Sunday, 23 October 2016

Banned and Gagged by Tameside Hospital!

Health Campaigner - Paul Broadhurst
A local health campaigner who is also member of the Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust, has been told by solicitors acting on behalf of Tameside Hospital that he has been banned from the premises of Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. 

In a solicitor’s letter that he received on 9 September, from Weightmans of Liverpool, Paul Broadhurst, from Dukinfield, was told that the hospital was intending to exclude him from the Trust’s premises and that he could now only attend the hospital, when seeking emergency or planned medical treatment. Although Mr Broadhurst, is a member of the hospital trust, the letter warned him:

“If you attend for any other purpose then you would be trespassing and action could be taken to remove you from the site and/or legal action could be brought against you.”

Tameside Hospital claim that they have banned Broadhurst from their premises, because he has campaigned to “harass and discredit the Trust’s employees and officers.” They also allege that he has emailed Trust Governors and Non-Executive Directors criticising the Chair and stating that he should resign. Moreover, that on occasions, he has been seen at the hospital with a placard around his neck and engages in conversations, with people at the hospital. They also claim that he has no legitimate reason to conduct his campaign and recently infiltrated and disrupted a staff focus group meeting, with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The hospital also insists that Mr Broadhurst has failed to use the ‘proper channels’, but don’t explain what these are. 

Without doubt, Paul Broadhurst, is an irritant and a thorn in the side of the management at Tameside Hospital. But we do live in a free country and not Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, as Tameside Hospital, and their solicitors seem to think. What some people may see as quite unreasonable behaviour, is seen by others, as perfectly legitimate activity that is in the public interest. Many people applaud Paul Broadhurst, for his efforts to improve patient care at Tameside Hospital.  

When the current CEO, Karen James, took over as interim CEO in the summer of 2013, following the resignation of the then CEO, Christine Green, when the hospital was put into ‘special measures’ following the Keogh review, she promised a new era of openness and transparency. Today, walking around Tameside Hospital, you will see notices displayed, “if in doubt speak out!”  The reason for this, is because the hospital has form and a history, for harassing and bullying staff who speak out. You might say that a lack of candour was a major reason why the hospital was put into special measures.  Hospital staff knew that to raise concerns, led to reprisals being taken against them by hospital management. In its Annual Report 2014/15 (Our staff), some 21% of staff working at Tameside Hospital claimed to have experienced harassment, bullying or abuse, in the last twelve months.  Milton Peña, who worked at Tameside Hospital for seventeen years, as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, has described in detail in his recently published memoirs, the threats and intimidation that was meted out to him by Tameside Hospital management in their quest to stop him speaking out about the lack of patient safety at the hospital.  

For Paul Broadhurst, this ban by Tameside Hospital management, is just history repeating itself and a pathetic attempt to stop him speaking out. Five years ago (2011), he was banned from the hospital premises for similar reasons when he received a solicitors letter from Hempson’s in Manchester.  When he went to the hospital in 2011, for medical help with a serious heart condition, he was treated like the American gangster, John Dillinger (public enemy number one), and escorted around the hospital by burly security staff as he attended his hospital appointments. He regards many of the allegations made by the hospital as malicious, fabricated and potentially defamatory.  While he doesn’t deny calling on the Chair of Tameside Hospital, Paul Connellan, to resign, he says that his “days of action” have always taken place off hospital property and he denies, disrupting any meetings of the Board or Governors, which are held at the hospital and which the public can attend as observers only, and are not allowed to speak. The allegation that he infiltrated and disrupted a meeting with hospital staff and the CQC on 10 August, he regards as ludicrously absurd, pointing out that he’d arranged to meet the manager of the CQC at the hospital, and when asked to wait outside the meeting, had complied immediately.
Although the hospital has been made aware of these facts, they have refused to lift the ban on Paul Broadhurst. Despite asking the solicitor for hard evidence to substantiate the allegations made against him by the hospital, this as not been forthcoming. When he sought to attend the hospital AGM on 27 September 2016, as a member of the public, Mr Broadhurst was denied access by security staff. Just over a week later, on 4 October, when he attended the hospital to accompany his seriously ill wife, Mary, he was thrown off the premises by security staff who falsely claimed that they had an ‘Anti-Social Behaviour Order’ (ASBO) against him. Karen James later apologised for the way he had been treated but refused to lift the ban. Despite the appalling and inhuman behaviour that Mr Broadhurst was subjected to, Ms James, was recently short-listed for the prestigious ‘Chief-Executive-of-the-Year’ health service journal award.
As a member of the Tameside hospital trust, Mr Broadhurst believes the hospital have no legal right to ban him from the premises. He believes that the hospital is harassing him and that their allegations are malicious, false and defamatory.  He is also adamant that the hospital has breached his human rights in denying him access to public meetings. The hospital ban has received quite a lot of media publicity with Tameside Hospital management, being held up to ridicule for their actions in trying to silence him, which seems to have had the opposite effect.  A group to support Mr Broadhurst has been set up and is demanding that the hospital apologises to Mr Broadhurst and lifts the ban.  Perhaps a more appropriate notice for display throughout the hospital run by Karen James, would be: “If in doubt, Watch out!”

Leedz Anarkyst - Greevz Fysher (1845-1931)

GREEVZ was one of the North’s most original yet least known pioneering anarchists.  From the economy to the alphabet, if there was a conventional system, Greevz had an alternative!

A Marriage Made in Heaven - and Leeds
Born John Greeves Fisher in Ireland on 9 September 1845, Greevz preferred the phonetic form of his name in line with his scheme for spelling reform.  Initially employed as an ironmongers assistant in Dublin, in 1877 Greevz moved to Wetherby to partner his cousin in his Leeds “Kingfisher” engineering business.  After his first wife died, in 1879, Greevz lived with her widowed sister, Charlotte Rowntree. Although both shared a Quaker upbringing Greevz had since progressed through scepticism to full-blown atheism and Charlotte wasn’t amused.  In 1884 Daniel Pickard told the Leeds Quaker congregation that:
“We much regret to have to inform the Monthly Meeting that John G Fisher has been for some time past an acknowledged disbeliever on the fundamental truths of the Christian religion”. 
Charlotte moved to America and in September 1887 at Leeds Register Office, Greevz married the love of his life, Marie Clapham.

Klever and Kreativ
Marie shared and encouraged Greevz’ iconoclasm and the joyful inventiveness that had already borne fruit. In 1884 Greevz had marketed, “Fisher’s Nonpareil Perpetual Kalendar” and the following year published, “Spelling Reform in Three Stages”.  NHe then developed an improved device for producing reading material for the blind. Marketed as the “Kingfisher Braille Printer” and adopted by Liverpool blind school it was only a modest success.

