Serious shortage of players threatens conker season

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2014 by kmflett

Campaign For Real Conkers

Against bans  on conker playing

Press Release 15th September Contact Keith Flett, 07803 167266

Serious shortage of players threatens conker season

The Campaign For Real Conkers, the group that opposes bans on conker playing, has said that with the 2014 conker season underway it is a shortage of players rather than conkers that is threatening the game

The campaign says that while the weather in August may have been the wettest for ten years, warm weather earlier in the summer together with a mild first half of September has led to what promises to be the best supply of conkers for some years.

Many conkers have yet to fall but where they have, many remain uncollected except by grey squirrels who do not eat, but bury them.

Campaign Organiser Keith Flett said, we may have ‘tut-tutted’ about school children throwing sticks into trees to bring down conkers over the years but that is a virtually unknown activity these days. In many areas conkers carpet the ground uncollected. Conkers as a traditional game is under serious threat

The Campaign for Real Conkers promotes free for all conker playing across the UK. It will run an alternative event to the World Conker Championships, on October 12th where it encourages people to have a go at playing conkers without the need for rules, regulations and teams.

Notes for Editors

  • The CFRC believes that conkers is one of the few sports that can be played for free. All that is required is a conker and some string.
  • It is opposed to championships, rules, regulations, separate teams for men and women and commercial sponsorship.
  • It seeks to encourage people of all ages to play conkers. It should not be the preserve purely of those of mature years


September 1964: 50 years since the first edition of The Sun & the Premier of Goldfinger

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2014 by kmflett

That Was the Week That Was: 50 years since the first edition of The Sun

It is 50 years since The Sun first appeared in Britain’s new agents, although Rupert Murdoch did not buy it until five years later.

This was also the week of the launch of Labour’s successful 1964 General Election campaign which saw Harold Wilson installed as Prime Minister by a narrow margin.

The Labour Manifesto was launched, on television, on 11/12th September 1964 with the assistance of, amongst others, Tony Benn.

It was arguably the moment when the short 1960s really started.

Labour was keen to present itself as the party of a new and modern Britain against the Tories with its Old Etonian leader Sir Alec Douglas Home.

Labour, or at least Wilson, was keen to distance itself from what it referred to as ‘vested interests’ which meant both employers and trade unions who resisted change. It saw the development of a new classless society where all had the opportunity to succeed.  Even so Tony Benn noted in his Diary that Wilson’s speech to the TUC on 7th September had gone well

If this sounds like a precursor to New Labour that may not be far wrong. Many of the positions Labour took in 1964 were informed by polling by Mark Abrams of Research Services including slogans such as ‘Let’s GO with Labour’

The second week of September 1964 did indeed prove an interesting one as cultural historian Dominic Sandbrook points out in his book White Heat.

It saw the launch of Labour’s Manifesto, the Sun newspaper and also the premiere of a new James Bond film Goldfinger.

The links between these events elude Sandbrook however.

The Sun was the replacement for the Daily Herald a labour movement paper that had been owned by the TUC. With a declining readership and a view that a media which appealed to class was becoming outdated the paper was sold to the same stable as the Daily Mirror. [see the comments of Ian Birchall at the foot of the post]. The paper introduced journalists who went on to become well known elsewhere including Nancy Banks Smith, Geoffrey Goodman and, briefly, Paul Foot.

On 15th September  the Sun rose. It was designed to appeal to precisely the same New Britain that Labour’s Manifesto was aimed at.

There was however a mismatch.

Tony Benn notes in his Diary for the period that the new paper was ‘appalling’ and ‘a pale wishy-washy imitation of the Daily Mail’ and not likely to be as much help as been supposed to Labour’s Election campaign.

Even so The Sun Editorial did echo a key Labour theme when it argued that ‘leaders of tomorrow are more likely to emerge from a College of Advanced Technology than from Eton or Harrow’.

Its first issue sold three million copies, although this went down to 1.75 million a day by the time of the October Election.

The premiere of Goldfinger on 17th September, a James Bond film based on the Ian Fleming novel, attracted crowds to Leicester Square in London.

The plot with Sean Connery as Bond, was far fetched but in fact not entirely out of touch with reality. The key figure in the film, as the title indicates is obsessed with gold, in acquiring it and trading it irrespective of regulations to control this by national Governments.

The 1964 Labour Government inherited a significant economic crisis from the Tories and itself became focused on the balance of payments and the need, it felt, to control currency movements.

