Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Greeks Vote 'No'!

LAST weekend, the International New York Times' journalist Susanne Daley wrote:
'Just who is financing the the “yes” ads is unclear, according to Christos Xanethakis, media editor for Newpost.gr, who said the major opposition parties in favour of a “yes” have no money.'


Media coverage also appeared to be bias in favour of the 'yes' campaign with coverage of the 'no' rally by the six main stations in Greece had been 8 minutes compared to 46 minutes for the 'yes' rally. 


A leading editorial in the Financial Times, describing '[t]he logic (of Alexis Tsiparas the Greek prime minister) grew wonkier ever since the programme expired on Tuesday evening and Athens defaulted to the IMF', went on last Saturday to declare:

'The episode [the referendum] underlines Syriza's incompetence and untrustworthiness as much as its ideology.'


This is not a universal view among economists and financial pundits, however, the distinguished U.S. economist, Paul Krugman, last Tuesday in the New York Times argued:

'Don't be taken in by claims that the troika's ultimatum are just technocrats explaining to the ignorant Greeks what must be done. These supposed technocrats are in fact fantasists who have disregarded everything we know about macroeconomics, and have been wrong every step of the way.  This isn't about analysis, it's about power – the power of the creditors to pull the plug on the Greek economy...'


Since Mr.Krugman wrote these words and despite the threats and challenges, the Greek people on Sunday delivered a resounding 'no' vote last Sunday.  Which represents a victory for the Greek Prime Minister Alexisis, who had pushed for a 'no' vote as a way of giving him more negotiating power in dealing with the creditors who clearly want to set the terms and impose more austerity on the Greek people. 


Krugman writes elsewhere last weekend of the claims of the European officials that they have brought a 'recovery' in Spain but that 'success [in Spain], European-style means an unemployment rate that is still almost 23% and real income per capita that is still down 7% from its pre-crisis level.'  Portugal also obeyed the E.U. Demands and is, according to Krugman, some '6% poorer than it used to be.'


Finland is a model of virtue by European standards with sound finances and a good credit rating allowing it to borrow money at a low rate of interest.  Yet, Finland is in its eighth year of a slump cutting real gross domestic product to per capita by 10% and this shows no sign of ending. 


Mr. Krugman explains:  'What all these countries have in economies have in common, however, is that by joining the eurozone they put themselves into an economic straightjacket.'  Had they not done so they could have easily devalued their currencies, making their exports more competitive.  Inside the euro-zone they have no currencies to devalue hence their problem.


It seems that the only way out of the current situation, short of doing away with the euro, is for the creditors to exercise a more flexible and relaxed approach towards debt.  Not so easy given that many politicians demand more discipline of countries like Greece and Spain.  That way lies more suffering and misery. 


Krugman puts it more forcefully:  '... you should be even more afraid of the consequences of a “yes” [vote] because in that case we do know what comes next – more austerity, more disasters and eventually a crisis much worse than anything we've seen so far.'

Gagging the Spaniards!

PROTESTS against Government imposed austerity cuts have been strongest in Spain, where the occupy movement began with the with the youth-led movement calling itself the 'indignanties' which occupied Madrid's main square in 2011, before Occupy Wall Street got off the ground.
From Wednesday the 1st, July, such  demonstrations will be illegal and demonstrators could individually face fines of up to 600,000 euros, or about £500,000.  Human rights organisations have described this new gagging law as an anti-democratic response to the social discontent resulting from the financial crisis and the record unemployment.
The new law bans any kind of amateur video footage that has increasingly been used to expose police tactics and which showed police beating protesters in the Basque country last month.
Judith Sunderland, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, has said the new law represents 'a direct threat to the rights to meet peacefully and freedom of speech in Spain.'
A campaign against the new gagging law called 'No somos Delitos'  (We are not a Crime) is now up and running.

Councillor Shefali Ahmed joins Tories

Councillor Shefali Ahmed has kindly contacted Northern Voices, to bring us
up-to-date with the current make up of the Rochdale Council.  The report
below given to the website Rochdale Online is self explanatory:

MY decision came after taking a number of key factors into consideration:
'Firstly, I truly believe that the party nationally and locally are trying to implement policies and legislation which will give people a better quality of life. Furthermore they have provided opportunities for a better education for our young people, as well as having a long-term plan and structure in place for a better economy.

'I believe to implement an effective, positive and constructive change in Rochdale, we need to elect the right individuals on to the council, people who are passionate about the borough and its constituents. We need elected members [councillors], who prioritise the needs and wellbeing of the people, as well as bringing with them a wealth of skills, experience and ideas.

'Our Conservative group leader, Councillor Ashley Dearnley is a very fair, hardworking and passionate person, who has been a councillor for 32 years in the borough and the group leader for 20 years. He has also held many executive positions on the Council, as well as being the Mayor of the Borough of Rochdale.  I feel privileged to be a member of his group under such a great leader.'

Councillor Ahmed was previously a member of the Labour Party before leaving the party in 2014 with husband Farooq Ahmed. She then formed her own party with her husband, Rochdale First.

Councillor Ashley Dearnley, Conservative Group Leader said:
'Me and the group on the council are delighted to welcome Councillor Shefali Farooq Ahmed as a member of the Conservative Group.

'Shefali has been a hardworking member of the council for a number of years, always putting the interests of the Borough and her constituents first. She is a first-class councillor and will be a real asset to the group and party.'

Northern Voices' Note: 
What is not explained in the account above is what will now happen with the Rochdale First Party Shefali formed with her husband in 2014. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Solution to historical isolation of Freedom Friends

CHRIS Draper and his colleagues deserve the congratulations of all anarchists for their achievement in rejuvenating the ‘Friends of Freedom Press’.  Of course, the mistakes of the past will still need to be revisited, to ensure that they are adequately examined and lessons learned.  However, the focus of attention is now the new group of Friends and the challenges that they face.  Evidently, the new group is not short of problems to resolve.  Indeed, there are so many problems to resolve that the group will need to prioritize them. 