By then his cousin had left the engineering business, making Greevz sole proprietor. NGreevz re-focussed the business onto developing lubricants for industry. In 1883 he came up with “ACME” a unique, soap-based grease that proved invaluable.

In 1886 Greevz first mounted the pulpit to rail against religion and April found him at Sheffield’s “Hall of Science” delivering a couple of characteristic sermons.  In the afternoon he spoke on, “Spiritualism a Delusion” and in the evening, rhetorically reassured listeners, “Has a Dying Atheist Anything to Fear?”

Cheeky Lady
Marie Fisher was a secularist freethinker in her own right and according to her son, ”as a young country girl she used to tramp the 12 miles to attend the meetings of Charles Bradlaugh”.  Greevz and Marie first met at one of these secularist meetings and the couple’s selection of names for their 5 children signals their influences and advertises their radicalism;
* Auberon Herbert (1888-1932) - named after the individualist anarchist
* Wordsworth Donisthorpe (1889-1950) – another English anarchist
* Constance Naden (1891-1984) – female poet and philospher
* Spencer Darwin (1893-1968) – libertarian philosopher and discoverer of evolution 
* Hypatia Ingersoll (1899-1977) – philosopher martyred by Church & an American libertarian

Marie didn’t confine her interests to the home and every Wednesday attended educational classes at Leeds’ Mechanics’ Institute.  When local magistrates refused to accept affirmation as an alternative to “swearing on the bible”, she doggedly pursued the issue through the press.  In 1904 she travelled to the Rome International Freethought Congress as a delegate of the British Secular League and relished the perceived insult to Catholicism in the pages of “The Truthseeker”:
“The Pope thinks that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church but he sees rationalism forcibly pronouncing itself within earshot of the Vatican. He admits he is grieved; possibly he trembles.”

Marie was an active member of the local Astronomical, Philosophical, Geological and Yorkshire Naturalists’ Societies and, in 1923 was elected as the first female president of the Leeds Philatelic Society. She was a militant feminist and active suffragette and in 1920 Marie wrote to the press encouraging Leeds ladies to light up in cinemas after seeing notices permitting men to smoke but prohibiting women.

Freethought to FREEDOM
Encouraged by Marie’s own iconoclasm it wasn’t long before Greevz’ Freethought widened out into political activism.  In 1888 he supported the local strike of Jewish tailors and at the Clarendon Buildings denounced, “Starvation in the Midst of Plenty”.  He also began a six year campaign for election onto local School Boards.  Greevz opposed the growing State control of education and was determined to derail the process in Leeds but was never elected.

Even within anarchism, Greevz adopted an advanced position on children. In an article entitled, “Children as Chattels”, he argued against Benjamin Tucker, in Tucker’s journal, “Liberty”, that parents don’t own their children.  They certainly owe them a duty of care but children own themselves and should be respected as individuals from the start.  Greevz had real insight into libertarian learning and as well as generally campaigning against state control of schools he also specifically opposed the abstract curriculum that came with it.  In 1889 he argued in, “The Revolutionary Review”, “Keeping children from manipulating tangible objects and forcing them to occupy themselves almost wholly with symbols is a total reversal of the natural order of intellectual growth.”

Anarchism or Communism
Greevz remained forever sceptical of the millenarial promises of Communists.  Although he subscribed to the Anarchist-Communist journal “Freedom” he objected to Kropotkin’s assurances that history was inevitably moving in the direction of communism. History shows Greevz was right to be sceptical and nowadays individualism rules.  Whilst Kropotkin’s observations on mutual aid were a useful corrective to the excesses of social Darwinism, “Freedom” continued to over-egg the pudding and encourage false hope.  Greevz was one of a small group of English anarchists who fought against State control and argued for voluntary cooperation yet refused to accept that “Anarchist-Communism” could square the circle.  He was presciently aware of the group-think dangers inherent in all forms of Communism.

Natural Order
After anarchism and his family, Greevz loved cycling.  He’d started in Ireland on a boneshaker with wooden wheels and iron tyres but had still managed journeys of over 100 miles.  In later life he rode a variety of fairly modern machines and into his eighties he rode almost every day.  Greevz’ cycling exploits featured regularly in “The Leeds Mercury” where he revealed his recipe for a long and active life, “I consume a fair amount of home-made lemonade” and “I make my own porridge”.

Greevz was also keen on natural history, a respected member of several local societies, in 1930 he was elected President of the Yorkshire Naturalist’s Union.  His non-political lecture repertoire included; 
* “Some Curious Habits of the Indian Wasps”
* “The Sinistral Form of Limnaea Peregra”
* “The Structure and Habits of the Crayfish”

In later years Greevz combined an interest in wildlife with a passion for cycling and indulging his eccentricity he was regularly spotted cycling around Leeds with a pet jackdaw perched on his shoulder!

Yorkshire Anarchy
Greevz was a much loved local character but was also a serious, inventive owner of a small, successful business employing around 30 people. As a Proudhonian advocate of small scale enterprise he never contemplated converting “Kingfisher” into a workers’ co-op but according to a former employee writing in the “Yorkshire Post”, “We all had a real affection for him”. 

Greevz followed up the great success of his, “Kingfisher Acme Lubricant” with the invention and production of an original,”Screw Plunger Automatic Lubricator” which continues, in modified form, in production today. Interestingly, for many years Greevz employed Leonard Hall, a pioneering Manchester socialist as Kingfisher’s sales agent. Greevz’ monetary theories were then critically examined in one of Hall’s political tracts, “Which Way? Root Remedies & Free Socialism Versus Collectivist Quackery and Glorified Pauperism”.

Whatever folks thought of his politics the business thrived and continues today, still under family ownership. Greevz updated, patent grease fittings, have over the years been installed in vehicles ranging from Volvo cars through the European Airbus to NASA’s space shuttle transporter.

Catalogue of Surgical Specialities
Greevz was a keen analyst of the role money and markets play in capitalist society but in contrast to the Anarchist-Communists he wasn’t satisfied that problems of distribution and exchange would evaporate if capitalism were destroyed. The debates appear abstract and protracted but the problem is real enough. 

Greevz and Marie also enthusiastically attacked traditional constraints on sexual relations and reproduction. They didn’t merely campaign for women’s right to limit family size but bravely also advertised and supplied contraceptives in an age that was outraged. In the 1890’s they freely supplied interested parties with their, “Malthusian Catalogue of Domestic & Surgical Specialities”. Greeves also campaigned against the labelling of children as “Bastards” and organised for the repeal of oppressive legislation as President of the “Legitimation League”.

