Tony Benn, a Wealth Tax & the Times Labour Conference Editorial 1968

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2018 by kmflett

Tony Benn, a Wealth Tax & The Times Labour Conference Editorial 1968

Few will expect anything else but prejudicial reporting from the Murdoch Times of this year’s Labour conference. One need only consider the recent absurd Michael Foot spy front page to see how far from reality the paper has gone.

Yet in 1968, 50 years ago, the paper was still someway from falling into the hands of Murdoch (a move which greatly concerned a previous Editor William Rees-Mogg). Its Editorial ahead of the 1968 Labour conference on 28th September 1968 focused on proposals brought forward by Tony Benn for a wealth tax. The document was called Time and Change and the Times was concerned to read that it suggested that 75% of the wealth was owned by just 5% of the population (many of them Times readers..).

Such ideas are now a political commonplace but perhaps less so 50 years ago.

The Times however was upset. It argued that it was ‘not surprising that Mr Wedgewood Benn should proceed through misleading statistics to false conclusions’

It concludes:

by now the electorate is pretty well aware that further measures to soak the rich are acts of political spite rather than acts of economic policy. That in itself will tell against the electoral appeal of the Wedgewood Benn document

A reminder if one were needed that any attempt to challenge the distribution of wealth in society will meet with a largely hostile media reaction, however modest the proposal

That said Tony Benn noted in his Diary that 1968 was the year that saw him begin his long march to the left:





Pressure Drop Tottenham Tap at One Year Old

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2018 by kmflett

Pressure Drop Tottenham Tap at One Year Old

Yes, a year exactly has gone since Pressure Drop Brewery opened their tap room on the same industrial estate at Tottenham Hale as Beavertown Brewery.

Two great breweries on the same site was always going to be good news for the drinker and so it has proved.

It was sunny a year ago when the tap opened and somewhat wet and miserable today. No matter Pressure Drop was busy with a celebration beer festival of 23 beers from 13 breweries. I enjoyed the slightly Brettish raspberry imperial stout from Mont D’Saleve but perhaps the standouts were the barrel aged coffee and walnut mild (6%) from former Tottenham now Sarf brewery Affinity and the Deya and Verdant sour ipa collab that mixed raspberries, almonds and vanilla.

In the interim Pressure Drop have of course also opened another tap jointly with Verdant in their old brewery in central Hackney. The beers from the Tottenham site, whether to my personal taste or not, have in my view been consistently excellent. The reputation is clearly growing. In the early months attendance was often fairly limited with people familiar with Beavertown unsure who Pressure Drop were. That is far from the case now.

The Tap opens 2-8 every Saturday and its 5 minutes-walk from Tottenham Hale tube/bus. If you haven’t been the journey will be worthwhile. There is ample seating (inside) and decent toilet facilities. It is card only but beards are not essential.


Labour Conference 1968-2018: no longer white men in suits but issues with the BBC remain

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2018 by kmflett

Labour Conference 1968-2018. No longer white men in suits but issues with the BBC remain

It’s interesting to compare Labour Conferences in 1968 and 50 years on in 2018. It is an indication of social progress but some things have remained the same.

In 1968 Labour met at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool (I have indeed attended conferences there). It was very male, white and clean shaven.

It was notable for an invasion by miners who were complaining about pit closures (see later disputes) and by Biafran activists rightly unhappy about the Government’s relations with Nigeria in a now almost forgotten but significant imperial and humanitarian disaster.

So rather different to Labour in Liverpool 2018, no longer a load of white men in suits.

Yet some things by contrast remain the same. Here is how Labour leader and Prime Minister Harold Wilson began his speech to the conference:

Madam Chairman, fellow delegates, thank you for what the BBC, if they are true to their usual form, will tonight describe as a hostile reception.


Only Sir Tim Barrow can sort a Beard Friendly Brexit now

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

press release

21st September

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Only Sir Tim Barrow can sort a Beard Friendly Brexit

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that after Theresa May’s latest unfortunate meeting with other EU leaders only Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s Ambassador to the EU, can sort out a beard friendly Brexit which ignores demands of clean shaven reactionaries such as Rees-Mogg and Farage for a barber’s Britain.

Sir Tim Barrow has an impressive and gravitas adding beard.

The Beard Liberation Front did not take a position on the EU Referendum in 2016 arguing that it was hard to see either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote doing much to progress its long standing ‘no cuts’ policy.

However the campaigners say that the continued presence of Sir Tim Barrow, whose appointment was opposed by Farage, (not that anyone cared about that) at least raises the possibility of a Beard Friendly Brexit

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, we think the deployment of Sir Tim Barrow’s beard may be Britain’s only hope now


Campaigners say Storm Bronagh has brought a conker windfall

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2018 by kmflett

Campaign for Real Conkers

Press Release September 19th Contact Keith Flett, 07803 167266

Campaigners say Storm Bronagh has brought a conker windfall


Fallen Conkers in Tottenham, 21st September 2018

The Campaign for Real Conkers, the group that opposes bans on conker playing, has said that the 2018 conker playing season is now in full swing with the second half of September being the peak time for collecting conkers freshly fallen from trees.

Storm Bronagh and the high winds associated with it has led to a windfall of conkers in many areas on the morning of 21st September.

Campaigners say that the naysayers who argued that the warm summer would lead to a shortage of British conkers have been proven wrong as there are ample now available with the windy weather blowing conkers off trees.

