Wednesday, 27 November 2013

‘Gagging’ claims as Jersey court case gets under way

‘Gagging’ claims as Jersey court case gets under way
As published in Big Issue in the North magazine 
An MP fears the victims of child abuse on Jersey will be “gagged” if the establishment on the island is successful in bankrupting and disqualifying from office two local members of parliament.
Shona Pitman and her husband Trevor have represented the St Helier parish since 2005 and 2008 respectively. Both have expressed their concerns about child abuse on many occasions.
Jersey’s child abuse scandal first surfaced in 2007, following which 192 victims and 151 abusers were identified during a police investigation. Seven people were successfully prosecuted.
An inquiry into child abuse on the island was due to have started this autumn but had to be delayed due to the overseeing judge suffering a heart attack.
Visits by Jimmy Savile to a children’s home on Jersey will form part of the inquiry.
The Pitmans believe the island’s Law Office has not pursued evidence against abusers. They have attempted, with backing from other parliamentary members and campaigners against child abuse, to get justice minister Lord McNally to “ensure good governance”.
This drew a muted response from the Lib Dem peer who replied: “Jersey has its own justice system so we can’t really interfere.”
The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who is head of the Privy Council – which acts as a court of appeal for Jersey – has also refused to get involved.
Last year, the couple sought damages for defamation against the Jersey Evening Post (JEP) and the Broadlands estate agency, which placed a cartoon advert in the paper in 2008. The Pitmans alleged this was intended to portray them as money-grabbers who had entered politics for personal gain.
John Lyndon Le Breton, the senior judge in the case, was a friend of the newspaper’s director and principal of an exclusive fee-paying secondary school where, for indecently assaulting teenagers, paedophile Andrew Jervis-Dykes was given a four-year sentence in 1999. Colleagues of the guilty man refused to co-operate with the police and Le Breton wrote in support of him. Le Breton subsequently sat on other child abuse cases but has since retired.
The Pitmans lost their case after the defendants successfully argued the cartoon referred to the fact that the plaintiffs would be able to obtain a mortgage worth four times their joint salaries.
The Jersey parliamentarians were left owing around a quarter of a million pounds in costs to their lawyers and the two defendants. This week the Pitmans will appear before the Jersey Appeal Court in an attempt to overturn an earlier decision that they have exhausted the time period in which they can appeal against the defamation decision.
They are representing themselves and need to win or face being declared bankrupt. Unlike in Britain, this will mean they are disqualified from elected office. Their home and jobs would be lost. The Pitmans argue: “The establishment and JEP want us to be forced out of politics.”
Earlier this month, the Pitmans unsuccessfully sought an injunction to prevent the JEP publishing a story about threatening letters that had been sent to the lawyers for the JEP and Broadlands, as well as a prominent individual in the original defamation case and the Jersey politician Sean Power, who has previously criticised the Pitmans in the JEP.
The Pitmans accused the JEP of “yet another smear” and argued the letters had been sent to undermine them in the lead-up to their appeal. The newspaper; deputy editor, Andy Sibcy, has refused to comment on the Pitmans’ accusations or their claim that the letters had nothing to do with them. The incident has led to no police arrests.
Abuse allegations
Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming has taken a keen interest in events on Jersey and it was his intervention that helped remove the 500-day ban on American journalist Leah McGrath Goodman from visiting the island and investigating child abuse allegations.
Hemming has recently supported Stuart Syvret, Jersey’s former health minister, who was jailed for contempt of court after he refused to remove online allegations about four islanders. The Data Protection Commissioner brought the case against Syvret. None of the four has attempted to sue the former politician for defamation. Hemming has named the four individuals in an early day motion in Parliament and called Syvret’s jailing “an affront to freedom of speech”.
This is the second time Syvret has gone to jail. In 2010 he published a confidential report into suspicious deaths at Jersey’s General Hospital. In both case cases, Syvret has argued there has been a “cover-up”.
Hemming has now expressed his “fears that the establishment in Jersey are using legal proceedings to disqualify the Pitmans from their role in the island’s parliament”.

He added: “This has the effect of gagging victims of abuse as fewer people can speak out on their behalf. I very much hope they are successful in their appeal.”

Monday, 25 November 2013

Frank Worthington - First Division top scorer 35 years ago this season with Bolton Wanderers

Frank Worthington - First Division top scorer 35 years ago this season with Bolton Wanderers

This is an extract from Golden Boot book that was written by Tony Matthews and Mark Metcalf and which was published in 2011 by Amberley publishing. 

Five Bolton Wanderers players have finished as top scorer in the top flight of English football since League football started in 1888/89. The last to achieve the feat was Frank Worthington in 1978/79 with 24 League goals.  

Frank Worthington netted on his Bolton Wanderers debut against Stoke City in October 1977. After two frustrating near misses, manager Ian Greaves hoped his arrival would bring promotion into the top flight. The England international, costing just £90,000 from Leicester City, did not disappoint and on 26 April 1978, his goal away to Blackburn Rovers won the Wanderers the two points they needed to confirm promotion.  

