Monday, 5 October 2015

Marching in Fun at Tory Conference

SOME 60,000 people assembled yesterday, according to police reports, to demonstrate against austerity and the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.  The People's Assembly e-mail announced:
'The day has arrived and we will gather in our tens of thousands numbers to show the Tories how we feel about their austerity policies on the day they open their conference in Manchester.'

Tribes of trade unionists, left groups, Greens, and other assorted protesters traipsed down Oxford Road towards the Saint Peters Square, while across town on Market Street shoppers got on with their consumerism.  It was another seemingly endless case of gloriously marching together by the British left.  A supreme exercise in political  impotence with Left Unity, the Socialist Equality Party, the Green Party, Bristol Health Service workers, the Haldane Society, Derby Unite Community Union, Withington Labour Party, Whalley Range Unite branch and Unison all strolling along.

The journalist, Michael Crick, claimed he'd been spit upon by an anarchist as he entered the conference, and someone on Twitter claimed that yesterday there were police snipers on the roof of the Great Northern Complex.  Manchester police say they were only there for observation.

Meanwhile, the fun looks set to continue with the People's Assembly announcing:
'The Tories have gate crashed Manchester and they are simply not welcome. Yesterday, the week of action began with parties, gigs, public meetings and flash mobs.'

Police Sniper at Tory Conference in Manchester?

Ben Whittingham@BenWhittingham2 22 hours ago
Just a police Sniper on roof of tory party conference, which resembles a prison

Ricky Tomlinson & Northern Voices

Ricky Tomlinson at Baker's Union Conf. in Southport in June


NORTHERN VOICES 15 above is now on sale its usual outlets.  This issue of Northern Voices has an interview with the anti-establishment painter from Buxton, Jeff Perks.  He is a radical artist who has done exhibitions at Stockport Art Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery, an exhibition titled 'Race Against Time' - Trades Union Congress House, and was Winner of the Friends of Buxton Museum Sculpture Award (3 times).  His art aims to make people feel uncomfortable.  Sales of Northern Voices in Ashton town centre shot up during a Green Party demo a couple of weeks ago when street sellers started shouting: 
'Kieran Quinn - Kieran Quinn - Look at the Rat in the Wheelie Bin!' 

Other articles include a piece on 'Who Owns the North' by the writer Chris Draper; a report on Fracking at Barton Moss Salford by the activist Barry Woodling; an account on the consequences of the Scottish referendum by the Labour councillor, Paul Salverson; a story on Northern Canals by Les May; a historical item 'Shoot the Conchies' also by Chris Draper; reviews on the radical touring play UNITED WE STAND and Dave Douglass's new book on 'A history of the Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890'; a searching review on the book on Cyril Smith by Simon Danczuk M.P. by Les May;  Tameside Eye, and 'Six O' the Best Northern Bus Journeys'.

The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 15, with all sorts of stuff others won't touch and may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Brian Bamford' at
c/o 46, Kingsland Road,
Rochdale, Lancs. OL11 3HQ.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

'Boys on the Blacklist'

 THE Tameside TUC book 'Boys on the Blacklist', sponsored by the North West TUC, and credited by Dave Smith as being a complimentary document alongside the Blacklist Support Group's own book 'Blacklisted: The secret war between big business and union activists' is still on sale.     The first edition of 'Boys on the Blacklist' sold out in just over a month and it is now on its 3rd print- run.

 A presentation of the Tameside TUC book 'Boys on the Blacklist'
was done at the TUC Annual General Meeting at the Manchester Mechanics Institute on the 22nd, November 2014.  The book was also on sale the same night at the Lantern Theatre in Sheffield, at the showing of the play about the Shrewsbury pickets:  'UNITED WE STAND'.  In January 2015, there was a presentation by Tameside TUC and one of the blacklisted electricians at a meeting of Liverpool TUC.  Further launches of the Tameside TUC book followed at the Barnsley performance of 'United We Stand'; at the Moston Miners Arts Club; at the Bury Met.; at Leeds Carriage Theatre; at the St Michael's Irish Centre in Liverpool; and at the Harrogate NUT Conference in April. 

