Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Living in social housing

Taken from Big Issue in the North magazine. 

Like my parents I have lived most of my life in social housing. But whereas they took the opportunity to buy their council house in the mid-1970s I was more interested in moving to London in the following decade, where I once again became a council tenant.
Then with my dad suffering from Alzheimer’s disease I took advantage of the Right to Move transfer scheme to Sunderland in 2000 and took possession with my girlfriend of a housing association flat. We did consider buying a house but, uncertain of what might happen with my dad, we held off until house prices had rocketed everywhere and that was no longer an option.
When my dad died in 2004 we used the same transfer scheme to move south to Halifax and after our son was born our current housing association landlord agreed we could swap our flat for a two-bedroom house with a decent-sized garden. What follows are some of my observations of what it is like to be a social housing tenant in a northern town. No doubt other places will be different but I’d guess there are also a lot of similarities.
The first thing to say is that where we live is generally OK. The estate was built in the 1960s and although the houses could not be described as luxurious, posh or even decorative they are decent-sized, well insulated and in good condition both inside and out. Most gardens are well kept – anyone who lets them become overgrown can expect a letter from the housing association. In the last 18 months we have like many others been the recipients of a new fitted kitchen, front windows and doors. It costs us just over £350 a month to rent.
Many tenants where we live have other relatives nearby and this made it initially quite difficult to get to know people. In the North East it is common for total strangers to say hello but that has rarely happened during my time in Halifax. I long ago gave up greeting anyone I don’t recognise. The arrival of our son six years ago and also a dog in 2012 has broken down many barriers.
But although many people are friendly they could not be described as friends as the conversations are often brief and in many cases about football. On an estate where some people are clearly working cash in hand there is inevitably also some degree of secrecy.
The longstanding residents of the estate have in recent times found themselves living alongside a small but not insignificant number of Eastern European migrant workers. The estate frequently has houses on it to rent and these workers apply, like anyone else, and are allocated a property. Most have stayed a very short time.
I have not heard anyone express animosity towards migrants but before the 2010 general election a couple of residents had BNP posters in their windows and a resident did stick up an EDL poster in his window two years ago. It will be interesting to see if there are any UKIP posters on display before next year’s general election. Not that I anticipate anything else than a Labour victory as the current MP, the left-leaning Linda Riordan, is well respected and has a strong local following.
We are represented on the local council by two Labour councillors and one Liberal Democrat. Last year the latter caused considerable anger when he helped the local golf club (constructed in 1913 after a vigorous anti-gambling campaign forced the small horse racing track on which it now stands to be closed) draw up plans to extend its grounds on to the council-owned open fields at the top of the estate.
These are well used by dog walkers, who were unwilling to see the council give them up for free in return for a less than whole-hearted commitment that local youngsters would get free golf lessons and the promise of cheaper membership fees. Protests were made to councillors and there was even a semi-public meeting organised by house owners on the other side of the golf course – which no one on our estate was made aware of until after it had happened. The golf club appears to have shelved its plans for now.
I haven’t yet met anyone locally who plays golf. It is almost certainly too expensive for most people who even when working are not especially well paid. A number are employed in small manufacturing workshops, in distribution warehouses or at a number of local supermarkets. A glance at the uniforms hanging on washing lines shows that there are many people employed at the supermarket just over half a mile away. There are also care workers who earn slightly above the national minimum wage. Some workers are on zero-hours contracts.
One of the biggest employers in Halifax is Nestlé and many people covet jobs there because the pay and conditions negotiated between the company and the union Unite are much better than other workplaces. Lloyds Banking Group is an important part of the local economy but I have yet to meet anyone on my estate who works in the sector.
There are also a good number of working-age people who are not working. They tell stories of being forced by the Department for Work and Pensions to apply for hundreds of jobs that generally they are not qualified to undertake. Not surprisingly they rarely get an acknowledgement. People complain of the constant pressure exerted on them by the DWP and one friend prefers to work for nearly 30 hours a week for just £6 more than he could claim in benefits in order to “stop the hassle and prove I am not a skiver”.
There are though some who are clearly not looking for work. They were doing so previously but after losing their jobs they have moved on to become heavy drug users. From their appearances it is clear the drugs are killing them. People though are not sympathetic and are more concerned about being forced to witness daily a fresh delivery of drugs being made. It is all so open and obvious, and the suppliers appear supremely confident. Apparently similar behaviour is taking place in other parts of our council ward.
Our estate has visiting police community support officers and they, the police and housing association are all aware of the problems. But they don’t appear to have done anything significant to resolve them. Locally, crime levels are low, with 125 crimes recorded within a mile of our home in August, of which a third were for anti-social behaviour.
Another concern is that there are few facilities for young people, who make up a quarter of residents. There are no parks. Sadly, few parents are willing to allow their children to go up on to the open fields at the top, which cannot be seen from the estate, due to concerns about child abuse and paedophiles. The result is that most youngsters don’t get much exercise.
The local schools naturally play a big part in people’s lives. There are two junior schools within a short walking distance. Whereas many Halifax schools, especially those of secondary age, are racially divided, that is not the case at the school my son attends. This has received very positive Ofsted reviews and a number of children who attend come from outside Halifax. Some of the children’s parents are clearly well off but others are clearly not. Some of the children are from migrant families.
The standard of education appears good, although it was a bit of a shock to discover how quicklythe children are streamed in terms of abilities.
Although the school organises a number of after-school sports activities there is a distinct lack of space for children to exercise and run around. The school playground is tiny and the large sports fields that surround the school are out of bounds. It is perhaps no surprise that too many of the children are already overweight and this may lead to health and weight problems in adult life. Meanwhile, in a country where property prices dominate the political landscape these same children may also face future problems accessing a declining social housing market.

