Sunday, 21 December 2014

Protestors lay wreath at Ashton Jobcentre: staff called upon to show humanity and compassion!

Around 20 protestors including members from TAMESIDE AGAINST THE CUTS, Tameside Stop The Bedroom Tax & the Cuts, Tameside Unemployed Workers Alliance, Tameside Trades Union Council, & Tameside Green Party, gathered outside Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre on Thursday. These regular Thursday afternoon demonstrations, have been taking place since August, after a 19-year-old girl from Ashton had her benefit stopped after she informed an employer B&Q (where she'd been sent by the Jobcentre to work unpaid) that she was 23-weeks pregnant. More recently, a 32-year-old jobseeker was told by staff at Ashton Jobcentre that his benefit would be stopped if he continued to participate in the protest outside Ashton Jobcentre against unfair and illegal sanctions.

On Thursday, a wreath was laid outside the Jobcentre to highlight how benefit sanctions and cuts have led to suicides. A list of people whose deaths have been linked to benefits cuts, which was taken from the 'Black Triangle Campaign', was read out to the public. A representative from the trade union UNISON, also read out a letter that he was delivering to Ashton Jobcentre objecting to unfair sanctions and the beastly inhuman treatment that is being meted out jobseeker's. Rev. David Grey, a former friar of Gorton Monastery, dressed in a monks habit, made a speech outside the Jobcentre calling upon Jobcentre staff to show humanity and compassion towards the unmployed.

Although the government deny that there is a policy of targeting people for sanctioning, it is known that staff face disciplinary action if they don't sanction enough people. At one Jobcentre, Easter egg prizes were offered to staff who had sanctioned the most people.

While the UK is ranked as the sixth richest country on earth, a recent all-party report on foodbanks, has warned that Britain is 'stalked by hunger' caused by low pay, growing inequality and a harsh benefit sanctions as well as social break-down. The report says that benefit sanctions are the single biggest reason why the poor are resorting to foodbanks.

Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary for Work and Pensions, denies that welfare cuts are connected to financial hardship and suicides. He has accused Britain's largest food bank network, the Trussell Trust, of scaremongering. Other well-fed Tories have also scoffed at reports of hungry Britain, claiming that the poor don't know how to cook or that greater awareness of food banks, has led to increased demand. Yet the report says that severe hunger is leading to malnutrition and that there has been an increase in people scavenging for leftovers in restaurant and supermarket skips. Despite this indictment against Duncan Smith's vendetta against the poor and vulnerable, he was voted the most influential lay Roman Catholic by readers of the Tablet in 2010.

On Wednesday, a Labour motion to scrap the bedroom tax, was defeated in the Commons by 298 votes to 266, after 35 slimey LibDems, voted with the Tories to retain the tax despite promising earlier this year, to ditch the policy.

The weekly protests outside Ashton Jobcentre, have attracted a great deal of attention from citizen journalists working within social media. Yet the local Tameside newspapers the Tameside (PRAVDATISER)  Advertiser  and the New Charter owned, Tameside Reporter and Chronicle, have shown scant interest in the campaign despite receiving regular briefings. A visit to Ashton Jobcentre made by Rachell Reeves, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and council leader, Kieran Quinn, in October, did however, receive press coverage.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Bad Backs for Bury Bin-men!

BURY MBC this week denied that its newly imposed 3-weekly collections of grey non-recycable waste was resulting in more injuries to the Council workers.  This was after a spokesman for the local Bury Unite branch had claimed two operatives were off on the sick with a bad back and shoulder respectively.

A Bury Council spokesman told the Bury Times:
'The council has not seen an increase in injury to employees since the move to three-weekly collections.  All staff are trained in safe manual handling techniques and in instances where a bin is found to be too heavy to empty, crews are advised that it should be left and stickered.  This has always been the case and nothing has changed in this respect.'

A union leader, Brian Bamford, local Secretary of Bury Unite, had said:
'This week, a safety representative at Bradley Fold depot reported to me that since the new change to three-weekly collections there had been an increase in injuries.'

Mr. Bamford continued:
'Part of the problem arises from the binmen being forced to shift two bins at a time to complete their new rounds on schedual.  Doing this is contrary to the advice of management and the workforce safety representatives, but workers now feel they may be penalised, or even victimised, if they fail to complete their rounds on schedual.  In this kind of rat-race, younger workers are being played off against some of the older lads.'

The Bury Council admitted:
'The new service has required settling into but we refute any allegation that our valued workforce is victimised in any way.'

Amen, to that!

Remembering the Real First World War

After the First World War many believed the arms trade to be a primary cause of war. The unprecedented scale of death and destruction wrought by modern weaponry led a majority of people to support…
Added on 08/12/2014
OUR video techies have been working hard over the last month to capture a number of legacy and recent BRHG talks for your viewing.

The first group are from the Remembering the Real World War one series of events in October and November this year, and are listed here:

Wed 29th Oct 2014 World War One: Arming All Sides with the Arming All Sides project
Sun 2nd Nov 2014 Hidden Histories of World War One including:
The Christmas Truces 1914-15: Miracle, myth or mass mutiny? (Roger Ball, Bristol)
Compulsion, Conscription and Class: The case of the Forest of Dean Miners (Ian Wright, Bristol)
What are we fighting for? The East End and the First World War (David Rosenberg, London)
Opposition to WW1 in Germany: Rosa Luxemburg and others (Andrea Heubach, Berlin)
103 Foresters: Mutinies and death sentences in the local regiment 1914-18 (Philipp, Nottingham)
No Glory in War, Manchester - Alternative Ways of Marking the World War I Centenary (Ian Gwinn, Manchester)
Tue 4th Nov 2014 Women Resisting the Great War with June Hannam and Sheila Rowbotham
Thu 6th Nov 2014 Deserters, Conchies and Reds with Colin Thomas and Geoff Woolfe
Sat 8th Nov 2014 Trade Unions and Resistance to the Great War with Kevin Morgan and Ian Wright
Wed 12th Nov 2014 The World’s War with Dominic Rai

Full details of each event can be found here.

