Ranking Roger 1963-2019: From Thatcher’s Swamped to Theresa May’s Hostile Environment: Stand Down Tories

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2019 by kmflett

Ranking Roger 1963-2019. From Thatcher’s Swamped to May’s Hostile Environment: Stand Down Tories

Ranking Roger former lead of The Beat has died at the far too early age of 56.

The original Beat split up in 1983 so is this just a bit of cultural history now? Sadly and definitely not.

The Beat were of course on Two Tone, deliberately focused on black and white coming together to fight the racists.

Before the 1979 General Election Tory leader Margaret Thatcher had made a speech claiming that people felt ‘swamped’ by those of a ‘different culture’.

The official Thatcher Foundation archive detail is here:

Fast Forward 40 years and we find as Tory Prime Minister Theresa May, architect of the hostile environment towards ethnic minorities, a policy which led directly to the abuse of numbers of the Windrush generation, rightfully in the UK but harassed by the authorities.

Neither Mrs Thatcher or Theresa May I suspect owned or own any Beat records…




The biggest petition ever: Chartism in 1848

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2019 by kmflett

The biggest petition ever? Chartism in April 1848

On 10th April 1848 the Chartists rallied on Kennington Common for the vote. It was the first ever demonstration to be photographed but like all the best demonstrations opinions varied widely as to how many had actually attended.

The purpose of the demonstration was to accompany a petition calling for the People’s Charter to the House of Commons. In the end the petition was carried by several horse drawn carriages and accompanied by a limited number of supporters of Chartism including the Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor the MP for Nottingham.

According to O’Connor the petition contained 5,706,000 signatures. Given that the total population of the UK in 1851 was a little over 15 million this was a huge number.

It was disputed by the House of Commons authorities. A special team had been set up in November 1847 to review petitions presented to the House and in this case 13 clerks had been employed from April 10th to April 13th to count the signatures.

Mr Thornley for the Committee reported that they believed the petition contained 1,975,496 genuine signatures. If we suppose this was correct (see below) it was still a very significant percentage of the total population.

It was stated that a number of the signatures such as that of Queen Victoria were obviously false- an echo of the claim that false names have been used to sign the current e-petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked.

One MP was outraged that women had signed it (they of course did not have the vote) while the Petitions Committee noted that many of the signatories were copied in the same hand writing. O’Connor countered that many signing could not write and had to leave it to a literate petition co-ordinator to add their names.

O’Connor doubted that the 13 clerks could have countered the signatures in just 3 days and suggested that perhaps its sheer weight should be taken as an indication of its magnitude. Thornley noted that they had had the petition weighed and it was found to be 5.75 cwt, a hefty bundle indeed.

The petition did not of course succeed in making the Peoples Charter law or in extending the right to vote. It did however provide a significant boost to Chartist agitation in the year of revolutions. It also I suspect served notice on MPs that they would indeed have to significantly extend the right to vote to avoid further agitations. After the Reform League protests of 1866 and 1867 that was precisely what they did.

Petitioning can work but it takes time.


The return of Spurs & the Tottenham beer mile

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2019 by kmflett

The return of Spurs the Tottenham Beer Mile

Its been a while since Spurs played in Tottenham and the beer scene has moved on apace.

Below is a guide to some (but not all) of the best beer places in the area. The Beavertown and Pressure Drop Taps are Saturday only.

Starting at Seven Sisters a walk towards Tottenham Hale (down Broad Lane) will take you to Markfield Rd and Five Miles which sells beer from the on-site brewery Hale. Opposite is Craving Coffee which obviously does coffee as well as great food (regular changing pop ups at the end of each week) and good beer

Go the other way from Seven Sisters up West Green Rd and you’ll find True Craft (the old West Green Tavern) that sells a range of craft beer and fresh pizza.

Alight at Tottenham Hale for the Beavertown and Pressure Drop taps, well known enough now I suspect to need no further comment from myself.

Alternatively continue up the High Rd to High Cross (5 minutes) and you’ll come to the High Cross pub. Situated in a former public convenience it sells a range of locally focused craft beer and great food. Its not spacious but not as cramped as you might think.

A few minutes further up the High Rd towards Spurs is the Beehive, again a well-known Tottenham institution. It should have Redemption beers on cask on match days and has a large garden.

Further up still is the Bluecoats Pub that sells craft and some cask beer together with burgers. A decent size and within striking distance of Spurs now.

Up towards the ground and off a little bit left is another Tottenham institution the community owned Antwerp. Again expect Redemption on cask.

Nearest to the ground though (where Beavertown have a micro brewery on site) is the Redemption brewery taproom, open again on all match days. You can hear when Spurs score from here



Attention ‘thrill seekers’. Brewdog Dalston opens at 6pm on March 29th

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2019 by kmflett

Brewdog are finally opening a bar in Dalston. They will open at 33-35 Stoke Newington Rd, previously Birthdays, on Friday 29th March at 6pm

Hackney Council Licensing Committee considered the matter on 5th March. Details are here (pages 3-66)

There were 8 objections and these received some local media attention, perhaps particularly the suggestion that Brewdog is after providing thrills. I can’t say I’ve noticed but then I’m a trade union officer and that is not really our department.

