Thursday, 30 June 2016

UK Political Class in Turmoil!

JEREMY Corbyn Twitted 2-hours ago:
'I completely condemn abuse of MPs of any kind. No abuse is carried out in my name. There is no place for this in society or in our politics.'
WHAT Jeremy Corbyn senses here is that the whole of the UK political class is now in turmoil including himself.  Yesterday, the New York Times ran an editorial entitled 'THE HOLLOW PROMISES OF BREXIT' in which the editor concluded by reviewing what Boris Johnson is now writing in a recent column in The Telegraph:
'The backtracking by Mr. Johnson and his allies has exposed the venality and cynicism of their campaign - unfortunately for Britain, far too late.'
Politicians never were held in very high esteem in England, now the backlash promises to be substantial not just against the Poles and other immigrants, but also the against whole of the political class perhaps with the exception of the SNP.

Pricking the London Bubble


by Chris Draper

HAS there ever been a greater gap between politicos in the London bubble and the politics of real people in the real world? As a lifelong anarchist I’d be celebrating ructions in both Tory and Labour parties if it didn’t mirror a similar Anarchist disconnect. 

I was born in Warrington and have lived roughly a third of my life in the North, a third in London and a third in the Midlands. No matter how bizarre your opinions if you live in London you’ll be able to attract similarly silly believers to your soapbox. As your unrealistic ideas are echoed by new-found friends, prejudices are reinforced and soon you all start thinking it’s reality!

The further you move from London the more you find everyday life involves talking to people who don’t agree with you. In Llandudno, my partner and I are the only anarchists for miles so our ideas are constantly challenged. In London it’s easy for even the tiniest of sects to meet frequently, for members to pat each other on the back and reassure themselves of their sensible opinions. Ironically, the very fact that a multiplicity of sects exist in the capital strengthens Metropolitan arrogance that its inhabitants are the most open-minded individuals in Britain. The truth is that most of the time Londoners mix with their own kind and have little awareness of how life is lived in communities far from the capital.

Jeremy Hardy, the Guardian’s favourite comedian, considers it amusing to ridicule the assumed inbreeding of East Anglian communities. Like most metropolitans he chooses to paint East Anglian communities as static, closed and unchanging. In reality East Anglia communities have been hugely affected by the arrival of agricultural workers from Eastern Europe. Struggling to cope with inadequate social resources, depressed wages and increasing unemployment it’s no wonder local people resent such arrogant metropolitan ignorance.

The Brexit map demonstrates a marked disconnect between London and the rest of England. Whilst the London working class followed the political lead of the metropolitan elite, outside the capital those who’ve suffered most from globalisation rejected the advice of the London bubble. Predictably the losers (whether Tory, Labour or Anarchist) still refuse to admit they were wrong and put it down to poor presentation (rather than an inherently weak case) and widespread racism (ignoring EU exploitation of cheap labour).

Only fools think that CLASS is the sole political determinant. I consider AUTHORITY is THE political problem and it comes in many guises. London presents a problem that extends beyond CLASS. When I lived in the capital I was part of a collective that published the anarchist journal, “LibEd”. To offset the London effect we rotated ALL meetings between London, Leicester and Bristol. Now, as a member of a group campaigning to relaunch the anarchist journal FREEDOM we propose moving meetings of the existing Friends of Freedom Press group from London to Birmingham. 

It’s a self-serving conceit that metropolitan elites possess a monopoly on radical ideas but their arrogance is essentially authoritarian. I don’t believe any organisation campaigning for radical change should be headquartered in London, to do so reproduces political inequality, fosters elitism and further reduces the influence of the dispossessed.  

For Peace, Love & Anarchy
Christopher Draper, Llandudno 

Labour MPs Out of Touch

Les May
LAST Friday the country woke up to find that it had voted to leave the EU and the two main cheer leaders for Brexit, Johnson and Gove, woke up to find the David Cameron was not going to be the fall guy and be the one to initiate the process of actually leaving after all.

Today a majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to press the self destruct button and now expect Corbyn to save their bacon by 'doing the decent thing' and quietly stepping aside.

They are gambling on him not only resigning but also his name not being on the ballot paper for the new leader.  If it is they run the risk of him being re-elected by the same people who voted for him last time.  Even if he secured a smaller majority it would be enough to demonstrate to the country that Labour's MPs are out of touch with the party's members.

It appears the aphorism 'turkeys don't vote for Christmas' is wrong.

'We Are The Many' at Hebden Bridge

Sent in from Trevor Hoyle
Hebden Bridge Picture House -- Sunday 17 July
'WE ARE MANY'
AHEAD of the upcoming publication of the Chilcot Inquiry, it feels timely to revisit Amir Amirani's incendiary documentary We Are Many. It's the story of 15 February 2003, when over 30 million people in over 800 cities across the world marched in demonstration against the Iraq War. How did this day come about?  Who organised it?  And was it, as many people claimed, a total failure?