A second e-mail will follow with some other new films.

Happy holiday,

 Brhmob mailing list



Under the Pavement Politics

CHRIS Draper has written an excellent expose of the 'semi-secretive' and authoritarian structure/organisation of the Anarchist Federation (AF).   It is a detailed and well researched critique and illustrates very well the 'entryist' tactics of this organisation.   The bans and proscriptions which it employs against libertarians have no place in the anarchist movement.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Anarchist Federation: Bring on the Clowns!

The Skedaddler in English Political Life

Chris Draper writes in his review of anarchism in the UK titled 'Anarchist Fed.: Under the Pavement Politics:

'In 2011, Comrade Heath {long term boss of the Anarchist Fed.} declared "We have to be seen as a serious movement, not one viewed as ineffectual and passive, riddled with dilettantes and cranks".'

It would be interesting to learn what the Anarchist Federation has done to bring this about; beyond getting a Manchester Museum to ban people like Barry Woodling, a participant in the Northern Anarchist Network, and a journalist associated with the regional news and cultural publication Northern Voices.  Perhaps in 2012, Barry Woodling was accused at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair in the People's History Museum, by Nick Heath and others, of being an 'anti-Semite', simply because he is a lapsed Jew who eats non-Kosher food like bacon butties, and has in the past been witnessed taking part in anti-Zionist demos outside Marks & Spencer. 

Who knows?

The fact is Mr. Heath excels himself not so much at political and social activism but rather at political intrigue and manipulation.  By being in their own words 'semi-secretive' how could it be otherwise?  I wager that few of the readers of the Northern Voices' Blog will have ever heard of the 'Anarchist Fed.' .  Certainly it is hard to find in which campaigns they have been active in, and being objectively 'anti-trade union' they do not seem to have participated in the campaign against the Blacklist in the British building trade or even to have shown their faces on a picket.  I may be wrong about this but usually such groups as theirs declare themselves 'anti-Fascist' which gives them the excuse of keeping their heads down for fear of being noticed by 'Red Watch'.

In truth, as one of their number said in an earlier comment, the only agency the members of the Anarchist Fed. fear is the Chartered Institute of Personnel Officers and Human Resources Managers. They fear this institution because what they want above anything is to preserve their jobs and pensions:  you will struggle to find any of these heroic persons on a blacklist anywhere and that is why they so hate the nick-name many of them have earned - 'Skedaddler'.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Thought Experiment from Trevor Hoyle

Salford Working Class Movement Library

1. Our exhibition The Great War - myths and realities closes this Friday, 19 December. Pop in any time Wednesday to Friday 1-5pm if you haven't yet caught it.

2. A reminder that the Library's opening hours over the Christmas period are as follows: the Library will close at 1pm on Wednesday 24 December 2014 and will reopen on Tuesday 6 January 2015 at 10am.

3. Library Trustee Royston Futter has got three copies of the script he put together for the recent Radical Readings fundraiser. They each have all the extracts and the poems, and are signed by all the readers. One is Maxine Peake's script, highlighted by her; one is Royston's copy with manuscript additions scribbled out during the performance; and one is the spare copy kept in case Sheila Hancock dropped hers!  In addition Royston has the original manuscript (with amendments and alterations) of his poem "Bullingdon Dave", read (or rather sung) by Sheila on the day.

These are all available to anyone who would like them in return for a donation to the library. Offers (specifying which item you are bidding for) to Royston at by Friday 2 January please.

4. The Rochdale Pioneers Museum is hosting a Pioneers 170 Christmas Celebration event on Wednesday 17 December, 6-8pm.
21 December 2014 marks the 170th anniversary of the Rochdale Pioneers opening their co-operative store at 31 Toad Lane. A team of volunteers at the Museum has been busy transcribing the original minute book from 1844. This evening lecture and launch of the newly transcribed minute book will include mince pies and mulled wine.
Free, recommended donation £2.50. Please book by calling 01706 524920 or e-mail  More details here.

5. People Make their Own History
This is a ten-week course of study delivered by the WEA in association with the People's History Museum, and held at PHM on Thursdays from 15 January to 26 March 2015, 1-3pm. It will look at seven key demonstrations that shaped our social and political landscape: from Peterloo and the Chartists, the struggles over jobs, against fascism, and for access to the countryside in the 1930s, fighting Section 28 and for LGBT rights in the 1980s, to Stop the War and against the Bedroom Tax today.
Bookings must be made in advance by contacting the WEA on 0151 243 5340 or via, quoting course ref C3837176. Fee: £65.10 or free (please enquire with the WEA).

Festive regards to all Library supporters.  We're looking forward to sharing a new Web site and new-look e-bulletin with you early in 2015.

Today's Blacklist Events!

'I’ve been sacked so many times at Christmas that my kids thought it was part of the Father Christmas story, except that the ‘sack’ was empty'
Blacklisted bricklayer and UCATT branch secretary, Dave Ayre from Crook, County Durham 

Wednesday 17th December

9:30am - High Court blacklisting trial continues (Photo-opportunity for the press) 
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand

4:30pm Blacklist Support Group parliamentary meeting (press welcome) 
Committee Room 17
Houses of Parliament

Update from the High Court legal action plus ongoing campaign including the compensation scheme, public inquiry, police collusion, publicly funded contracts. Expect some breaking news.
Speakers: John McDonnell MP, Dave Smith (BSG sec), Steve Acheson / Steve Kelly (BSG co-chairs), Justin Bowden (GMB), Liam Dunne (GCR solicitors), Howard Beckett (UNITE Legal) 

7pm - BSG Festive drink (we deserve it) 
Westminster Arms
Storey's Gate

Blacklist Support Group

One Hundred & Fifty!