Some facts 

Social housing comprises council housing and homes provided by housing associations or registered social landlords.
The 1919 Housing Act gave local authorities responsibility to develop new housing where it was needed by working people.
Clement Attlee’s 1945-51 Labour government constructed over a million homes, 80 per cent of which were council houses. They largely replaced those destroyed by Hitler.
When the Conservatives were returned to government in 1951 the emphasis shifted towards slum clearance as terraces were torn down and replaced with high-rise tower blocks and new towns. Inside toilets and bathrooms became the norm.
In the early 1970s, Edward Heath’s Conservative government began backing the “right to buy” policy that was first adopted in 1936 and later expanded under Margaret Thatcher’s government. This was continued under the subsequent Labour government and the result was a huge drop in council housing stock.
Nevertheless 18 per cent – just over half of which is council housing – of Britain’s stock is social housing. This is slightly higher than in most other European countries.

With many young people finding it almost impossible on their earnings to afford to buy a home there has been demand for more social housing to be built. However, all major parties appear wedded to the idea
of building affordable homes under which rents are set much closer to the local market rent and are therefore unaffordable to many. The long-term future for social housing remains doubtful.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Charlie Hurley on Malcolm Finlayson and vice versa

Part 3 on the recently departed Malcolm Finlayson, who has been a big help to me when I have been writing a number of football books including in 2008 the authorised biography of Charlie Hurley titled "The Greatest Centre Half the World has Ever Seen." Below is Malcolm's contribution. 
Get out the way Charlie before Malcolm flattens you! 

Unfortunately the Den was rarely anywhere near full to its capacity of around 40,000. At the end of Hurley’s first season the average match gate was only 13,502 for a team that had been relegated from Division Two at the end of the 1947-48 season and was now playing in Division Three South alongside Watford, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Norwich City. 

Hurley’s made an immediate impact of his home debut as Millwall overcame neighbours Southend and was singled out for praise by the South London Press report who wrote: “Only the determination of Brian (sic) Hurley, making his home debut and the brilliance of keeper Finlayson enabled Millwall to hold out against persistent Southend pressure for both points on Saturday. Hurley kept so tight a grip on opposing centre-forward Grant that the visitor was given few openings.”  

Charlie says: “I played a lot of games in front of Malcolm Finlayson the ‘keeper. He was a great goalkeeper who helped me a lot when I got into the first team, he was big strong and brilliant at crosses and very brave.

“I was very young when I got in the side and he was a big fella, bigger than me. He told me he’d seen me in the reserves and in training and that I’d nothing to worry about. That gave me an awful lot of confidence. He was very important to me at the start. 