  Tameside TUC's in-depth Report & Study of Blacklisting in the British building trade

OUT now is Tameside TUC's study of blacklisting in the British building trade.  This unique 52-page A5 book concludes our research into blacklisting stretching back for over a decade of struggle by a group of Manchester contracting electricians.  This book illustrates a special investigation by two officers of Tameside TUC focusing on cover-ups, collaboration, and complicity by major British construction companies affiliated to the now defunct Consulting Association.  We consider the behaviour of local authorities in providing contracts to companies that blacklist workers in the British building trade; especially those in the Greater Manchester area such as Tameside MBC, Salford and Manchester City Council.  The book also asks questions as to who else was involved besides:  what did the unions do to expose what was going on for decades; who were the whistle-blowers who helped to bring out the truth; what part did the police and special security services play in the history of blacklisting that goes back beyond the days of the Economic League?

Copies of 'Boys on the Blacklist' available by postal subscription:
£3.53 for one copy (post included).

Make cheque payable to 'Tameside TUC' and send to:
46, Kingsland Road, Rochdale, Lancs.  OL11  3HQ.

Bundles of 5 copies - £16.60p a package (post included).

Tel.:  01706 861793.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Petition to Amend Local Government Act 1972

NEWSPAPERS with a bias for the main political parties refuse to publish this link!  Why are they afraid of giving people real Democracy?

Please click on the link below to find out more & to sign the petition:

If you can also forward and share this petition with as many people as possible I would be extremely grateful.

Many thanks!

Carl Simmons

Friday, 2 October 2015

Original Source for Story of Dodgy E-Mail?

by Les May
THE original source of the story of the e-mail defaming Colin Lambert which has been repeated by Rochdale Online, Manchester Evening News, the Zelo blog, and has been mentioned in BBC North-West news bulletins, seems to be the London office of the Breitbart news service which carries the details on a page dated 8 October 2014.

The key passages are:
'The e-mail, which was circulated by a Labour Member of Parliament’s researcher in November 2012',
'When asked to confirm that the original e-mail was indeed sent by him, the Labour staff member admitted it, which has raised questions as to why no one contacted the police at the time.'

No doubt Mr Lambert's lawyer and Mr Parker's lawyer will be contacting Breitbart and asking for the name of the Labour staff member who 'admitted it' and which MP he/she was a researcher for.

It looks like a couple of people are going to have to answer some awkward questions.

Northern Voices will not be awarding prizes if you guess the names correctly!


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Liverpool Royal Hospital Action

GREAT effort by all unions present in conjunction with the Blacklist Support Group yesterday and that Sita campaign in the North East is giving us the wind in our sails down here in the North West

Next day of action at the Liverpool Royal is Saturday 10th October at 9am

Then a mass meeting is to be held in Jack Jones House 11am - 1pm to discuss the next steps. A North West construction committee is to be set up (ala Teeside Construction Activists) and you are formerly invited to attend, contribute and have someone elected on.  
I've copied in a number of local politicians into this loop and after conference this week in Brighton it was noted we will have your full support on everything from blacklisting to bogus self employment. 

This is a call to arms and actions will ultimately speak louder than words

'If you ain't part of the solution, you're part of the problem'

Can you also pass this message onto members and interested persons please

Many thanks,


Legal Action Over Political 'Smear' in Rochdale

LAST night on BBC's North West Tonight, Simon Danczuk denied there was any 'wrongdoing' by himself or his office in relation to allegations that his office had  been responsible for an e-mail that may well have 'smeared' Colin Lambert, a Rochdale Labour councillor, and former leader of the Labour Group on Rochdale Council. 
On Twitter, Mr. Danczuk said last night:  'There is no case to answer - legal action would be a waste of money.'
On September 21st, the Rochdale online website published the following report about Danczuk's former aide Matthew Baker, who now works in Bristol:
'Matt Baker, the former spin doctor of Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, has been accused of a "vile attack" and "smear campaign" after he was revealed as the author of an email that makes very serious and highly damaging allegations about former Rochdale Council leader, Colin Lambert and a former Mayor of Rochdale, Robin Parker - allegations which they say are completely without foundation and "libellous".'
Since then Mr. Baker has said, he had:
'no recollection or record of sending this email (smearing Colin Lambert).'

Both Colin Lambert, a councillor and a former leader of Rochdale Council, and Robin Parker, say the allegations in the e-mail are completely without foundation and 'libellous'.
Colin Lambert last night was reported to be starting a legal action in defamation next week.
This morning, the BRISTOLIAN Blog is reporting that 'Baker has now claimed to a BBC reporter that his email account must have been “hacked”!'
And to think there was a time when Danczuk and Baker, were once seen as a dynamic duo up here.