The final version of the Burnley Declaration below was
first published on the 7th, March 2013.  It is a response
agreed in Burnley at a meeting of the Northern Anarchist Network
in December 2012 to the curious actions of the people associated
with a 'semi-secretive' body called the Anarchist Federation (AF) led
by a retired librarian called Nick Heath:  the AF has been described by
a historian as a London based organisation.
Condemnation of Bizarre Act by Secretive & Conspiratorial Group Continues to Grow!

THIS Northern Anarchist Statement to the Movement is here update with extra names adding their support, as the Anarchist Federation, which has turned a blind-eye to the irresponsible actions of its own members and constantly failed to disassociate itself from behaviour that is likely to bring the anarchist movement into disrepute. The statement below is the original Burnley Declaration approved by the Northern Anarchist Network, last December, and now includes blacklisted electricians, trade unionists, supporters of the Occupy Movement, members of the peace movement, libertarians, socialists as well as anarchists: 
'The Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) meeting in Burnley on the 8th, December, unreservedly condemns the treatment handed out to NAN supporter, Barry Woodling, at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair on the 1st, December, 2012. He was subjected to intimidation, threats, and verbal abuse at the hands of one of the organisers called 'Veg' assisted by Anarchist Federation members, including Nick Heath. In addition to being harangued as an 'imbecile', a 'dullard', and a 'fucking disgrace', he was accused of being an 'anti-semite'. Barry was subsequently thrown out of the bookfair. Such a monstrous charge beggar's belief in view of his Jewish roots, and the murder of a member of his family in the Nazi Gas Chambers in the 1940s.

'We thus call upon the organisers of the bookfair, and the Anarchist Federation to unreservedly apologise for their authoritarian actions, and to offer a guarantee that there will be no repetition of this in future. It seems that the Anarchist Federation and the Bookfair organisers are doing the State's work for them by attacking the NAN and its supporters.'

The following 150 people have now agreed to have their names added to the list supporting the above statement. Not all of these are anarchists, and most were not in attendance at the Northern Anarchist Network meeting at which the decision was made to make this declaration supporting Barry Woodling. It is a declaration that any decent person may sign. These are the signatures so far:
Colin Trousdale - blacklisted electrician (Bacup, Lancashire); Sean Keveney - blacklisted electrician (Manchester); George Tapp - electrician (Salford); Mark Brooks (Little Hulton, Salford); John Walker, former editor of the Rochdale Alternative Paper and now part-time correspondent on Private Eye (Forest Gate, London); David Dane (Baldock, Herts. ); Lee Brooks (Malborough in Derbyshire); Patricia Culpan (Rochdale); Paul Arnold (Manchester); Kevin Brenan (Bristol), Stacy Bluer (Salford), Mariam Shaw (Longsight), Donavan Pedelty (Wales); Trevor Bark (Northumbria); Grace Bamford (West Yorkshire); Basil Landau (Manchester); Neel Tiwana (Manchester); Sheilia Simpson (Manchester); Neil Donaldson (Shropshire); Diana Garcia (Manchester); Johnathan Davis (Manchester); Dan Hernandez (Manchester); Mingus (Manchester), Sal Choudhry (Manchester); Martin Hopwood (Manchester); Martin Gilbert (Cumbria); Barry Woodling (Swinton); John Simpkin (Lancashire); Eileen Hall (Burnley); Deon Bamford (West Yorkshire); Duncan Ball (Shropshire); Ilyan Thomas (Wales); Jim Petty (Burnley); Laurens Otter (Shropshire); Brian Bamford (Rochdale); Chris Draper (York); Derek Pattison (Dukinfield, Greater Manchester); Joe O'Neil (Swinton South, Salford); Bob Crane (Bury); Yvonne Dodge (Radcliffe); Camilo Melara (Manchester); Johnathan Simcock (Derbyshire); Denise Bamford (Todmorden); Anna Jeffery (North Yorkshire); Adele Dodge (Radcliffe); Patrick Finnerty (Rochdale); Sean Dempsey (Bury); Dave Douglass (South Sheilds); Martin Bashford (York), Dave Chapple (Bridgewater), Chris Chilton (Bolton), Susan Reddington (Bolton), Elaine Cross (Bolton), Denis Pye (Bolton), Dameon Bamford (Todmorden); Dave Fogg (Manchester), Lydia Meryll (Manchester), Heike Gabernowitz (Manchester), David Hernandez (Manchester); Deyika Nzeribe (Manchester); Johnny Pratt (Manchester); Stefano Ba (Manchester); Carmen Perugia (Manchester); Jenny Longworth (Manchester); Joseph Stacey (Manchester); Herman St John (Manchester); Sarah Redman (Manchester); Nadja Redman (Manchester); Clifford C. Cawthorn (Manchester); Dr. Phoebe Moore (Manchester); Nicola Smith (Monton); Fred Coker (Manchester); Daniel Evans (Manchester); Page Cleasby (Manchester); Jean Compton (Bolton); Janette Cosgrove (Bolton); Steve Harrold (Bolton); Graham Marsden (Bolton); Barry Mills (Bolton); Roy Ratcliffe (Leigh); Heide Connell (Manchester); Mike Koefman (Manchester): Ann Papageorgiou (Stockport); Phillip Gilligan (Rochdale): Rae Street (Littleborough, Lancs.): Ann Jordan (Manchester): George Abenstern (Rochdale): Angela Trikic (Manchester); Maya Grana (Manchester): Natalia Grana (Manchester); Edward Egan (Hale Barns, Cheshire); Jacqui Burke (Oldham); Cath Tributsch (Bury); Pat Sanchez (Rochdale); Malcolm Pittock (Bolton); Chris Cole (Oxford); Maggie Smith (Salford); George Hayes (Bolton); Julia Simpkins (Bolton); Wendy Pye (Bolton); Phil McNally (Bolton); Sara Burn (Bolton); Trudy Chilton (Bolton); Ian McHugh (Bolton); Helen Dickson (Bolton); Liz Terry (Bolton); John Terry (Bolton); Eileen Murphy (Bolton); Paul Kelly (Manchester); Helen McHugh (Bolton); Moira Hill (Bolton); Carol Gordon (Bolton) Hilary Eastham (Bolton); Neil Duffield (Bolton); Stuart Murray (Bolton); Fiona Parr (Bolton); Tim Gillibrand (Manchester); Steve Duriant (Manchester); Rachel Stokes (Manchester); Michelle Lanaway (Manchester); Merlyn Taylor (Manchester); Usman Hamid (Manchester); Keith Dowshup (Manchester); Mauricemo Shaw (Manchester); Sabrina Rahman (Manchester); Howard Broadbent (Bolton); Stephen Moulton (Bolton); Martin McLoughin (Bolton); Dave Mann (Rugby), Coventry); Michael Hazell (Rochdale); Liz Moult (Salford); Barry Moult (Salford); Cybil Perryman (Salford); Peter Bainbridge (Salford); Robin Hemuss (Chester); Jack Smith (Salford); Adam Richards (Salford);