“I wasn’t surprised he later did well at Wolves because he was big and he wasn’t frightened. Also when he came out for the ball you got out of the way or else you ended up on the floor.”  Finlayson was 6’ 1” tall and weighed 13 and a ½ stone. 

Finlayson remembers that “Charlie was only a young boy when he started playing, but he grew a lot in the three years I played behind him to become a big strong lad. He came in for Gerry Bowler, a ball-playing centre back who didn’t tackle very much. You’d be playing on a muddy pitch and he’d be the only one who’d come off looking immaculate. Charlie, however, was a never say die player, always tackling people. And you could see as a youngster that he had this great ability. 

“I went to Wolves in 1956 and then, in ’57-58, I played against Charlie when he went to Sunderland. We were at opposite ends of the pitch after we’d been in the thick of it at Millwall; we won 2-0. It was the season when Sunderland got relegated. He looked a good player even that day but he wasn’t fully developed, as he was still only about 20 or 21. He didn’t dominate the game the way he did later on as he got more experience and became physically intimidating for opponents as well. 

“He was a good lad. A goalkeeper has to command his area and the one thing that can happen when you’re playing is that you’re giving instructions and someone’s taking no notice of them – you’re coming for a ball and they also go for it. Charlie always did exactly as he was instructed to do.

“I saw Charlie at the ‘Dockers Day’ at the New Den in February 2007. It was the first time since I played against him at Roker. Don’t forget you are talking fifty years ago and I greeted him exactly as I did then ‘hello, Charlie son how are you?’ and he said ‘Hello Dad.’  Football is a funny business, you meet so many people but it’s often not for very long. When he came to Millwall he was very quiet but he was very young boy. I’d joined the club when I was young myself and so you think ‘I’ll listen first before I start to give any opinions out’ and that was what Charlie was like – he was trying to work out what was happening. Millwall had some good players even though we didn’t do that well, Pat Saward went to Villa, Charlie to Sunderland, and I went to Wolves and won 2 championships and an FA Cup. 

“I played behind Billy Wright and then Bill Slater at Wolverhampton, both excellent, but I would rate Charlie as a very, very good centre-half.  I wouldn’t like to compare him with Billy Wright or Bill Slater, as they were different eras. Billy Wright wasn’t the hardest tackler in the game but he had the ability to know where the ball was going before it was kicked. If Danny Blanchflower had the ‘ball and was going to put it down the inside track Billy Wright could see him trying to do that and would get across to cut it out. He was the best reader of a game I ever saw."

Malcolm Finlayson is third from the right in the back row with Charlie Hurley on the far right. 

Wolves 'keeper Malcolm Finlayson on his own favourite keeper - Frank Swift

Malcolm Finlayson died recently. The Wolves keeper was a big help to me when I was writing many of my football books including a biography on Frank Swift. Here are Malcolm's words from that book. 

Future Wolves star picks up some tips at the Scotland -England wartime international at Hampden Park on Saturday 17 April 1943. 

Amongst the massive 105,000 crowd was a 12-year-old up-and-coming ‘keeper, Malcolm Finlayson from Alexandria, Dumbarton. He had already seen Swift play in the Scottish war-time League for Hamilton Academical in a 2-2 draw against Dumbarton and had become a big fan. 

‘I was that impressed that whenever he was playing locally, and I could afford to go and watch the game, I made it my business to do so. In those days most Scottish grounds had a semi-circular terrace directly behind the goal so that you could get close to the action and the players. Wanting to improve as keeper I watched everything he did and more or less tried to base my game on his,’ says Malcolm.

It clearly didn’t do him any harm, as after a short spell in Junior football with Renfrew, he was asked to go on trial with Second Division Millwall in February 1948. 

He did so well ‘the Lions’ immediately signed him up as a professional and sixteen days later he made his debut in a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion. It was the start of a fabulous 16-year career in which during his time with Wolves, between 1956 and 1964, he won 2 League Championship and one FA Cup winners’ medal. In one famous game for Millwall against Walsall he was rushed to hospital from the Den with his team losing 3-1, only to return patched up during the second half and play on to help the side win 6-5. 

‘What I liked about Frank Swift was how he commanded the area. Of course ‘keepers are the only players who can see all of the action and I followed his attitude, which was that if I am coming for the ball then defenders should get out of the way – or else! He wasn’t a shouter, but at corners and free-kicks he would let players know where he wanted them. He also punched the ball well, and when he chose to catch the ball he usually did so,’ says the man who on his retirement from playing football became a successful businessman. 