Corbyn & the BBC News

THE 'Brexit' referendum vote, split 52% to 48% in favour of leaving the European Union, has been exploited by the 'mainstream' media to launch yet another assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 'Impartial' BBC News, directed by former Murdoch editor James Harding, has been one of the worst culprits.
Consider the wave of resignations of Labour shadow ministers which was heavily promoted in advance on the front page of the BBC News website: ' "Half" of Labour top team set to resign...the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg understands'. When the Labour resignations started to roll in, Kuenssberg could be heard virtually gloating over Corbyn's predicament:
'A bad day at the office. A very bad day.' (BBC Weekend News, BBC1, June 26, 2016)

She wrote on the BBC website:
'There have been concerns about Jeremy Corbyn's performance for months and months. But it was his role, or lack of role, in the campaign to keep the UK in the EU, and his sacking of Hilary Benn in the middle of the night, that has given members of the shadow cabinet the final reasons to quit.'

The laughably biased reference to 'months and months' and 'final reasons to quit' were intended to portray Labour MPs as exasperated and understandably at the end of their tether. Clearly reaching for some kind of 'smoking gun' to finish Corbyn, Kuenssberg added:
'documents passed to the BBC suggest Jeremy Corbyn's office sought to delay and water down the Labour Remain campaign. Sources suggest that they are evidence of "deliberate sabotage".'
For more go to
 http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/822-killing-corbyn.html

Dodgy Danczuk's & his Curious 'Consultant'

Zelo Street & Simon Danczuk’s Consultant REVEALED

THE Murdoch doggies at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun were beside themselves with rage yesterday, as they regaled the world with more news about Rochdale’s not even nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk: “MP'S £500 SEXPENSES Shamed Simon Danczuk claimed money for ‘crisis management’ after The Sun exposed his sordid texts to teenage girl” read the headline. And, as the man said, there was more.
“Rochdale MP was suspended by the Labour Party after the texts were revealed and is also being investigated over an alleged rape”. Yes, yes, we know that. But what’s with the £500? What indeed: “DISGRACED Labour MP Simon Danczuk claimed £500 expenses to pay for ‘crisis management’ after The Sun exposed his sordid texts to a teenage girl … Fury has erupted over a fee from a blanked-out consultant he sent to the Independent Parliamentary Standard Authority for ‘media relations work over Christmas period’”.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Labour's Problem?

Les May
LABOUR's present problems run much deeper than whether Labour's MPs see Jeremy Corbyn as having the qualities needed by a party leader and future prime minister.   But to understand why one has to probe a little deeper into Labour's past.

The 1945 Labour government transformed the lives of ordinary people beyond measure.  That the libertarian Left still object to it as 'statist' and the marxist Left think that it did not go far enough in imposing state control, does not detract from that achievement.  

But the Atlee Labour party enjoyed one luxury which, as Blair consistently demonstrated, has been absent in recent years.  Memories of the 1930s and the landslide in the 1945 election meant that Labour did not have to choose between power and principle.  It had both and used them to good effect.

In and after the Thatcher years 'selling' a principled Labour message to the electorate became more difficult, not least because of the concentration of the print media into a small number of hands.  Blair either wasn't up to the job of doing this or he consciously chose to abandon principle and go for power alone.

I was happy to see Corbyn elected as Labour leader.  I did not see him as a future prime minister, not least because he would be too old.  But I hoped that he would be able to hand on the mantle of a principled Labour message to a future leader.  My wish was that he would begin to inject a bit of principle into Labour's message to the electorate, that he would form a shadow cabinet from those who shared these views and above all that they would go out and make a real effort to 'sell' this message to the electorate.

The recent resignations have scuppered any hope I might have that this will happen.  Too many Labour MPs bought into the media myth that Corbyn was a part of the 'hard left' when in many respects he is about as far left as Hugh Gaitskell.  The worst of them rushed to criticise him in the Tory press and line their pockets at the same time.  Others briefed journalists anonymously.  

Whoever succeeds Corbyn will be faced with the same dilemma.  Do you go for a 'quick fix' and choose power over principle or do you get down to the difficult job of ''selling' a principled stance on politics to the electorate?  And then there's the question of disloyalty.  After years of briefing against Ed Milliband and Corbyn will these same MPs be able to resist.

Just how difficult this job is going to be can be seen from this extract from a Daily Mail article:

'If Labour goes into a general election as a divided party with an incoherent approach to immigration and a dithering hand wringing attitude to Brexit, then it could be annihilated in much of England.'