One problem to be resolved is the regrettable historical isolation from anarchism of the previous ‘Friends of Freedom Press’.  The new group can begin to resolve this problem by acknowledging and inviting feedback from other anarchists.  Unfortunately neither of these tasks can be undertaken though the pages of ‘Freedom’ newspaper.  However, the unavailability of this channel of communication should not prevent the new group from creating and maintaining an alternative channel to acknowledge and invite feedback from other anarchists.   

I will resist the temptation of suggesting which problems the new group should prioritize, and the order in which it should prioritize them, because any such suggestion might so easily be inappropriate.  Instead, I express the hope that the new group will be able to count upon receiving all the support possible, as and when the group might want it.  Which brings me to a practical possibility.  Perhaps the new group might welcome the facility of drawing upon a resource pool of anarchists to be available whenever particular types of support could be useful. 

If any of the ‘Friends of Freedom Press’ finds this possibility potentially helpful, I would be very happy to explain my ideas about creating such a resource pool.  

John Desmond
5th July 2015

Saturday, 4 July 2015

'Death of Freedom' & Glasgow Radical Comment

annarky's blog.

views and poetry from an anarchist perspective.


      Away back in 1951, or there about, I started reading the newspaper, Freedom, and more or less from then on continued to read the paper. I also wrote a couple of pieces for my favourite paper. Of course it was never perfect, but since 1886 it was a voice of reasoned anarchism, it was always there when others faltered and failed. I was utterly gutted when it folded and just couldn't understand why. The final statement in the piece "Transforming Freedom" by Andy Meinke still rings in my head, as the sort of statement one would have expected from some fascist group that closed down the paper Freedom, "---Kropotkin might have started it but we fucking finished it".

An article from a couple of months ago, by Christopher Draper in Northern Voices, throws some light on the demise  of that long standing flickering light of Freedom:

Who Killed Freedom?: an unauthorised history 1. 

Christopher Draper

Who killed Freedom?www.northernvoicesmag.blogspot.com  


Visit ann arky's home at www.radicalglasgow.me.uk

Who Killed FREEDOM?: update three: July 2015


IN 2014, the world’s oldest radical newspaper, FREEDOM, ceased publication.  As N.V. explained previously, the rot set in back in 2001 when FREEDOM abandoned its traditional free-ranging, tolerant approach and enforced a 'class-first' political line.  In February 2015 (with help from NV comrades) I identified the culprits and causes in a detailed critique, 'Who Killed FREEDOM?' (available on this website).  If you’ve been following the thread you’ll know that whilst individual members of the FREEDOM collective offered intemperate insults, all refused our challenge to openly debate our analysis before an anarchist bookfair audience.

FREEDOM should never have sunk so low as responsibility for publication ultimately lies with its trustees, THE FRIENDS OF FREEDOM PRESS (FFP).  Sadly, as narrow-minded incompetents squandered a 10K annual subsidy, a 6K rental income, wasted 4K on copyright infringement and forgot to renew the insurance just before a fire caused extensive damage the supposed FRIENDS OF FREEDOM PRESS slept more soundly than Rip Van Winkle.  Then one day FFP were rudely awakened by 'WHO KILLED FREEDOM?' 

Although our original article lifted the lid on the death of the world’s oldest radical newspaper the FREEDOM collective blithely insisted the paper’s demise was inevitable, they were not to blame and we were making a fuss about nothing.  All the while FREEDOM’s so called FRIENDS did nothing.  Undeterred we continued to campaign for action, aware that the only hope of reviving FREEDOM was to breath life into FFP and we can now announce that our campaign has succeeded.  Despite determined efforts to bury their heads in the sand and ignore their responsibilities FRIENDS OF FREEDOM PRESS has been entirely reconstituted and will now meet regularly for the first time in forty years.  We rattled the cage and the apparently dead parrot sprang to life! 

We didn’t aim to 'capture' or control FFP but wanted the FRIENDS to address the dire state of FREEDOM.  Our original piece revealed Who Killed FREEDOM?  This update records how the FRIENDS were revived.

1. October 2014, end of FREEDOM after 128 years publication explained away by collective as unavoidable due to the combined effects of financial loss, the internet and the apathy of the anarchist movement.  Although FFP has ultimate responsibility for publication of FREEDOM it did not initiate, was not consulted nor even informed of the newspaper’s closure by the FREEDOM collective.  The collective was responsible for the collapse of the paper but in doing nothing FFP became complicit, the members of FFP slept on undisturbed.

2. In January 2015 'Who Killed FREEDOM' (published on this website) challenged the excuses offered by the FREEDOM collective and blamed the collapse of FREEDOM on the intolerance and incompetence of named individuals.  The essay concluded with a call to FFP 'to belatedly get a grip on the legacy, both intellectual and material handed down to us by anarchists who didn’t hide behind aliases or enforce their own narrow political creed.' 

3. With the cooperation of comrades around the UK we researched FFP and obtained copies of key FFP documents, including the 'Articles of Association' and 'Memorandum of Association' and compiled a comprehensive history of all appointments and resignations from the Board.

4. FFP was formally incorporated on 4th February 1982 with seven directors; Vernon Richards, Colin Ward, Philip Sansom,, Geoffrey Ostergaard, John Hewetson, Olive Markham and Mary Canipa.  The Board was the legal owner of all the assets of FREEDOM PRESS and the primary responsibility of Board Members was to facilitate and ensure the continued 'Printing and publication of the anarchist journal FREEDOM'.  The Memorandum of Association makes crystal clear that FFP is obliged to act; 'In the event of Freedom Press ceasing to exist or for any other reason being unable to continue the publication of FREEDOM…'

5. FFP owns a building worth a million pounds and as the FREEDOM collective formally ceased publishing the paper, then FFP had lots of possibilities available to continue production but doing nothing wasn’t an option.  Although obliged to meet regularly, keep written minutes and formally approve resignations and new members, FFP had become as dysfunctional as the FREEDOM collective.  By 2014 it nominally comprised just 4 members and only Company Secretary, Stephen Charles Sorba, claimed to know who the other three members were!

6. Our researches revealed that on the 20th February 2012 Company Secretary Sorba had registered Richard Parry as a director of FFP at Companies House yet when I contacted Parry he emailed back to express ignorance of his appointment.  Sonia Markham and Donald Rooum expressed similar ignorance of Parry’s appointment.

