Blaming the protesters from Peterloo 1819 to the MetPolice 2020

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2020 by kmflett

The publication of a list of potential terrorist organisations from Extinction Rebellion to CND and Stand Up to Racism has of course been explained away by police. Nothing to see here etc.

It is rather evidence of attempts to criminalise protest and dissent and it is not new.

After the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in August 1819 when soldiers attacked a peaceful crowd protesting for the vote, those prosecuted were not the soldiers but the protesters. E P Thompson made the point  in the Making of the English Working Class:

If the Government was unprepared for the news of Peterloo, no authorities have ever acted so vigorously to make themselves accomplices after the fact. Within a fortnight the congratulations of Sidmouth (Home Secretary KF) and the thanks of the Prince Regent were communicated to the magistrates and the military ‘for their prompt, decisive and efficient measures for the preservation of the public peace’. Demands for a parliamentary enquiry were resolutely rejected. Attorney and Solicitor-Generals were ‘fully satisfied’ as to the legality of the magistrates’ actions. The Lord Chancellor (Eldon) was of the ‘clear opinion’ that the meeting was an ‘overt act of treason’.. State prosecutions were commenced, not against the perpetrators, but against the victims of the day- Hunt, Saxton, Bamford and others- and the first intention of charging them with high treason was only abandoned with reluctance. If the Manchester magistrates initiated the policy of repression, the Government endorsed it with every resource at its disposal.. Hay, the clerical magistrate prominent on the Peterloo bench, was rewarded with the £2,000 living of Rochdale.


Roger Scruton on Peterloo: more clumsiness than malice

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2020 by kmflett

Roger Scruton on Peterloo: more clumsiness than malice

The late Roger Scruton who died aged 75 earlier in January was a philosopher and right-wing commentator. Sometimes, but not always the two roles merged.

He was not an historian in terms of doing research in archives, but he opined on historical matters. Notably this involved his views on Marxist historians such as Eric Hobsbawm and Edward Thompson.

However in his book England an Elegy (2000) he did opine on Peterloo. He argued:

Popular unrest was minimal in England, and the most famous episodes- the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819 and the agitation surrounding the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834-bore no comparison with events on the continent of Europe. The panic at St Peter’s Field, in which eleven people died, resulted more from clumsiness than malice.

Not really informed history, but its worth recalling that Boris Johnson had nothing to say on the 200th anniversary of Peterloo in August 1819. Paying tribute to Scruton on his death the Prime Minister called him the ‘country’s greatest Conservative thinker’


Beards are not about ‘attractiveness’. They are about not shaving

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

17th January

contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

The late David Bellamy. A great authority on bugs, but not in his beard

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has slammed the latest piece of research by Australian researchers about the attractiveness or otherwise of beards to women.

The story is here;

The BLF says that similar pieces of heterosexist obsessed research appear frequently claiming to prove that beards are attractive to women, or, sometimes, that they are not.

A pogonophobic media invariably laps up such stories.

The campaigners say that the reality is rather more mundane. While some people wear beards to attract someone of the opposite or the same sex, or for reasons of fashion, many have a beard simply so they dont have to shave first thing in the morning.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, beard wearers spend a good deal of time caring for their beards, just not always at 7am in the morning



‘That barley’s good enough for Bass’

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2020 by kmflett

‘That barley’s good enough for Bass’

George Ewart Evans book, Where Beards Wag All, is not sadly, a book about beards, but about rural life and custom. It was an oral history right at the beginning of the rise of the modern subject (published 1970).

There is a chapter in the book Going to Burton about agricultural labourers in East Anglia going to Burton to walk in the Maltings (heavy physical work).

Those tireless beer chroniclers Boak and Bailey have a post on it:

The organic link was that the best of the barley grown in East Anglia was selected by Bass to be used for brewing at Burton.

Bass perhaps the classic pale ale is in sad decline currently but its historic role in British brewing, employment and culture should not be forgotten.

Evans notes that work at Bass was available right the way through from September to June, leaving just the peak period of agricultural employment free.

Raphael Samuel wrote about it in his essay on seasonal labour, Comers and Goers

One of the most enduring of these autumn migrations was that which brought many hundreds of labourers to work in the breweries…Malsters were usually taken on at the beginning of October and continued until about the latter end of May ‘being about seven months of the year’. The great majority of these were drawn from the country, big-framed men strong enough to handle the comb-sacks (sixteen stones each) of barley… The winter employment in Burton helps to keep wages up, the Agricultural Employment Commissioners were told in 1868

It is a world we haven’t quite lost, particularly when it comes to issues of regularity of employment and wages.