I’d suggest that concerns about late noise, off sales and tables on the street were reasonable. Probably the most to the point comment was from a local Councillor who hoped that Brewdog’s policy of encouraging interest in good beer and responsible consumption of it might help improve the Dalston night time economy a bit.

The time from licensing decision to actually opening seems relatively brief by usual Brewdog standards. Perhaps they are keen to finally open in Dalston after several years of false starts, or perhaps the cost of the location dictates not leaving it unused for an extended period.

Anyway no doubt thrill seekers and others will throng to Dalston on Friday night (I’ll be elsewhere obviously)



How big was the 23rd March Put It To The Vote march? A: too big to ignore

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2019 by kmflett

How big was the 23rd March Put It To The Vote march? A: too big to ignore

I was not able due to other commitments to pay more than passing direct attention to the People’s Vote in central London on 23rd March.

As might be expected I’m no fan of the named organisers but that is hardly the point. A very large demonstration brings all sorts of people and ideas onto the streets and opens up possibilities.

The organisers pre-claimed the march would be a million strong and repeated that afterwards as well. To be fair with such a large march over a relatively short distance ending up in a restricted space its very difficult to tell. My general views on the size of protests are here:

There were some slightly odd claims. One twitter post showed the Mall full for a Royal event in a previous summer and claimed this was the march. Who knows what that was about. Likewise there was some twitter comment that the police had said the march was 1.5-2 million strong. I could find no verification of this and it was also odd because in recent times the police, mainly I think for resource reasons, have given up attempting to assess the size of protests.

There were as ever agendas running. One was that it was the biggest ever UK protest, bigger than the 2003 Iraq War march. I think its fair to say that this line was largely promoted by those who ignored the 2003 march at the time.

I’ll pass over the right-wing commentator who claimed that protest marches are never as big as they are claimed to be and note that a much more important point was made by Caroline Lucas MP who was involved in 2003 and again on Saturday.

Namely that whatever the actual size of Saturday’s march it was too big to be ignored by MPs and if they did, as some did on the 2003 march, there will be a political price to be paid.

The Guardian quoted People’s Vote:

A People’s Vote spokesman said: “We can talk about not stopping the Iraq war but it changed perceptions of politicians afterwards and people didn’t forget it. I think there is a clear message from the outcome of that march that if people ignore it they won’t be forgiven.”

Of course size isn’t everything, Judging by what I saw and gathered from talking to some who had marched, was that the composition of protesters on Saturday was far better than in the autumn of 2018.

There was a strong left bloc of those critical of the EU but wanting to remain. On that issue we’d need to return to the unanswered point from 2016. Is it actually possible to reform the Lisbon Treaty?

There were also numbers of Labour Party banners although unions were not particularly evident.

What was evident and I certainly saw were large numbers waving EU flags or wearing EU T-Shirts. This must be the only place in Europe where that happens. A tribute to and a reaction against I suppose the reactionary politics of Farage, Rees-Mogg, Gove and Johnson

What happens next in terms of the forces mobilised by the march is an important question. Several things flowed from the 2003 Iraq war march both in the short and medium term. Turning marchers into longer term activists is no easy matter

And no by the way you wont find me wearing an EU flag T-Shirt or hat. This post is looking at the dynamics and forces in play in what was certainly a very large march


The Ambridge Socialist: is The Bull going bankrupt?

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2019 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

All the news of the class struggle in Borsetshire

March 24th

Put it to the People March: who went from Ambridge?

The Ambridge Socialist had observers on the Put It to the People March on 23rd March. None of the organisers are noted Archers fans and the BBC kept quiet about who might have attended from Ambridge. No dealer Brian was certainly not there and the Vicar who might have been a prime candidate for attendance was clearly in Ambridge on Friday night droning on about a christening. We suspect Pat may have gone along with Lynda Snell and Kirstie but we are checking further

Is The Bull going bankrupt?

David has finally tracked down Kenton about the lack of progress in repaying the loan he took after the Great Flood of Ambridge. Kenton claims he is otherwise engaged but the question must be posed, is the Bull going bankrupt? It seems busy but its tied to Shires brewery and who knows what they charge in overheads…

In other news

Call Me Russ is dressing up as an Easter bunny. Typecasting

Jolene is going on tour (aka had enough of the Archers)

Freddie is to be released next week. Expect Ambridge gang warfare to start


Campaigners mark the 185th birthday of William Morris b 24th March 1834

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2019 by kmflett

Beard Campaigners mark the 185th birthday of William Morris. b 24th March 1834

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has paid tribute to William Morris, the great Victorian beard wearer, who was born on 24th March 1834.

The campaigners say Morris is the hirsute link between the beard of Karl Marx and that the great twentieth century socialist beard wearers such as Lenin and Trotsky.

Morris grew his beard in 1856 and kept it for the last 40 years of his life. It was as much a part of the man as his fiery temper, socialist politics and love of ancient buildings.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, when he died in 1896 his doctor said he died simply of being William Morris and his beard was an integral part of that