This reads like a job description designed for Nigel Farage.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Gaitskell

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Young vs Old & the EU Referendum


by Les May
ACCORDING to a news report on Al Jazeera there's a storm brewing on Twitter about how we 'old people' have denied the young a future by voting to leave the EU.
Now the significance of this is that I learned about it on a Freeview news channel and its on Twitter.  You see I don't 'do' Twitter and Facebook and I won't have a smartphone.  If you scan to the comments below the original Twitter postings given below you'll see one of the reasons why.  Alternatively just look at Karen Danczuk's Twitter postings from 2014 and 2015 for some even more compelling reasons why.
Not being part of Twitter and Facebook, and not owning a smartphone is I think rather more common amongst my generation than amongst the generation of young people who are doing the complaining.  So if anyone wanted to influence our views about the EU referendum perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to base the 'official' Remain campaign around Twitter and Facebook.
I voted to remain in the EU as did my wife and some of my friends; median age  70+.  Our house had six 'Remain' posters in the windows, but the struggle I had to get these may give a clue to why the Remain message failed to reach so many older people.
My first port of call to get posters was the Britain Stronger in Europe website.  This offered me the chance to 'sign up' to Facebook and Twitter.  No thanks!   What about some posters?  Eventually I found a way to contact them but when I tried my computer alerted me to the fact that nine other website wanted to run scripts on my machine.  No thank!
My wife is a Labour party member so we have a large plastic board 'Vote Labour' which sees the light of day at every election.  So my next attempt involved the Labour party website.  Yes we do posters, but we don't have any.
A little peeved by this time I sent an e-mail to office of my constituency MP Liz McInnes. Not hearing anything the day after I phoned and a helpful young man expressed his surprise that the Rochdale councillor who was supposed to be getting the posters out to people had not contacted me after being given my details.  He still hasn't.
I eventually did get both Labour and 'Remain' posters, but only because of the young man in Liz McInnes office who 'imported' them for me.
There's a lesson here for Jeremy Corbyn.  It's fine keeping Labour members up to date with what is going on with weekly e-mails and using Twitter and Facebook to put across Labour's message.  But you've got to find a mechanism for getting that message to those of us who 'don't do' Twitter and Facebook.
My generation was the first to benefit from the Welfare State which Attlee's  1945 Labour government put in place and I am eternally grateful for the chances it gave me in life.  But I think some of my fellow 'oldies' may need an occasional reminder.  

Tameside Council to build on Playing Fields

Hi everyone,
 
I have sent the following email to Tameside Council on behalf of the Denton South Neighbourhood Planning Forum:
 
Residents in Denton South are currently in the process of establishing a Neighbourhood Planning Forum for our local area, in accordance within the provisions of the Locality Act 2011. We have attempted to contact Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council to ask if they have any requirements in the establishment of this Forum, but have as yet received no response.
It has now come to our attention that Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council are proposing to build houses on the site of the Two Trees High School Playing Fields.
Please may I take this opportunity to remind the Council both about the new Forum and of a petition of over two thousand signatures which has been raised from local residents opposing the building of any houses on the Two Trees site.
Kind regards
Carl Simmons
Chair
Denton South Neighbourhood Planning Forum
 
 
Also, the next meeting of the Forum will take place at 7pm, Tuesday 5th July 2016 at the Haughton Green Centre, Tatton Road.
 
Many thanks!
 
Carl (Simmons)

Monday, 27 June 2016

Britons ask Google, what is the EU after poll result!


UKIP LEADER - NIGEL FARAGE

WELL! what an extraordinary situation we find ourselves in since the great British public voted to leave the EU on Friday. While that, public school, half-wit, Boris Johnson, was declaring that "markets were stable", the pound was falling, bank shares were plummeting, as well as company share values, and prices were beginning to rise. There is talk of another independence vote in Scotland and Sinn Fein, are now calling for a border poll on a united Ireland. And nobody seems quite sure when Britain will leave the EU or what leaving actually means.

The REMAIN camp didn't think that they would lose the referendum and the LEAVE camp didn't think they could win, so nobody seems to have thought about a post-Brexit exit strategy. Even Johnson, is now saying there's no need to rush to Brexit. They're all up shit creek without a paddle. As David Cameron, as announced that he will not be triggering Article 50, (the procedure for leaving the EU), he has handed a poison chalice to the next Tory leader, possibly Boris Johnson.

One person who will have worked out a Brexit strategy, is the Kremlin Tsar, Vladimir Putin, Nigel Farage's favourite politician. The Russians have been banging money into anti-EU parties like Marine Le Pen's, National Front for years. They want to wreck EU economies and Nato, so they'll be happy as pigs in shit by the Brexit vote.

As for Corbyn and Labour, many Labour voters were saying that they didn't know where Labour stood on the EU. Jeremy Corbyn, is a well-known Eurosceptic and he was merely paying lip service to the party's pro-Europe policy. By doing so, he's stabbed million of young kids in the back who initially supported him, when he stood for the leadership.

A total of 33,577,342 votes were cast in the EU referendum. Leave (52%) got 17,410,742 votes and Remain (48%) got 16,141,241 votes.
Tameside, a solid Labour area, saw 61.1% voting to leave the EU - 67,829 (Leave) and 42,034 (Remain).
In nearby Oldham, the leave vote was 61% - 65,309 (Leave) and 42,034 (Remain).

The Evening Standard on Friday 24 June reported:

"Eight hours after the poll closed, the internet giant Google reported that Britons have been frantically googling 'what is the EU?" in the hours since the results of the historic referendum were announced."