Back in Division One after a fifteen-season absence Worthington’s goal threat and ability to bring others into the game with his sublime passing skills were going to be important if Bolton were to stay there. Joining him up front was former Newcastle United man Alan Gowling, and they were to form a fine partnership. The latter struck the opening goal against Bristol City on the season’s first day, only for Bolton to lose 2-1.

There was therefore relief when a point was earned from a hard fought 2-2 draw at Southampton. After a summer in which some great free-kicks had been scored at the World Cup Finals in Argentina, the man who started his career at Huddersfield wanted to demonstrate he had his own special ways of netting from a dead-ball situation. He did so twice leading Greaves to comment that “he loves skill and if he comes across someone who can bend a free kick 4 feet he will want to do it better.” 

Another goal of real quality came at home to Leeds United. With the away side searching for an equaliser Willie Morgan sent Worthington free, and he beat David Harvey with a fierce low drive to make it 3-1. Interviewed in the Bolton Evening News, Worthington played down his goalscoring achievements saying, “Really I think like a midfield player as I am constantly trying to help the players around him.”

On 7 October 1978, the Bolton Evening News Special Correspondent wrote, ‘Quality is the feature that runs through Worthington’s play. His subtle touches and high entertainment value thrill supporters of other clubs.’ 

Gowling too was hitting the net, and when he and Worthington both netted for the third consecutive match in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City the two established a reputation as ‘goal twins.’ In 1978/79, the pair scored 39 League goals between them. 

Three came in a 3-1 win at QPR. Worthington was magnificent and scored twice. One was a marvellous solo effort. He was also accused of spitting at Ernie Howe and John Hollins and when the former committed a bad foul on him, the Bolton centre forward was fortunate to stay on the pitch after throwing a retaliatory punch. Fortunately, it wasn’t as good as his shooting as he missed! 

He scored another double as Bolton demolished Manchester United 3-0 just before Christmas. Inevitably, Gowling got the other goal. Bad weather meant it wasn’t until March that Worthington netted again when his curling free kick deceived Manchester City ‘keeper Joe Corrigan. 

Playing so well, it was no surprise Worthington was in demand. Attempts to rebuild the USA Soccer League saw Philadelphia Fury offering him big money to play there during the summer. He was determined to go. Greaves didn’t want him to, but conceded he had no choice “because with his contract expiring at the season’s end I’d have probably lost Frank for good by refusing to let him go.” 

Worthington, at thirty, was looking to the future, but he continued to enjoy himself at Bolton as Gowling and he both bagged two each in a 4-2 beating of Arsenal. Continuing their double act, both scored as QPR were beaten 2-1 in a fine game.

Bolton also won the next match 2-1. As it was at Old Trafford it ensured a famous ‘double’ against Manchester United. Worthington scored both at the Stretford End. Martin Buchan made it 1-0 at half-time and then, after Worthington had equalised, Gordon McQueen missed a penalty. 

Bolton, though, remained under considerable pressure. Then, with little more than a minute to go, a fine Brian Smith run and pass was flicked beyond the keeper for the winning goal to the delight of Wanderers fans everywhere.  

Against Ipswich Town at home, Frank Worthington scored the goal of the season.

“In front of the TV cameras Worthington scored a goal fit to grace any occasion. He was on the edge of the box, back to goal with the Ipswich defenders snapping at his heels. Calmly he flicked the ball up twice, lifted it over his head and turned to fire a shot past Cooper’s left hand into the corner of the net.” (Gordon Sharrock, reporting in the Bolton Evening News)

Worthington netted his final goal of the season against Tottenham Hotspur. For once, he was outshone by the all-round abilities of Argentinean Osvaldo Ardiles. Few though were the players in 1978-79 who could say they’d played better than Frank Worthington. Yet within months he’d departed Burnden Park when, after arriving back late from America, he failed to produce anything like his previous form. He was quickly sold to Birmingham City. Three seasons there were followed by a tour of the country with spells at a host of clubs before he finally finished playing in 1991, 25-years after his first Huddersfield appearance.   


(Pluto Press, £17.50)
This is a vibrant, compelling history of the anti-racist campaigns of the British Asian youth movements (AYMs) of the 1970s and 1980s,
in which “black” identity was a political colour inspiring unity amongst all those struggling against racism.
Why did you write this book?
After 9/11, South Asians were framed within a traditional cultural-faith discourse. I wanted to represent a history which would present us as communities where politics was central to our identity. The AYMs were secular but the most important aspect was they were anti-racist and anti-imperialist and this understanding is crucial to young South Asians whatever their religious beliefs. AYMs also demonstrated when people stand together against injustice they will win and this is an important lesson for Muslims today faced with resisting anti-terror legislation.
What lay behind the slogan ‘black people must unite, here to stay, here to fight!”
It demonstrated these young south Asians were not trying to exclude themselves from society. But they wanted a Britain in which they were respected and treated equally and in which all individuals had the right to work on a living wage. The slogan highlighted unity amongst all black people which meant Africans and Asians, and even Chileans if they wished, because it was about a unity against racism.
Why did Asian youth find it necessary to organise independently?
Because racism was central to their experience, both as young people suffering street racial violence as well as discrimination by the state who framed them as “problems”. The left and trade unions meanwhile failed to address their own racism. Nevertheless, the youth were clear that the only real force in British society capable of fighting the growth of organised racism and fascism is the unity of the workers movement. They did not want to separate themselves from the left but to work with them as equals.
How did asserting “self-defence is no offence” help the Bradford 12 overcome charges of conspiracy to cause explosives and endanger lives following the police discovery of homemade Molotov cocktails in 1981?
The Bradford 12 was the first time the self-defence law had been used in the context of a community. Many of the key defendants had been involved in the anti-racist struggle. The cocktails were made because of genuine fears that racist skinheads were coming to Bradford to terrorise the Asian community and because the attitudes and previous history of the police in ignoring racist attacks showed they could not be depended upon to offer support. No cocktails were employed and defendants argued they had only produced them for self-defence, “should the need arise”. The case was won because there was a campaign and it was not simply a courtroom drama.
How important was state (local and national) funding in breaking up these once powerful grass roots organisations?