7. On 20th February 2015, I wrote to Company Secretary Sorba asking him to ensure that FFP  belatedly complied with its formal obligations to maintain publication of FREEDOM, and  proposing the addition of more active, representative Board Members.

8. Curiously, on 3rd March 2015 I received an email response, not from Company Secretary Sorba, but from Richard Parry, 'In my capacity as one of the Directors'.  This letter claimed all was fine with FREEDOM, rejected the specific offer of respected historian Dr David Goodway to join the Board and instead insisted any potential new directors first present themselves to the FREEDOM collective for approval (an inappropriate reversal of the responsibilities of the Board).

9. I subsequently learned that Sonia Markham, the longest-serving Board member, knew nothing of this letter.  Clearly it wasn’t just the FREEDOM collective that was controlled by a clique that cared little for open, democratic procedures.

10. Despite formally representing himself to me as 'one of the Directors', Parry openly admitted the impropriety to Andy Meinke of the Freedom Bookshop who emailed the collective on 24th February 2015, 'Richard rang this morning, he wasn’t even sure he was on the board!' (the exclamation mark is Meinke’s)

11. It is indicative of just how far FFP abrogated its responsibility to an inappropriate collective that Meinke’s February email went on to say; 'ps.  We really should ask some more people to join FFP as four is a bit risky if they all fly on the same plane.  Let’s ask Martin Howard of Solfed and Nick Heath of AF, that’ll cheer Draper up.'

12. To her great credit, Sonia Markham was the sole member of FFP who attempted to get a grip on the FREEDOM debacle yet when she asked Company Secretary Sorba to provide her with the Board’s 'Articles' and 'Memorandum of Association' she was given the run-around.  Fortunately, I was able to supply interested parties with appropriate documents.

13. Realising they had been rumbled, the remaining three 'members' of FFP finally agreed to hold an AGM, the first for years.  Even better they were forced to reconsider nominations from outside their own sphere of influence.

14. That meeting was held on Wednesday 24th June 2015, and it produced an excellent result.  Six new members joined the Board and a constructive discussion ensued.  After Donald Rooum, the sole member of both the FREEDOM collective and FFP, grumbled about our campaign to expose the shameful manoeuvrings at FREEDOM it was generally recognised by all that without our intervention the FRIENDS would have become completely moribund.  From now on the newly revitalised Board of the FRIENDS OF FREEDOM PRESS is pledged to meet quarterly (next meeting 16th September 2015) in order to discuss and discharge their proper responsibilities. 

15. The residual FREEDOM collective are uncomfortable at the prospect of proper oversight and have already met to express an obdurate determination to resist any legitimate intervention by FFP.

16. In contrast, we congratulate FFP on its Phoenix-like rejuvenation and trust members will continue their initial move to restore the ethical and intellectual credibility of FREEDOM.  Typifying the juvenile, sarcastic, 'That’ll cheer Draper up!' approach of Meinke and co. was the collective’s attempt to get a character featured in 'Who Killed FREEDOM? – Update 1' onto the FFP Board.  Exercising impeccable judgement the born–again FFP had little hesitation in consigning the nomination of Gwain the cunt Williams (his self-chosen appellation) to the dustbin of history.

17. The sort of issue FFP might next care to address is the arbitrary judgement and abuse of power by FREEDOM bookshop manager Andy Meinke who, for example, refuses to stock Northern Voices magazine.  Asked why he rejected a popular magazine produced by Northern anarchists and others he recently informed editor Brian Bamford, 'Because I don’t like you Brian'!  Such narrow-minded prejudice needs to be exorcised from FREEDOM and a proper publications policy restored.

18. The ten members of the born-again Board of FFP are as follows:

* Jayne Clementson – graphic artist, long-time layout artist for Freedom Press.

* David Goodway – historian, author and admirer of the anarchism of Colin Ward .

* Martin HowardSolfed, writer of 'Svartfrost' column in Freedom.

* Sonia Markham – anarchist, retired TV make-up artist and daughter of founding FFP member, pioneering feminist-anarchist and children’s author Olive Dehn.

* Lois Olmstead – anarchist originally from Ohio, ex-member of Freedom collective. 

* Richard Parry – solicitor and author of the 'Bonnot Gang' .

* Martin Peacock – founder of the London Anarchist Bookfair .

* Ernest Rodker – veteran peace campaigner .

* Donald Rooum – veteran Stirnerite anarchist and cartoonist.

* Stephen Charles SorbaFFP Company Secretary, printer with Aldgate Press. 

19. FREEDOM was traditionally a resource for all open-minded anarchists but terminally declined under the influence of a narrow-minded clique.  The rejuvenation of the FRIENDS is a great success and a positive encouragement to us all to continue the struggle for free-speech, fellowship, peace and anarchy.

Christopher Draper:  3rd, July 2015.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Blacklist News: July 2015

1. High Court
The next dates for the High Court group litigation is set for 14th July - it will be a very busy schedule covering disclosure of documents, destroyed evidence, expert witnesses etc.. If all items are not finished, the hearing will carry over into the 15th July. 

2. Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing
BSG have sent an official submission to the Home Office regarding the remit for the upcoming Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. We called for there to be a full investigation into undercover police infiltration of unions to spy on activists. Teresa May is expected to announce the full scope of the inquiry sometime in mid-July. 

