

'End Blacklisting - We will set up a full investigation into blacklisting in the construction industry and consider the creation of a new criminal offence.'

Plaid Cymru:
'Plaid Cymru will legislate against blacklisting'  

'Fully independent public inquiry into police collusion in the scandal of blacklisting'

Blacklisting firms fund the Tories

2. Public Inquiry 
Blacklisted workers continue to campaign for a fully independent public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and for a public inquiry into the role of undercover police spying on trade unions and other peaceful democratic campaigners. Teresa May has announced a public inquiry into police spying. Labour & Greens have pledged some kind of inquiry / investigation into the blacklisting scandal. Professor Keith Ewing (long time friend & supporter of the Blacklist Support Group) asks whether the proposed inquires will go far enough and actually uncover the full story of police spying on trade unions. 
3. Blacklisted Book reviews and tour dates 
Reviews by blacklisted workers Brian Higgins and Pete Shaw in the UK and others around the world

Blacklisted Book Tour Dates
Tues 21st - London - Bookmarks (6:30pm)
Sat 25th - SWTUC - Devon 
Sun 26th - CWU conference Bournemouth with Billy Hayes (12:30) 
Tues 28th - Liverpool - Jack Jones House, Unite offices (6pm) 
Wed 29th - Liverpool - News from Nowhere (am) 
Wed 29th - Leeds Trades Council public meeting Swathmore Centre (7pm)
Fri 1st - Manchester, Kings Arms Salford (6pm)
Mon 4th - Kent Workers Festival, Aylesham  
Wed 13th  - FBU conference Blackpool with Matt Wrack  (5:30pm) 
Thur 14th  - Bristol - Tony Benn House, Unite office (6pm) 
Fri 15th  - Bristol - UWE CESR seminar (2pm)
Sat 16th - London - Bishopsgate Institute 
Wed 20th - Nottingham - Five Leaves Books (7pm) 
Wed 10th - GMB conference Dublin 
Thur 25th - Glastonbury Festival 
Fri 10th - Durham Miners Gala - NUM office Redhills, pre-festival events(5pm)   
Sat 18th - Tolpuddle Festival  

Any other trades councils, festival stages or conferences else wanting a speaker please feel free to contact us. 
Please keep posting your photos of people reading the book to facebook and twitter with the hashtag #blacklistedbook 

4. United We Stand 
The brilliant play about the Shrewsbury Pickets continues its UK tour in the run up to the General Election.  If you haven't seen this play yet - book your ticket asap.

5. Blacklisting in the airline sector
Victoria Weldon
AN aircraft engineer who claims he was sacked after raising safety concerns over procedures at British Airways is suing the airline for unfair dismissal.

John Higgins, who worked as an aircraft maintenance supervisor for the firm, claims he made protected disclosures to BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over who was allowed to sign off on work carried out on aircraft.

Mr Higgins, from High Blantyre in South Lanarkshire, had a 27-year unblemished career with the airline. He was dismissed when he installed the wrong part on a plane at British Airways Maintenance Glasgow (BAMG) in March last year.

He claims he made the mistake because he was under extreme pressure due to staffing problems, an excessive workload and unreasonable timescales and said the error 'did not compromise the safe operation of the aircraft.'

However, BA found that it did and dismissed him before offering him a demoted post on appeal - a proposal which Mr Higgins rejected, leaving him to resign.

In a written statement submitted to an employment tribunal in Glasgow, Mr Higgins - who now works for Monarch Airlines - said: "I raised concerns during 2006 and 2007 that BA was not complying with full safety requirements in carrying out their aircraft maintenance.
"The disclosure I made was that at my workplace of British Airways, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the aircraft maintenance work was not being performed in strict compliance with CAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety provisions.
'It was my belief that this was a serious safety lapse which could potentially result in fatalities.'

Mr Higgins claimed he met with CAA officials to discuss his concerns, resulting in them issuing seven findings of failure against BA and an EASA working group being set up to look at the issue.

However lawyer Samantha Cooper, acting for BA, suggested that neither were directly linked to Mr Higgins's alleged disclosure.  Miss Cooper also suggested there was no basis for him to allege that the approach taken by BA was contrary to regulations.

Mr Higgins replied: 'I saw flaws with it.'