If you are struggling for a mother separated from her children and the law says all your appeal avenues are over then your independence means you can continue to pursue the case for justice as happened in the Anwar Ditta case. If you are struggling against police racism and corruption then you can name the police officers and their violence - as was done in the campaign to protect Gary Pemberton. It is also possible when appropriate to use direct action as a means of protest.  You can’t do this in state funded organisations.  

Educate, Agitate, Organise

“Educate, Agitate, Organise”

150 people attended the grand opening of the Durham Miners Association (DMA) and Unite Community Support Centre last Friday (15 November) in Durham City.

Photo is copyright Mark Harvey 
This is the second joint initiative between miners’ and Unite community members. Earlier this year the National Union of Mineworkers and the country’s largest union set up a similar centre in Barnsley. 

Unite has also established a further four support centres across the UK including in Tower Hamlets in London. The City of London may see billions of £s pass through it every day, but many parts of England’s capital city remain blighted by poverty. Liane Groves, Unite Community national coordinator, is currently examining if similar centres can be opened in many more locations to help counter this Government’s sustained attacks on the unemployed and working people. 

In each centre a body of professionally trained volunteers provide welfare and employment rights advice, whilst there are multi-skills courses for unemployed people plus opportunities to join Unite as a community member and get active in campaigning against the likes of the bedroom tax. 

The support centre in Durham is located in the DMA’s Redhills building. This was opened in 1915 and is a handsome, impressive building that stands as a fitting tribute to the Durham miners struggles for decent pay, safe working conditions, justice and equality. The building is a masterpiece both architecturally and in the materials and craftsmanship. When miners met coal owners there to negotiate over wages and conditions it placed them on an equal footing.

Today, the grandeur of Redhills stands in direct contrast to the situation facing the former mining communities in a region which urgently requires regenerating in order to boost employment opportunities.

Easington Colliery front street - photo copyright Mark Harvey 

Once proud locations such as Easington Colliery now have over half the shops on the front street boarded up. Easington survived after the tragedy that killed 85 miners in May 1951 and the small town was the scene of heroic resistance during the year-long miners strike in 1984-85. John Major’s government made people pay for fighting for their communities when the mine was closed in 1993 with the loss of 1,400 jobs. The brief media attention, which followed the filming of Billy Elliot there in 2000, failed to halt the inevitable decline with young people facing a future without work. Many people have relocated and there are now a large number of empty houses. Sadly, the example of Easington Colliery is not unique in Durham.

Which, as Dave Hopper, the DMA general secretary, said is “why it is great to be opening this support centre. We have got tens of thousands of people who are being denied benefits they because they don’t know what or how to claim even if they are working. Many infirm people also need help as they are wrongly being classified as fit for work and thus denied what are already meagre benefits. 

“There is a lot of despair in our communities, especially amongst young people. Even those who manage to find work are on zero hours contracts where if they don’t jump to the employers’ demands they get sacked. We want to make sure they join a union. We are organising a series of meetings across Durham and want people to get much more active in campaigning to protect services and for jobs to be brought to the region. The DMA and Unite can do a lot of good work together through this support centre.”

Initially, the centre will be open between 10am and 5pm every Wednesday and Thursday.  Amongst the ten volunteers is Aurelia Smith, a former civil servant and activist in the PCS trade union, and John Kelly, the Unite branch secretary for the Durham geographical branch and part-time lorry driver. Both have a wealth of experience in providing welfare and employment rights advice and wish to introduce people to trade unions as organisations that can help them. The hope is that someone who comes into the centre for benefits advice and/or to enroll on one of the many skills courses will also become a Unite community member. Then, once they find work they will switch to becoming an industrial member of Unite. 

The skills courses that are planned under the direction of Unite Learning Organiser David Condliffe include english, mathematics, information technology, public speaking, graphic design and new media. These new skills will improve people’s employment prospects - thus boosting their confidence - as well as being able to help them in any campaigning initiatives they may wish to get involved with locally. “We have put on media courses in the Barnsley support centre and by the end we have had people designing their own posters as part of campaigning against the bedroom tax. The blogger courses we have organised have seen people design their own blogs in order to involve friends in fighting to protect a local bus route,” says Dave. The support centre has a suite of computers and is newly decorated. A visitor will pass along corridors packed with history including old miners banners and a plaque to those from County Durham who fought in the Spanish Civil War between 1936-39. 