Unlike Kropotkin, Greevz didn’t promise heaven on earth. Although he disagreed with Benjamin Tucker on some of the finer points they shared the same basic practical anarchist approach; “There are some troubles from which mankind can never escape…They (the anarchists) have never claimed that liberty will bring perfection; they simply say that its results are vastly preferable to those that follow from authority…As a choice of blessings, liberty is the greater; as a choice of evils, liberty is the smaller. Then liberty always says the Anarchist. No use of force except against the invader…”

In the 1880’s Greevz campaigned against granting the Post Office a monopoly over telegram delivery. In the 1890’s he argued against doctors claiming immunity from public scrutiny as he rejected all forms of professional cartel, “Classes based upon special privileges are a danger to the public liberty”.

Throughout his long life Greevz continued to resist authority and speak up for the dispossessed. Through the pages of “Liberty”  he continued to argue for the liberation of Ireland but unlike the Fenians he didn’t want an Independent Irish State, he proposed “No Government for Ireland!” Aged 83, he wrote to the “Yorkshire Post” criticising the local authority who’d demolished the homes of the Beeston Community of Tolstoyan anarchists because they refused to fully comply with the Council’s petty demands.

Ashes to Ashes
Celebrating Greevz long involvement in civic life, in September 1925 the “Yorkshire Post” observed, “Mr Greevz Fisher, head of the firm of Kingfisher (Ltd) lubricators and oil
merchants, Sackville Street, Leeds, yesterday attained his 80th birthday and in celebration of this and his 50 years in business in the city his employees presented him with a barometer and case. Only last year Mr Fisher rode a push bike from Liverpool to Leeds.”

When Greevz died in May 1931 his cremation ceremony was marked by the “Yorkshire Post”, which also detailed the numerous organisations that attended.  Marie took over the business which on her death in 1950 was in turn run by her surviving children.

Greevz left a published legacy of over a hundred pamphlets, articles and letters that remain uncollected and, nowadays, largely unread. Whilst no single piece may be revelatory, taken together his life and work evidences and illustrates a vital thread of practical, home grown English anarchism that can still amuse and inspire.

Christopher Draper  (No. 10 in a monthly series of “Northern Anarchist Lives”, October 2016)

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Danczuk given ultimation to cough-up by police

RESPONDING to a mauling from Inspector Ian Hanson in the  Manchester Evening News last Thursday, over what the Inspector called 'pathetic GMP bashing', Simon Danczuk the independent MP for Rochdale said on his web-site that he stood by his criticisms and added:
'Everyone knows that child abuse took place on a frightening scale at Knowl View.  We've seen
shocking reports documenting this and heard heartbreaking testimony from people who attended the school, including that from Father Michael Seed, who described what happened there as "beyond horror".'

The problem is that Danczuk's claim 'everyone knows' what took place at Knowl View is not true.  One reason is that Rochdale Council has never published the reports.  A second is that because of people like Danczuk the whole matter has been kicked into the long grass of national over-arching
What is known from the 1991 Phil Shepherd report is that Mr. Shepherd, who was a Council HIV specialist, is that there was some inappropriate behavior od a sexual nature between the lads at Knowl View.  This probably involved some bullying by the older lads against the younger ones.
What is required is a standard of evidence that will pass muster with the Crown Prosecution Service for presentation in an English Court.  Inspector Hanson reasonably requests that '(f)rom his comments I would assume Mr Danczuk is in possession of very specific information that
backs up his comments (and) if that is the case then he should refer that information to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaint's Commission) himself immediately.'

In a Facebook post, Ian Hanson said a statement released by Mr Danczuk on Thursday was 'totally lacking in detail or substance'.  
And Inspector Hanson said of Simon Danczuk: 
'.... I will publicly call him out to deliver the firm evidence that he bases his criticism of GMP
on to my office by 12 noon on Monday - and I will personally deliver it to the IPCC.'

The clock is now ticking in more ways than one for Mr. Danczuk, who has so far failed to establish his case about Knowl View.

Working-class Movement Library Events

'Sweet Responsibility' play read-through
IN April 2016, Charlotte Delaney, playwright and daughter of Shelagh Delaney (the Salford writer of A Taste of Honey, Dance with a Stranger and other plays) retraced an epic rail journey across America that her mother had first made in 1972.  She was accompanied by Selina Todd, historian and author of The People: the rise and fall of the working class, who is now writing the authorised biography of Shelagh Delaney. The journey helped shape Charlotte's latest play, Sweet Responsibility, which is having its first reading in the UK on Thursday 3 November 6pm at the Library.  Come and hear Charlotte and Selina discuss the life of one of Salford's most famous daughters - and listen to members of MaD Theatre Company read Sweet Responsibility, Charlotte's play about friendship and activism, as the ugly underbelly of a rural idyll puts a treasured friendship to the test.
Free advance tickets for the event are available via Eventbrite here.   We expect tickets to book up fast – and please note that because of limited space, people will only be able to get in to the event if they have a ticket. 

Invisible Histories talk on office workers and their unions 1914-39

On Wednesday 26 October at 2pm there will be a talk at the Library by Nicole Robertson from Sheffield Hallam University: “Organise, educate and agitate”:  trade unionism and office workers in Britain, 1914-39. The rising prominence of the clerical sector was one of the most important changes in the 20th century workplace.  As organisations grew larger and more complex the need for greater communication and documentation transformed office work.  Clerical workers became a key component of cityscapes and urban communities.  Trade unionism during the 1914-39 period is often associated with manual workers; however, office workers were engaged in trade union activity.  This talk explores how these white-collar workers challenged, resisted and negotiated their working conditions through clerical unions.
This free talk is part of our autumn Invisible Histories series.  All welcome.
Singing on the stairs as part of Museums at Night
 Come and enjoy the Library's great acoustic as two wonderful performers sing on the stairs on Thursday 27 October from 6.30 to 8.30pm. Broadside ballads from the Manchester region from the ‘Middleton Linnet’ Jennifer Reid form a counterpoint to Battle for the Ballot, in which singer-songwriter and People's History Museum songwriter in residence Quiet Loner uses original songs to tell the story of how working people came to have a vote.  The story will take in events like Peterloo, with a song Matt wrote after he read first hand accounts of the massacre here at the Library.  It goes on to focus on people – Chartists, politicians and suffragettes – who fought for the ideal of universal suffrage.  It’s all part of the nationwide Museums at Night long weekend, which is billed as ‘the UK’s ‘lates’ event for the culturally curious’.
Matt Hill says: 'When I was researching Battle for the Ballot, the Working Class Movement Library provided me with some amazing insights into the people who campaigned for our right to vote. I can't wait to perform the show at the Library.'
Jennifer Reid adds: ‘I'm really looking forward to singing at the WCML again. It's always a pleasure, and where better to debut some new material?’.
Admission is free, and all are welcome.  Pop along any time as the Library will stay open ‘after hours’ from 5pm, with light refreshments served.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Tory majority cut in Cameron’s old seat

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor (October 21 2016, 9:00am), The Times: 
THE Tory majority was slashed by four fifths in David Cameron’s former seat last night as the Liberal Democrats put a resurgent performance down to fears of a hard Brexit.
In Theresa May’s first electoral test since becoming prime minister, the Conservatives’ winning margin was cut by 20,000 in Witney, Oxfordshire. Robert Courts won by 5,702 votes in what was his party’s 10th safest seat.
Voters in Yorkshire elected a Coronation Street actress to replace Jo Cox, marking an end to a divisive campaign in which the far right tried to capitalise on the first killing of a sitting MP…

Danczuk wants new Communication's Officer!