The Inconsistency of Simon Danczuk

Les May
THERE'S been a spat on Twitter about some tweets by Rochdale Labour councilor, John Blundell. In defending Simon Danczuk's right to be make critical remarks about the Labour party Blundell is on the side of the angels.  The right to hold those in power to account is what democracy is all about.
But those who are critical of Danczuk, (and in some cases go so far as to question whether he should still hold the Labour whip), surely have a right to expect that if he pledges his loyalty to work constructively his actions will show some signs of meaning it.
Three days after Corbyn's election to the Labour leadership he is quoted as saying:
'After the long slog of the leadership contest, I am looking forward to a fresh start for the Labour Party.
'We now have the chance to move on from the General Election defeat we suffered in May.
'There has been a heated debate on all sides during the last three months but now is the time for unity and to focus on opposing this Tory Government.
'I am encouraged by some of the Shadow Cabinet appointments and I hope this is an early sign that Jeremy Corbyn is serious about broadening his appeal to more moderate voters.
'That is what we need to do if Labour is going to win in 2020.
'Tough times are ahead, but I look forward to working with the new frontbench team to make sure hardworking families in Rochdale are well represented by Labour in Parliament.'
How sweet and reasonable. But since then he has been happy to be the mouthpiece for anti Corbyn comments quoted in at least three articles in papers from the Daily Mail stable and two in the Sun. One of these published the day after the conference opened, which shows him as the author is headed 'The party I love is now a deluded, bullying cult'.
In this he tries to disinter the spectre of 'The Militant Tendency' as a stick with which to beat Corbyn and his supporters.  What he does not see fit to mention is that although Militant held sway in Liverpool, at the height of its influence it never claimed more than 4,500 members.  This is about the number of people who have signed the petition to 'Dump Danczuk' which he has dismissed.  Contrast this with the quarter of a million people (251,417) who voted for Corbyn in the leadership election.
We have seen this tactic of claiming he is being bullied used before.  In Rochdale in 2009, it was
used to have five members of the constituency Labour party expelled.
But perhaps the most bizarre bit of the article was where he wrote:
'Labour’s historic mission is to ensure wealth, power and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few... '.
With all this talk of 'historic mission', I wondered if I'd stumbled into Marxist territory.  But at least it was nice to see that Simon did have a vague idea of what the Labour party used to be about.  Usually he is demanding that Labour slash welfare spending and 'get tough on immigration'.  (Incidentally if you read the article on immigration carefully you'll see another favourite Danczuk trick which he has used quite a lot; reporting a conversation he says he had with an unnamed third party, which of course no one can verify.)
He's also wrong about universal benefits.  In general these are targeted at the two periods of a persons life when they are least able to enhance their income by working; in childhood and old age, that is why they are universal.  Paying universal benefits to higher rate tax payers may seem wasteful, but it is an excellent reason for having them pay higher taxes which pay for the benefits of the less well off,  because they benefit too.  Note also how Cameron has dumped the cost of 'free' TV licenses on the BBC.  Unfair though this is, Simon's 'bull at a gate' approach would have ensured Labour's alienation from the very people who are most likely to vote in an election, the elderly.  Nice one Simon!
At a 'fringe' meeting after Corbyn's speech he said:  'You don’t win elections on a mantra of misery.'
By which he meant 'don't mention food banks and poverty'.  So much for Labour's 'historic mission' of four days ago.  I echo his saying 'Labour needed to "celebrate" its successes in government and how it had helped working people.'  But the irony is that 'New' Labour did manage to bring about a fall in the proportion of children and the elderly suffering income poverty (defined as 60% of median income) precisey by focussing on eliminating the misery that poverty brings.
And of course he was back on his old themes with 'You’ve got to talk about welfare reform, you’ve got to talk about immigration, you’ve got to be, as a political party, and leader of a political party, patriotic, you’ve got to talk about Englishness.'  (I hope the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the shade of Samuel Johnson were listening carefully.)
Increasingly Danczuk reminds me of the working class Tories I met when I was young and an opportunist to boot.  He'll have a chance to prove me wrong when the Tories put measures before parliament to scrap the 2010 Child Poverty Act.
The assumption that all the people who voted Tory in the last election only ever act out of self interest is cynical.  People, even people who sometimes vote Tory, do have consciences.  Labour needs to rediscover that as well as its 'historic mission' its policies can be rooted in morality too. Poverty in a country as rich as ours and the rise in dependency on food banks are immoral and Labour should ignore Simon Danczuk and say so.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Greens & Corbyn's Fetish for Growth