The struggle against fascism is an ongoing one. The weekend prior to the opening of the support centre witnessed the English Defence League march in nearby Shotton Colliery and opposition was limited. “That is an example of why we cannot allow our communities to be left to rot. We must fill them with progressive politics and restore the old socialist values of the trade unions. We need the Labour Party to then recognise it must support the communities that back them.”

The local Labour Euro MP, Stephen Hughes, was one of many dignitaries at the opening and he “warmly welcomed this new initiative in these troubled times.”  Ian McFaul from Thompsons solicitors did the same whilst Howard Beckett, head of legal and affiliated services at Unite, said, “we can learn everything from this initiative. What we are doing is nothing more than what the DMA has done historically in providing services, including housing, to its members.  Which is why it can still bring out tens of thousands of people each year to its Gala despite there being no working mines locally.” 

It was left to Karen Reay, Unite regional secretary for the North East, Yorks and Humberside, to sum the day up: “What a great turnout of local trade unionists, elected representatives and members of the local community. We are sure we can utilise this great building to help rebuild our local communities.” 

Who owns the world? Kevin Cahill q@a in 2007

Published in 2007 by Mainstream Publishing and written by Kevin Cahill.
Kevin Cahill is a former army officer who has worked at both Westminster and European parliaments as an adviser and researcher. This expanded upon 2001’s opus, Who Owns Britain, and is the first compilation of landowners and landownership structures in every single one of the world’s 197 states and 66 territories. This is a tome of huge political, economic and social importance.
How was the current pattern of land ownership across the world established? By force and theft. If you look at the largest landowners now they are all monarchs, the descendants of despots and some of them still despots.
Who are some of the largest landowners in the world and how much land do they own?
The largest individual legal landowners on earth are: Queen Elizabeth II (6.6 billion acres); King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (580 million acres); the Pope (about 177 million acres held in his name); King Bhumibol of Thailand (126 million acres); and King Mohamed V1 of Morocco (110 million acres, excluding the illegally occupied Western Sahara). The Queen owns one- sixth of the planet’s surface.
On what basis do you claim that the Queen is the sole owner of land in the UK?
I do not make a “claim" that the Queen is the sole owner of land in the UK. I merely repeat what the government states in the notes on the Parliamentary website relating to the Registration of Land Act 2002: “The Crown is the only absolute owner of land in England and Wales; all others hold an estate in land, in fee simple.” This is also the case in Australia, Canada and many other places. Freeholders do not own “their land” – fee simple is a medieval term for the sum paid to represent the fact that freehold was actually a tenancy.
Why do you describe the European Union in the book as an “outdoor relief organisation for Europe's redundant aristocracy”?
Most of the agricultural land of Europe is still owned by European aristocracy and their cousins. Each year they get the bulk of the EU agricultural subsidy. For example, 77,000 landowners: 0.7 per cent of the farm landowners and 0.022 per cent of the European population own about 25 per cent of the farmland – about 112 million acres. They get $12,000 million in subsidy, a quarter of the subsidy.
How has so few people owning land in Europe affected the farmers in undeveloped nations?
There isn’t a direct connection but it works like this. If you are a poor farmer in Bangladesh, trying to grow, say, grain on five unsubsidised acres, you will find your- self trying to sell against someone who gets 113 Euros subsidy an acre in Europe. When issues of scale are thrown in, you have no hope.
Can you explain your claim that the current Chinese rulers are one of the most pragmatic regimes ever to rule one of the world's great peoples?
The current regime knows that between 210BC and AD1900 Chinese peasant farmers revolted on 2,106 occasions to overthrow the regime on 48 occasions. The 49th in 1949 saw Chiang Kai-shek replaced with Mao when the peasantry lost their lands altogether under the new regime’s farm collectivisation. The current regime is moving to head off a peasant revolt by doling out land.
Now it is rare to find a ruling elite any- where in history which is so busily sowing the seeds of its own elimination but at the same time willing to put prosperity before both its own survival and the good of its people. Socialism as tried in China did not work. So now there is state communist- controlled market capitalism. But the end of that road is multiparty democracy and the rulers of China know this.
Why should people read this book?

To give them a better idea of where we came from, why we are where we are, and how we can get to a better place. This book tells the story of history in terms of the bulk of the world’s people, 97 per cent of whose ancestors never owned anything and 90 per cent of whom currently own nothing and are thus as poor as 97 per cent of humanity has been for the whole 10,000 years of recorded history.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Wigan Diggers' Festival gathers strength

The Wigan Diggers’ Festival with its live music, poetry, stalls, visual presentations and a beer tent is quickly becoming a popular event with trade unionists.  It celebrates the life and ideas of Gerrard Winstanley. The Christian Communist was born in Wigan in 1609 and went on lead the Digger movement that took over land to run it as a “common treasury for all.” 