The contents of the post below was sent to N.V. by a source in the Rochdale Liberal-Democrat Party:
IN what must be the most difficult job in politics, disgraced Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk is advertising for a new Communication's Officer role - under the Labour Party banner.  The advert appears on the website - a site that is an MP's favourite for employing staff.  It is advertised as a Labour MP's appointment.  This is despite currently being suspended by the Labour Party. 
Local Lib Dem Leader Councillor Andy Kelly said:
'Yet again - Mr Danczuk is 'masquerading' as a Labour MP despite being suspended over lewd, lurid texts to a teenage girl.  Unless Jeremy Corbyn has made a decision on his future and not telling anybody - this is deliberate misrepresentation.  I wrote to Ian McNichol, General Secretary of the Labour Party months ago - pointing out that Danczuk was still using Labour Party branding on his website. Nothing happened and to this day - his internet presence still remains the same.  If Labour have made a decision on Danczuk's future then Jeremy Corbyn must come clean and say so.  It will send a clear message that under Jeremy Corbyn's Leadership - Simon Danczuk's behaviour is acceptable.'
Danczuk's staffing arrangements have long been controversial.  Questions remain whether he still employs his ex-wife Karen part-time in his office.  Recently his former caseworker Elsie Wraight caused controversy when she became Council Leader Richard Farnell's taxpayer funded PA - despite the job not being advertised.  He was also criticised at Christmas for employing a 'crisis management' adviser on the taxpayer at a time when his bad behaviour was splashed on the front of all the tabloids.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Tameside Hospital to cut 246 beds. Surgeon condemns the plan!

Milton Pena - NHS Whistle-blower
A former consultant surgeon who retired from Tameside Hospital in October 2014, after working for forty-years in the NHS and specializing in orthopaedic surgery, has slammed Tameside Hospital for its plan to close 246 beds by 2020, which he says will put patients at serious risk.

At a public meeting held in Stalybridge last week, Milton Pena, who worked for seventeen-years at Tameside Hospital as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, told the meeting that such a massive reduction in bed capacity would lead to a drastic deterioration in the quality of care offered to patients at Tameside Hospital. “Safety, effectiveness, and patient experience, will be significantly affected”, he declared.

Mr Pena told the meeting that with a population in Tameside & Glossop of 250,000, the proposed cut in bed capacity from 449 to 203 beds in acute care, would mean that there would only be 80 beds per 100,000 people. He added: “When I arrived at Tameside Hospital in 1997, it had more than 600 beds for in-patients.”

In a letter that he wrote to the ‘Care Quality Commission’ (CQC), in August, Mr Pena said that the idea that losing 246 beds at the hospital could be compensated for by the creation of five multi-disciplinary care teams, is misguided and not based on evidence. He also says in the letter that there were 531 incident reports by nurses regarding lack of nursing staff at the hospital in the year from May 2015 to 2016 and yet,

“No one at the Board meeting (which he attended) questioned the Financial Director on how the Trust efficiency program savings can be delivered in full without affecting quality of care, clinical effectiveness, patient experience and safety.”

Speaking of the Board at Tameside Hospital, Mr Pena told the CQC:

“I attended two Board meetings as a member of the public, the latest on Thursday 28 July. With few exceptions, I did not observe challenging questions from the Chair, executive and non-executive directors, when reports were presented to the Board. The approval of the Board of the ‘Contingency Planning Team Report’ by PwC, without any reservations, regarding the plan to close 246 beds by 2020, shows the Board has not fully considered the impact of decisions being taken…There was not a single medically qualified director at the Board meeting on 28 July."

In September 2013, Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust, was declared financially unsustainable by ‘Monitor’ the regulator, three-months after the resignation of former CEO, Christine Green, who left following the review by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England Medical Director. Recently the hospital has come under fire for poor standards of cleanliness and for its high mortality ratio.

Mr Pena is calling on people to write to their MPs requesting that the planned bed cuts be rejected and he says that the integration of care, does not have to incorporate such massive bed cuts. Since retiring in 2014, he has published his memoirs entitled, ‘The Flight of the Black Necked Swans’, which details his effort to improve standards of patient care at Tameside Hospital.

How Danczuk Judges Others by own standards!

by Les May
DANCZUK's response to the story which appears in today's Rochdale Observer about a toilet block being named after him: 
'The publisher paid John Walker £250 in error,  it should never have been paid to him.  He contributed nothing to the book written about Cyril Smith.  It's not for me to pay for his flights to Gambia.'
is typical Danczuk bluster, displays a total ignorance of why the money was paid and is libellous by implication.  Clearly Danczuk judges others by his own casual approach to entitlement to expenses. 

When I put this to John Walker he replied:  
'And, of course the charity does not pay my flights to The Gambia.  I have never drawn a penny from it and it costs me, at a conservative estimate c £2k per year.' 

If you don’t know who to believe in this exchange you might remember that Danczuk has never told us how many men he interviewed before writing his book.  I wrote to him in 2014 asking him this very question and he has never replied.  When a Northern Voices editor put the same question to Danczuk and Baker at the Rochdale Literary and Ideas Festival in the same year he was summarily ejected by the ‘fragrant’ Karen Danczuk. 

When Danczuk and Baker’s book appeared in 2014 reviewers fell over themselves to denounce Smith and praise the book.  Almost the only sceptical note was sounded by Nicholas Blincoe in review in the Telegraph.  But Blincoe was from Rochdale and knew all about Smith from the story which appeared in May 1979 in Rochdale’s Alternative Paper (RAP).  Walker was one of the two co-editors of RAP.   As Blincoe said in his review. ‘Everyone in Rochdale read the RAP story.  I pored over it as a 13-year-old.’.  Which means of course that everyone in Rochdale over about 55 knows the just how big is the debt Danczuk and Baker owes to the dogged efforts of Walker and co-editor David Bartlett. 