BA manager Stuart McMahon said he had checked with the CAA and they had no record of Mr Higgins's disclosures, however he accepted under cross-examination that this did not mean they had not been made.

The tribunal was told that BAMG was seriously short-staffed on March 1 and 2 last year when Mr Higgins was overseeing contractors working on an Airbus A321.

One of the contractors damaged a wire and Mr Higgins repaired it with a splice which turned out to be the wrong one.

When he returned to work later that week he was suspended and claims he was told by a manager:
'I am so sorry. I can't have another Air Malaysian situation here and need to send you home.'

BA argue that the repair Mr Higgins carried out was important to the safety of the plane. They also claim he did not properly record the repair and failed to pick up on poor wiring by a contractor.

Miss Cooper put it to the engineer that supervisors had told him to just do what he could on the days in question. He said he had tried to do that.
She accused Mr Higgins of being reckless and he replied: 'I don't agree with that.'
He added:  'I did the best I could under the circumstances.'

The tribunal also heard from BA manager Brian Queally who took the decision to dismiss Mr Higgins.  In a written statement, he said staff are never expected to 'cut corners" due to time pressures, adding: "The potential impact of the claimant's use of the incorrect splice was huge. If the splice failed it could have affected the correct functioning of the landing gear, resulting in a potential catastrophic incident.'

The manager also said he had no knowledge of Mr Higgins's disclosures about safety concerns prior to dismissing him.

The tribunal, before Employment Judge Susan Walker, continues.

Media & Democracy Talks in Wakefield

DEMOCRACY and the Media: Struggles for Media Pluralism Past and Present
Event: MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY: Struggles for Media Pluralism Past and Present

Saturday 18 April, 1-4pm at Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 (by rear entrance to Trinity Walk shopping centre)
GRANVILLE WILLIAMS: Granville is a member of the National Council of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and UK Co-ordinator of the European Initiative for Media Pluralism.  He is the editor of a new book, "Big Media and Internet Titans."
DON MORT: Don has won awards for his investigative reporting and is Father of the NUJ Chapel at the Wakefield Express.
PETE LAZENBY: Pete has been a newspaper reporter in Yorkshire for nearly 50 years.  He is currently Northern Correspondent for the Morning Star which describes itself as "Britain's only national daily socialist newspaper." 
ALAN STEWART: Alan is Convenor of Wakefield Socialist History Group.  He has a particular interest in the story of the illfated workers co-operative, "The Scottish Daily News."

The event is organised by Wakefield Socialist History Group.
Admission is free and there will be a free light buffet.
We also hope to show Lindsay Anderson's 1952 documentary, "Wakefield Express."

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Unions embrace MPs' Blacklist Enquiry Call

Sent to us by Joe Bailey (Unite)

A ‘damning’ report  by a House of Commons select committee calling for a public inquiry into construction industry ‘blacklisting’ has been welcomed by unions.  Unite said it strongly endorsed the recommendation in a March ‘Blacklisting in Employment’ final report from the Scottish Affairs Committee.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said:
'The report by the Scottish Affairs Committee is a damning indictment of the underhand and cruel tactics that the construction industry employed against decent workers prepared to stand up and be counted on such issues as health and safety.' She added: “Whoever is in government after May’s general election must respond to the repeated call for a full public inquiry into the long-running issue of "blacklisting".'

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer said:
'Strip away the weasel words and crocodile tears from the blacklisting companies and their highly paid entourage of spin doctors and lawyers and the simple truth is that MPs of all political parties involved in the inquiry into Blacklisting in Employment do not trust the companies to eradicate blacklisting and do not believe they have, or will self-cleanse.'

The select committee report was also highly critical of a blacklisting compensation scheme introduced unilaterally by major construction firms.  Committee chair Ian Davidson said it 'was an act of bad faith by those involved, likely to be motivated by a desire to minimise financial and reputational damage rather than being a genuine attempt to address the crimes of the past.'

Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, backed the committee’s comments.  'The Scottish Affairs Select Committee has condemned the counterfeit compensation scheme in the strongest possible terms,' he said, adding affected workers knew the scheme was 'simply a cheap way to gag them and deny them justice.'

Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith said:
'These wretches have misled parliament and ruined the lives of thousands of honest working men and women just for the crime of being a trade union member or raising concerns about safety on building sites.'