According to 'How Ages Voted' -YouGov Poll:
18-24 year olds were 75% Remain.
25-49 year olds were 56% Remain.
50-64 year olds were 44% Remain,
and 65+ were 39% Remain.




'Leave' and the 'Democratic Deficit'?


by Les May
LAST Thursday, Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, wrote an article in the Irish Times advocating that the UK should remain in the EU.  But, he suggested, something must be done to address the 'democratic deficit'.  That's politician speak for the notion that politicians are out of step with their electorate.  It's also used by some right wing Tory politicians to mean that remaining in the EU means they cannot just ignore legislation protecting working people and the environment.

Both the Labour and the Tory parties face their own internal 'democratic deficit'.  At the last count twelve Labour MPs had been sacked or resigned from the Shadow Cabinet because they were dissatisfied with Jeremy Corbyn as leader.  The fact that Corbyn sacked Benn could be taken as a sign of strength not weakness.  He could do it because he knew that if it came to another leadership election in all probability party members would re-elect him.  For the moment quite a lot of Labour MPs seem to be out of step with the party members.  And if some of those MPs find themselves facing reselection it's no use whinging (verb: complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way).

The Tories have their own problems.  The alliance between Gove and Johnson may not hold if Gove concludes that Johnson did not really expect the Leave campaign to win and only supported it to destabilise Cameron and so improve his own chances of being PM.  If Johnson does win the leadership contest and succeeds in becoming PM he will have the task of convincing the estimated two-thirds of Tory MPs who want to remain in the EU that they should vote for the legislation which will be needed to initiate the withdrawal process.  The general consensus seems to be that at the last election older people were more likely to vote Tory and in the Referendum they were more likely to vote 'Leave'.  Not supporting the legislation needed to actually leave the EU could put these Tory MPs at odds with the people who voted for them.

There could be an awful lot of abstentions by MPs from both parties when (if?)  it comes to a vote in Parliament.  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_McGuinness
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/24/a-pyrrhic-victory-boris-johnson-wakes-up-to-the-costs-of-brexit
http://jackofkent.com/2016/06/why-the-article-50-notification-is-important/
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/leave-campaign-rows-back-key-pledges-immigration-nhs-spending
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5jTRoySFfo
http://metro.co.uk/2016/06/26/someones-summed-up-why-boris-johnson-is-screwed-5967397/

The 'Metro' link above refers to the material below which was posted as a comment on a Guardian website a few days ago:  

'If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost. Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.
'With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.

'How?

'Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

'And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legislation to be torn up and rewritten ... the list grew and grew.

'The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

'The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

'Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.

'If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over - Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession ... broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

'The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.

'When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was "never". When Michael Gove went on and on about "informal negotiations" ... why? why not the formal ones straight away? ... he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

'All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.'  

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Unite & the Referendum decision

Dear Unite members 
The country has decided.  There will now be discussions to deliver the different relationship with the European Union that the voters, including significant numbers of Unite members, have democratically declared that they want.
What unfolds next is uncertain.  The country faces the prospect of electing a new prime minister and the terms of the exit must be negotiated. 
Please rest assured that your union will be putting your interests first. 
We will do everything in our power to safeguard your rights, your jobs and your living standards.
In the weeks and months to come the process of discussing the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU will begin.  You can be confident that your union, your officers and our expertise will be fully engaged with these discussions and battling daily in your best interests.
 
In solidarity
Len McCluskey
General Secretary

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Year in the Death of FREEDOM


(part 2 of, “Pensioner Attacked at Anarchist HQ”)

by Christopher Draper

WHEN Simon Saunders and Andrew Meinke dragged 75-year-old Brian Bamford from FREEDOM HQ in June 2016 it marked a new low point in their illegitimate occupation of the Whitechapel building. Lower even than that notorious day in October 2014 when Meinke closed down FREEDOM newspaper after 128 years publication with the inappropriate boast, “KROPOTKIN MIGHT HAVE STARTED IT BUT WE FUCKING FINISHED IT!”

 In part 1 of this article I examined the background to the former event, here I consider the activities of Meinke’s self-appointed “freedom collective” (FC) and the response of FREEDOM’s Board of Trustees (FFP) over the last year. 