Now I’ve ‘got form’ in attacking Danczuk’s claims about his book, but if you want an independent view check out the articles on the Zelo blog using the link I have provided below. 








"I don't understand why he has never written a book about this himself.

He's had plenty of opportunities to do so."


I consider the statement " It's not for me to pay for his flights to

Gambia." a libel by implication.



Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Unite Assistant General Secretary Responds

FOR purposes of balance on behalf of Northern Voices, I wrote an e-mail to the Assistance General Secretary of Unite the Union, requesting the union's response to the statement from the Alec McFadden Defence Campaign.   See below for the details which are self-explanatory: 
Dear Gail, 
I'm sorry to send this to you but Mick Whittley (North West regional officer) is not available at present.  The Northern Voices Blog has already published a post defending Alec McFadden from Liz Epps without comment:  see below.  Can you please give me the Unite position on this case?  We want to be balanced in our reporting of this case.
Brian Bamford:  Joint-Editor of Northern Voices 
In response to your email, Unite does not comment on its internal disciplinary proceedings at all, beyond saying that we believe all the correct procedures were followed in the case highlighted.

Gail Cartmail,  Assistant General Secretary , Unite the Union,
128 Theobalds Road, 
London. WC1X 8TN

Trade Unionist Disciplined: Alec McFadden case

Below is a campaign statement that has been sent to Northern Voices
by the Campaign to defend Alec McFadden.  Though we have made some
investigations about this problem, Northern Voices does not have enough
information to justify us taking sides at this stage.  In the light of this it has
been decided to publish the statement below in full without comment, which
was sent to us by Liz Epps on behalf of the campaign to defend Alec McFadden.
ALEC McFadden, a stalwart of the trade union movement for over 50 years, has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice which is having terrible repercussions. He needs your support. Alec is known and respected throughout the country for his work as a union organiser, and for his role since 1996 in running the Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre which has provided help and assistance to thousands of people. He is a committed campaigner against sexism, racism, fascism and opposition to benefits sanctions. He suffered a serious facial wound when a fascist attacked him with a knife at his home on the Wirral.

Alec organised a very successful Anti- Austerity March in October 2015. At the end of the protest, on 3rd October 2015, the marchers had a meal at Smith’s restaurant in Eccles, Salford where Alec was the compere for the evening with a number of speakers including Rebecca Long Bailey MP for Salford, Steve North Unison branch secretary and the then Mayor of Salford Ian Stewart. Also present were other local councillors and the press.  Five weeks later Alec was informed by Unite (13 November) that it ‘had received a formal complaint from one of our members about your actions during the March against Austerity from Thursday 1st October to Sunday 4th October.’ It was alleged he had breached Unite’s Dignity and Harassment Policy. No further details were divulged. Two weeks later Alec had received a further letter from Unite (25 November) which told him no more than the identity of the complainant and that she had made a complaint which ‘relates to alleged incidents which took place between 1st and 4th October 2015 towards another Unite member’.


Unknown to Alec, witness statements were made by the complainant and two supportive witnesses.  On 6 January 2016he complainant and one witness were interviewed by a Unite Investigation panel on 6 January 2016, again without the knowledge of Alec. So Alec had no opportunity to challenge them, nor was the panel able to put any response from Alec to the witnesses, since the panel had not disclosed the witness statements or even the nature of the allegation to Alec.  It had certainly not asked him for his side of the story.

Alec was then called to attend before the Investigation Panel on 22nd January.  By then all Alec knew was what was in the two letters he had received. He had no idea what was alleged against him.  The Investigation Panel chose not to share with him the statements it had obtained from the complainant and her witness or the notes made of their interviews by the panel. So Alec had no idea of the case against him and no chance to prepare a defence.   When the interview with Alec commenced he was still in complete ignorance of the date, time, place and nature of the alleged ‘incidents’.  It was not until half way through the interview that he was shocked to be told that he was alleged to have slapped the complainant on the bottom at the dinner in the middle of the restaurant.  He was not told that the complainant’s witness had added ‘the lights were quite bright and we were very visible to our fellow marchers and other guests’.  Alec denied the allegation.  The panel asked no further questions about it.  Neither the complainant nor her witnesses were present when Alec was interviewed, and since he had not been provided with their witness statements or notes of the interview, he had no opportunity to point out inconsistencies or contradictions in their evidence.  Nevertheless, the investigation panel found that there was a case for him to answer.


Next Alec was called to a formal Unite disciplinary hearing on 15th April 2016. Before hearing Alec’s defence or his witnesses, he was startled to be told by the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel: ‘From what has been presented to us, in all probability, some misconduct has taken place.’ This conclusion was based on solely on their reading of the report of the Investigation Panel.

The Disciplinary Panel refused a request that the complainant and her witnesses should attend and give evidence to the Panel because it would be ‘inappropriate.’ So Alec and his representative were denied the chance to question them, put his case to them or explore the serious inconsistencies in their account of the alleged incident. Likewise, the Panel denied itself the opportunity to hear the complainant and her witness in person so as to weigh up the credibility of their account. Even Alec’s offer that the complainant be questioned without Alec being present was refused.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, the Disciplinary Panel reached the same conclusion at the end of the hearing that it had before the case began: ‘that in all probability, Mr McFadden did commit the offence of slapping [the complainant] on the bottom.’ The conclusion was expressed to be based solely on the evidence of the Complainant’s witness, since it said that to disbelieve her statement ‘would be tantamount to an accusation of lying.’ How the Panel could determine whether she was lying or not without hearing and seeing her give her evidence and being questioned about it was not explained. Nor was it explained on what basis the Panel were able to disregard the evidence of Alec and his witnesses (that they had neither seen anything untoward nor heard anyone speak of such a thing during the course of a long evening during which both Alec and the Complainant were present, at one stage sitting next to each other.) The Disciplinary Panel decided that Alec must be banned from office in Unite and attend Unite’s Dignity and Respect Training Course.


Alec appealed to an Appeal Panel of Unite’s EC. Again Alec’s rep asked that the complainant and her witness attend, give their evidence orally and be subject to questions from him and the Panel. He emphasised that inconsistent and contradictory evidence of the Complainant and her witnesses should be subject to at least some questioning and scrutiny as no such questioning or scrutiny had occurred at the Investigation or Disciplinary stages. This request was dismissed out of hand and the Panel refused to hear for themselves the evidence against Alec or allow it to be questioned.

Alec provided the panel with even more witness statements of those present in the restaurant including the MP and even the Restaurant manager and staff, all of whom clearly stated they saw or heard nothing of the alleged incident which according to the complainant took place in view of everyone.