By Baroness Jenny Jones , Rupert Read
THE remarkable ascension of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership poses a challenge for the Green Party.  His rise delights us, both because it is a triumph of authenticity over cynical marketing, and because some of what he believes in, we believe in.
But we Greens are now going to have to make a strong case for sticking with us, rather than defecting to Corbyn-led Labour.  We can’t just appeal to 'anti-austerity' voters, or talk of combining social and environmental justice, or of pursuing the common good, because Corbyn does all that too.  So what is our positive case, in response to the Corbyn challenge?  It is to raise a series of our own challenges for Corbyn.
And we start with this simple point: Corbyn isn’t green.  Like us, you may like the fact that he is Old (rather than New) Labour.  It’s brilliant to see him triumphing over those who have sold out Labour’s heritage. The problem, though, is the same: he’s still Labour.
He still proudly believes in labour-ism.  This, in an era of precarious employment and of a reducing need for labour to be done (because of automation), an era when the security that citizens need should come simply from their being citizens, not from their jobs.
The Green Party doesn’t believe in work for the sake of it.  That is why by contrast the Green Party ultimately favours the fundamentally egalitarian measure of introducing an unconditional Citizens Income, which we would set at a level sufficient to ensure the poorest benefited.
On our housing crisis, the headlines of Corbyn’s 'solution' are basically:  build, build, build.  Greens have a much more nuanced view. The recent report from the Green House think tank, argues that: 'Instead of relying on a huge and environmentally costly building programme [as Corbyn-Labour would], we should ensure that the existing housing stock is better used; control rents and increase security in the private rented sector; discourage the purchase of housing primarily as an investment; reduce regional inequalities; and provide more affordable homes.'
One of the main arguments cannily used by the many — including pretty much everyone in Labour — who want to bulldoze our green belt, is that much of the land there is not high in biodiversity value: it is simply used for farming cereals, etc.
But Greens can knock this argument back, because we are serious about alternatives to industrial agriculture, especially the soil-destroying factory-farming of animals and cereals.
Unlike Corbyn, the Green Party places how we treat our land and soil centrally among our values and our policies.  We would also tax the ownership of land through a Land Value Tax and would reforming land-ownership radically.
That means we outflank 'Corbynomics', which basically limits economics to labour and capital. Such outdated approaches have not come to terms with planetary boundaries, with the fundamental realities, that is, of a post-growth world.   They have not, in particular, reckoned with the centrality of land as a factor of production, and as a constraint.
Corbyn has cannily angled for support from Greens. He may well have some good things to say on 'the environment'.  But what we have outlined above is why that doesn’t make him an ecologically minded thinker or leader. It doesn’t make him someone who has properly joined up his thinking. It doesn’t make him green.
And at this turning point in human history, when as a civilisation we will decide whether or not we are serious about leaving a habitable planet to our kids or not, we need to be holistic and bold in our thinking.  This meansthat achieving a just and swift transition to a post-growth society that practises one-planet-living is nothing less than essential.
For this reason, Corbyn, for all his many virtues, is in one central respect just like Tony Blair and George Osborne and many more: he is thoroughly in hock to the outdated fetish for economic growth.  He even goes so far as to favour the return of coal mining in south Wales.  And on the litmus-test issue for Greens of London-airports-expansion, he fails: like Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Mayoral candidate, he is in favour of a second runway at Gatwick.
All the warm words of Corbynian Labour on climate mean next to nothing, so long as the Labour Party remains dogmatically committed to economic growth as its number one policy objective – for it is growth that is recklessly driving environmental degradation and driving rampant and extreme levels of inequality in our society and in our world.
In summary, our challenge for Corbyn, might be cast in this way:  Will Labour oppose economic growth for the sake of it?  And oppose animal testing and factory farming?  Will opposition to nuclear power become Labour policy?  Plus outright opposition to the EU’s TTIP?
On the other hand, will Labour support CO2 targets sufficient to return us to 350ppm, support Land Value Taxation and planet-healthy organic agriculture?  Obviously, not just oppose or support them in warm vague words in some speech, but in actual votes in the House of Commons, in parliamentary committees, at PMQs, in its election manifesto?
Because even if Corbyn and Watson agree, they have the virtually impossible task of getting the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party in line.  We suspect that the answer to virtually all the questions we have just asked is: No.
Therefore, we are delighted that there will now be a real opposition to the government, but it won’t mean we can spend more time at home with our children.  The need for the Green Party is 100% as strong and urgent as ever.
First published on on 21st September 2015

Performing 'The Crucible' in Our Everyday World

by Brian Bamford
WHO is to be included to membership and whom is to be excluded as  a member of a given community or association?  Group membership entitlement is a sociological problem, but the published program for the current performance of Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible' now showing at Manchester's Royal Exchange observes: 
'At certain times in history, though, these weapons have been turned round to point at some of those already inside the community.  Perceived offenders against group identity have been stripped of the citizenship to which they were legally entitled.' 