The CFRC continues to warn that the game of conkers is in serious decline and unless a new generation of players is found it may not exist in 20 years-time as screen based games become increasingly popular.

The campaign believes that conkers is a game that is free to all play and should also be free of rules and regulations whether imposed in contests or petty bureaucrats who argue wrongly that playing conkers is in some way dangerous.

Campaign organiser Keith Flett said, the only way anyone could think there is a shortage of conkers this morning in Britain is if they have failed to venture out and check their nearest conker tree. There are ample conkers on the ground at the moment. What we need are people to pick them up and play games of conkers with them.


The Campaign for Real Conkers promotes free for all conker playing across the UK an alternative event to the World Conker Championships on Sunday October 14th where it encourages people to have a go at playing conkers without the need for rules, regulations and teams.

Where We Stand

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 and commercial sponsorship.

It seeks to encourage young people to play conkers. It should not be the preserve purely of those of mature years.


‘World Conker Championships’


Labour & media criticism: a history

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2018 by kmflett

Victor Serge, the anarchist turned Bolshevik, and later critic of the direction the Russian Revolution was to take wrote towards the end of his life in the late 1940s : On several occasions a Press with a vast circulation has hurled filth at me because I spoke the truth.

It is a reminder that attacks on left-wing activists and writers by media owned by the rich and powerful are nothing new.

Indeed in the 1840s the leaders of the Chartist movement were often to be found being vilified in the press. Particular attention was paid, by Punch for example, to caricaturing the black leader of London Chartism in 1848 William Cuffay.

This is the wider historical context of the current media onslaught on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. It may be that his policies, were they to be, as is to be hoped, carried out in a Labour Government wouldn’t do that much to threaten the interests of the wealthy. But they struggle to cope with even the slightest challenge to their power.

It is hardly any surprise that papers like the Mail and Telegraph attack Corbyn. They are supporters of the Tory Party that want a continuing Tory Government of some sort and hence will always criticise Labour. The real bile is often to be found in the Guardian. Of course the paper and its website does publish pro-Corbyn pieces. It also carries stuff by those who it is clear do not agree with Corbyn, never have agreed with him and never will. It doesn’t make for very interesting reading at best.

I came across the Labour leader at a small meeting on a Friday night at the end of July to mark the opening of a Bernie Grant section of Tottenham library. He was on great form, entirely relaxed. How one might wonder does he do this given the scale of the media onslaught.

The answer I suspect is that he has seen it all before, as have I as a Haringey resident. Corbyn started his political life as a Haringey Councillor and when his political ally Bernie Grant became Council leader prior to becoming MP for Tottenham the tabloid press in particular could not contain itself. ‘Barmy Bernie’ was one of the milder epithets used.

The media was on the attack because they saw left-wing Labour Councils in the 1980s as a potential challenge to Mrs Thatcher in a way fairly obviously that then Labour leader Neil Kinnock was not. Interestingly recently released Government papers reveal that in the mid-1980s MI5 was investigating left-wing ‘infiltration’ in a number of local authorities including Haringey.

Tony Benn was certainly the victim of the worst kind of media abuse. He was often portrayed by sections of the press as mad with revolving eyes. As he noted in his Diary direct harassment of himself and his family was far from uncommon.

For example on 6th June 1975 Benn records in his Diary that in returning home from the POEU (now CWU) conference in Blackpool he was being pressed to make a statement on the Referendum on the Common Market (EU) that had been held.

He recorded that he had found a ‘dozen journalists gathered in the front garden, plus a television unit’.

He declined to make a comment until he had seen the full results.

Little has changed. The Guardian reported on 11th August that a critic had complained that Jeremy Corbyn was ‘hiding’ from the media over anti-semitism. As even the paper had to concede he was in fact on holiday in Somerset.

this post appeared in the Morning Star


Will Labour Conference 2018 be beard friendly?

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

press release 21st September

Contact keith flett 07803 167266

Will Labour Conference 2018 be beard friendly?

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that while a number of important issues from Brexit to the selection of MPs are set to be the subject of discussion at the Labour Conference in Liverpool which starts on Sunday, one, perhaps lower order, but far from insignificant matter, is up for a wider debate: is the Labour Conference still Beard Friendly?

Every year the Beard Liberation Front runs a poll for the ‘Most Beard Friendly Party Conference’.

This year the LibDem conference in Brighton saw a rise in hirsute attendees and in particular hirsute conference speakers. The LibDems are the traditional party of beard and sandal wearers but their conference last won the Beard Friendly title in 2014

The BLF has observers watching each of the main conferences with the winner of the most Beard Friendly Conference announced on October 3rd the final day of the Tory conference.

There is an on-line poll which also closes on 3rd October

The campaigners say that while Jeremy Corbyn’s Award winning beard is obviously a key feature of the Labour Conference in general there appear to be less hirsute attendees in recent years.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett underlined, of course with a huge increase in membership Labour Conference is much younger than it used to be and more diverse too, which can only be good. A possible lack of beards is a concern however not least because many young people do wear beards. We hope Mr Corbyn will continue to work on attracting a greater level of hirsuteness into the party’s ranks.

Recent winners of the Beard Friendly Party Conference

2013 Liberal Democrats

2014: Liberal Democrats

2015 Labour

2016 Labour

2017 Labour