Particularly significant was that Alec’s rep also sought to introduce the evidence of a Mr S who had, in August 2016, been told by the complainant that she had not been assaulted by Alec and that she had been pressurised into making the complaint.  The Appeal Panel refused to entertain this evidence on the ground that ‘it was an unsubstantiated account of an alleged conversation with the complainant that had been compellingly and comprehensively rebutted by her.’   This appears to be false.  There was no evidence that Mr S’s account had ever been put to the complainant - let alone that she rebutted it.  As noted, Alec’s request for her attendance had been refused. It was not suggested that she had made a further, undisclosed statement rebutting Mr S – such a statement would surely have been produced had it been made.

The Appeal Panel’s refusal to entertain this crucial exonerating piece of defence evidence can only have been because it fundamentally undermined the prosecution case. That is a travesty of justice.

In the light of that it was no surprise that the Appeal panel upheld the decision of the Disciplinary Panel. When his rep asked how long Alec would be suspended from Office he was told it was for at least 5 years! That is until Alec is 75.

Breach of Confidentiality + Media Smears

If that were not bad enough, what followed will shock and concern every trade union activist. Confidential details of the case, including a statement by the complainant were leaked to the media. This could have only come from someone within Unite.  The angle the media took was to attack Alec and link him to Jeremy Corbyn so as to undermine him.  Alec had been one of Corbyn’s biggest supporters and articles in the Telegraph, Times, Liverpool Echo and Guardian were spun to try to damage Corbyn and denigrate Alec.


In September 2016, the TUC informed Alec that in addition to the sanctions imposed by Unite, the TUC also banned him from holding his elected position representative to and as chair of the TUCJCC. That is not an ‘office’; it is certainly not an office in Unite and besides Alec’s position on the TUCJCC is also because he is a member of Unison.  More significantly still, the TUC has no power to prevent Trades Union Councils nominating who they wish to represent them on the TUCJCC, the TUC has no disciplinary powers over members of affiliated unions and had held no hearing to allow Alec to present a case before imposing such a penalty.  But the penalty imposed by the TUC went yet further than that imposed by Unite: Alec was barred from unofficial pre-meetings of the TUCJCC and from attending any TUC event, including those open to the public!

Questions have even been raised about Alec’s employment.

Facebook Lies

Now new evidence has emerged from the Facebook postings of the complainant.  She has changed her mind again and decided to revert to claiming that the incident did take place and she has broadcast details of the allegation along with grossly offensive comments about Alec.  Even more disturbingly, having linked to an article about an (unrelated) Employment Tribunal case against UNITE for sexual harassment she made the following comment in relation to her own case:

‘In my experience the equalities officer was invisible, the questioning that I was subject to would not be out of place among rape apologists, the concern for the person making the complaint was non–existent’.

This is a quite remarkable claim since one of the most unjust features of this drawn out disciplinary process is that the complainant was never questioned about her allegation - let alone in the manner she describes.  She was never present to face any questions put to her by Alec, his rep or the Disciplinary or Appeal Panels which took the decisions.  Before the Investigatory Panel the notes show that she was never asked even to describe the alleged incident; her prepared statement was simply accepted as fact. The sole questions about the alleged incident were: ‘…you had to ask him to move is this when the incident happened? And if so what kind of a slap was it?’  To which the answer was ‘Yes.  It was a hard slap; I was shocked and carried on walking…’  The allegation that the Unite Investigation Panel were behaving like ‘rape apologists’ is both a very serious allegation and one that is totally refuted by the notes.

This Facebook posting casts further serious doubt on the credibility of the complainant.

Unfortunately there is no further appeal under Unite rules and Alec appears to have no alternative but to take his case to the Certification Officer, given the appalling consequences that he is facing.

Every trade unionist should fight to root sexual harassment out of our movement and ensure our events are safe places for all members. But there is also no place in our movement for those who make false accusations against individuals and the union, then broadcast false and wholly misleading details of the matter on social media. More than that, no-one should be convicted without a fair trial.

Defend Alec

Alec has a long and proud record of promoting and encouraging women to get active in the union movement, he has never been subject to these kind of accusations in over 50 years of service in the movement.  Natural justice is a requirement of Unite’s disciplinary rules (rule 27.2) but Alec has been denied it.  Here, that denial was in refusing Alec the right to question those who made allegations against him and in refusing to hear a witness who had vital evidence for his defence.  The witness statements of many respected people present at the restaurant where the alleged incident took place have been simply ignored or discounted.  He has had confidential details of an internal union matters leaked to the press where it was spun to attack Jeremy Corbyn.  He has now discovered that his accuser has put on social media claims which are clearly both untrue and bring the union into disrepute.

He has been removed and suspended from office for over 5 years and the TUC has tried to remove him from elected positions that are completely unconnected to his membership of Unite.

Questions for Unite

We call on the Executive Committee of UNITE and the General Secretary to review this case as a matter of urgency.  As trade unionists we fight on a daily basis against injustice; we cannot allow this to happen to Alec.  Please support our call for a review of this decision and an investigation into the scandalous claims made by the complainant and the manner in which confidential information was leaked to the Tory media to be used to attack both Alec and Jeremy Corbyn.

Email:   10th October 2016

Printed and Published by defend Alec McFadden campaign

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Danczuk says 'John Walker contributed nothing'!

IN a vicious attack in tomorrow's Rochdale Observer on the former editor of the former respected local publication 'RAP' (Rochdale Alternative Paper') Simon Danczuk, the disgraced MP for Rochdale, said:  'He (John Walker) contributed nothing to the book written about Cyril Smith'
Mr Danczuk claimed that his 'publisher (Biteback) paid John Walker £250 in error, it should never have been paid to him'
This claim follows reports in the Mail on Saturday last Saturday, that Biteback Mr. Danczuk's publisher had paid £250 to settle a copyright row following the publication of Danczuk's Cyril Smith biography. 
The £250 has now been used to refurbish and dedicate a toilet block at a school in a Gambian village to Simon Danczuk MP. 
John Walker told the Rochdale Observer that he had an understanding with Danczuk that any monies due to him would go to the charity called 'Sohm Schools Support', and a facility at the school such as a science block, would be named after the Rochdale MP.
But after the publication of his book 'Smile for the Camera' Mr. Danczuk became very parsimonious, and in the end Mr. Danczuk's publishers paid-up £250 after drawn out negotiations over a copyright issue. 
Commenting on the matter in the Observer John Walker said:  'I wanted no glory or financial gain but I thought these kids in Gambia could benefit from it.'
To which Mr. Danczuk has now typically responded:  'It's not for me to pay for his (John Walker's) flights to Gambia.'

Monday, 17 October 2016

'Doing A Danczuk' in Africa!