Carlos Beltran (Madrid); Melina Gonzalez Sanches (Madrid); CARLOS ANTONIO FIGUEROA LILLO (MADRID, Spain), John Lawrence (Oman), Seamus Cain (USA); Rachel Whittaker (Republic of Ireland); Kanjana Damrongsaksit (Thailand); Bitrous Yohanna (Nigeria); Adama Yussuf (Nigeria); Cyril Wosu (Nigeria); Prof. Peter Buse (CANADA); Ana Lucia (Guatemala); 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Anarchist Fed.: Under the Pavement Politics

 by Chris Draper.

 LENIN urged the Communist Party to support the Labour Party 'like a rope supports a hanged man'; the 'Anarchist Federation' (AF) provides a similar facility for the British anarchist movement. AF’s conspiratorial politics are a destructive threat and an ethical affront to all fair-minded anarchists.

AF employs bans, censorship and violence to silence its critics as it pursues a 'semi-secretive' party-building strategy aimed at unifying and dominating the British anarchist movement. Fortunately AF has had limited success and its claimed membership only equals the number of libertarians that in 2013 signed a letter deploring AF violence.

The organisation’s title is the original deceit. Until 2001 AF was more accurately labelled ACF, the 'Anarchist Communist Federation', an organisation whose declared, 'emphasis was on building a Platformist style organisation in Britain'. The name change might have signalled a move towards undiluted anarchism but it didn’t, it was a cynical marketing ploy to ditch a tainted brand. 'It should be noted that the decision was not unanimous and some ACF members argued against the name change because of fears of dilution of our politics' but were reassured, 'this does not reflect a change in political direction'. 'We didn’t change our Aims and Principles!' (nb. text within quotes is taken directly from AF documents, unless otherwise indicated). 'With the name change we hope to create dialogue with those new to revolutionary ideas.'

AF hoped to conceal its continuing Platformist policies in order to attract, 'those new to revolutionary ideas' because, as members of the Direct Action Movement (DAM) observed at the time; 'The Platform was rejected by most of the anarchist movement and denounced as an attempt to Bolshevise anarchism'.   AF appeared to concur as they adjusted and extended their marketing, 'to attract those disillusioned by Leninism'.  The AF’s 'Platform' incorporates the 'Manifesto' of French Libertarian Communist George Fontenis, a proponent of the 'vanguard party' as well as the Council Communist politics of Anton Pannekoek despite admitting, 'the ideas of Anton Pannekoek are situated clearly within the Marxist tradition.  True Pannekoek was never an anarchist but the ideas he espoused hold much in common with and have greatly influenced the ideas of the Anarchist Federation of today.' 

ACF’s second, undeclared, aim in modifying its name was to establish market dominance. Neophytes would assume that this new “Anarchist Federation” embraced the whole spectrum of British anarchism, so why look elsewhere? In 2005 Dave (McLibel) Morris identified AF’s habit of airbrushing from history the work, and indeed the very existence, of anarchist activists outside AF. Responding to a typically jaundiced account published in AF’s journal, “Organise”, Morris wrote to AF to insist, 'there’s a very wide range of anarchist and anarchist-influenced activities which could and should also be acknowledged.'

The third aim in dropping the “C” was to give overseas anarchists the impression that ACF is an inclusive federation representative of the 2,000-3,000 or so anarchists in Britain (Morris’s estimate). This facilitated the organisation’s affiliation to the “International Anarchist Federation” (IAF) enabling the clique running AF to attend IAF meetings and misrepresent the views of the rest of us.

AF might have had legitimate claim to the label if those pushing the name change originated from the Anarchist rather than the Communist wing of the ACF but the founding members of the ACF in 1985 came from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Libertarian Communist Group respectively. The AF planned to establish a single, “specific, unified libertarian communist organisation…with a unified strategy and practice”. Anyone unsure whether this is Anarchy in Action or vanguardist party-building might refer to the organisations “Manifesto and Programme” (I kid you not). Inside AF’s party manifesto we learn their plan is to establish, 'semi-secretive…groups of dedicated revolutionaries'.