Festival organisers are hoping their work will lead to a permanent memorial in Wigan town centre, where hundreds gathered on 7 September 2013 to see actor John Graham Davies play the role of Winstanley in a symbolic digging re-enactment of events in 1649. This saw Diggers take over common land at St George’s Hill in Surrey and their actions inspired others to do the same in their own localities. 

Winstanley had welcomed Oliver Cromwell’s defeat, and execution, of Charles I in the English Civil War. He had though become increasingly frustrated when a strengthened Parliament refused to introduce radical changes to forever eradicate destitution amongst the poor. He believed everyone had the right to till the earth and wanted labourers to withdraw from working on private estates. His many published writings and programme began to attract increasing support. 

When Winstanley sought to put his ideas into action he quickly attracted violent opposition from landowners that saw Diggers beaten, their houses burnt down and legal restraints applied to their occupation of the land. Defeat meant that for hundreds of years afterwards Gerrard Winstanley was hardly recognised as one of the great English radicals. This changed significantly when following the revolution in Russia in 1917; Lenin named the Wigan man as one of 19 leading revolutionary thinkers. 

In more recent times, Tony Benn has praised the Diggers for having “established the clear outlines of democratic socialism,” while the late Eric Heffer felt they were important in reminding us “that socialism in Britain is not a foreign import.” The twenty-first-century Occupy movement protestors have also referred to the Diggers as one of the inspirations behind their actions. Meanwhile historians are gradually assembling additional facts about Winstanley and one of the talks at the festival this year was given by one of his relatives, Derek Winstanley, who has discovered that in 1621 the people of Wigan had dug up common land in a successful struggle to obtain access. Derek believes this example inspired Gerrard Winstanley when he moved to London to work as an apprentice cloth maker in 1630.

Unite members at the festival welcomed the chance to celebrate Gerrard Winstanley’s life with Steve Turner (Chair of the Unite political committee in the north west) saying, “we can learn lessons from his fight, especially as it highlights that land ownership remains far too concentrated in very few hands.” 

A sentiment echoed by Andy Birchall, the chairman of a local Unite branch and a former coal miner turned trade union lecturer and who said” “I am very proud to come from the same town as Winstanley. Land should be a common treasure and the first thing the Labour government after the war should have done was to nationalise the land as part of socialist programme to own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange. I believe we must have a statue of Winstanley in Wigan.”

Surveying the large number of people enjoying themselves at the Festival, Steve Chik, a Unite printer who is chair of the organising committee, said: “I’d like to see this Festival become as important to the North West as the Tolpuddle Martyr one is to the South West and the Durham Miners’ Gala is to the North East. More people are coming each year and the atmosphere is great.” 

New book

Pluto Press has just published Gerrard WINSTANLEY: The Digger’s Life and Legacy. Written by Dr John Gurney the book is part of the recently launched Revolutionary Lives series that also includes biographies of some of the most inspiring people who have ever lived.  

The Owain Glyndwr Pub review

This review was written for the Landworker magazine of Unite 

Owain Glyndwr Pub and Restaurant, Llanddona, Beaumaris, Anglesey

Photo is copyright Paul Box 

Owain Glyndwr was the last native Welshman to hold the title of the Prince of Wales after he rose against the occupying English at the start of the fifteenth century.
And whilst six centuries later most Welsh people have abandoned any idea of independence he remains a national hero. In 2002 he was the highest Welsh entry in a BBC poll in which the UK public considered the greatest British people in history. Glyndwr came 23rd in the 100 Greatest Britons.

Directly descended from the princes of Powys and Cyffyliog, Glyndwr was a distinguished soldier of the English King before returning home. This counted for little when he appealed, unsuccessfully, to King Henry IV, after his neighbour, Baron Grey de Ruthyn seized control of some common land. Further injustice was heaped on him when he lost a legal case after he was accused of being a traitor in London court circles.

With his life under threat, Glyndwr raised his banner on 16 September 1400 and was proclaimed Prince of Wales by a small band of followers. Henry IV despatched troops to North Wales and their brutal actions, plus the enactment of Penal Laws against Wales, pushed many Welshmen into joining Glyndwr in open revolt. They included Welsh archers in Henry’s army. By 1403 Glyndwr, backed by local Lords, controlled most of Wales.

The following year, Glyndwr called his first Parliament and moved to draw up international treaties with France and Spain. He was crowned and sought alliances with the Earl of Northumberland and Sir Edmund Mortimer to divide up England and Wales.

However in 1406, English forces landed in Anglesey as a bridgehead to defeat Glyndwr’s smaller army. Isolated castles were relieved. Aberystwyth and Harlech fell in 1408/09. Glyndwr’s family was taken prisoner – all were to die in the Tower of London by 1415 - and he was forced to again engage in guerrilla warfare by taking to the woods.

In 1412, Glyndwr led a successful raiding party in an ambush in Brecon. This was the last time he was seen alive by his enemies. Having never been betrayed by his own people he is believed to have died four years later. By which time the new king, Henry V, was adopting a more conciliatory attitude to the Welsh including offering pardons to those involved with Glyndwr.