We now, in the U.K., live in a society in which suspicions have been aroused about panic over paedophilia.  But in the USA in 1953, when the play was first performed, it was a moment when anyone could be brought under suspicion for signing a petition: One consequence of the McCarthyism of the 'House of Un-American Activities Committee' (1938-1969) may have been that the original Broadway production of 'The Crucible' only ran for 137 performances compared with 742 performances for Miller's previous play 'Death of a Salesman' (1949). 

By focusing on the historic mass hysteria present in the village of Salem in 1692, Miller is able to create from his indirect approach what he calls:  'The Salem tragedy developed from a paradox... a paradox in whose grip we still live.' 

As I write these words I glance at an article entitled 'An unjust inquisition' in last Saturday's Financial Times (F.T.) by Janan Ganesh, who writes: 
'In recent years Britain – sane, rigorous, legalistic Britain – has succumbed to a sexual McCarthyism, with paedophilia substituting for Soviet affiliation.' 

Thus, this performance of 'The Crucible' comes at a time when there have been unpunished cases of child abuse; some cases of which were revealed in our printed publication Northern Voices 14 in 2013, and on this NV Blog on the 13th, November 2012, hours before the Rochdale M.P. Simon Danczuk made his speech in the House of Commons about Cyril Smith and child abuse.   Mr. Danczuk was born in an area of Burnley, a town just south of the region associated with the trials of the Pendle witches in 1612, which were among the most famous witch trials in English history.  
Janan Ganesh in his F.T. feature commenting on what he calls 'the parliamentary wing of this slapdash crusade' writes: 
'The generous interpretation is that institutions which failed to act against real and heinous sexual abuses in the past are now trying too hard to atone.' 

This Royal Exchange production of 'The Crucible' seeks to use 'Brechtian-style “distancing” - inviting you to be aware of your own position as a community of spectators, witnessing the gradual destruction of the community of Salem.'  The play builds up from the first act which fixes the background and basic facts of the witch-hunt, then most of the rest of the play in Miller's play is invention.   

Jonjo O'Neill, as John Proctor in his first appearance at the Royal Exchange, wrestles with the difficulties of deciding between commitment to his wife, and the moral dilemma of betraying others in the community.  His is a brilliant performance in a play in which the individual in the end embraces the group dynamics:  it is John Proctor's effort to see himself as a good person that is the most moving part of the play.  Of the rest of the cast there is a Rachel Redford as Abigail Williams, who is revealed in the play as tempting Proctor  and then going on in Miller's version, to use the witch-hunt to present a 'marvellous cool plot to murder' Elizabeth, Proctor's wife played by Matti Houghton, and thus to have Proctor for herself by bearing false witness:  'It is a whore's vengeance, and you must see it.'   

Stephen Bottoms in his commentary in the Royal Exchange programme for the play writes:

'Nowadays, we might have some difficulty conceiving of a teenager as the less forgivable party in an affair with a married man in his 30s.' 

Strange how the times have changed since 1953.

Blacklist Support Group - October 2015 - Latest!

Blacklist Support Group

October dates for the diary:
LunchtimeUniversity of Leeds Fairbairn House, Suite A Room 1 (G.01) Clarendon Road 12pm-2pmSponsored by University of Leeds Unison and Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change. EveningLeeds Beckett University, Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane, BPAG10 6pm onwards.Presented by Leeds Taking Soundings (This is the ‘rusty tower’ building opposite the Fenton Pub. The room is on the groundfloor)
  • Wednesday 7th (10:30am) - Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand - Opening hearing for Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing. Decision on whether Blacklist Support Group and other victims of police surveillance have been given 'core participant' status. Photo opportunity outside the court from 9am with Spies Out of Lives, Blacklist Support Group, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.  (press interviews available in advance if required) 
  • Thursday 8th - Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand - Case Management Discussion for High Court group litigation trial.
  • Throughout October & November: Townsend productions present: Ragged Trousered Philanthropists / United We Stand tour  
Leighton Buzzard, Harrogate, Peckham - with lots of celebs - if you've never seen these 2 iconic agitprop plays - don't miss this opportunity