3. Teeside #PayTheRate Protests
The ongoing SITA dispute in Teeside is still attracting 100s of workers to weekly early morning protests. Last week, scores of activists turned up unannounced at the Liverpool offices of the MRWA to press their point home. Keep up the good work brothers & sisters - you are leading the fightback against the attacks on our terms & conditions. 
For more info and updates about the latest actions follow Teeside Construction Activists on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teesside-Construction-Activists/429641457200160?fref=nf

4. Blacklisting events - Dates for the Diary in July :
Thu 2nd (6:30pm) - Defend Our Unions, ULU
Sat 4th (all day) - National Shop Stewards Conference - Conway Hall, Holborn
Thu 9th (6:30pm) - Blacklisted book event - Black Pig, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - with Helen Clifford
Fri 10th (5:30pm) - Durham Miners Gala Education 4 Action event - NUM Offices, Redhills - in association with People's Bookshop 
Sat 11th (2pm) - Blacklisted workers filmed discussion, London - in association with film maker Lucy Parker - please contact BSG ASAP if you are interested in attending.  
Tue 14th (10am) - High Court blacklisting trial case management hearing
Tue 14th (6:30pm) - TUCG Tolpuddle Seminar - Jubilee Room, Houses of Parliament - with MPs & Gen Secs www.tucg.org.uk 
Wed 15th (10am) - High Court day 2 (tbc)
Wed 15th (7pm) - Hackney TUC
Sat 18th - Tolpuddle Festival 
Thu 23rd - Dave Smith arrest trial - City of London Magistrates Court  

5. Get Carillion out of Liverpool
BSG are working with Spirit of Shankly supporters group in Liverpool FC about the contract given to blacklisting firm Carillion to redevelop the Anfield stadium. 
BSG are also involved in ongoing meetings with Trust operating New Royal Liverpool Hospital that has also awarded a contract to Carillion. 
Watch this space - this could get very big. 

6. Blacklist Support Group at Glastonbury Festival
BSG were at Glastonbury Festival appearing at Leftfield stage, Speakers Forum in the Green Futures Field and the Reel News installation in Shangri-La. Phil Chamberlain, Tom Fowler, Martin Smith, Shaun Dey, Merrick Badger, Dave Smith were flying the flag. All the photos are on social media 

7. Other Blacklisting news items: 
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Gen Sec review in the Morning Star: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-7520-Intimidation-on-an-industrial-scale

Join Blacklist Support Group on FaceBook or follow @daveblacklist on Twitter for the most up to date news as it breaks 

Blacklist Support Group

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Colin Ward, Class Struggle & Everyday Life

Approaches to Our Philosophical Enterprise
HOW do the methods of those of us who are the anarchist critics of the current collective in control of Freedom Press, differ from theirs in reality?  We critics of those who may now portray themselves as the 'anarchist mainstream', are indeed a mixed bunch:  from historians, anthropologists, sociologists, to trade unionists; teachers; electricians; a former bin-man; social workers; a retired make-up artist; peace activists; university lecturers; the editor of Northern Voices and the editor of Anarchist Voices, some of us who would identify with 'class struggle', others who wouldn't.  Within the realm of contemporary anarchism the prolific writer Colin Ward has been utilised by some of us to distinguish our distinctive position and methodology, from those who circumstances have brought us into conflict.
Our approach, so far as I understand it, and others among us may have a different view, is one of grappling with the problems of everyday life from within, while I feel those who would see it differently would want to impose a set of values on society from outside.  The ethnomethodologists used to disparagingly dismiss this approach as the 'cookbook method' of seeking inert recipes to force into place. 
To give justice to the Freedom Collective* and people like Nick Heath of A.F. and Iain McKay of Black Flag, let  me readily admit that their position is common in the Western tradition of thought, and Raymond Plant in his book 'Modern Political Thought', wrote:
'Plato reflected... on the confusions and contradictions of conventional morality in Athens and felt compelled by that confusion to seek a form of society in which humans could properly flourish on the basis of a set of values which transcended the everyday world, the Forms and Ideas.  These to be known only to the philosopher.  The task of political theory there was to redeem the everyday world by leaving it behind and identifying a set of values which could found society on a different and more secure basis.'
This seemingly is the approach of most Marxists today, and some anarchists like McKay and Heath, who broadly speaking adopt the same idea of how to transform societies.  Michael Walzer has argued in his book 'Sphere of Justice' that this approach can't be the foundation for practical reasoning about values, and he offers us the two contrasting viewpoints:
'One way to begin the philosophical enterprise – perhaps the original way – is to walk out of the cave, leave the city, climb the mountain, fashion for oneself (what can never be fashioned by ordinary men and women) an objective and universal standpoint....  But I mean to stand in the cave, in the city, on the ground.  Another way of doing philosophy is to interpret to one's fellow citizens the world of meanings that we share.  Justice and equality can conceivably be worked out as philosophical artifacts, but a just or egalitarian society cannot be.  If such a society isn't already here – hidden as it were, in our concepts and categories – we shall never know it concretely or realise it in fact.'
This last sentence could well have been written by the distinguished anarchist writer (formerly one of the Friends of Freedom Press**) Colin Ward.  It seems to some of us that the theoreticians who are now dominating on the left, and among the contemporary anarchists, do not accept that we don't need yet another set of values to buck-up society, but rather, we need to throw into relief the values and local knowledge that are already embedded inside our localised way of life.  It is our dedication to the work of being embedded inside the ethos of the everyday that distinguishes our methodology and concern for social transformation from that of those who, even though they may call themselves 'anarchists', would try to impose an inert set of values upon society.

*    The day-to-day managers of Freedom Press.
**  The trustees of Freedom Press.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


"The Tories are trying to 'fudge' figures on welfare cuts deaths in a shock dossier which claims they're too 'emotive', Mirror Online can reveal.
Iain Duncan Smith's department is waging a legal fight against a request for the figures, claiming it'll reveal them in its own time."
For more on this story click on Mirror Online:

Comments on Simon Danczuk's Marriage Upset

IN yesterday's Daily Mail, commenting on the history of the apparent decline and fall of Mr. and Mrs. Danczuk, the journalists Natalie Clarke and Nazia Parveen wrote:
'Referring to her selfies, her husband (Simon Danczuk) added:  "She's a very beautiful woman.  I think it's great.  Politics needs a bit of glamming up, don't you agree?".'

This might remind readers of what another Rochdale politician once said, when he called on the then Liberal Party to go in for 'More Razzmatazz!'

That politician was Cyril Smith MP!

The Mail journalists continue:
'The ensuing publicity encouraged Karen to put up more such photographs and her followers on Twitter mushroomed from s few hundred to the 53,000 of today.  Being labelled "Westminster's most embarrassing wife" only spurred her to seek the limelight further.'

Only last February, Mrs. Danczuk claimed in a media interview that she had been raped repeatedly from the age of six by a 'family friend who used to sneak into her bedroom and follow her to the bathroom'.