In June 2015 a twofold task faced FFP:


                     To assess whether FC fulfilled FFP’s legal obligation to publish FREEDOM journal


                     If not, FFP must sell the building to finance the resumed publication of FREEDOM under an editorial team appointed by FFP 


A Ghostly FREEDOM

In the old days, to avoid legal difficulties, rail companies intent on closing down branch lines resorted to running “ghost trains” to support their dubious claim to continuity. It is an idea adopted by FC who pretend that offering a FREEDOM website with a post every 2 weeks (30 posts June 2015 – June 2016) and printing an occasional free-sheet (2 free-sheets June 2015 – June 2016) fulfils FFP’s legal obligations.  
In June 2015 the newly re-established FFP Board began to assess the performance of FC.   At that stage the “editors” were Adam Lawrence Barr and Ella Harrison, with Adam effectively running the show. He’s a student, like most recent FC editors with little knowledge or experience of anarchism but a compensatory enthusiasm for crude class analysis and violent profanities.  Of course, inexperience alone needn’t disqualify anyone from editing anarchist free-sheets but FREEDOM had (prior to the arrival of adolescent “class-warriors” ) a unique responsibility to maintain a high standard of intellectual and political discourse and analysis.  
Barr’s track record wasn’t propitious for he’d just been arrested for walking around with a banner bearing the insightful slogan; “Cameron, Clegg, Corbyn, Farage – All Fucking Wankers!”   A July 2015 re-tweet also appeared a little intemperate, “David Cameron is a fucking fascist cunt pass it on”!  
Adam’s 2015 Bookfair “FREEDOM” free-sheet would have shamed Albert Meltzer for the naivety of its politics and presentation but at least it had the merit of convincing sceptical members of FFP that they had a serious problem on their hands. Typically, the final words of the poster-style back page read; “CAN WE RIOT YET” but it’s unclear if the absence of a question mark exemplified a rhetorical flourish or incompetence.  
Mr Barr’s editorship of the website ploughed a similarly shallow furrow with its admiration for the trashing of a Shoreditch breakfast bar in September 2015 headlined, 'FUCKPARADE – What the Fuck is to be Done?'  Adam Barr assured readers that if the assault, 'offended the sensibilities of the mainstream liberal left as much as the reactionary hipster wankers the protest was ostensibly about, in a time of turbulent politics that can only be a good thing.' 

'Big Tent' or Straitjacket?
To be fair to Mr Barr, he is young and the relentless degradation of FREEDOM fosters a crude, intolerant, intimidatory climate that encourages aggressive rhetoric and inhibits sensitive expression of individual opinion. He wouldn’t last long if he acted otherwise. In autumn 2015 after interviewing a representative of the “Catholic Worker Movement” Adam felt the crack of class-warrior Nick Heath’s rhetorical whip:  “Oh dear, is FREEDOM reverting to its old big tent synthesis politics again? People like Catholic worker shouldn’t be given the time of day.”  Barr defended the interview but felt obliged to reassure Heath:  'And no. we’re not returning to big tent whatever.'  Despite the spat it’s significant that both Barr and Heath reject the former, 'big-tent' FREEDOM approach.   A free-sheet Barr issued to impress the June 2016 FFP AGM shows just how narrowed down and unworldly FC’s political vision has becomes.  Barr’s free-sheet didn’t mention the forthcoming EU Referendum but found room to print an impenetrable verse that reassured readers, “I fucking vaped with God”.  FFP remained unimpressed.
Public Eye
In October 2015 Lord Gnome investigated the antics of the FC rabble who were subsequently satirised in the pages of PRIVATE EYE.  Presciently the EYE concluded:  
'Regular visitors to Whitechapel art Gallery can anticipate some lively impromptu performance-art next door in Angel Alley in the coming months. And, naturally, a lot of swearing.'  
FC’s twitter feed spotted the piece:  'Accusing us of being oiks. Which we probably are, in fairness'.  One of FC’s tenants publicly supported the occupation but in doing so let the cat out of the bag, for as Barry Woodling pointed out in a subsequent EYE, FFP retain the building solely to publish FREEDOM journal and the self-confessed 'oiks' aren’t at liberty to act as rentiers.  FC knows this and so insistently claim (Andy Meinke, NV 16.6.2016) 'The Freedom Collective does not rent out any of the property'.   This is a barefaced lie as every single occupant of that building (and every single member of FFP) knows!  
Despite FC’s fondness for secrecy and anonymity I know far more about what goes on at FREEDOM than Mr Meinke imagines so he should be more circumspect in telling lies.  His own 'Budget Proposals 2015/16' for example, state 'Rents are £2100 per room' and suggest that would be an appropriate amount payable by the tenant who contacted the EYE.  In theory FC rake in over £8000 p.a. renting out a building that doesn’t even belong to them but they’re as inefficient in collecting the rent as they are at publishing  ...
End of the Road
The party’s almost over.  Even FC are reluctantly coming to realise their position is untenable.  The building has no fire certificate let alone disabled access and no prospect of obtaining or paying for insurance.  If a further fire resulted in injury to a tenant or consequent damage to the adjacent Whitechapel Gallery it would be difficult for anyone involved to deny criminal negligence.  The moral if not legal liability of individual members of FFP would also be difficult to defend.  
Despite this, FC are loathe to vacate the building for it is their powerbase. As long as they remain in occupation they enjoy a central London location for their self proclaimed 'Anarcho-Hangout'.  Their rentier business provides 'Bookshop Manager' Meinke with pocket money and the ability to distribute largesse to tenants by way of cheap accommodation.  This in turn generates spurious support from grateful clients.  FC exploit the cachet of the FREEDOM brand and address to legitimate and aggrandise themselves and altogether indulge in political empire building yet still they’re worried.
Friends and Enemies

Back in June 2015, FFP were a disparate bunch unconvinced that there was any need for urgent action but the behaviour of FC over the year has persuaded most members of the accuracy of the analysis we offered in, 'Who Killed FREEDOM?'  The performance of FFP itself has not however proved entirely praiseworthy.  