For hundreds of years Glyndwr lived on in folk memory and during the First World War, the Prime Minister and Welshman David Lloyd-George unveiled a statue to him in Cardiff City Hall. A more recent statue was installed in 2007 in Corwen, Denbighshire. There is also a hotel named after him in the town.

Thanks to Paul Box for this photograph. 

The Owain Glyndwr on Anglesey is a very friendly family run pub in Llanddona. This small village of around 800 residents is known for its magnificent beach that forms part of the beautiful Red Wharf Bay from which the panoramic views are stunning.

The pub, which serves real ale and highly affordable food, is well used by a number of agricultural workers who back when it opened in the 1980s helped choose the pub name.

Owain Glyndwr statue 
Owain Glyndwr Pub and Restaurant, Llanddona, Beaumaris, Anglesey LL58 8UF 01248 810710 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Unplayable Shack - Manchester City 2 Bradford Park Avenue 8

Unplayable Shack 

Manchester City 2 Bradford Park Avenue 8

The following piece is currently on the website of Bradford Park Avenue. 

It is taken from Frank Swift - Manchester City and England legend
£14.99 from DB Books 
Mark Metcalf 

Frank Swift is one of the greatest English goalkeeper’s of all time. A First and Second Division, FA Cup and Charity Shield winner with Manchester City, his only League club, he represented his country on 33 occasions between 1941 and 1949. Only once did Swift, who tragically died in the  Munich air crash, concede eight goals when a Shackleton inspired Avenue overturned a first leg FA cup deficit by winning 8-2 at Maine Road in January 1946. 
The following is taken from Mark Metcalf’s newly published biography on Swift.  Mark is a Sunderland fan based in Halifax who watches eight to ten Avenue matches a season.
Following the end of the war, and with League competition yet to return, it was agreed that the 1945-46 FA Cup would be played over two legs. Having squeezed past Port Vale 3-2 on aggregate, Avenue was drawn against Manchester City, who only weeks earlier they had lost 6-0 to. 

Playing away in the first leg, and before a crowd of 25,014, City, with two late goals, won handsomely 3-1. Swift had a decent match, using his long legs to prevent Bert Knott opening the scoring and then diverting the centre-forward’s splendid shot over for a corner. With the game tied at 1-1 and only seconds of the first period remaining ‘Swift saved City with a save which only he could have made – a magnificent backward leap to turn a header from Shackleton over the bar, when a goal looked a certainty.’ (Manchester Evening News) 

The second leg was sure to be a formality. Avenue, though, had in their side a number of good players and during the war had beaten sides rated their superiors. On his day Len Shackleton – the Clown Prince of Soccer – could be almost unplayable and the match at Maine Road on 30 January 1946 was to be one of those days. 

Writing in his autobiography the future West Ham and England manager Ron Greenwood, signed from Chelsea at the end of the war, recalled ‘Our cause seemed hopeless and to rub things in our coach ran into a blizzard right on top of the Pennines on our way to Maine Road for the second leg. The wind howled, the snow swirled and our coach struggled. Len Shackleton said ‘let’s turn back…..we don’t stand a chance anyway.’ That seemed a fair assessment, but we pushed on and eventually got to the ground with less than 20 minutes to spare. Our trouble proved worthwhile, even though the pitch was covered by pools of water and a gale blew across the pitch.’

It was City, though, who were blown away, beaten 8-2, with Jackie Gibbons, the former Spurs amateur centre-forward, scoring four times. It was to be a famous day for the West Yorkshire side. 

Ron Greenwood: ‘The sight of the great Frank Swift picking the ball out of the net eight times is something I shall never forget. Everything went right for us. It was one of those days.’ 

Returning home Len Shackleton’s dad consoled him when he reported the score as 8-2. He didn’t believe his son when he said Avenue had won and it needed the sight of the score in the newspaper the following morning to convince him. City fan Geoff Ireland had seen the first match, and he too couldn’t believe the score even after seeing the result in the paper! 

Earlier in Swift’s career City had on their staff a youngster, Jackie, who had aspired to be a keeper. Drawing on his experience the City keeper told him that ‘after every match in which a goal has been scored against me, I make a practice of sitting down and drawing diagrams to see where I was at fault.’

Leaving Maine Road after Avenue’s success Swift bumped into the same youngster, who was, by now, a very smart sergeant major and after a small chat the pair parted with Jackie informing the beaten keeper that he ‘had plenty of homework to do this evening!’ (Football from the Goalmouth) 

To a lesser man such humour might not have been as well received, but Swift had already seen the funny side of being beaten so heavily. With the papers suggesting he was shortly to be transferred to Anfield, Walter Allison recalls some in the crowd shouting out ‘When are you off to Liverpool then?’ ‘Read it in the papers’ was the reply, accompanied by a broad smile.

Then after Gibbons – who had a record of doing well against City – had fired in the seventh Swift had been reduced to laughter. Lying prostrate in the mud the keeper heard team-mate, the newly married Bert Sproston, telling the scorer to ‘go away, Sonny Boy, there’s plenty of room to play at the other end.’ 