Karen Danczuk's own mother then said that many of her daughter's memories are 'a figment of her imagination'.

A week later, the 'family friend' Karen was accusing turned out to be one of her own brothers, Michael Burke, a 36-year-old former security guard.  Mr. Burke has categorically denied Karen's allegations, and no charges have yet been brought against him, he remains on bail until the 8th, August this year, having been bailed on several occasions previously. 

Though the law permits this situation of placing people on bail without charging them, and while it may be argued that that in cases of historical child abuse this is reasonable, it is worrying none-the-less.  English law always operates on the presumption of innocence, and it is to be hoped that either the individuals at present under police investigation will either be charged or released from bail at the earliest opportunity. 

Simon Danczuk's former wife, Sonia Milewski, has according to the Mail claimed that she is 'unimpressed' by the 'dramatic claims' saying:  'One of the individuals in that marriage has been happy to throw her own family in the gutter [and] with that in mind nothing would surprise me'.

Meanwhile, last month another of Karen's brothers, a half-brother Paul Taylor, was arrested on suspicion of harassing Mrs. Danczuk online.  He has since been ordered not to make any contact with Karen or her family.  At about the same time Mrs. Danczuk was ordered by another Court to pay money in a back-rent row over her former business 'Danczuk's Deli'.  She claimed that she sold the Deli in February, but the landlord claims she still owes £2,045 in backdated rent.

According to the Daily Mail:
'The companies last accounts showed it made a loss of £8,053 for the year to February 2014.  It owed creditors £11,774 and had just £1,806 in the company bank account.'

In the middle of June, the Sunday Times journalist, Camilla Long, wrote a portrayal of life with the Danczuks,  in which she revealed an insight into the couple's chaotic private life.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Danczuk Dumped by Cleavage!

OVER the weekend it has been reported that Karen Danczuk, who rose to 'fame' following a series of postings of her cleavage on Twitter, and later became a Rochdale councilor in the Kingsway ward, has now broken up with her husband Simon Danczuk the well known campaigning MP for Rochdale.  Mr. Danczuk declared himself in the current Rochdale Observer to be 'devastated'.

Today's Daily Mail reports that:
'Mrs. Danczuk has become famous thanks to her addiction to posting "selfie" photographs of herself - or to be more specific, her cleavage - Twitter. ... In recent weeks, the 32-year-old (Karen) has branched out and posted sefies of her bottom and pouty pictures of her mouth.  Earlier this month she tweeted:  "I'm just so proud.  Absolutely loving my bum.'

Mrs. Danczuk's departure from Simon Danczuk's dream team follows the departure last month of his closest advisor and aide, Matthew Baker.  Mr. Baker is reputed to have both researched and written the controversial book 'Smile for the Camera:  The Double Life of Cyril Smith' which has made Danczuk famous as a campaigner against child abuse.

It was suggested to Northern Voices in 2013 by a source then close the Danczuks, that Mr. Baker and Mrs. Danczuk didn't hit it off.  Matthew Baker had strong links to other journalists and is believed to have been pivotal in getting the deal with the Daily Mail to serialise their book 'Smile for the Camera'.  During the book launch in Danczuk's Deli in March 2014, Mr. Danczuk boasted how much the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Michael Dacre, liked their book on Cyril Smith,

After their book launch in 2014, on The Walk outside Danczuk's Deli, Mr. Baker justified to me getting the Daily Mail to promote and serialise their book on Cyril by arguing that the Mail was more useful to them than The Guardian, and the Mail on Saturday sold more copies than the Sun.  At the book launch were many members of the Rochdale Labour Party including the current leader of the Labour Group on the Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, but no one questioned the link-up between Danczuk and the right-wing editor and severe critic of the Labour Party, Paul Michael Dacre.

Today the local website Rochdale-on-line reports:
'Their marriage has long been reputed to be 'volatile' and on Friday Mr Danczuk posted a tweet saying he was researching 'Narcissistic Personality Disorder', which many took to be aimed at his wife.'

We must wait to see what more is to be revealed about this odd but endlessly fascinating political couple.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Freedom: The Phoenix Phenomenon?

AFTER over a decade and a half in the journalistic doldrums, can it be that the Freedom Press Group representing the management of Freedom, and up to last year the oldest political journal in this country if not the world, has now finally turned a corner?  Well wishers in the North, and across the country, will now be anxiously watching to see if the Phoenix, as Colin Ward once referred to British anarchism, can rise yet again from the ashes.  It is to be hope that this will be the case. 
Later this week, the Northern Voices Blog anticipates that it will be able to produce a report by one of our correspondents on developments at Freedom Press

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Tribunal Judge calls for Judicial Review of Council Tax Scheme!

A 58-year-old community campaigner against the Tory 'bedroom tax', recently won a council tax appeal at the Valuation Tribunal of England sitting in Manchester in 2014.
Steve Anthony Fisher, a self-employed man from Dukinfield, appealed against a decision of his local authority Tameside Council, to bill him full council tax under its council tax scheme. Under a previous scheme Mr. Fisher had received council tax benefit in full. However, when the council changed its scheme in 2013, he was shocked to find that the council now expected him to pay full council tax even though his circumstances had not changed. He was also hit with a double whammy, when the council demanded a further £12.50 charge for his Tory bedroom tax because he was deemed to have a spare bedroom. Both charges together amounted to 50% of his disposable income.
Mr. Fisher has lived at his two bedroom house for the last thirty years. Believing that he had suffered an injustice and had been treated harshly, he appealed to the Valuation Tribunal. After two separate hearings, the Tribunal decided to allow his appeal in part, because the 'billing authority' (Tameside Council) had incorrectly applied their own scheme in relation to Mr. Fisher. In short they did not know their arse from their elbow.  
In his promulgated decision, Mr. P. Johnson (Tribunal Chairman), made the following obiter:  
  • This case raised potential grounds for Judicial Review of the Scheme and potential for challenge under the Articles and Protocols of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
  • While Mr Fisher's primary and legitimate concern was with the principal that he should be deemed to possess more income than he actually received, he noted that the Tameside area (or at least a substantial part of it) is an area in which Universal Credit has been introduced, but does not yet apply to all persons claiming Universal Credit. He believes that The Scheme has been drafted to dovetail with the Universal Credit Scheme, copying heavily from that scheme, but has failed to ensure fair treatment to persons not in receipt of Universal Credit.
  • The tribunal could not consider those matters, but recommends that Tameside MBC give urgent reconsideration to the wording of The Scheme, in light of the hardship caused to some persons claiming under the Scheme.
Given the Chairman's comments, Mr. Fisher would be keen to pursue the matter to Judical Review if legal aid was available. Alternatively, an organisation like C.A.B. or welfare rights, might want to investigate the matter further as it seems to affect many more people living in Tameside. Mr. Fisher can be contacted on starlord@starlord-enterprises.freeserve.co.uk

Blacklisting book exposes collusion between bosses and unions in the UK building trade!

As Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain point out in their excellent book on blacklisting, (Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business And Union Activists), being a union activist who worked in the British construction industry, was the primary reason why a person was included in the blacklisting files of the Consulting Association.

The authors, however, do not accuse any union official of any illegality or deliberate collusion in blacklisting, even though the names of certain trade union officials, are identifiable as a source of information in the Consulting Association files. But as they point out, even if entries in the files can be attributed, it is often difficult to prove intent.

It is clear from these files that certain trade union officials were having conversations with construction bosses and that these conversations were being reported back to the Consulting Association, which was closed down following a raid by staff from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in 2009. What was reported back often had a detrimental effect on construction workers. Yet was this down to loose tongues or deliberate complicity in blacklisting? 

The authors of the book contacted a number of union officials to ask how their names arrived on the files as sources for information. Some declined to comment. Others claimed that they were unaware of blacklisting or the Consulting Association, or that their conversations with the construction bosses, were being recorded. Many of these people have now retired on generous union pensions and in some cases, are now working for the construction companies that were involved in blacklisting.

These kind of excuses hardly bare scrutiny. It is difficult to believe that experienced trade union officials could have been so naïve as not to know about blacklisting in the British construction industry or that you should be careful what you say about people to the bosses. However, it is known that certain practices existed in the British construction industry that tended to create a culture of collusion between the bosses and the trade unions.

The so-called JIB agreement between the EETPU and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) which was established in Britain in 1968, effectively regulated the working conditions of electricians working for JIB companies. Under this legally binding 'social partnership', imported from America, every electrician working for a JIB company was enrolled into the EETPU and the firm paid his union contributions. In return the union agreed to discipline its own members, improve productivity and eliminate strikes. In 1987, the EETPU and the ECA, even set up their own employment agency, ESCA services. 

This cosy relationship between the bosses and the union officials, effectively led to a culture where some union officials saw it as their job to police the sites to exclude trade unionists who were thought to be militant. Conversely, some employers seemed to think that the union was their union because they paid the workers' union contributions.

Moreover, as Smith and Chamberlain point out, many union officials were also happy to take advantage of corporate hospitality: free meals at hotels and gentleman's clubs, free tickets to sporting events, free piss-ups, boat trips on the Thames, were all on offer as sweeteners to union officials. George Brumwell, the General Secretary of the construction union, UCATT, told one union official that taking corporate hospitality was okay because "sometimes you got more from sugar than salt."

Entries in the files which are referred to in the book, record such damning stuff as: "EETPU says No", "Reported by local EETPU officials as militant", "AEEU describes as f.evil as far as internal union dealings are concerned", "Not recommended by Amicus."

In February 2013, Steve Acheson, an electrician from Denton, Greater Manchester, spoke at a meeting in Liverpool. During his speech he was continuously interrupted by a group of officials from UCATT, who accused him of making allegations of union complicity in blacklisting without any real evidence. He was challenged to name the names. Acheson then read out notes that had been written by Ian Kerr, who had been employed to run the Consulting Association blacklist on behalf of the 44 construction companies affiliated to it. On the note Kerr had written:

"AA (Alan Audley of Vinci) met George Guy of UCATT NW Reg Sect + 2 others - who thought a storm in a tea cup. G Guy. Would you employ St Acheson? I bloody wouldn't. We've known for years - just a question of when it would happen. AA unions will have a problem now as they will get on site and cause problems." UCATT's response was to threaten to sue Acheson for slander.

George Guy denies the allegation and claims that he never discussed  Acheson with Audley or any one else. He told the authors that he has a statement from Audley (who is implicated in the blacklisting scandal), confirming this. Alan Audley of Vinci, "was a guest at the UCATT conference in Scarborough in 2012, three years after his company's involvement in blacklisting was known."

When the Scottish Affairs Select Committee began to investigate blacklisting in June 2012, Alan Ritchie, of UCATT, was one of a number of senior trade union officials who regularly met with committee members to discuss strategy. Curiously, at these meetings it had been agreed that certain aspects of the blacklisting scandal would not be covered. It was agreed that alleged union involvement in blacklisting would not be looked into nor would the involvement of the police and security services in blacklisting. The Chairman of the committee, Ian Davidson MP, told the authors of the book, that these and others aspects of blacklisting, were not investigated because it was felt they would have diverted attention away from the consequences of blacklisting on working people.

Both UCATT and Unite the Union, carried out internal investigations into union complicity in blacklisting. The authors point out that some people refused to be interviewed or agreed to be interviewed, only under "tight preconditions" and that both investigations, relied on "fragmentary documentation." UCATT commissioned Keith Ewing to investigate blacklisting. His report, "Ruined Lives: Blacklisting in the UK construction industry", was published in August 2009.

Unite, appointed Gail Cartmail, the Assistant General Secretary of the union, to carry out an investigation which was published in September 2011. Having read her report, one cannot help but feel that she started off with a conclusion and tried to fit the facts around it. The most obvious lacunae in her report, is that she failed to interview the important whistleblower, Alan Wainwright and Derek Simpson, formerly joint-General Secretary of Unite. Mr Wainwright, who had an intimate knowledge of how the blacklist operated in the British construction industry, claims that he wrote to Simpson about blacklisting in the construction industry in 2006. In a letter to Cartmail, he wrote:

"I'm therefore now writing to you to appeal to you to investigate Simpson's lack of enthusiasm to investigate and act upon this in 2005/2006 and provide reasons behind this. To the best of my knowledge, he did nothing." Cartmail replied:

"As you point out Mr Simpson is now retired. The union has no capacity to secure Mr. Simpson's co-operation in an investigation." Wainwright replied:

"I put it to you that this evidence was deliberately withheld to protect the financial relationship between the union and these employers in the hope that it would go away."