These self styled 'semi-secretive revolutionaries' hide their real names and operate either anonymously or behind aliases. Only the names of non-members appear in AF publications, otherwise all articles are unsigned. Their claimed logic is the threat they pose to the system would otherwise make them prime targets for the security services but if they really believe this confounds the State they are even more deluded than I think. Without names there is an obvious distancing from readers and others who come across the organisation. Hierarchies are hidden and accountability absent. The truth is that behind the scenes Nick Heath writes most the stuff and pulls most of the strings.

Ruth Kinna’s excellent “Introduction to Anarchism”, accurately identifies AF as “London-based” and “semi-secretive” but missed comrade Heath’s latest cunning plan for extending his party-building empire. Hints appeared in a 2011 edition of “Organise” where AF claim responsibility for “getting regional bookfairs off the ground in Sheffield, Manchester and Bristol”. Exploiting the well-established reputation of the London Bookfair for unsectarian promotion of all forms and interpretations of anarchism AF bankrolls local fairs to provide sectarian recruitment opportunities.

The recent Manchester Bookfair (November 2014) illustrates AF practice. Whilst a range of libertarians were allowed stalls (Vegans, Anarchist Voices, Cunningham Amendment etc) the “talks” (nb. not workshops or discussion groups) were dominated by AF and their stooges. Everyone attending the “Introduction to Anarchism” talk was handed a free 48-page booklet, not a general intro to the spectrum of anarchist ideas and organisations, such as Kinna’s book or Nicholas Walter’s pamphlet. It was an “Introduction to Anarchist Communism: The Anarchist Federation”. This isn’t anarchist consciousness-raising it’s “semi-secretive” party-building.

A member of the Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) known to be critical of AF politics was denied entry to the bookfair by a member of the venue’s (Pump House Museum) staff on the instructions of organisers “Veg” and “Dave Under the Pavement”. Staff had, apparently, been instructed to also refuse entry to another un-named anarchist. The organisers refuse to state openly the justification for these bans or their intended duration. It remains unproven whether “Veg” or Mister “Under the Pavement” are members of AF or, in Lenin’s (alleged) words, “useful idiots” but it is certain that AF is behind the ban.

At the 2012 London Bookfair an AF gang launched a premeditated violent attack on a lone anarchist tallholder that was witnessed by independent publisher, Ross Bradshaw of “Five Leaves” who reported the incident on his blog:
'Early in the day a small group from Manchester asked the one person at Northern Voices to leave. It was not clear to me at that moment why. It turned out that the magazine had some time ago written a rather unfavourable, and indeed rather unpleasant, obituary of the Manchester anarchist Bob Miller. Some time later in the morning a large group of people, from Manchester and elsewhere, returned to the stall, and when the stall holder refused to leave, wrecked it, stealing most of the material on display and covering the stall-holder and the stall (and one unrelated stall-holder behind NV) with salad cream. Though the stall-holder was uninjured, save for a bruised face when he fell and some irritation from the cream getting into his eyes, he was pretty shocked, as was anyone seeing the incident. I have no doubt that his original article was unwise and should not have been published – the best critique of it appears on NV’s own rather good blog.'

Another independent witness to the incident was a rather frail 78-year-old, Mr Ilyan Hugh Thomas of Carmarthen who happened to be passing just as the AF thugs struck. Mr Thomas kindly, and rather bravely, followed the gang back to their AF stall where he remonstrated with them and attempted to retrieve some of the literature stolen from Bamford’s stall. Despite his obvious age Mr Thomas was punched to the floor by the AF thugs.

A 'Burnley Declaration' deploring AF bans and violence was circulated and rapidly gained 150 signatures. AF characteristically failed to respond. In fact AF action immediately prior to and following the event served to further underline the organisation’s authoritarianism and contempt for the wider movement. (Incidentally I share Mr Bradshaw’s criticism of the obituary and note that NV itself published criticism of editor Bamford, a characteristically libertarian response so evidently absent from publications, organisations or events controlled by AF).

Cumbrian anarchist Martin Gilbert recalls that, on 'The day before the 2012 London Anarchist Bookfair I went to Freedom Bookshop. By chance I met Brian Bamford. After a short time Nick Heath (AF founding father) entered the shop emitting a string of verbal abuse against Brian. Freedom bookshop is visited by comrades from all over the world as well as people who are quite new to our ideas and actions. Nick’s outburst, whatever the cause could only give the worst of impressions.'

Despite this unrestrained public aggression when presented with an opportunity to politely state its case in clear rational terms so the rest of the movement could understand and judge for itself AF prove worse than unresponsive. Consider what happened when the “Burnley Declaration” was submitted to the anarchist newspaper Freedom in December 2012. Freedom’s editor emailed back:
'I am just letting you know that your statement will be appearing in the Jan issue of the paper. I am a bit behind at the moment, but would expect it to be ready to print in a week – ten days from now. I also wanted you to know that in the interests of fairness/not taking sides, I have contacted the Anarchist Federation and asked them whether they would like to write a response to your statement. If they choose to respond then that would also be included in the same issue.
Kind regards,

AF responded alright but not in a nice way. Presented with an opportunity to either denounce the violence as the isolated acts of a rogue element or to justify their actions AF did neither. As veteran anarchist and member of the newspaper collective, Donald Rooum explains, Freedom 'got a nasty letter from Nick Heath saying if your letter was published, he would withdraw co-operation, including the offer of a book.' Although Donald explains he didn’t approve of AF’s conduct, along with the rest of the collective he gave in to AF threats. Freedom should have made a principled stand and gone ahead and published details of the attack and allowed the anarchist movement to judge the facts for itself but instead Freedom effectively colluded with AF. This was not Freedom’s finest hour but the rot had already set in. The paper was already on the verge of collapse having in recent years systematically driven away most of its regular writers and subscribers through its ever-increasing indulgence in crude, unthinking, confrontational AF-sponsored propaganda. The anarchist movement might have detected the writing was on the wall for FREEDOM as early as 2004 when AF boasted in their house magazine:

After so cravenly caving in to Heath it was unsurprising that, the Freedom collective then bowed to his request to formally become an integral member of the editorial group. Heath had previously stated his wish to see the number of anarchist journals reduced to create a 'unified voice' and in 2014 Freedom ceased publication. Freedom continues to publish books and its most recent production is the one referred to above, by a certain Mr N Heath.