Allison also recalls,  ‘at the end of the game Swift went out of his way to congratulate the Avenue players, to shake their hands. He wasn’t sour or bitter, and this was always a part of his game, he was a genuine sportsman was Frank Swift and that made him a decent man also in my view.’

Still a youngster, Allison should have been at school. When his mother discovered he had bunked off a word with his father saw him reported to Hardwick Central School Headmaster Mr Peake, who was ‘an awesome immaculately well dressed man who caned me and my brother Tom. It was worth it as Shackleton that day was a genius. Totally unplayable.’ 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Crime does pay when you exploit farmworkers

Never believe the saying that crime does not pay when it comes to exploiting farmworkers.

How else can you explain that someone can earn £700,000 from criminal activity and not only remain at liberty but also be ordered to pay less than 10% of the total sum back? 

Then there is the fact that the criminal is currently earning £5,000 a month working abroad plus the NFU support for its members who used the crooked gangmasters services. 

Christopher John Blakeney systematically exploited around 60 Filipino herdsmen. He illegally supplied them to dairy farmers, including former NFU president Gwyn Jones. Jones was one of 15 farmers who earlier this year pleaded guilty to ‘using the services of an unlicensed gangmaster.’ Yet remarkably none were fined even after the judge in the case told the farmers, “What you did by engaging these people enabled their exploitation by others.”

Yet rather than breathe a sign of relief that his members had not faced the full wrath of the law the NFU President Peter Kendall had the audacity to criticise the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority (GLA) for bringing the case to court by saying, “considering the £100,000 legal costs to the taxpayer it’s difficult to see how the public interest has been served.”

Blakeney ignored GLA advice and warnings by supplying the workers illegally for more than three years. He withheld workers’ first two months half-salary, deducted administration and accommodation fees and paid workers under the minimum wage. Any complaints were ignored. In court it was agreed he had made a net profit of £700,000 of which only £12,801 remained in his bank accounts. The crook is now earning £5,000 a month working in Jordan. He was handed 12-months imprisonment suspended for two years for four counts of acting as an unlicensed gangmaster.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act a confiscation order for £12,801 was issued. Blakeney has also been ordered to pay compensation to the workers of £45,000 over the next three years. That’s right, make £700,000, pay back £57,801 and stay out of prison! Little wonder that the GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent remarked afterwards, “In this case I honestly do not believe the punishment fits the crime.”

Broadbent can take heart by knowing the GLA’s work on a highly complex case has raised the diary migrant workers wages to the legal national minimum wage and they now earn as much as £400 to £600 more a month. Other workers in similar situations will also feel more confident about coming forward. 

Yet despite this - and many other successes - the GLA appears to have few friends in government. Unite fought a vigorous campaign to have it established in 2005 and along with the TUC is opposed to recent cuts in the GLA’s powers to regulate the forestry sector, shellfish industry, land agents and cleaning contractors operating in the food processing industry.

“During a recession people are desperate for work and at greater risk of exploitation from employers – making it even tougher for legitimate employers to survive. The government should respect and protect the law abiding, not make it easier for those who seek to operate outwith the law to do so,’ said Julia Long, the Unite national officer for rural workers. 

Battle to open police spy database

Battle to open police spy database
Campaigners’ attempts to discover what personal information is held about them on police intelligence databases are drawing a blank.
In the wake of revelations about police spies and the undercover surveillance of activist groups dating back decades, individuals who believe they may have been targeted have submitted Data Protection Act requests to the Metropolitan Police.
But despite a requirement that police reply within 40 days, some have yet to hear back
from them several months later – while others are dissatisfied with their response.
Still waiting
The campaigners want to learn what details were gathered about them by the now-defunct Special Demonstration Squad – later replaced by the National Domestic Extremism Unit – and some have asked for information which may be held about campaigns they participated in. Each request costs £10.
Kevin Blowe, a miscarriage of justice campaigner with Newham Monitoring Project since the late 1980s, is still waiting for a basic acknowledgement of his request more than 12 weeks on. He says he is in contact with others who have similar experiences.
Standard response
Those who have received a response were sent a standard letter from the Metropolitan Police, reading: “From the personal details supplied in this request, there is no information the Commissioner is required to supply you. Please note this letter should not be used as a certificate of good character.”
Among those to have received this letter is former social worker Celia Stubbs, whose partner Blair Peach died in 1979 after an unidentified police officer struck him during a demonstration in Southall against the National Front. For the next 20 years, Stubbs was an active member of Hackney’s Colin Roach Centre, which was targeted by the Special Demonstration Squad, whose undercover officer Mark Jenner infiltrated the organisation for around three years in the mid 1990s.
Mary Pimm received a similar letter after asking police if they had records about whether her telephone was tapped duringa civil service strike that she participated in.
She said: “In 1981, I picked up my phone to hear a previous conversation being replayed. I also wanted to know if the police had collected information on the Harry Stanley Campaign that was formed after Harry was shot dead by the police on 22 September 1999.”
Ethics panel
Concerned by the brush-off, Pimm contacted her Greater London Assembly (GLA) member, Jeanette Arnold. The Labour councillor also sits on the GLA police and crime committee. She took up Pimm’s case with mayor Boris Johnson – whose responsibilities include oversight for the Metropolitan Police. He replied he was “not in a position to respond to your request to confirm there was no infiltration to the Stanley campaign”.
Johnson supported home secretary Theresa May’s decision not to hold a public inquiry into undercover policing and instead backed three ongoing investigations.
The mayor is, however, pressing ahead with the establishment of a legacy and ethics panel attached to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). He recently appointed Lord Carlile, a former Liberal Democrat MP and reviewer of terrorism legislation, to chair the panel.
Carlile’s appointment and his announcement that he wants to look at undercover policing has been cautiously welcomed by Jenny Jones, leader of the Green Party group on the GLA and deputy chair of the police and crime committee.
Oversight responsibilities