On this particular day Frank Swift didn’t have a great deal to do. What Finlayson particularly remembers is a high ball into the box with both Swift and Wallace, noted for charging down everything, seeking to get to first. When the keeper did so ‘he then stepped to one-side and ruffled the Scots centre-forward’s hair as he flashed past.’ 

Wallace was later involved in a moment of controversy in this game when at a free-kick he grabbed Cullis where it hurts. Cullis collapsed and required treatment and Wallace never played for England again.

Finlayson, who even now regrets not having the courage to approach Swift to ask for his autograph when he later saw him get off the train in Dumbarton, has still kept the cutting from a local south London newspaper that, soon after making his Millwall debut, called him ‘the second Frank Swift.’ ‘I wasn’t, as he was the best keeper I ever saw play, but I was still delighted.’

The article that so pleased Malcolm Finlayson soon after he first played for
Millwall. It was Malcolm who sent me the article more than sixty years later!

Wolves 'keeper Malcolm Finlayson in his own words - part one on Wolves 1960 FA Cup success.

The late Wolves ‘keeper Malcolm Finlayson was really brilliant to me. He was always happy to take my calls, have a chat and give me a quote for a number of books I was working on - notably the Frank Swift biography, the 1960 FA Cup, Charlie Hurley biography and Ernie Taylor digital biography. As by way of tribute I have pleasure in publishing below some of Malcolm’s words.
The first set comes from the Fifty Years On book published in 2010 on the 1960 FA Cup that Wolves won by beating Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in the final at Wembley. 
Goalkeeper – Scotsman Malcolm Finlayson was signed from Third division South side Millwall, for whom he made 230 first team appearances, in the summer of 1956 as cover for regular england keeper Bert ‘The Cat’ Williams. Although he made only 13 first team appearances in his first season, Finlayson became the regular Wolves keeper in 1957–58, when Wolves were the only First division side to concede fewer than 50 league goals during the season, a record maintained the following season as they won back-to-back league titles.
Finlayson was an agile performer with a safe pair of hands, was courageous and commanded his area with distinction. He played in five of the seven Wolves FA Cup games in 1959–60, by which time he had already started out in the business world. He later became, and remains successful as, a director of R&F Stockholders of Kingswinford near dudley. Finlayson would undoubtedly have won caps for Scotland had their selectors decided on a policy of no ‘Anglos’.
Malcolm on manager Stan Cullis. 
Cullis built two great Wolves sides; the first won the 1949 FA Cup and the League five years later. As players came towards the end of their careers he slowly replaced them – Bill Shorthouse retired, Bert Williams was replaced by Malcolm Finlayson, Norman deeley came in for Harry Hooper, who had been bought to replace Johnny Hancocks, and Jimmy Murray for Roy Swinbourne, and from 1956 to 1961 Wolves had a second great team.
Malcolm Finlayson gives a further example of Cullis’s commitment to people who gave their all for him: “In 63–64 Stan let me continue playing part- time as I was moving into business. But in September 1963 Roger Hunt trod all over my hand up at Anfield and broke it. This took me six or seven weeks to recover and then when I got back playing it was in the reserves at West Brom. I got kicked on the knee and after that I decided to call it a day as it meant I was having to get taken in the back seat of my car to work and back. Cullis, however, made sure I got paid till the end of the season. He was as straight as a die, was Stan.
“He was a hard manager, straight-talking and wouldn’t suffer fools gladly but he would never criticise his players in public or in the press and I know that he really helped out one or two Wolves players who fell on hard times. I’d say his bark was worse than his bite, although not to journalists who I witnessed at times waiting to go in and interview him and were shaking like a leaf.
“In the 1980s I had my house burgled and they took my two league championship and FA cup winner’s medals. Stan, and Gordon Taylor, from the PFA, unknown to me, got the FA and the Football league to replace them. It was great of them I must say.”
On his understanding with Bill Slater the Wolves centre back and captain 
Malcolm Finlayson remembers: “The match was one of those where the pitch was cleared of snow and blue lines painted on it. It was bitterly cold and would probably have been postponed today. Bill had a good game.
“A goalkeeper is the only player who can see everything that’s happening on the field. He can tell for example if a player is trying to go down the blind side of a defender and make him aware of the danger. You have to make sure you command your area and you have to be constantly talking to those in front of you and they have to be aware that if you’re coming for the ball then it’s yours.
“Bill listened if I said anything. He could also play and had good ball control, helped no doubt by the fact that he had previously been an inside forward.”
On Jimmy Murray 
“Jimmy Murray was a fine player,” says Malcolm Finlayson. “We had a cracking forward line and scored a hundred goals a season for four seasons running. Our manager believed in attacking, with our particular strength being counter-attacking. We had a quick side with good ability on the ball; we were also very fit and powerful – not only did we have a coach/trainer in Joe Gardiner who had played left half for Wolves in the 1939 FA Cup final, but unlike other sides we also had a physical fitness trainer in Frank Morris, a well-known international runner who’d take the players for athletics.