The Board met roughly bi-monthly throughout the year but after attending infrequently Martin Peacock resigned prior to the AGM.  Tragically, Board Member Sonia Markham passed away during the year and this deeply affected her long-time partner and FFP colleague, Ernest Rodker who consequently missed the AGM. 
A survey of the FREEDOM building commissioned by FFP revealed that it required at least £50K to bring it up to an acceptable standard. As FREEDOM owns no substantial assets apart from the property itself, in February FFP resolved to sell. Accordingly a letter advising all users of the building (FC and its tenants) that they should prepare themselves for just such an eventuality was drawn up by solicitor Richard Parry and issued by the Board.

At this stage the Board had not yet decided exactly how the capital raised by a sale would be disbursed. Realising his empire was under threat, Meinke and his FC associates invited FFP to a 'Social', ostensibly to repair their somewhat frayed relationship.  However, at the same time Meinke posted a call-out for FC, tenants and hangers-on to assemble to defend their 'Anarcho-Hangout' from avaricious FFP parasites intent on their eviction.  Guileless Board Members who turned up for the 8th March 2016 'Social' were met by a mob baying for blood and demanding that the informal letter from FFP be immediately withdrawn.  Board Member, David Goodway informed us that 'they feared if they didn’t comply they would be lynched'.  So FFP gave in and the letter was withdrawn.  Furthermore, an architectural partnership interested in purchasing the property, (another Parry initiative), dropped out after FC denied them access to the building.
Privately FFP confided that they feared we were right all along and they had initially credited FC with far more than they demonstrably deserved.  FFP were frankly embarrassed by FC’s efforts.  They concluded that the years record of, no books published, 2 poorly produced free-sheets, and an inadequate website failed to fulfil FREEDOM’s publishing obligation.  Nevertheless FFP itself was no beacon of good practice.  Although we maintained excellent 'unofficial' contacts with FFP after a couple of Board meetings it was apparent that Secretary Sorba didn’t intend to publicise their proceedings so I emailed Sorba, to request copies of FFP agendas and minutes.  After he failed to even acknowledge my request it seemed to have no more intention of performing FFP’s proper functions than formerly. 
                                                                 A Meeting of Minds


In anticipation of their 22nd June 2016 AGM Richard Parry of FFP produced a concise report looking back over the previous year.  The key conclusions of this report are as follows:

                     FFP own the building, FC merely occupy it

                     The remit of FFP  “to facilitate anarchist publishing is very barely being continued”
                     Legal advice indicates that FFP’s legal obligations are unalterable
                     FFP cannot finance essential repairs and therefore a sale is under active consideration
                     The Board’s “attempt to move forward was shut down by the buildings users and their allies in a meeting billed as a Social” 
Despite our initial scepticism, Richard Parry has acquitted himself admirably.  As his report demonstrates, he accurately assessed the Board’s responsibilities, the occupants’ failure to fulfil the publication obligation, the unsustainable nature of the occupation and FC’s use of intimidation to retain their position.   Parry’s resolute approach to fulfilling his duty as a “Friend” made him so unpopular with the occupants that they’ve now elbowed him off the Board.  They achieved this by charging him with 'conflict of interest'.  Parry was accused of compromising his role as legal representative of a group both involved in the Pitchford Inquiry and liable to eviction from FREEDOM HQ.  A squalid, self-serving manoeuvre but no more than one has been led to expect from the shameless occupants of Angel Alley.  

Putting Up not Shutting Up 


Parry’s report fulfilled FFP’s primary task.  The Board now officially recognise that they are morally and legally obliged to act but unfortunately backed down when confronted by the mob.  Realising the Board needed help to stiffen its resolve, especially after Parry’s departure, an ad hoc group of Northern anarchists offered our services.  Labelling ourselves OFIN ('Our Friends in the North') we published the following programme of action and slate of four names to be nominated as candidates for Board Membership at the forthcoming AGM. 
1.  Within 12 months, selling the 84b Whitechapel High Street property to liquidate FREEDOM assets
2. The creation and maintenance of a new, professionally designed, sophisticated FREEDOM website within 6 months of liquidation 
3.  A Webmaster-Editor to be formally appointed on a bi-annual basis by a newly created FFP Publications Sub-Group (PSG) with an annual budget of 15K (1% of liquidation capital), to include a modest stipend
4.   A three-person PSG to be appointed from within, and responsible to, FFP (by secret ballot if excess volunteers)
5.  Furthermore, to challenge London-centricity OFIN proposes convening all future FFP meetings in Birmingham
6.    All future FFP agendas and minutes to be published online