She said: “Until I see the detail of what its powers will be and what access to information it will be granted, I remain sceptical about its ability to change Met Police behaviour. This panel must not allow MOPAC to dodge its oversight responsibilities on undercover policing.”

Chartist sculpture in Newport

A sculpture which commemorates the Chartist uprising in Newport is positioned outside the Westgate Hotel, where at least twenty demonstrators were killed and fifty wounded on 4 November 1839.

The Newport Rising was the last armed rebellion in Britain when led by John Frost more than 3,000 marched to Westgate Hotel in the town to demand the release of several Chartists held there. Twenty-eight soldiers inside the hotel were ordered to open fire on the crowd.  Frost and the other leaders of the march were subsequently found guilty of high treason and transported for life. 

Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform that existed between 1838 and 1848 and which took its name from the People’s  Charter of 1838. This had six basic reforms to make the political system more democratic:

1) A vote for every man over the age of 21 
2) A secret ballot for elections
3) No property qualification for members of Parliament
4) Payment for MPs (so poor men could become one)
5) Constituencies of equal size 6) Annual elections for Parliament

Today all but one of the Charter’s six points are enshrined in law as the right of every citizen. 

The artwork was created by Christopher Kelly in 1991 and there are three groups of statues depicting Chartist ideals of ‘Union, Prudence and Energy’. 

Ten of those who were shot dead were buried in unmarked graves in St Woolos Churchyard in Newport. 

Thomas Spence, 1750 - 1814, 'dare to be free'.

Thomas Spence - “Dare to be Free”.  

The life of land reformer and political activist Thomas Spence is  commemorated in his home city of Newcastle with a plaque on the Quayside where he was born, in 1750, and later ran a school. Its mounting in 2010 ended a 10-year campaign by the trust established in Spence’s name. 

One of net maker Jeremiah Spence’s nineteen children, Thomas Spence entered the world in turbulent times with land clearances and industrialisation pushing people off the land and into the factories. 

After initially working alongside his father, Spence became a teacher. Disturbed by the poverty he saw all around him it wasn’t long before he began to agitate for improvements. At aged 15 he published and sold his pamphlet, The Real Rights of Man. This was inspired by a lawsuit between the freemen (a person who enjoys political and civil liberties)  and Newcastle Corporation over the use of common land. It was to be the first of many pamphlets Spence was to be involved with until his death in 1814. 

He agitated for all land to be held in common ownership by each parish. People were to be given their own plots on which to grow the necessities of life with profits from the rents to be employed to support local services such as libraries and schools. 

Having secured the vast majority of land for themselves in 1066 and during Henry the VIII’s reign with the dissolution of the monasteries, then the large landowners were not going to allow Spence’s idea’s to gain the converts he needed to turn theory into practice. By 1794 he was facing high treason charges in court. There he took up Thomas Paine’s arguments against hereditary aristocracy by following it to a natural conclusion in arguing for the end of private property in land. He was given seven months at his majesty’s pleasure, but imprisonment failed to curb a man whose favourite slogan was “dare to be free”. 

Further spells in prison followed as Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger sought to eradicate radical ideas in Britain by suspending Habeas Corpus on many occasions. Nothing though failed to dampen Spence’s enthusiasm to improve the lot of the workingman, leading him to publish the Grand Repository of the English Language. In this he outlined a new phonetic system of learning under which the written word resembled that of the spoken. 

“He wanted to give the working man a chance to read as he was convinced that once they were able to do so they would want to overthrow the tyranny under which they toiled” says Joan Beal, a Sheffield University professor. 

Newcastle born poet Keith Armstrong and founder of the Spence Trust said he was “delighted to see a plaque on the spot where this great man of principle lived and worked. Hopefully it will mean that those who pass it and who have never previously heard of Spence will take the time in the future to find out more about him”. 

According to Newcastle Labour Councillor Nigel Todd it would be great if more people did find out about Spence as the “issues he tried to resolve over two hundred years ago remain in place today with the vast majority of land still owned by very few people, who are the descendants of the major landowners from back then.”  A fact which means that today Britain has the most imbalanced land ownership package in the world, with 64% of all land owned by just 0.28% of the population. To make matters worse, most are beneficiaries of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy programme of farming subsidies.