AF is not a federation of anarchists but a sectarian, vanguardist party. You are either with them or against them. Fellow travellers are tolerated, even encouraged, but anarchists who reject the revealed truths of the AF creed are fair game for anything from insults to physical attack with censorship, bans, and exclusions all part of the armoury. A disillusioned AF member revealed 'Federation members would routinely ridicule other anarchists' (nb. text in bold italics are the words of disenchanted or ex-AF members). Despite most chroniclers describing the 1960’s and 1970’s as a high watermark of anarchist influence AF characteristically denigrates, distorts and dismisses the constructive work of highly regarded anarchists like Colin Ward and Nicholas Walter; 'Of course, the humanist and pacifist elements that rejected class struggle continued to peddle their forms of radical liberalism within the pages of Freedom and Anarchy.'

'Lifestylist has become a derogatory smear for anyone who does not follow the neo-Platformist party line.'  'Sometimes people would just resort to crass stereotypes about squatters and hippies.'   Mutual respect for comrades pursuing alternative visions of anarchism is alien to AF whose vanguardism is formally denied although their 'leadership of ideas' is loudly and officially proclaimed. AF also modestly claims to embody the 'memory of the working class'.

In 2011, Comrade Heath declared:
'We have to be seen as a serious movement, not one viewed as ineffectual and passive, riddled with dilettantes and cranks.'

Almost a century earlier Henry Hyndman the autocratic founder of Britain’s first Marxist party denounced the iconoclastic libertarian influence of gay pioneer Edward Carpenter and his friends in chillingly similar terms:
'I do not want the movement to be a depository of old cranks, humanitarians, vegetarians, anti-vivisectionists and anti-vaccinationists, arty-crafties and all the rest of them, we are scientific socialists and have no room for sentimentalists.'
Tolstoyan anarchist editor Charles W Daniel responded to such prejudice by renaming his own periodical The Crank and lest that title appeared too modern he later renamed it Ye Crank. As Henry George artfully observed, 'A crank is a little thing that makes revolutions.' Cranks are the very essence of anarchy and the intolerance of AF’s policy and practice the antithesis.

Not every Tom, Dick or Harriet is allowed to join this elite organisation. Although AF members conceal their own identities you can’t join unless you first email your name and address to party HQ. Then follows the vetting procedure; a member of the party faithful first visits your residence to assess whether you’re ideological sound and likely to be loyal. Then you have to sign over a sizeable, regular levy on your income to party funds. Any ideological deviation, unacceptable level of activism, disloyalty or non-payment and you’re out, expelled. 'I just tried to check my emails one day on the AF account and found out I had been deleted'.

Leaving voluntarily is akin to apostasy and much resented with one ex-AF member reporting:
'I wrote a resignation email to explain why I was leaving and share my critique of the organisation’s inactivity and informal hierarchy. The response I got was someone asking me not to post my melodramatic Shakespearian soliloquy on the list. Nice way to respond to someone who has worked in the organisation for five years.'

Fortunately the party building isn’t going too well. AF are a bit like the saloons in the old cowboy films, the frontage looks big and impressive but round the back it’s really just a ramshackle shed. 'I imagined the Anarchist Federation was a lot bigger than it turned out to be…it never seemed to grow in the few years I was associated with it.' The maximum membership claimed by AF is 150 and when 10 members attended their Scottish conference AF considered this a good result. The published list of branches appears quite extensive until you realise that AF considers 3 members constitute a branch and in terms of activism, “many branches barely exist”.

As self-proclaimed anarchists, AF won’t admit the reality of an informal but effective hierarchy but it doesn’t take recruits long to realise AF’s professed democratic structure is a fiction. AF is effectively controlled by an informal group; 'a small friendship clique of the longest serving members…these Elders seemed to have decided long ago to crush youthful initiatives… just like the Trotskyists they claimed to be so different from'.

Writing in 'Total Liberty' in 2007 Peter Good identified this approach:
'Following the collapse of global Marxism…anarchists sought meaning in class-struggle organisations.  Many of which are little different from stereotypical revolutionary groups…the spirit that created them soon gets subsumed under a need to arrive at a unified orthodoxy. In doing so the organisation loses contacts with the context of the everyday.  Before long a system of administration kicks-in and we are witness to all the paraphanalia of bureaucracy, subscriptions, membership, meetings, mail-outs, exclusions.'

A disenchanted AF member reports:
'I am not exaggerating when I say that the vast majority of the time spent at national conference went on discussing internal administrative problems.' A 'unified orthodoxy' is well established and an,
'overly defensive group-mentality exists in AF'. 'It would be better if the whole thing was abandoned and a new organisation formed.'

Good’s analysis shouldn’t be misconstrued as opposing all forms of organisation as he goes on to claim, “The affinity group is the fundamental unit of any Free Society”. Good’s critique does however demonstrate how the ideology of AF dovetails with its authoritarian practice. He goes on to explain, 'The great fallacy of revolutionary organisation is a belief that the root of oppression lies in defective institutions. In demanding a new set of institutions it fails to address the need to change individuals. History is replete with descriptions of how institutional practices of the former society get carried across through personalities of the revolutionaries.'

Or as Gustav Landauer put it:
'The state is not something which can be destroyed by a revolution, but it is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.'