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Unite Drops Disciplinary Against N.V. Editor

EARLIER this month, after it was pointed out that Unite the Union had breached its own rules in its disciplinary procedures, the union decided that it 'would be inappropriate for us to continue with the Rule 27 Disciplinary, as natural justice would be very difficult under these circumstances'.  Last April, an editor of Northern Voices, Brian Bamford, who is also a Unite branch secretary, had been confronted with a complaint alleging he was 'bringing injury to or discredit upon the Union' and some of its members, by Unite's Chairman of the North West Local Authority Regional Industrial Sector Committee, Bro. Sidney Graves.  This related to a post on this Northern Voices' Blog posted in March this year, and entitled 'Unite Committee Bin's Blacklist Motion'.
Unite has apologized for its procedural 'error', and this matter is now closed.

The Economy in Microcosm

'A Long History of a Short Block'

 by Brian Bamford

IN a recent essay in the FT Weekend Magazine Tim Harford, the undercover economist, wrote that 'the nation state is a political unit, not an economic one', and while 'national authorities can impose a common interest rate, tax rates and regulations' through which political policy influences the economy, it can be argued that the natural unit of macroeconomic analysis is not the nation state, but the city, the region, and the surrounding areas.   

In posts on this NV Blog Les May has argued about the necessity of a National Health Service and national, if not international, standardisation of electrical supply such as equal voltages.  John Desmond has argued that a more local system would be possible in certain circumstances referring to Spanish sources  (see below Review of Anarchist Voices by Les May and other related posts).
New research by three development economists, William Easterly, Laura Freschi and Steven Pennings has produced a paper 'A Long History of a Short Block' in which they examined the economic development of a single 486ft. block of Greene Street between Houston and Prince Street in downtown Manhattan.  Easterly is well known for his scepticism about how much development can ever be planned, and how much credit can political leaders and their so-called expert advisers claim when things go well. 

William Easterly argues:

'Here's a block where there is no leader; there's no president or prime minister of this block', and Greene Street, he says, offers us a perspective on the more spontaneous, decentralised features of economic development.   

The study of the history of Greene Street offers a series swift and surprising changes.  The Dutch colonised Manhattan in 1624, but decided to cede what is now New York to the British in 1667, in exchange for guarantees over the possession of what is now Suriname in Latin America.  At that time this sugar-rich region looked a good thing, but now New York City's economy is a hundred times bigger than Suriname's. 

In 1850, Greene Street was a prosperous residential district with some households that would be millionaires by today's standards.  Two large hotels and a theatre opened, and prostitutes started to  move into the area.  By 1870, the middle-classes had shifted, and the block became the heart of New York City's largest sex-work districts. 

Towards the end of the 19th century, perhaps because property values in the red-light area were low, entrepreneurs came in to build large cast-iron stores and warehouses for the garment trade.  Then Greene Street's luck ran out when this industry moved uptown after 1910, and property values collapsed.  Urban planners in the 1940s and 1950s suggested bulldozing the area and starting again, but a campaign by the neighbourhood successfully resisted this.  Property values revived as artists began to colonised Greene Street enticed-in by the low priced large and airy spaces.   

As a lesson of this Tim Harford suggests that getting the 'basic infrastructure right –  streets, water, sanitation, policing – is a good idea', but 'aggressive planning, knocking down entire blocks in response to temporary weakness, is probably not.'   In this sense central planning and predicting the process of economic development at a local level is 'a game for suckers'. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Simon Danczuk & E-mail 'Smear'

SIMON Danczuk, the Rochdale M.P., insists he knows nothing about an e-mail that is said to have originated from his office.  The e-mail sent in 2012 was claimed to 'smear' a Labour Party rival, Colin Lambert, the former leader of Rochdale Council and Heywood Councillor.  The e-mail has now been handed over to police officers working on the Operation Clifton Enquiry into aspects of the historic child abuse case.

Mr. Danczuk claims he has no knowledge of the e-mail, and says it was not sent from his office.  Suggestions that he knew were, he said:  'completely and utterly groundless'.

This matter is now the basis of a complaint to the National Labour Party Executive Committee from the neighbouring Heywood and Middleton constituency Labour Party.  Councillor Lambert has said that he has been the target of a 'vile smear campaign' within the Labour Party. 

Meanwhile, a Labour party spokesman has said:  'It would be inappropriate to comment on an on-going police investigation.'

