Vermont beard style to match Vermont style beer identified

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

21st March

Andrew Peterson (photo Courtesy)

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has long identified beard friendly beers.

This week has come interesting new evidence of the link between beer and beards from one of the locations that has given its name to one of the most popular of current ‘craft’ beer styles Vermont.

The US based Burlington Free Press had reported (20th March) that this weekend a Vermont Beardies contest is being held with proceeds going to charity:

It ponders the question of whether there is a Vermont style of beard to go with the Vermont style of beard.

One contestant Andrew Peterson is clear there is:

Is there a Vermont beard style? I’ve seen styles run the gamut, perhaps the most Vermonty characteristic would be that good Vermont beard has some foam in it from the Vermont beer being consumed.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett, we welcome this news as a further proof of the link between excellent beards and great beer



Cambridge Analytica: E P Thompson & the ‘Freeborn Englishman’

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2018 by kmflett

Cambridge Analytica:  E P Thompson & the ‘Freeborn Englishman’


The allegations around data harvesting relating to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook raise wider questions about civil liberties, the right of individuals not to have their views and thoughts secretly gathered or misrepresented by others, and certainly not used to covertly influence, potentially, the outcome of Elections.

It takes us back to the early nineteenth century Freeborn Englishman that EP Thompson wrote about in the Making of the English Working Class (1963/1968). Thompson was sceptical about whether such an individual could or would survive into the twenty-first century (he died in 1993, 25 years ago). I will post further on that.

In the meantime though its worth reviewing what precisely would have annoyed the Freeborn Englishman, an awkward, outspoken and by no means necessarily a person of the left, about Cambridge Analytica.

Thompson wrote that the Freeborn Englishman ‘felt himself to be an individualist with few affirmative rights but protected by the laws against the intrusion of arbitrary power… He claimed few rights except that of being left alone.

The problem that the Freeborn Englishman would have with Cambridge Analytica was that definitely were not leaving him alone and thought that the law could be circumvented to do that


World Poetry Day lines on Jeremy Corbyn’s beard

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2018 by kmflett

The Unbeatable Beard

In the 1980s,

It was organic,

Now it is trimmed,

But like Mr Wenger,

Jeremy Corbyn’s beard,

must stay.

K M Flett (aged 61)


Spring: of labour & capital

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2018 by kmflett

Spring labour & capital

The official start of Spring was 1st March in the UK. The Met Office divides the year into four seasons and so the months of March, April and May are ‘Spring’. To be fair the Met Office do also point out that the start date of astronomical Spring is March 20th, the Equinox.

The labour movement festival of May Day which celebrates the new birth of Spring is firmly within that framework, hence all the (Walter Crane inspired) garlands and flowers that go with some of the imagery of the day.

Neither March 1st or March 20th are dates that work for the traditional British Spring however which began during February. The logic of this was that as more daylight appeared fields could be ploughed and crops sown.

Ronald Hutton writes of the date of Spring in Stations of the Sun:

During the Twentieth Century the notional beginning of spring came itself to be moved backwards to the vernal equinox, by a slow process induced by the mass media. This was part of the American system of reckoning seasons from solstices and equinoxes, which works admirably in the climate of most of the USA, but is nonsensical in the rhythm of the British year.

Raph Samuel in his survey of Victorian seasonal labour also notes that the impact of Spring:

The ebb and flow of wayfaring life in nineteenth-century England was strongly influenced by the weather. The months from March to October were the time when travelling people were to be found on the roads, and when they were joined by every class of occasional itinerant.

These rhythms  of weather and labour influence us still


The British 1848: The Chartist protest on Kennington Common on 13th March 1848

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2018 by kmflett

The British 1848. The protest on Kennington Common on 13th March 1848

The start of the British 1848 is often taken to be the Chartist demonstration on Kennington Common on Monday 10th April 1848. It was not exactly the failure that traditional historians have suggested it was but that is for another post.

The British 1848 had got underway in earnest after the news of the French Revolution and the departure of the King had been received via telegraph on 25th February.

The subsequent banned rally in Trafalgar Square on 6th March 1848 was not an official Chartist event but Chartists were involved and after heavy handed police intervention there were several days of disturbances in the West End and the City of London.

The Chartists were busy with welcoming the French events, a delegation was despatched to Paris, and in holding meetings to determine how these events could be used to spark further mobilisation for political change and the vote in Britain. The first outcome of that was April 10th.