“The club had spent heavily developing a well- equipped training ground but we’d also go out to Brockton in Staffordshire and be forced to run up this hill to keep fit. If you’ve seen Sean Connery in the desert film The Hill you’ll have some idea of what this was like.
“Stan Cullis would water the home pitch as he had us so fit that teams couldn’t compete physically and a wet pitch would give us a big advantage. Also the ball in those days was heavier than now at 16 ounces and when it got wet it would be even heavier. Today most players can kick it great distances but not in the ’50s – you had to have some strength and fitness to do that, especially towards the end of the match.”
Being a keeper in the 50s. 
Of course, being a keeper in the 1950s was entirely different compared with today. Nowadays keepers don’t dive at forwards’ feet; they all wait until they hit the ball, then they try to spread themselves using their arms and legs. In those days the keeper would dive down at the feet of the forward to try to block or grab the ball. You would also get much more challenged for the ball in the air. These days you see keepers complaining if someone jumps close to them. Keepers were expected to be much more robust in the 1950s.
“Also, how many times do you see keepers trying to anticipate a penalty kick by diving one way? Yet about half of the kicks go down the middle of the goal. Back then keepers tried to watch the ball rather than the player and go after the ball had been kicked.
“The ball did fly straighter in those days – the one great disadvantage keepers have these days is that the ball does move in the air. This makes it much more difficult to catch the ball so they are inclined to punch it more. The weight of the ball meant you couldn’t kick it to the halfway line, particularly on wet match days as it collected water. These days keepers can kick it into the opposition half fairly easily.
“At free kicks keepers would try and get their defenders out of the way. Take for example a free kick 35 yards out on the right. The opposition player will attempt to bend it to the back post and defenders drop deep to try to head it clear. This makes it difficult for any keeper to come and get the ball as they’ve got to get in between the attackers and their own defenders. defenders drop back because they don’t have faith in their ’keeper. At Wolves I would insist that the defence stayed on the 18-yard line and tried to play offside so that if the ball was floated over it was my ball. I would make it clear to any defenders that if they got in the way they could expect to get clattered and if they didn’t listen they did.
“One main advantage, it has to be said, in those days was that defenders could play the ball back and you could pick it up with your hands; keepers today have to be better with controlling the ball with their feet. despite this I still feel they have it much easier today than ’keepers had it back in the 1950s and I am not convinced they’re any better than we were.”
On Norman Deeley 
Malcolm Finlayson remembers: “Little Norman was a tiny wee chap at about 5’ 2” but he was very quick and had great feet. He had a great partnership with Peter Broadbent and they were always interpassing the ball and interchanging positions. Norman could and did create space around him in which to play. Peter Broadbent was also a very good player.
The semi-final against Villa 
Fortunately, Finlayson had relatively little to do, being extended only twice. First the big goalkeeper, whose appearance ended reserve keeper Geoff Sidebottom’s nine-match run – a sequence which contained seven victories and only one defeat – was forced in the first half to make a diving save to stop a shot from Jimmy Mcewan; then 12 minutes from the end he found himself facing Bobby Thomson. It was a crucial moment and one Malcolm Finlayson remembers as he still has the scars to show from what happened next!
“Bobby, an ex-Wolves player, was clever. Wolves were known for pushing up to leave attackers offside. We’d push up to the halfway line; it would annoy the hell out of the opponents’ fans when we played away. The opposing player would push the ball through to their forwards and we’d get an offside flag. This day Bobby pushed the ball through and went after it himself. I met him on the 18-yard line and dived at his feet. Out of frustration he raked his studs down the inside of my thigh and even today when I see him I tell him I’ve still got the scars to show from his tackle. He says it was an accident. It wasn’t and today he would be sent off but in those days you could and did expect such things to happen as it was a much harder game than it is today.”
On Bobby Mason not playing in the final 
Yet on the Tuesday of cup week Bobby Mason’s hopes must have soared when he was handed the number eight shirt to wear for the souvenir programme. It was not to be and two days later his heart was broken when Cullis took him to one side and explained he would be selecting the inexperienced Stobart in his place. Later the manager told the press that he knew “how disappointing it must be to be left out, but he has just got to accept it”. Yet he admitted he didn’t know “just how Mason has taken it. After all, how do you know what is in a man’s mind?”
Bob Pennington, in the Daily Express, said he understood that Mason was disappointed. This must be viewed as a massive understatement. Fifty years later when researching this book I received a letter from Bobby Mason responding to my request for an interview with the simple but terse reply stating in bold type: “Sorry but I will not take part in your cup final campaign.”
Malcolm Finlayson says: “I didn’t think Bobby would be interviewed. He was ever so upset; he had played in a lot of big games, Bobby, and he was a cracking player. But the FA Cup final was an extra-special event. To miss it was a big blow. I believe that he was offered a medal as one of the players who had played during the tournament but refused to accept it.”