Operation Clifton is examining the e-mail as part of the evidence it has gathered in the last two years.  Some of us at Northern Voices assisted in the enquiry earlier this year.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Housing & Communication Worker's Union

CWU housing campaign: Housing for All
THE Communications Worker's Union (CWU) has today (Wednesday) launched the next phase of its housing campaign 'Homes for All'.
The campaign compliments and strengthens other initiatives such as Generation Rent’s Queen’s Speech for Housing and the TUC Young Workers Housing Charter, both endorsed by the CWU.
General secretary Dave Ward said; “The housing crisis has become a humanitarian issue for our society and a whole generation of young people. We have seen this coming for years and the current situation will take no-one by surprise – the question now is whether there is the political will to address it.
'The CWU is calling for action to deal with all of the different aspects of the problem. In particular we need to see more homes being built – not for people to let, but for people to live in – and time should be called on bad landlords and letting agents when homes aren’t fit to live in.'
The union is calling on members to support the campaign by sharing their housing details and horror stories on a campaign website.  'We last surveyed our members at the end of 2012,' said national officer Simon Sapper, 'so we need to see to what extent the national pattern of increasing dependence on rented accommodation, especially for younger workers, is reflected in our members.'
The CWU campaign also asks members to lobby their MPs to support Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North’s,  Private Members’ Bill which is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 16th October. The Homes (Fit For Human Habitation) Bill aims to drag the consumer protection rights of tenants into the 21st century.
Dave Ward added:
'There is a now widespread recognition that we need to deal with what is now a national emergency. Our young members need homes to live in and our older ones need homes for their children and grandchildren.  This is not revolutionary politics - just common sense.'
For more information and to get involved, visit Housing for All. (

'The martyrdom of Simon Danczuk'

Les May
SIMON Danczuk's bid to be seen as a martyr sacrificed to the 'extremists' in the Labour party needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. He's hawked his story about 'far-left' supporters of Jeremy Corbyn trying to 'silence' him and drum him out of the party to Sky News, the Sun and the Daily Mail.  Whether he has been paid for his  comments we'll find out in a month or so when he next makes a declaration in the House of Commons Register of Members Interests.
Danczuk is a self proclaimed Labour 'moderate' which makes anyone who criticises him an 'extremist'.  So what are Danczuk's 'moderate' policies which he thinks the Labour party should be following?  They seem to consist of three things: break Labour's links with the Trades Unions; plug the funding gap by saying the sorts of things which the very wealthy will find comfortable thus ensuring they will make donations to the Labour party; talk about the policies which will generate a favourable write up in the Sun and the Daily Mail.  Which leaves unanswered the question of just how Labour would differ from the Tories.
This recent flurry of activity by Danczuk seems to have its origins in the response to his promoting a Sun story about Corbyn and the IRA which had been retracted by The Times in 1987, in the discovery of an e-mail smearing Colin Lambert the ex-leader of Rochdale council which seems to have been sent by his aide Matt Baker and which is claimed to have originated in Danczuk's constituency office, and the fact that last Friday Heywood and Middleton’s constituency Labour party passed a motion agreeing to complain to the National Executive Committee about Danczuk's alleged conduct.
But don't write Danczuk off just yet.  In the past he has shown a remarkable capacity for being able to pull a new rabbit from the hat when things begin to look a bit difficult.  In May 2014 it was announced that he would give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee about what he had written about Cyril Smith in 'Smile for the Camera'.  Danczuk said, 'he welcomed the opportunity to explain why he’d written the book'.  He was still peddling this line in mid June.
But a week before he was due to appear on 1st, July he changed his tune and told the 'Independent on Sunday' that if he were asked by anyone on the Select Committee he would name a living parliamentarian as being involved in paedophilia.  In the event out came his story that after a late vote a Tory minister stepped out of the shadows to confront him and warn him against doing so. And with a single bound he was free!  That was the news next day.  He no longer had to run the risk of an inquisitive MP asking him whether he had any proof of his assertions about Smith's activities.
In October 2014, I wrote to Danczuk to ask how many men he had interviewed before writing his book who claimed to have been abuse by Smith after the closure of Cambridge House in the mid 1960s.  I'm still waiting for an answer.  Later in the month one of the editors of Northern Voices put the same question to Danczuk and Baker after a book reading in the ill fated 'Danczuk's Deli'. Question still unanswered the fragrant Karen ushered him out of the door for his pains.
Anyone feel like starting a petition to press Danczuk for an answer? provokes-storm-of-criticism-for-wrongly-accusing-jeremy-corbyn-of-trying-to-support-terrorism recruiter=178516679&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive  