Goldfinger, albeit in a fantastical sense, focused on an issue that was to be central to the Wilson Government elected in October 1964

While there are obvious differences between Britain 1964 and 2014 there are also some striking similarities. Both had a Tory Government led by an Old Etonian and both had a Labour Opposition obsessed with opinion polls and austerity politics.


The Ambridge Socialist: An Archers playlist

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2014 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist: An Archers playlist

Inspired by the momentous weekend of LoxFest the Ambridge Socialist is working on an Archers Playlist. This is very much a work in progress and further suggestions [provided they are at least vaguely relevant] are welcome. In the meantime thanks to Janine Brady, Paul Frame and Hazel Potter

When Johnny Comes Marching Home The Clash

Jolene Dolly Parton

[Jazzer] The Fastest Milkman in the West Benny Hill

Ever Fallen in Love The Buzzcocks

Heartbreak Hotel Elvis et al

Drink Up Thy Cider The Wurzels

Combine Harvester The Wurzels

Threshing Machine The Wurzels

Champion Dung Spreader The Wurzels

I Want My Tractor Back Lianna Rose

Pet Shop Boys it’s a Sin [Loxfest]

Jona Lewie Kitchen at Parties [Home Farm]

Dappy, Who’s the Daddy?


The Ambridge Socialist: When Johnny Comes Marching Home

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2014 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

14th September CONTACT KEITH FLETT 07803 167266

The real Borsetshire Echo: 60 years of class struggle in Ambridge

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

John Archer’s son with Sharon, previously known as Rich, now Johnny is back. He has appeared at Bridge Farm and caused Eddie Grundy to opine that he is a natural stockman. This is handy because Johnny has flunked his GCSEs and doesn’t want to go to 6th Form College. Indeed it appears that Johnny does not want to leave at all but has it mind to get a full time acting role in the Archers. (The song in question is of course the Clash from February 1979: The English Civil War).

Hayley Fights Back- shower scene off the agenda

At last Hayley has seized the initiative and confronted both Elizabeth and Roy about their dalliance. It appears that a shower scene is at least temporarily postponed. It should at least please David Aaronovitch who opined in the Times on Monday that he was concerned about physical goings-on relating to middle-aged people in Borsetshire.

Nothing so romantic

Susan has spotted a pregnant Jess in the village shop and naturally feels the need to discuss this with others. She feels that Rob Titchener could be another Brian Aldridge. The Ambridge Socialist notes ‘nothing so romantic’. Meanwhile Helen worries that the Village is gossiping about Jess, babies, Rob and herself. She is of course absolutely right. The Ambridge Socialist will be organising some Rough Music outside their house in the near future

In Other News

Freddie & Lily have formed a united front against Roy Tucker who for perfectly understandable reasons they don’t like. Elizabeth has decided that the way forward is to sack Roy. It is doubtful if this will qualify as a legal dismissal on a ‘some other substantial reason’ basis but it would make an interesting case at the Borchester Tribunal.

Mike has made public the decision to sell the milk round business and move to Birmingham [not central but a leafy bit it seems]. Ed and Jazzer are pondering workers control.

Its no longer Mowgli but now Mungo. After the British skiffle and blues band presumably



Scottish Independence: The spectre of Keir Hardie (& his beard)

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2014 by kmflett

Scottish Independence: The spectre of Keir Hardie [& his beard]

My late father was a Scottish Communist born on Clydebank in 1924 so my parentage provokes a certain personal interest in the forthcoming vote in Scottish independence, but also a sense of some historical perspectives.

It can be argued that there is no interest in keeping an imperial United Kingdom with its current structure and that the current British State’s renewed enthusiasm for wars might be caused to pause by a ‘yes’ vote.

Then it might also be said that the working class and the left are better united across the British Isles, although that is not a definitive argument against independence. It is though an argument that Salmond cant make.

Then again it could be suggested that in principle the Scots have a right to independence but that it might not be the best idea to pursue that right now when the key issue is ejecting the most reactionary Government in Westminster for many decades from Office.

Perhaps that is a point in favour of Devo Max

A study of labour history can’t offer any definitive guidance on these points and nor should it. However some interesting perspectives can be offered.

Take, for example, the political career of Keir Hardie.

Hardie’s original base, from the late 1870s, was amongst first the Lanarkshire and then the Ayrshire miners in Scotland. He was a trade unionist, a full time organiser, with a Lib-Lab perspective on the world that focused strongly on issues of respectability such as temperance and religious observance. He also had a beard.