The history of the Beard Front Liberation banner

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2020 by kmflett

The Beard Liberation Front banner displayed at the Port Elizabeth Test between South Africa and England 16th January 2020

The Beard Liberation Front banner was first unveiled in Aberdeen on May 9th 2014 at the Scotland v England cricket match.

It appeared again at the first day of the West Indies v Antigua Test on 13th April 2015 and subsequently at England cricket games around the globe

Thanks are due to Hazel who conceived it, to Huw who turned it into a reality, to Ian who helped carry it and to Paul who took photos.

The banner features three beards.

There was discussion on social media but agreement was soon reached that they were Marx, WG Grace and H M Hyndman.

The son of a businessman born in London in 1842, Henry Mayers Hyndman played thirteen matches as a right hand bat for Cambridge University, MCC and Sussex in 1864 and 1865. He also played other matches to the late 1860s

On 30th June 1864 at the Oval Hyndman turned out for the Gentlemen of the South against the Players of the South and batting well down the order in both innings made 4 and 11.

However playing for Sussex against Hampshire at Hove on 11-13th August 1864 Hyndman did better scoring 58 before being run out in a match that Sussex won by 10 wickets. A few days later also at Hove he scored 6 and 62 for Sussex against Middlesex.

It was of course some years before Hyndman discovered the works of Karl Marx.

Hyndman, previously a stockbroker, went on to become the leader of the Social Democratic Federation in the 1880s, Britain’s first marxist party.

Marx himself was familiar with Brighton in the 1860s where Hyndman had played. His daughter Eleanor Marx had taken a teaching post in the town and he visited from time to time for his health. Marx was a fan of Margate and described Brighton as ‘this sea-bathing place’.

Marx himself had no known interest in cricket. Capital might have turned out differently if he had to factor in the LBW law.

WG Grace was certainly no fan of Marx but he had met Hyndman.

In his autobiography Hyndman records:

The only two men I ever saw who played almost equally well on bad grounds and on good were Ranjitsinhji and W.G. Grace. The former was a genius: the latter had worked up batting to an exact science. The first time I had the misfortune to play against “W.G.” he was only a lad of eighteen. The match was the Gentlemen of Sussex against the Gentlemen of Gloucestershire. Grace went in first and took the first ball which I bowled. He scooped a gentle catch into Harry Brand’s mouth at mid-off. Brand let it trickle down his chest and stomach comfortably to the ground. “W.G.” made 276 thereafter. Years later Brand, then Lord Hampden, came to see me on an important matter of business. No sooner did his eye light upon me (he did not know he was going to meet me) than he walked up to me and said, “Have you ever forgotten that catch I dropped off you from ‘W.G.’?” I never had. We laughed then: we didn’t laugh at the time.

Make it of that what you will there is no question that the link between Marx, Hyndman and WG Grace went beyond just beards. Cricket was also involved


Competition bristles for Beard of Winter 2020

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

16th January

contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Competition bristles for Beard of Winter 2020

Daniel Vane

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that competition is bristling for the Beard of Winter 2020 with brewer Daniel Vane, Beard Bard Ben Bellamy and England cricketer Dominic Sibley amongst those making an early showing

The vote for Beard of Winter is now open and will close at midday on 27th January with the result announced on 28th January

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, hairs will be split before we know the result

Beard of Winter shortlist

Dominic Sibley, England cricketer

Michael Rosen, author & broadcaster

Guz Khan, comedian & actor

Paul Chowdhry, comedian & actor

Carrick McClean, beard campaigner

Mikel Arteta, football manager

Daniel Vane, brewer

Wayne Rooney, footballer

Prince Harry, ex-Royal

Justin Trudeau, politician

Nuno, football manager

Ben Bellamy, Beard Bard


Dry January: temperance & the left

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2020 by kmflett

It’s Dry January an annual campaign that suggests people should abstain from alcohol during the month to recover from possible festive excesses and just generally to cut down on drinking. Drinking in moderation is certainly prudent, abstention, and what from (spirits, beer, the whole lot) has been historically contentious.

Temperance was once an important part of working-class and labour politics as the graphic above reminds us. Keir Hardie was a temperance supporter and while current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is not, he is certainly known for not drinking alcohol.

It is an honourable tradition rooted in dislike of giving money to (Tory) drinks manufacturers and a realisation that unsober people rarely get to change the world for the better.

We might however also be reminded what the Labour MP Victor Grayson had to say about efforts to promote temperance in law in the House of Commons over a hundred years ago:

In October 1908 the Labour MP Victor Grayson tried to adjourn a Licensing Debate in the Commons so the question of unemployment could be considered. The next day he underlined the point: ‘there are thousands of people dying in the streets while you are trifling with this Bill’.