IN a post titled 'More Crappy Conduct by Danczuk' on the 11th, June 2016, Northern Voices described how Simon Danczuk had admitted to copyright violations and his publisher paid £250 to John Walker, the former co-editor of the 'Rochdale Alternative Paper'. At the time we promised that the money would go towards the construction of a toilet block in The Gambia. Below is a recent item from the October 2016 newsletter Big changes at Sohm:
DOING a Danczuk! Some readers/site visitors to this site may know that John has been in dispute with Rochdale MP,  Simon Danczuk, for the last three years over copyright/plagiarism issues around his book, Smile for the Camera,  which claimed to expose his predecessor as MP,  Cyril Smith's, sexual abuse of young men in and around Rochdale.
John always made it clear to Danczuk that any payments made to him for his work on the highly successful book would be donated to this charity - and find its way to Sohm. We said that if the donation were significant enough that we could ensure that a facility at one of the schools would be named after him: say the 'Simon Danczuk ICT suite', or 'Simon Danczuk science laboratory'.
Danczuk consistently refused to make a donation.
Eventually we challenged his publisher, Backbite, over copyright issues. They, reluctantly, made a donation of £250 - which is now with this charity.

True to our word, we will put the money towards refurbishing a toilet block at one of the schools, and have the facility named 'The Simon Danczuk toilet'.  In all the circumstances, we feel that this is an appropriate name.  It will, after all, give an appropriate meaning in The Gambia, at least to the notion of 'Going for a Danczuk'. We will post a photo of the suitably named facility, when we next visit the country.

In keeping with the Danczuks predilection for selling photos of themselves, we will happily send photos of pupils 'on their way to doing a Danczuk', for an appropriate donation.  Just let us know!

Alan Turing story at the Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange Theatre presents
By Hugh Whitemore
Directed by Robert Hastie
Friday 28 October - Saturday 19 November – The Theatre
Press Night: Wednesday 2 November, 7.30pm
IN a major revival of Hugh Whitemore’s Tony-nominated play BREAKING THE CODE BAFTA award-winning actor Daniel Rigby takes on the role of the mathematical genius Alan Turing. Manchester born Rigby leads a cast of eight in the Royal Exchange’s new production of this compelling play which brings Turing’s story back to Manchester, the city in which he lived, worked and died. Robert Hastie’s new production celebrates the mind of this incredible man revealing the infinite wonder of Turing’s mathematical world and the brutal constraints set against sexual freedom in post-war Britain. The production runs from 28 October – 19 November.
In the leafy surroundings of Bletchley Park at the height of the Second World War, a brilliant young mathematician called Alan Turing was working away at a problem. The creation of a machine. A machine that would crack the German Enigma code and win Britain the war. In the aftermath of victory, Turing arrived in Manchester with an even bigger task in mind – the development of the modern computer. It would be a task he left unfinished, publicly humiliated and destroyed by the revelation of his sexuality and prosecution for indecency.
Daniel Rigby, who makes his Royal Exchange debut, is a BAFTA Award-winning actor, comedian and writer who works across theatre, television and film. Daniel’s theatre credits include Alan Dangle in the original cast of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (National Theatre/West End/Broadway), THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (West Yorkshire Playhouse) HAMLET (Barbican and tour) and BURIAL AT THEBES (UK premiere Nottingham playhouse). Daniel’s television credits include FLOWERS and BLACK MIRROR: THE WALDO MOMENT (Channel 4), JERICHO (ITV), THAT DAY WE SANG (BBC) and UNDERCOVER (UKTV). In 2011, he won the Leading Actor BAFTA for his portrayal of Eric Morecambe in BBC2’s ERIC AND ERNIE.
This year Robert Hastie will take over as the new Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres. Recent work includes HENRY V (Regents Park Open Air Theatre), CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (Theatr Clywd) for which he was nominated for Best Director at the UK Theatre Awards. As Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse he directed SPLENDOUR by Abi Morgan, and MY NIGHT WITH REG by Kevin Elyot, which also ran at the Apollo Theatre, West End. Other productions include: A BREAKFAST OF EELS (Print Room), CARTHAGE and EVENTS WHILE GUARDING THE BOFORS GUN (Finborough Theatre) and SUNBURST by Tennessee Williams (UK Premiere, Holborn Grange Hotel).
The cast of BREAKING THE CODE is completed by Geraldine Alexander, Phil Cheadle, Natalie Dew, Harry Egan, Dimitri Gripari, Mark Oosterveen and Raad Rawi.
This Manchester story is supported by local business the King Street Townhouse

Friday, 14 October 2016

Trump: Civilisation in the Salon & Locker Room

Escaping Derogatory References and Membership Characterisation Devices!

DONALD J. Trump described his words spoken over a decade ago about women as 'locker room banter'.  When Kenneth Clarke in his book and later TV program 'Civilisation' said about the historical rise of the French salon in the 18th century, was that the nature of the saloon by a social mixing of the sexes, was that it had a moderating effect on the behaviour and conversation of the people involved in so far as the saloon restrained vulgarity, obnoxious and other uncouth conduct by both men and women.  I suppose the 20th century tap-room in the average public house by separating the sexes and allowing the unrestrained free flow of talk, jokes, banter and gesticulations would have had the opposite effect.

Nigel Farage, according to the current Private Eye, has justified Donald Trump's remarks  about 'feeling-up' women as follows:  'It's the kind of thing, if we are being honest, that men do.  They sit around and have a drink  and they talk like this.'

Any collectivity of either sex be it a 'Hen Party' or 'Bachelor Do' or even an ordinary workplace on the shop-floor is likely to produce conversation and conduct which in another context would raise eyebrows.  In the same way that an academic community of scholars has its own 'interpretive community' and special forms of talk so the average shop-floor setting often has tribal language which would be distinct from from other social engagements with people.  In the foundry at Holcroft Castings & Forging in Rochdale, where I worked  as a maintenance electrician in the 1980s, the terms 'split-arses', and other derogatory expressions were often used to refer to women in general or more specifically in referring to lasses in the machine departments. 

In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts writes:  'No one talks like that in the locker room of the gym I use.'

That's surprising, because when |I was about 12-years-of-age I had a job as a scorer for the Tweedales & Smalley factory second eleven cricket team, and it was there in the pavilion changing-room that I first began to encounter how grown working-class men talk in groups on occasions when women are not present.  Before that as an eldest child I also heard how women when they think they alone with their own sex talk together about men:  I often heard how my grandmother and mother in private discussed men judgementally, not with foul language of course, but with comments that judgementally loaded blame and curses on male members of the family.  In a way it sometimes amounted to objectifying men by stereo-typing them.