Hardie stood as an independent labour candidate election in Lanark in April 1888 and in August of the same year he became the first Secretary of the new Scottish Labour Party.

A career in Scottish politics surely beckoned. Except that it didn’t because that wasn’t quite how Hardie saw the world.

In 1892 he travelled to the East End of London, another centre of a newly organising working class, to stand, without Liberal opposition, as a labour candidate for Westminster. Hardie won and in August 1892 took his seat as an MP.

Questions were asked about where Hardie’s campaign funds came from. While Hardie presented himself as moving beyond his trade union background, as Caroline Benn’s definitive biography underlines, unemployment was even more of an issue in West Ham than it was in Ayrshire. The Scottish miners understood the link well enough and certainly gave some of the money for Hardie’s election.

The following year he was one of those who formed the Independent Labour Party.

When it came to the 1900 General Election Hardie in era when it was possible to stand in more than one seat was nominated in Preston and Merthyr in South Wales.


Preston was never likely at this point, on a still restricted franchise, to return a labour MP.

Hardie’s chances in Merthyr weren’t thought to be too good either. After all he was a Scot who had held a seat in London’s East End and was largely unknown in the area.

Hardie however had two things going for him. Firstly he had been a miner and a miner’s union official. Merthyr was a mining seat, but one which remained firmly Lib-Lab. This however was the period when the new Trades Councils were being formed in the area, and they were often a bedrock of support for independent labour politics

In a two member seat Hardie was elected MP and in the 1906 General Election was re-elected with an increased majority.

During his period as MP for West Ham and Merthyr when not representing his constituents in London, Hardie continued to live in Cumnock in Scotland where he had been based as a union official.

The historical point that Hardie’s trajectory as a union and labour activist demonstrates is that while issues of national independence are important ones, class politics transcends boundaries.

I live in London and Cardiff so I don’t have a vote on 18th September. If I did it would be hard to envisage why one would vote to keep the imperial structure of the United Kingdom as it currently is. At the same time the thought of a smiling Alex Salmond on 19th September is just as upsetting as that of a smiling David Cameron in May 2015. Neither man of course has ever had a beard, unlike Keir Hardie.

Whichever way you look at it, perhaps the debates and the energy of the campaign will provoke an upsurge not in the Establishment politics of Salmond and Cameron, but movement at the grassroots, from below. That is what all those in authority in London and Edinburgh really fear.

The spectre of united working class internationalism that Hardie, and his beard, in a way personified.





Campaigners say Bath Beard Championships are about follicle topiary

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Press release 13th September

Contact Keith Flett           07803 167266

Campaigners say Bath Beard Championships are about follicle topiary

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers which campaigns against beardism, irrational prejudice against the hirsute, has said that Saturday’s British Beard and Moustache Championship in Bath is really more about follicle topiary, the cutting and shaping of beards into interesting shapes, than it is about beards

The BLF has underlined that its view of the Championships are that they are fun and do important charitable work but send entirely the wrong message about facial hair in modern Britain

The vast majority of categories at the Championships relate not to the growing of facial hair but to its cutting and trimming with considerable involvement of hairdressers, shaving companies and related commercial sponsors.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, growing a beard is not a competition and nor is it meant to be an issue for Gardeners Question Time. We wish the Championships good luck of course but the serious work of opposing pogonophobia goes on


Campaigners dismiss rumours that Alex Salmond plans a Scottish Beard Tax

In Uncategorized on September 12, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Press release 12th September contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners dismiss rumours that Alex Salmond plans a Scottish Beard Tax

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers that campaigns against beardism, irrational prejudice against facial hair, has said that rumours that Alex Salmond plans a Scottish Beard Tax if Scotland votes for independence on 18th September are unlikely to be well founded.

There have been a number of beard taxes in history, starting with Russia in 1698, and they have had a variety of purposes.

It is thought that a Scottish Beard Tax would be one way for an independent Scottish Government to raise funds particularly given the likelihood that Scots are rather more likely to wear a beard than many other areas of the current United Kingdom.

However the campaigners say that in the modern era a Beard Tax is simply impractical. There would need to be Beard Inspectors to check for the presence of a beard and people could simply shave their facial hair and re-grow it later.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the question of whether an independent Scotland would be beard friendly is an important one and our poll shows opinion split down the middle on it. However that is rather different from the point of Mr Salmond introducing a Beard Tax, an act of pogonophobic prejudice he would surely be unlikely to go along with even though he has never had a beard himself


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