The Humbug of Simon Danczuk

Les May
DURING the 2010 General Election campaign Gordon Brown came to Rochdale to support Labour hopeful Simon Danczuk.  He ended up making some unwelcome headlines for himself as a result of the 'bigotgate' incident which seemed to do Labour no harm whatsoever as Danczuk won the seat.
Mr D's comment about this was, ‘He hasn’t apologised to me at any stage. You’d have thought he would. I’d have said sorry if I were him.’   Keep that last sentence in mind!
After the publication of 'his' book, (it seems to have mostly been written by his aide Matt Baker), in April 2014, politics in Rochdale became dominated by one thing: demands by the Danczuk camp followers that the Lib-Dems should 'apologise' for Cyril Smith.  There's that word again.
This was of course a trap. Had they done so it would have been a tacit admission that the claims in the book about Smith's activities after the closure of Cambridge House in the mid 1960s were true and it would have neatly removed the problem of the authors being asked to prove their claims.  If you read the book you soon realise that they amount to little more than gossip, innuendo and assertions by Danczuk and Baker.  
What is beyond doubt, because the allegations were published in Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) in May 1979 when Smith was very much alive, is that at Cambridge House he carried out a number of indecent assaults whilst he was still a member of the Labour Party.  The late Mr Roger Chadwick has placed on record that he gave information about these to the then Labour Agent Josh Hughes. There were of course no demands from Danczuk that his party 'apologise'.
In April of this year Simon was calling for Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders to 'apologise', (there's that word again!), over previous decisions by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute Lord Janner.  Decisions made some ten years ago when she was not in the post.
Two weeks ago Danczuk was on the Daily Politics programme insisting that Ed Milliband has a lot to 'apologise' for, (it's getting monotonous Simon), and would 'probably go down as one of the worst Labour party leaders in history'.
But what happens when the boot is on the other foot and it's Simon Danczuk who is told to apologise?
On pages 221 and 222 of his book is a typical Danczuk story about Smith. In recounting this story he forgot the collateral damage being caused to the reputation of the Northamptonshire Police.
'His car had been pulled over on the motorway and officers had found a box of child porn in his boot.  The police were naturally disgusted and wanted to press charges.  But then a phone call was made from London and he was released without charge.
'Senior officers had threatened the officers involved with dismissal if he was not released immediately. The mood was tense and sullen as officers stood back while Cyril breezily walked past them to freedom. All the staff who knew about it were threatened with the Official Secrets Act if they discussed the matter any further. Once again Cyril walked out of the police station knowing he was a protected man.'
A totally convincing story,  but totally untrue.  How do we know?  Because detectives have interviewed Danczuk, two former chief constables, about 60 police staff, a journalist who has written extensively about Smith, and several members of the public.  No witness has been found who saw Smith in custody or was involved in his arrest, no reports of the alleged incident have been uncovered and no witnesses have been found from Special Branch.  A manual trawl of its archives was undertaken by Special Branch and the Crown Prosecution Service searched its archives for relevant information.  Both found nothing.
So far as I know this is the only one of Danczuk's stories that has been subject to scrutiny. I leave it to your imagination to figure out how much it has cost to find out the truth about it just because he and Baker could not be bothered to check it out before committing it to print.
Speaking on the BBC regional programme 'Look East' the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northamptonshire Adam Simmonds said the force had been 'maligned' by Mr Danczuk adding, ‘The force should expect an apology.  Northamptonshire Police are not guilty of covering up a crime and indeed letting someone go on to perpetrate more.’So now it's Danczuk's turn to apologise.  Does he?  No, he demands something which is logically impossible, that the police 'disprove' his claim.
But the killer line is what PCC Adam Simmonds said next, ‘Everything in that book's got to be evidence-led and -based, otherwise you are alerting people to the wrong information.’ There's a lot of 'wrong information' in Danczuk's book because overwhelmingly it is not based on evidence.  The false story about improper behaviour by Northamptonshire police with regard to Cyril Smith is just one of the ways in which he tries to conjure up a conspiracy to protect Smith. 
Danczuk is good at demanding other people 'apologise' but when he gets it very wrong he refuses to do it himself.   The man is a Humbug.

(Do watch this video and see Tom Baldwin make Danczuk squirm. His ever reddening face is a picture to behold.)