Contrast this approach with AF’s:
'Once capitalism has been destroyed, we can set about the exciting task of fulfilling our individual potential and shaping this new community' (AF “Manifesto”, 5th edition, pg 15).

Attacks on comrades, 'semi-secrecy' and 'Under-the-Pavement' politics have no proper place in our movement and I publish this open letter as a challenge to all members of the Anarchist Federation to come out of the woodwork and debate your politics in public. I write as an individual but know from conversations with comrades that many share my perception of AF. I challenge AF to debate, 'Semi-secret Politics versus Open Anarchism' at the next Manchester Bookfair although I suspect AF will simply add my name to the banned list and continue operating under the pavement.

For Peace, Love & Anarchy,

Christopher Draper, Llandudno (December 2014)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Agency Labour on Cannon Street Site?

The letter below is by now a late posting
as the picket was at 6.30am, but if anyone
wants to help they can still contact Graham Boxall: 

Hi Comrades ,

11 workers including 2 stewards were made redundant on 11th December at the volks Fitzpatrick site in Romford by T Clarke. There has not be any meaningful consultation with the stewards or ftos. The job still has a few months to go and Clarkes have other sites that are looking for labour a massive site in Canon Street , we are sure agency labour is being used on these sites.  T Clarke are saying they have no other work and cannot transfer the workers .  We all know the real reason Clarkes do not want union members or an organised work force on their company.

Please do your best to support the picket :
15th December 6.30am volksfitzpatrick site waterloo Romford Nearest station Romford overhead its around 30 minutes from Liverpool street trains leave platforms 12-18 .

Contact: Graham Boxall 07801 863360.

Scottish Nationalist 'People's Vow'

I picked up a copy of The Spectator while I was in Aberdeen at the end of November with a piece by Alex Massie entitled 'Scotland's unwon cause' in which he wrote:
'The SNP is the only political party in Scotland that can credibly claim to be a mass organisation.  It will soon, in all likelihood have 100,000 members.'


About the same time I bought a copy of The National a new daily that claims the be 'The newspaper that supports an independent Scotland'.  According to Alex Massie this paper sold 50,000 copies of its first edition – near twice of what the Scotsman averages.  Since then The National has doubled its print run.


At their last SNP conference since Nicola Sturgeon took over it produced the People's Vow:which specifies that industry should be nationalised; a republic declared; land ownership reformed; fracking banned; Nato left; and a people's budget published that would offer an alternative to austerity.


Whatever the outcome in Scotland at the next UK general election, and the SNP could win up to 50 seats if it performs in line with the recent polls, the consequences could lead to conflict for the Union whoever gained power in Westminster:  a Tory win next May would almost certainly result in increasing the backing in Scotland for the nationalists, and a Labour majority would not be much more helpful in so far as it would have to chose between letting down Scottish aspirations for more independence and possibly upsetting English opinion.  A Labour Government that depended on the SNP would be particularly vulnerable.


Mr. Massie argues that during the next General Election in Scotland it will be like '59 mini-referendums [in Scotland] on the national question'.  That in turn would 'serve as an overture to the 2016 Scottish parliamentary elections', at which Massie says: 'another SNP triumph would open the door to a second referendum.'  This would need the approval of the London Government, but in such circumstances it would be hard to refuse.

The building site lads I met from Glasgow at the Rank & File construction worker's conference in Newcastle on the 15th, November, certainly had high hopes that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP would be able to force the political pace in the New Year and give the Westminster crowd the run-around.  It is expected that Paul Salveson will be writing on this in the next edition of the Northern Voices - N.V. 15.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

End of Year Message from Blacklist Support Group

View Blacklist Support Group xmas card.jpg in slide show
View BSG xmas card justice.jpg in slide show
View BSG xmas card Neil Findlay.jpg in slide show
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BLACKLIST by Time Served J.I.B. Electrician
I stood up for my rights,
My workmates and my brothers,
On bleak construction sites,
I always shone a light,
For safety, and for others,
All these working men,
Have sisters, have mothers,
No work, my back a knife,
What will I tell the missus,
I'm blacklisted for life,
And not just for Christmas.

Wednesday 17th December 2014 - End of Year Day Out:

9:30am - Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London
High Court blacklisting trial continues

4:30pm - Committee Room 17, Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Blacklist Support Group update meeting

7pm - The Westminster Arms, Storey's Gate, Westminster
End of year beer & craic.
Attached Xmas cards designed by Art Against Blacklisting and Neil Findlay MSP
A big festive thank you to everyone who has supported the Blacklist Support Group over the past 5 years.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Price of Everything...

Rochdale councillor and businesswoman Karen Danczuk has defended her decision to sell scented ‘selfies’ of herself on eBay - and says it’s a simple case of supply-and-demand.

The Twitter-loving politician, married to Rochdale’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk, said her signed snaps are highly sought after.

Mrs Danczuk explained:
 'I decided to do them because they are in demand. People ask me for a little picture or a little note all the time. I’m very business minded, it’s in my blood.'

The selfies are sprayed with Chanel perfume before they are sold for £10 each on eBay.
Now mum-of-two Karen, 31, has already sold 80 cards on the auction website - and she’s buying more bottles of her favourite perfume in anticipation of further sales.

She added: I need to print off more and I’m going to have to buy more Chanel perfume.
'I can’t believe how big it has become - I’ve had a radio station in Australia wanting to talk to me about it.

'At the end of the day newspapers print my picture all the time - my face is in the paper every week and the newspapers are making money from it. Why can’t I?'