In concluding her report, Cartmail says: "Despite considerable effort I have not discovered evidence against officers." However, she told the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) at their AGM in November 2011 that union collusion may have taken place in the past - "It shouldn't have happened" and "offered the blacklist workers present, an apology."

Brian Bamford, Secretary of Tameside TUC, and a Unite member, wrote to Cartmail about her investigation into blacklisting in September 2014, but failed to get a satisfactory reply to the questions he posed. (see Boys on the Blacklist - Derek Pattison & Brian Bamford).

The authors of the book say that despite numerous requests, both verbal and written, asking UCATT for a response to questions raised in the blacklisting files, its officials have refused to provide any substantial comment for publication.

A class action which has been brought by over 100 construction workers against Sir Robert McApline and other major construction companies, is due to go to full trial in March 2016. The issue of alleged union complicity in blacklisting, may well become a prominent feature of the court case.

Friday, 26 June 2015

TUC to organise demo at Tory Party Conference

THE TUC will organise a national demonstration in Manchester this autumn against the government’s austerity agenda and attacks on trade unions. It will take place on Sunday 4 October and will begin with a march through central Manchester, culminating in a rally close to the Conservative Party Conference.
Workers and community organisations from across the country will join the demonstration, which will be the first the TUC has organised since the Conservative government came to power.
Further details on the march route, speakers and timings will be published in the coming weeks.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
'This October’s march and rally will allow thousands of ordinary people to show the government exactly what they think of their policies.
'The Conservatives’ planned attack on trade unions and extreme cuts are an assault on working people at a time when they should be focused on securing the UK’s fragile recovery and creating better jobs to boost productivity.'

Tameside: A Follow My Leader Council

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN ACTION? Not even party members have a say when it comes to choosing the leaders of local parties!

Whilst there is much media attention and interest being generated on the forthcoming Labour Leadership contest, I cannot help but make the following observation:

Fully paid-up members of any political party can vote for the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and other Committee officials in the local Ward; they have a vote in the selection of candidates for various local and parliamentary elections and - just as in the current Labour Leadership contest - they will also have a vote for both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of their national party.

Yet, curiously, when it came to choosing the Tameside Council Leader back in 2010, this very important local decision only involved the 46 Labour Councillors then on Tameside Council.

From behind closed doors in what may have been an e-cig vapour-filled room, these councillors chose from amongst themselves the new leader of almost a quarter of a million Tamesiders - presumably very much in the same way as the Cardinals in the Vatican elect a new Pope? The end result being that Kieran Quinn emerged as the winner with 27 votes over the ousted former leader Roy Oldham, who could only manage to get 19!


To allow any grass-roots party membership to decide on who can lead the national party, yet to only allow local councillors the right to chose a local leader - demonstrates once again the contrast between our local and national politics and shows how the lack of democracy at local level is frequently overlooked!

Carl Simmons
Denton South Independent
Wednesday 24th June 2015:  For more go to:   http://carlsimmons-independent.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Does the Sunday Times stink?

GEORGE Orwell once wrote:
'I really don't know which is more stinking, the Sunday Times or The Observer. I go from one to the other like an invalid turning from side to side in bed and getting no comfort which ever way he turns.' (George Orwell, quoted, Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life, p. 233, Penguin Books, 1992)
The competition remains fierce, but the Sunday Times edged marginally ahead with a recent front-page exclusive that stank to truly celestial heights. As we noted in our previous alert, the Sunday Times dramatically claimed that Russia and China had 'cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden'. The 'exclusive story' contained precisely no evidence for its anonymous claims, no challenges to the assertions made and no journalistic balance. In a CNN interview the same day, lead reporter Tom Harper trashed his own credibility, and that of his paper, when he blurted:
'We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government.'
One of our readers, William Douglas, emailed a powerful criticism of Harper's claims direct to Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens, asking him to explain why anyone should take the article seriously. Douglas sent a blog piece by Craig Murray, the former British diplomat, who had offered five reasons for thinking the MI6 story was 'a lie'. Ivens' reply was astonishing:
'I think you should address your remarks to 10 Downing St. If you think they have lied to us then so be it.'
There was no attempt to respond to the challenge, or to answer Murray's serious objections; just a preposterous and insulting suggestion to contact the British government. Clearly Ivens is unaware of legendary journalist I.F. Stone's comment:
'Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.'
Ivens' response is the reality of media contempt for their supposedly valued readers, or 'partners' as the Guardian affects to call the people it deceives. The Sunday Times states heroically:
'The Sunday Times takes complaints about editorial content seriously. We aim to resolve your complaint efficiently, promptly and effectively by direct contact with you.'
Failing that, write to the government!
One might have thought that editors and journalists elsewhere would have leapt on Ivens' contemptuous response to a serious correspondent, condemning Ivens for dragging their supposedly noble 'profession' into further disrepute. But, according to our searches of the Lexis newspaper database, the email went totally unreported. 

The 'Correction'