'If appointed, all OFIN candidates commit to working cooperatively and constructively with existing FFP members to revive the fortunes of FREEDOM.  On this basis we ask you to endorse the following: 

Brian Bamford - Rochdale

Christopher Draper - Llandudno
Martin Gilbert - Ulverston
Barry Woodling – Salford'
With a combined total of over 200 years of anarchist activism and a proven record of involvement with FREEDOM we were willing and able, if elected, to grab the FC bull by the horns and reclaim the FREEDOM heritage.  We each appended brief CV’s to our application documents.  
The response from FC was depressingly predictable:  'If we need a group called Annoying Dicks Who Want to Fuck Up Freedom Press we’ll let you know'  (Andy Meinke). 
A Propitious Time for Action  
The prospects for the AGM looked good.   By June 2016 the original nine members had reduced to just six and Ernest Rodker would be absent, leaving just five expected to attend the meeting and through a particular demand of FFP’s constitution both Stephen Sorba and Donald Rooum would have to temporarily stand down and could only return if formally agreed by the three remaining Board Members.   Of these, at least two could reasonably be expected to support our campaign.  Jayne Clementson’s is “old-school” anarchist, involved with FREEDOM since the days of Vero, Nicolas Walter and Colin Ward, she has an intimate and extremely negative opinion of Meinke’s rabble whilst David Goodway has consistently not only expressed a similar assessment but owes his own appointment to our determined campaigning.   He acknowledged this to me in an email of 5.7.2015, following the successful June 2015 reconstitution of the FFP Board:  'Once again hearty congratulations on all your hard work and intervention(s).  None of the positive developments on 24 June would have been achieved without them.'  
If at least two of the three had the courage to grasp the nettle they could vote off FC apologist Donald Rooum and the rather unreliable Stephen Sorba, and vote us (with our published programme of action) on.  Once Ernest Rodker returned we would have a Board of eight members determined to give proper effect to the conclusions of Parry’s report. If agreed, Sorba and Rooum might then be reinstated onto this strengthened Board.  Decent tenants would be treated decently, with sympathy and patience but FC would be obliged to leave forthwith.  The unique circumstances of the 22nd June 2016 AGM wouldn’t reoccur, it was now or never. 
Mr. Goodway, I Presume?
The four OFIN candidates had first to be proposed by an existing Board member and David Goodway was the obvious choice.  Our collated candidates' papers were posted to David Goodway on Manday 13th, June 2016, and he confirmed receipt on Wednesday 15th, June.  Curiously, he then prevaricated.  Brian Bamford assured Goodway, and several other FFP members he would attend the AGM to represent OFIN, yet even as he arrived at the FREEDOM HQ to address the FFP meeting he wasn't entirely sure whether our nominations had been formally registered by Secretary Sorba.  Before he had the chance to speak to Stephen Sorba he was confronted by Andy Meinke. 
FREEDOM or Tyranny? 
In consequence of what happened next the 75-year-old Brian Bamford was requested to provide a written report for the Metropolitan Police.  I have a copy of that report before me from which I quote at length: 
   'I paused not quite knowing which of the rooms the AGM was to be held in. Mr Meinke arrived at the top (of the stairs), where I stood, immediately after me. He had already been shouting after me: Well, look who’s here! and You can clear out! And he said: Pity I was a bit slow off the mark there!  
'I stood on the small landing at the top of these stairs and told them that I intended to attend the AGM company meeting of the Friends of Freedom Press. He glared at me and said No you’re not, you’re going out, and proceeded to push me around the landing presumably intending to get me down the stairs. At this point I took out my mobile phone to photograph Mr Meinke’s assault upon me. When he saw the camera he pushed me more violently and I fell towards a door of the old editorial office of Freedom newspaper…’ 
When Bamford sat down in the editorial office Meinke fetched an FC tenant named, 'Carolyn Wilson (who) then began to upbraid me and immediately grabbed my camera while Mr Meinke held me in position on the chair…'  Meinke then resumed his attempt to eject Bamford from the building but was interrupted by the arrival of Board Members….  'At some point David Goodway explained to Steve Sorba and the other Friends how he had witnessed Andy Meinke manhandling me and trying to force me to leave the premises.'  Andy Meinke was still objecting that the Friends are only the landlords and that he and the others had a right to run the building according to his own wishes.