Bobby Mason was indeed a “cracking player”. during his career at Molineux he won two league winner ’s medals and made 173 first team appearances in which he notched a highly impressive 54 goals. Ironically, 1959–60 had been his best season in terms of goals. He scored 15 times.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

BBC and Andy Burnham shaft OP victims

Earlier this week the BBC Farming Today programme featured sheep dip. 

03 Dec 2014 Sheep dip, Christmas geese, Tidal surge

Wed, 3 Dec 14

The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, is calling for more information on how farmers may have been affected by using sheep dip in the 1970's and 80's when twice-yearly dipping of the 44 million sheep in Britain was compulsory. Many farmers argue that the practice caused them severe long term health problems and government advice on protective clothing was inadequate. 

Andy Burnham wants more information? He is not stupid but he is certainly blind and deaf as there is so much information then his call is simply about kicking the subject into the long grass. 

Type in OPs in the search button on this blog and you will find just how much information there is.

Take a look at:-

Here is what one of the OP victims sent me yesterday. 

Hi All,
No word on how the 2nd OP meeting went yesterday in Parliament but the BBC have used it well.
If you want to hear how much damage was done to OP sufferers by restricting yesterday's meeting in Parliament to Sheep Dip you only have to listen to the broadcast on Radio 4's Farming Today programme this morning - 3rd December issue available for download if required. 
(Sheep dip, seemingly the only important issue in OP poisoning, fills the last 10 minutes or so)
"Balance" they call it - weighing the truth against blatant lies which go unchallenged....
Oddly enough PAN UK's Nick Mole raised by far the best points in the entire broadcast, pointing out that even the recommended protection would not protect and that no warnings were given on inhalation. But he was on safe ground because the only farmer affected (living outside of Burnham's constituency) referred to the illness as like CFS or ME - which of course is the very diagnosis used by officials to hide the effects of OP poisoning, even when there is scientific evidence supporting a poisoning diagnosis.

Worse still Andy Burnham, having refused requests from a member of the Lords to address the issues raised and evidence supplied by people outside of his constituency then refused not only to ask for the requested Police investigation into the corrupt practices employed to hide the evidence but also suggested that more evidence was required before an inquiry could be requested.
Then came the final blow used by the BBC to undermine all that went before when they reported the comments from Defra, which in turn relied on the Committee on Toxicity's dishonest reports of 1999 and their last one which followed several in-house studies and supposedly demonstrated that there were no long term effects for OP poisoning. Quite how they manage to ignore the mass of evidence is one of the biggest mysteries, unless of course they are paid not to recognise it.