Morning Star & Trade Union Treachery

The Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union is implicated in today’s Consulting Association blacklist scandal.
Stevie Stevenson below in the

Monday 8th
posted by Morning Star in Features examines its long history of treachery

THE courts will soon hear a blacklisting 'super-case' after the granting of group litigation, which means that hundreds of separate cases of blacklisted workers will be taken on as one single case.
One of the main firms implicated, McAlpine, has named 34 other co-defendants, including most of the other major construction companies.

The trade unions must be aware that as part of their defence, the construction employers will attempt to use the same kind of smears and distortions used in the infamous Shrewsbury Pickets trial of the 1970s. They will once again be supported by the right-wing press and media.
There can also be little doubt that the role of trade union full-time officials will be scrutinised.
Many contracting electricians have been angered to find that the information on their Consulting Association blacklist file indicates complicity by officials of the former Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union (EETPU).

The construction trade press has reported on this 'collusion' and the blacklist victims are hoping that the court case will reveal the redacted names of those union officials.

I myself was put on the blacklist by the EETPU. My Consulting Association blacklist file states that I was an Electrical Plumbing Industrial Union shop steward in a three-month strike on a Manchester construction site in 1995.

I have never worked in Manchester. In fact, at that time I had recently started work with my local authority building direct labour organisation in Swansea, where I worked until retirement in 2013.
At that time, the TUC expelled EETPU, but it then merged with the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) as a means of restoring TUC unity.

They were deadlocked over structural integration and continued to operate as separate sections of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU).

Eventually the deadlock ended with an EETPU takeover led by Sir Ken Jackson. The renowned internal democracy of the AEU was eradicated.

The restoration of TUC unity by this means, meant that not only was the EETPU’s previous destructive activity effectively swept under the carpet, but some of its internal practices, like assisting in blacklisting, were allowed to continue.

A TUC 'conciliation process' in 1995 amounted to a typical TUC fudge designed to secure EETPU’s return.

The TUC had eventually been forced to expel the EETPU in 1988 over 'sweetheart deals'.
During that decade of the Thatcher government’s onslaught on the trade union movement, EETPU’s behaviour had been utterly treacherous. It included:
  • Collusion with Tory Cabinet minister Norman Tebbit, who informed Parliament that he had taken advice on anti-trade union law from EETPU leader Frank Chapple.
  • Collusion with Rupert Murdoch by supplying the scab labour which allowed him to sack his Fleet Street workforce.
  • Collusion with the scab Union of Democratic Mineworkers.
EETPU’s complicity in blacklisting was part of an internal culture that had arisen during the 1970s following a so-called “Joint Industrial Board check-off” agreement whereby the electrical contracting employers actually paid the union contributions of all their employees.

In return the EETPU officials involved in that industry were obliged to 'police' the construction sites. Basically a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune.

The AEEU eventually became part of Amicus and then Unite.

Unite was formed by a merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) in 2007, two years before the Consulting Association blacklist was exposed in 2009.

So in 2007 there was no knowledge of any trade union officials being complicit in blacklisting.
Nevertheless, due diligence was carried out by Unite as the corrupt “JIB check-off” was ended at the insistence of the TGWU.

This latest exposure of the old EETPU’s behaviour raises the question of whether the trade union movement has learned the lesson.
The EETPU’s brand of trade unionism was more about organising the employers than organising the workers.

There has never been a more unprincipled, divisive and destructive TUC-affiliated union than EETPU.

TUC Congress House should be compelled to do what it has so far never done, to place on record its acknowledgement of that fact.

We must strive to ensure that the collaboration and sweetheart deals with employers, which led on to EETPU officials assisting in the blacklisting of union activists, is never allowed to happen again.

For more information on this get a copy of 'BOY's on the BLACKLIST'
a recently researched investigation into blacklisting in the British building trade
including the involvement of some paid trade union officers and the police, and
security services, published by Tameside Trade Union Council in October 20014. 
See below:
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:
£3.00 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 - £14.60p a package (post included).

Tel.: 01706 861793.

Legal Aid & Justice Alliance North

Justice Alliance North

To Trade Unions/community groups
Dear Union Branch
Cuts to legal aid and funding for legal advice services are denying many of us advice about our legal rights and representation to enforce them, denying us access to justice - unless we can afford it
Local campaign groups Access to Advice and Northern Save Justice have teamed up with others fighting the cuts to justice to form Justice Alliance North to show why equal access to justice matters and to carry on campaigning for comprehensive publicly funded legal advice and representation.
Justice Alliance North is building on the local campaigning work over the last 5 years including Access To Advice’s two very successful campaign conferences, two packed fringe meetings at the Labour Party conference, local demonstrations, petitioning and leafleting, lobbying local politicians.
We are also linked to the national Justice Alliance which is a coalition of legal organisations, charities, community groups, grass roots and other campaigning groups, trade unions and individuals who are united against the government’s attacks on legal aid and the justice system. For information about Justice Alliance national campaigning and film about why legal aid and advice is vital go to
We wondered if your organisation/members/supporters are already involved in campaigning against cuts to legal aid and advice, and government attacks on the justice system. If so, it would be good if you can let us know what you are doing and whether we can help or get involved in any way.
We'd also like to invite you to join in with our activities, which at the moment include mass leafleting in shopping areas, lobbying councillors and MPs, getting media coverage.
We would be happy to come and meet and talk with you about working together.
If you are organising any activities that you would like us to publicise please let us know.
We are planning another national event on Saturday 7th Feb 2015 in Manchester, to organise actions in the run up to the General Election. More details soon.
If you would like to work with us at all on this please contact me or on our group email
Yours sincerely Margaret Manning
On behalf of Justice Alliance North
Justice Alliance is a coalition of legal organisations, charities, community groups, grass roots and other campaigning groups, trade unions and individuals who are united against the government’s attacks on legal aid and the justice system, as part of a wider assault on the welfare state.
Justice Alliance campaigns to show why equal access to justice matters.