   ‘Simon Saunders then arrived, reinforcing Meinke’s determined attempt to prevent Bamford from addressing the FFP AGM.  'In the end Andy Meinke agreed to give the Friends a concession of allowing me to address the AGM for 5 minutes…The meeting then began with the first item on the agenda being… the proposed nominations together with the OFIN program” however Secretary Sorba informed Bamford that the Board could not vote on OFIN nominations as Goodway had not submitted them! Secretary Sorba ”suggested these nominations be submitted at the next meeting of the Friends…he also asked that I wait outside and be prepared to re-attend when called on to do so…  I then left the room and as Jayne Clementson came to close the open door behind me we both noticed Carolyn Wilson sitting on the stairs outside the meeting fiddling with her mobile phone. Jayne made some joke about being careful of the “Collective” outside.  As I stood part way down the stairs she followed me and pushed me towards the door at the bottom of the stairs – this door was slightly ajar and Simon Saunders came to grab me and pull me off the stairs into the bookshop area and he was quickly joined by Andy Meinke.  At this point the two men proceeded to drag me across the bookshop floor towards the main entrance to the bookshop.  While this was happening Carolyn Wilson was inciting the men verbally…   They then deposited me in Angel Alley and when I rose to my feet Simon Saunders immediately shouldered me in the chest and I fell to the floor again. By this time there was a large number of people in Angel Alley around me: including Simon Saunders by the door, Andy Meinke and Carolyn Wilson who proceeded to snatch my briefcase from my hand as Simon and the others held onto me. Carolyn Wilson proceeded to open my briefcase and examine the contents . At this point, the man I later found out was called Jason Holdway intervened and asked Carolyn Wilson: Give him his case back. To which Carolyn Wilson retorted: No I’m not going to.'  
Immediate Aftermath 
Bamford, who has a heart condition, was left outside FREEDOM, bruised and with badly bleeding elbows.  When his assailants eventually returned his possessions all photographs of them assaulting him had been deleted from his mobile.  He afterwards received medical attention and was advised to refer the matter to the police.  Several Board Members subsequently contacted Brian Bamford to reassure themselves of his well-being but it is not yet clear if they will take decisive action or simply continue to collude with intolerable behaviour.  
Can they Sink any Lower? 
The outcome of these events is both shocking and bizarre.  Carolyn Wilson, who was previously unknown to either David Goodway or Jayne Clementson was appointed to join FFP as was Jason Holdway (Sorba and Rooum were also returned).  Despite Sorba’s invitation none of the members of OFIN are prepared to join an organisation that tolerates such intimidatory behaviour on their premises.  To refuse to act is to condone this mob rule.  
Whenever Meinke and Saunders objected to any aspect of our ongoing critique of their occupation of FREEDOM HQ we always hosted their remarks on the NV website, despite their frequent resort to crude language and anonymity.   FC, on the other hand, consistently refused to publish articles from us (even the 'Burnley Declaration'  signed by over 150 people) and Meinke banned Northern Voices' magazine from the Bookshop.  Saunders cynically labels all reasoned criticism as 'defamation' yet significantly fails to identify any specific inaccuracy.  As an academic teacher and commercially published author, as well as a lifelong anarchist, I always operate out in the open.  I don’t try to hide behind ridiculous aliases (“Rob Ray”, “Gawain the Cunt”, “Laura Dinosaur” to name but three 3 FC examples).  The practice of 'The Freedom Collective' stands in stark contrast. Who are the members?  Why do they conceal their identity?  They publish no accounts or minutes yet claim to 'represent the movement'.  Where is the accountability?
Much of my extended, and continuing, critique of Meinke and co rests on their own writings, of which Meinke’s arrogant and inappropriate crowing over his destruction of FREEDOM (above) is but one typical example.  Compare anything, in print or on the web, emanating from FC in recent years with, for instance, any edition of FREEDOM from the year 2000 (when I was a regular columnist) or any of the earlier FREEDOM books, articles or magazines produced by Colin Ward, Nicolas Walter or Vernon Richards.  You will be immediately struck by the distinct intellectual, ethical and political cleavage.  
Friends and Guardians of FREEDOM 
Sadly Mr Bamford received more support and sympathy from the Metropolitan Police than from either FC or FFP.  Last year when we nominated and campaigned hard for the accession of David Goodway we did so in the teeth of opposition from Richard Parry but ironically Parry then did more than any other Board Member to fight against the destruction of FREEDOM, whilst Goodway failed to even endorse our nomination papers.  Even Corbyn’s critics had the decency to manage that! 
When it came to the crunch Goodway retreated to the shadows, preferring to accommodate the baying mob than stand up for FREEDOM.  Last year he formally thanked me for launching his FFP career, this year he didn’t have the decency to apologise.  Unintimidated by recent violence or Saunder’s pitiful subsequent 'Fatwa' inciting acolytes to follow his example we will continue to shine the light of publicity onto this ongoing affront to FREEDOM.  We are much heartened by the encouragement of countless comrades around the country who commend our efforts, like John Couzin in Glasgow who posts on his 'ANNARKY' website:


'I still feel strongly that the demise of FREEDOM newspaper was a loss to the anarchist movement in the UK, 128 years of a chequered history down the tubes with the statement, KROPOTKIN MIGHT HAVE STARTED IT, BUT WE FUCKING FINISHED IT! Which to my mind seems an unfitting comment, which only adds insult to injury. It is good to know that there are those who are fighting hard to see the paper rise from this degrading epitaph.' 

We certainly are John and we invite you fair-minded reader to interrogate the evidence for yourself. For evil to triumph it is sufficient for good men (and women) to do nothing.