In this circumstances to pretend shock or surprise at what Donald Trump has had to say in the setting in which he was recorded, is a little over-the-top or even naieve. 

Whenever we talk about the meaning of words, rather than reaching for some lazy feminist or a tin-pot politically correct interpretation. perhaps we should consider what Ludwig Wittgenstein had to say in his 'Philosophical Investigations': 

'Think of tools in a tool-box: there is a hammer, pliers, a saw, a screw-driver, a rule, a glue-pot, glue, nails and screws.  -- The functions of words are as diverse as the functions of words are as diverse as the functions of these objects.  (And in both cases there similarities.)'

The meaning of a word is in its use; just as the significance of a tool is in its use.  When I was an apprentice electrician in the late 1950s it was a common trick of leg-pulling tradesmen to send young apprentices to the stores to get a 'rubber hammer'.  The absurdity of the 'rubber hammer' is that it is unlikely to accomplish any utility of persuading anything it hit to move or do the job for which a hammer is normally intended.  Wittgenstein asks in 'Philosophical Investigations':

'Imagine someone's saying:  “All tools serve to modify something.  Thus the hammer modifies the position of the nail, the saw the shape of the board, and so on.”  And what is modified by the rule, the glue-pot, the nails?- “Our knowledge of a thing's length, the temperature of the glue, and the solidity of the box.”-- Would anything be gained by this assimilation of expressions?--'

When a wheelwright at Holcroft Castings uses the term 'split arses' to refer to a women or all women, the words would modify our idea of women perhaps in the sense of the picture theory of language; just as a hammer hitting a nail will modify the position of the nail or a screw-driver may transform the position of a screw and if its a wood-screw it may also modify a piece of wood. 

Words are becoming ever more dangerous things use in a world of surveillance were privacy is in short supply, perhaps we should join Wittgenstein and resort to whistling or sign language.

I've no room to talk because besides doing journalism now I have, in the past, been involved in anthropological investigations and conversational analysis in which I used tape-recorders to surreptitiously record everyday talk by union officials, and others, for the purpose of research.  In a sense we are a bit hypocritical.

Ukip Scrap & Political Violence at Freedom

Donald Rooum Ruminates on Trotsky's violent death & 'Scuffles' in politics
MR. Hookem, the Ukip MEP, who is alleged to have been involved in an altercation with another Ukip MEP, Steven Woolfe, in the European Parliament last week described it as a mere 'scuffle'.  Donald Rooum, a Friend of Freedom Press (anarchist), similarly told Northern Voices in last month that the scrap at Freedom Press, the anarchist HQ, at the time of the Friends of Freedom Press Annual General Meeting on the 22nd, June (the day before the referendum vote), was 'only a scuffle', and he added that the police should not have involved.

Violence seems to be becoming more common in politics in the UK these days!

The Ukip  'punch-up' at the European Parliament had something to do with the struggle for control of Ukip; likewise the problems at Freedom are about who influences the management of the administration of Freedom Press and the sale of the building on Whitechapel High Street. 

Some people describing themselves as 'The Freedom Collective' wanted to prevent the directors on the Friends of Freedom of Press from considering proposals presented by a group from the North of England who describe themselves as 'Our Friends in the North'..

Donald Rooum, is an octogenarian veteran of English anarchism, who has been associated with Freedom since the 1940s, despite that it is only relatively recently become a Friend or director on the board of the Friends of Freedom Press.  Last month, he engaged in a correspondence in Private Eye's Pedantry Corner discussing Trotsky's death:

'... Robert Thomson's cartoon (p5, Eye 1425) depicts a man with a mountaineer's ice axe in his head.  'Could this be a misunderstanding of a historical account of Trotsky's death?

'Trotsky was killed with an ice pick, a stiletto used by bartenders in the 1930s, when refrigerators houses supplied ice in big blocks, for picking out bits of ice to put in drinks.  Nothing to do with mountaineers.'

Donald Rooum, who is a supporter of the 'Freedom Collective' group occupying the premises and has recently taken on the role of their sugar-daddy even financing them out of his pension, told Northern Voices that 'I am not interested in any suggestions from you!'

Presumably he was referring here to our practical program for the sale of the building being presented by a group calling itself 'Our Friends in the North', and he wants to protect his own babies on the so-called Freedom Collective.

Mr. Rooum, excusing the attack on me at the Friends of Freedom Press AGM, said: 

'You shouldn't go getting the police in, it gets people in trouble, it may sometimes be necessary to bring in the police but not just for a scuffle.'

Rooum's reputation and legacy now rests upon the survival of the 'Freedom Collective' as his baby. When the long-term owner of Freedom, Vernon Richards, withdrew from direct active involvement in Freedom newspaper in the late 1990s shortly before the Millennium, he had apprenticed Charles Crute to takeover as editor.  It now seems that Donald had been doing much to undermine Charles' position at one point trying to stir things up over a joking remark I made about Vernon Richards going off the cultivate tomatoes at his home in East Anglia.  That attempt misfired, perhaps because Donald wouldn't know a 'Gardener's Delight' from a  'Super Marmande' beefsteak tomato, but then Donald's opportunity to overthrow Charles came later when a dispute broke out over our attempt to produce an issue of The Raven on Noam Chomsky's politics and linguistics.  Harold Sculthorpe (an old Friend of Freedom Press) and myself had arranged with a group of Manchester academics involved in the Manchester Ethnography Group to help produce an issue on Chomsky ultimately entitled 'Chomsky & his Critics' (2001), but when I sent Chomsky an article and a covering letter to the MIT, the great man Professor Chomsky took exception to one of the articles by Rupert Read now in the Green Party, and his former 'political secretary' intervened to stop this publication of The Raven after Charles Crute had given it the go-ahead.   Because Charles had OK'd the original article by Rupert in a letter and said it would be published, Donald Rooum was then able to install his own man, Toby Crowe*, a 'lapsed' Marxist from the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who was to ultimately become  the editor of Freedom newspaper when Charles Crute was forced out.  Mr. Rooum later referred to Toby as 'a big' strapping lad who quickly got rid of  what Donald called the 'wasteful practices' such as paying Charles Crute a small salary and then forcing him out of Freedom to seek work at a supermarket.  Toby Crowe failed to benefit Freedom, and has now been identified as the start of the decline which ultimately resulted in its closure in 2014

*  Mr. Crowe left his job as Freedom editor and after a period of study was later to be appointed as the now Revd Toby Crowe a Rector of Elmdon Church in 2012.  In that capacity according to a website he seems to have been more successful than he was at Freedom Press.  Donald Rooum has told me that he is still in contact with the Revd. Crowe, but he does not seem to have kept up any contact with poor Charles Crute.