Obviously COT and others believe that "Death" is not a long-term adverse effect. 
250,000 deaths a year according to the WHO and very few of them had even seen sheep dipped...
I am sure that anyone listening will now believe that the only people to suffer were sheep farmers and that they have not been poisoned but suffer with CFS - which is said to be a mentally induced state with no known cause... 

No wonder the deadly organophosphorus compounds, including glyphosate, escape all attempts to ban them and numbers of people adversely affected increase.

Brilliant support for the poisoners but then the BBC does very much like GM crops. 
Sadly it was all so predictable but would anyone listen? Not a chance.
Can the damage be undone? Doubtful I would say....

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

New regional party selects first election candidate

An edited version of this article appeared in the Big Issue in the North magazine dated 24/30 November. 

A former Kirklees Labour councillor has become the first candidate at the 2015 general election for Yorkshire First, a new party that campaigns for devolution to the region.
Paul Salveson represented the Golcar ward in the Colne Valley constituency until stepping down last year, and recently left the Labour Party on grounds that it is “too centralised and has failed to address the regional devolution question.” 
He will now try to unseat Colne Valley’s Conservative MP Jason McCartney in next year’s general election. Salveson hopes to build on Colne Valley’s history of radicalism, in which it elected independent socialist Victor Grayson and radical Liberal Richard Wainwright as MPs.
It is over a decade ago since Labour deputy leader John Prescott advanced a series of northern regional devolution initiatives. However in November 2004, North East voters overwhelmingly rejected proposals for an elected assembly. Its responsibilities would have included activities mainly carried out by central government bodies, including regional economic development.

The negative vote meant similar referendums in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber were abandoned and Prescott was heavily criticised for an exercise costing £11 million.  He had said before the vote: “If devolution fails here, we won’t be back for a considerable period of time.”

Yorkshire First says that with a population bigger than Scotland the time is ripe for a Yorkshire parliament similar to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh National Assembly and the London Assembly. The party has not yet established the exact structure of the parliament, the establishment of which would require a referendum. There appears to be a broad commitment to making town and parish councils much more effective and for the establishment of a fairer voting system based on proportional representation.
According to Richard Carter, the Oslo based business advisor who set up Yorkshire First, “Prescott’s plans failed because what was being proposed was a glorified county council talking shop with no real powers.  Also we now have examples of how successful devolution can be.”

Yorkshire First was launched ahead of the 2014 European election, when it gained 1.5 per cent of total votes. It intends standing in half of the Yorkshire and Humber seats in 2015.
It believes that if Yorkshire has greater control over its own resources this will lead to better decision making on economic affairs and generate additional finance for social spending.
Yorkshire First candidates include former Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem members. They must abide by the Bell Principles formulated by the former independent MP Martin Bell. These demand that politicians behave to the highest of standards and are guided by “considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, our constituencies and consciences”.
Might a lack of a clear set of policies lead to some its candidates putting forward reactionary ideas?

Not according to Salveson, who said: “Yorkshire First is a socially progressive alternative as we reject bigotry and have a strong commitment to social justice and equality of opportunity alongside the need for a more balanced UK.”

Monday, 1 December 2014



According to new Wigan manager Malky Mackay he is taking diversity and equality lessons after he apologised for sending racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic text messages when he was employed at Cardiff City.

He said at the time of his appointment at Wigan, “I made mistakes. I’m absolutely not racist. I have taken on an educational programme in terms of diversity and that will be ongoing. I will continue to learn and educate myself going forward.”

Yet within hours of taking up his new job, Mackay demonstrated clearly he still has a very long way to go on his education programme.

That’s because the man who appointed him, Dave Whelan, made his own racist and anti-Semitic comments. Whelan has since offered an apology of sorts but has been charged by the FA.

So what has Mackay done over this? His new employer attempts to justify his behaviour at Cardiff, behaviour that Mackay states he has learned from. Yet Mackay stays silent, has he gone in to see Whelan and said, “What the hell are you doing? I am trying to rebuild my reputation and what I did was wrong. You can’t justify my comments. You should tell the press and the public that your views don’t represent me. I don’t want to be associated with someone saying those sorts of things! If you don’t then to demonstrate I’ve changed I am going to speak up and if need be I will quit!”

Has Mackay done anything? Of course not so I think we can safely say that Mackay may be taking diversity and equality lessons but they are clearly having no effect.