Last Sunday, the paper printed a tiny 'correction' to their front-page story beneath an even more pressing correction about iPads not being given to babies, as had been claimed:
'The article "British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese" (News, last week) stated that David Miranda had visited Edward Snowden in Moscow. This is incorrect and we apologise for the error.' (page 24, bottom-right)
As Glenn Greenwald had noted in his comprehensive demolition of the article, the 'outright fabrication' that David Miranda had visited Edward Snowden was the key claim underpinning the entire piece – that Snowden had files with him in Moscow. A proper 'correction' would have seen the Sunday Times withdraw the article, admit to having published government propaganda, explaining how and why it happened, and apologising for the whole sorry affair.
Alas, clearly unrepentant, the Sunday Times has since published a follow-up piece claiming that Scotland Yard had been 'urged to investigate' Snowden (behind a paywall here; full text here):
'Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, has written to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, asking his officers to examine the "great potential damage to the national security of the United Kingdom" caused by the former analyst.'
This is the same Liam Fox who resigned as Defence Secretary in 2011 over his close personal links to lobbyist Adam Werritty. As was reported at the time: 'detailed disclosures showed Mr Werritty's activities were funded by companies and individuals that potentially stood to benefit from Government decisions.'
Moreover, Werritty had dubious intelligence connections with Israel that went unexplored by almost the entire 'mainstream' media, the Independent being a rare exception. Craig Murray added that there had been:
'a huge government cover-up in progress over the Werritty connection to Mossad and the role of British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould, and their neo-con plan to start a war with Iran.'
Glenn Greenwald acerbically challenged the hapless Tom Harper, lead reporter on the Snowden piece:
'You should go back on CNN and talk about this new story of yours. You built such credibility last time.'
The Sunday Times follow-up also repeated the smear that Snowden 'fled to Moscow to seek the protection of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president'. No matter how many times the Sunday Times repeats this false claim, it does not become true. The fact is, Snowden was on his way to Latin America via Moscow when Washington revoked his passport, leaving him stranded in Russia.

 'What Would Rupert Think?'

It is worth recalling that the Sunday Times has a long, shameful history of dubious 'journalism'. In the 1960s, the Sunday Times appointed journalist and author Tony Howard as its Whitehall correspondent, announcing:
'The job of a newspaper is to bring into public information the acts and processes of power. National security alone excepted, it is the job of newspapers to publish the secret matters of politics whether the secrets are the secrets of the Cabinet, of Parliament, or of the Civil Service.'
Media analyst Phillip Knightley reported:
'The then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was having none of that. He quickly shut Howard down. Howard remembers: "He said he understood I was only trying to do my job but he had a job to do, too, and his was more important than mine. He made it very plain that all conventional sources of information would remain shut until I was willing to return to the cosy but essentially sham game of being a political correspondent." ' (Phillip Knightley, 'Of secrets and spies', The Independent on Sunday, August 17, 2003)
Since then, there has been little call for anyone outside the Sunday Times to shut down honest reporting.  Harold Evans, a former editor working at Rupert Murdoch's newspaper, described to the Leveson inquiry how, in 1981, Murdoch rebuked him for reporting gloomy economic news and 'not doing what he [Murdoch] wants, in political terms'. Evans said that Murdoch came to his home and the two 'almost ended up in fisticuffs over a piece on the economy.'
Evans added:
'Murdoch would also haul in senior staff for meetings to tell them to alter their coverage, including the editorial line of the leader columns and telling the foreign editor to "attack the Russians more".'
David Yelland, former editor of the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper, described how editors 'go on a journey where they end up agreeing with everything Murdoch says ... "What would Rupert think about this?" is like a mantra inside your head'.
Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times, commented:
'If you want to know what Rupert Murdoch really thinks read the editorials in the Sun and the New York Post because he is editor-in-chief of these papers. He doesn't regard himself as editor-in-chief of the Times and the Sunday Times but he does regard himself as someone who should have more influence on these papers than anyone else.'
The record is grim indeed. Four days after Baghdad 'fell' to US tanks on April 9, 2003, the Sunday Times published these remarks by the BBC's John Humphrys, presenter of the influential Today radio programme:
'So maybe it's not being too naive to think America really does want to use its position as the world's only superpower to spread freedom and democracy. The truth is, it's a question of where. Only last week James Woolsey - who once ran the CIA and has been appointed to run the new information ministry in Iraq - claimed America had been actively promoting democracy for most of the past century.' (John Humphrys, 'Bush turns a blind eye to the wars he doesn't want to fight', Sunday Times, April 13, 2003)
The newspaper supported the subsequent phoney demonstration elections installing a vicious puppet government: 'The terrorists will do all they can to destroy democratic elections', the editors noted of Iraqis trying to rid their country of a mass-murdering foreign occupation. (Leader, 'Send more troops,' Sunday Times, October 10, 2004)
The Sunday Times, of course, supported Nato's catastrophic war on Libya in 2011:
'[T]here can be no accommodation with a man like Gadaffi or any of his family who aspire to succeed him.' (Leading article, 'Allies need a rapid victory to outwit Gadaffi,' Sunday Times, March 20, 2011)
In 2014, a Sunday Times editorial reviewed the life and career of former Israeli prime minister and general Ariel Sharon:
'His Unit 101 slaughtered 69 civilians in the Jordanian town of Qibya in 1953 and as defence minister he was blamed for the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Israel's Christian Phalange allies in 1982. He was forced to resign from his post.'   (Leading article, 'The old warrior who turned to peace,' Sunday Times, January 12, 2014)
The Sunday Times editors described these atrocities as mere 'black marks'.  Otherwise, Sharon was one of Israel's 'great nation-builders' and 'a military hero'. 'He leaves an important legacy.'
Earlier this year, investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed reported that the Sunday Times had planned a big exposé on the HSBC consumer credit fraud. The story was 'inexplicably dropped' at the last minute. Ahmed wrote:
'HSBC happens to be the main sponsor of a series of Sunday Times league tables published for FastTrack 100 Ltd., a "networking events company." The bank is the "title sponsor" of The Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100, has been "title sponsor of The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 for all 6 years" and was previously "title sponsor of The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for 7 years."'
Other ugly examples of Sunday Times journalism include its campaign against Thames Television's 'Death on the Rock' documentary exposing the murder of three unarmed IRA men in Gibraltar by the SAS, the special forces unit of the British army; a long smear campaign against the BBC and ITV because they were regarded as obstacles to Rupert Murdoch's media domination; the fake Hitler Diaries; a character assassination of the author Salman Rushdie when he went underground following a fatwa that endangered his life; the smear claiming that former Labour leader Michael Foot was an agent of Moscow; and disgraceful coverage of the 1984-85 miners' strike that depicted the miners as the violent 'enemy within', echoing government propaganda. (For details, see John Pilger, 'Hidden Agendas', Vintage, London, 1998).
As Pilger noted almost 20 years ago:
'Once acclaimed for its journalistic and political independence, the Sunday Times was quick to reflect its master's view.' ('Hidden Agendas', p. 458)
Nothing has changed.
DC and DE