In between however there was a further less well-known event in Camberwell.  David Goodway covers it in a couple of pages of his authoritative book on London Chartism 1838-48.

On 13th March GWM Reynolds who had convened the Trafalgar Square meeting on 6th March called another for Kennington Common. On this occasion there was official Chartist involvement. Fearing  a re-run of the events of the week before, troops were placed on standby the Government. In addition 3,881 police were mobilised including 80 mounted officers and 100 in plain clothes.

400 t0 500 protesters gathered and on the signal of a raised pole at noon most departed via back  routes and lanes to Bowyer Lane, Camberwell. Here using staves and sticks a range of small shops were broken into and looted, including 3 shoemakers, a tailors, a baker and some general stores.

Goodway notes that the whole episode lasted just an hour and that mounted police made 9 arrests at the time. This rose to 25 later as some looters were recognised by local people. All those arrested were brought to trial in April and sentenced to terms of transportation or imprisonment.

Interestingly as Goodway again notes while it might be thought that this was the work of an underclass in reality all those arrested worked at trades. They were however overwhelmingly young, the youngest being 13 and the oldest 29.

No report of the day or the trials was carried in the Northern Star.

It is arguable that Camberwell on 13th March represented a direction not then taken by those inspired by the French February as the Chartists successfully put their political mark on matters on 10th April.


Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Wylie joins Beard of Spring poll list

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release

20th March

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Wylie joins Beard of Spring poll list

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the vote is open for Beard of Spring 2018. The poll closes at midnight on Good Friday with the winner announced by long standing tradition on Easter Saturday.

The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie joined the poll on Tuesday

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, just now Wylie probably has one of the highest hirsute profiles on the planet and he is likely to be a serious contender for Beard of Spring

Beard of Spring

Mohamed Salah, footballer

Olivier Giroud, footballer

Brian Cox, actor

Prince Harry, Personality

William Empson, Archers actor

Michael Rosen, author & activist

Adrian Masters, Political Editor ITV Wales

Harry Kane, footballer

Evgeny Lebedev Owner, London Evening Standard

Jonny Wilkinson, sports commentator

Christopher Wylie, CA whistleblower





How democratic does an Election have to be before it is accepted as being ‘democratic’?

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2018 by kmflett

How democratic does an Election have to be before it is accepted as being ‘democratic’

On 18th March Russia held a Presidential Election. The current incumbent Putin was returned for a further term with around 75% of the vote.

Many argued that it was not democratic at all, given that the main opposition candidate had been barred from standing, opposition parties had called for a boycott, and there were social media videos indicating ballot stuffing.

It can certainly be agreed that Russian democracy is not very democratic. The State is really run in the interests of and often by, wealthy friends of Mr Putin. Some have suggested that he would probably have won an Election run in the standard terms of Western European democracies. Perhaps, but he was making a point that he did not need to do that.

That said in some regimes that allow voting but don’t really encourage opposition, votes in the high 90% area for the winner are hardly unknown.

When Russia is criticised as being undemocratic (and on the evidence of Sunday it falls way short of any acceptable benchmark) there remains the issue of what model of democratic representation is in mind.

It took the UK almost 100 years from 1832 to 1928 to reach what might be called full adult suffrage. Does that mean that when the ‘Great Reform Act’ of 1832 abolished Rotten Boroughs and expanded the middle-class suffrage in some places the UK was a Parliamentary Democracy. The Chartists didn’t think so and nor later did women suffragists. Yet if you look at the political history of the UK it is often accepted that Parliamentary Democracy in the nineteenth century was much the same as it is now. It wasn’t.

Timeline of the development of Parliamentary Democracy (Constitutional Monarchy) in the UK


1832 – Representation of the People Act (the first ‘Reform Act’)

Extends vote to men meeting property qualification, reduces ‘rotten boroughs’ and redistributes Parliamentary seats to better represent urban areas

1867 – Representation of the People Act (the second ‘Reform Act’)

Extends vote to urban working men meeting property qualification

1872 – Ballot Act

Introduces the secret ballot at elections

1883 – Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act 1883

Effectively ended serious corruption in British elections

1884 – Representation of the People Act (the third ‘Reform Act’)

Addresses imbalance between men’s votes in boroughs and counties

1885 – Redistribution Act

Boundaries redrawn to produce equal electoral districts. Single member seats become the norm


Women vote in a general election for the first time on 14 December with 8.5 million women eligible


The Equal Franchise Act is passed giving women equal voting rights with men. All women aged over 21 can now vote in elections. Fifteen million women are eligible