30 Years of the Text Message: Sunak’s texts to Dave Cameron. The unrecorded histories of the Chumocracy

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2022 by kmflett

30 Years of the Text Message: Sunak’s texts to Dave Cameron. The Chumocracy & its limits.

The text message is 30 years old. In recent times as a messaging tool its been at least partly replaced by WhatsApp which is encrypted (up to a point..). But the text message, where recovered, has a part in recent political history

In April 2021  the Government under FOI released two texts from then Chancellor Rishi Sunak to former Tory PM Dave Cameron.

Cameron was attempting to lobby Sunak for COVID grant money for the now collapsed Greensill finance company who he was then working for.

The texts from Cameron to Sunak remain private.

Sunak promised to try and ring Cameron when he had finished meetings and in a second text said he was pushing officials to find a way to provide funds. Ultimately the senior officials did not.

It reflected what is now known as a ‘chumocracy’ William Cobbett’s world of placemen and sinecures before the 1832 Reform Act that he called The Thing, a sort of many headed hydra of power & money. Cameron did PPE at Brasenose College Oxford and some years later Sunak did PPE at Lincoln College Oxford. The two colleges are adjacent.

Sunak went to Winchester whereas Cameron was at Eton but there is an assumption of favours and special treatment here based on class background. Ultimately it didn’t work out and we can thank not the Tory politicians but the professional diligence of civil servants for that.

In Mr Sunak’s reply to a text from Mr Cameron on 3 April 2020, the chancellor said: “Hi David, thanks for your message. I am stuck back to back on calls but will try you later this evening and if gets too late, first thing tomorrow. Best, Rishi.”

In the second reply on 23 April, Mr Sunak said: “Hi David, apologies for the delay. I think the proposals in the end did require a change to the Market Notice but I have pushed the team to explore an alternative with the Bank that might work.

“No guarantees, but the Bank are currently looking at it and Charles should be in touch. Best, Rishi.”

Source: BBC News

This is part of British political history but it raises the question how with messaging services, much of this history is going unrecorded


Campaign for Real Santas praises those who promote the Beard Power of Santa

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2022 by kmflett


Organised by the Beard Liberation Front

3rd December

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaign For Real Santas praises those who promote the Beard Power of Santa

The Campaign for Real Santas, which promotes Santas with genuine organic beards, has said that it has identified a range of Santas who, while not having genuine organic beards, are paying tribute to the positive power of Santa’s beard

The campaign promotes real Santas with genuine beards by warning people to be aware of absurd false bearded Santas as the busiest pre-Christmas shopping weekends get underway.

The Campaigners say that with unemployment and under-employment amongst mature men over 50, there are limited reasons for anyone to use an assistant Santa who does not have a real beard.

At the same time the Campaign is also keen to encourage more female Santas with organic knitted beards.

Campaigners are urging parents and children to demand that Santas vigorously tug their beards as a definitive test as to whether they are in the presence of a real Santa or not.

CFRS organiser Keith Flett said, while there are Santas out there with genuine beards and others with ridiculous fake ones, there are also Santas who seeking to pay tribute to the beard power that Santa has.


1 Ask the Santa to tug their beard. If it comes away, then the Santa may be FAKE

2 If the beard remains intact ask the Santa to tug their beard again. If the Santa swears then they are genuine. If they simply repeat a ‘ho ho ho’ mantra they are FAKE

3 The Campaign for Real Santas says that genuine Santas must have just the right mix of bonhomie and grumpiness and a real organic beard or an acceptable alternative.


The Organic Santa of 2022 will be named on December 18th. In 2020 and 2021 Michael Rosen shaved Brian Blessed for the annual honour

The Campaign for Real Santas is organised by the Beard Liberation Front


Their Festive Season & Ours. Guide to what champagne to drink with your egg & chips

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2022 by kmflett

Their Festive Season & Ours. Guide to what champagne to drink with your egg & chips

The media is full of guides on how to reduce spending this Christmas for the many who are cash strapped thanks to the cost of living crisis.

Not everyone has this problem though. The Financial Times (26th November) published a guide to the best champagne to drink with some arguably proletarian food choices.

The best champagne to match with a burger for example is Eric Rodez Rose that costs a mere 65.55 a bottle.

If you prefer marmite on toast then Gosset Grand Reserve at £52 is the thing.

Cheers…. If you can afford it. If you can’t get protesting. It’s free


Sajid Javid on Shortlist for Parliamentary Beard of the Year

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2022 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

2nd December

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Sajid Javid on Shortlist for Parliamentary Beard of the Year

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has revealed the shortlist for the Parliamentary Beard of the Year 2022.

When voting opens eight candidates will attempt to shave each other for the coveted annual accolade. Jeremy Corbyn received the award in 2021 for a record ninth time.

Former Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid, who has announced his intention to step down as an MP at the next Election, has been shortlisted

The winner of Parliamentary Beard of the Year will be announced on 14th December

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, as usual it’s not about whether the politics of a particular MP are approved of or not. It is about the positive impact their beard has had in the public eye during the year, or not as the case may be. There are no whips or block votes involved so it’s entirely down to public support. Sajid Javid is currently the most senior Tory MP with a beard. He may do better in this vote than he might have done at the next Election

Parliamentary Beard of the Year 2021 shortlist

Jeremy Corbyn, (Independent Labour, Islington North)

Andy McDonald (Labour, Middlesbrough)

Jon Trickett (Labour, Hemsworth)

Andrew Stephenson (Tory, Pendle)

Colum Eastwood (SDLP, Foyle)

James Duddridge (Tory, Southend)

Sajid Javid (Tory, Bromsgrove)

Toby Perkins (Labour, Chesterfield)

Voting will start in early December. Two preliminary close shave rounds will provide four finalists for a Beard Off round with the result announced on 14th December

Close Shave Round One Dec 2-4

Close Shave Round Two Dec 5-7

Beard Off final Round Dec 9-12


Chester By-Election.Tories worst performance in the seat since the 1832 Reform Act

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2022 by kmflett

Chester By-Election. Tories worst performance in the seat since 1832 Reform Act

Samantha Dixon has won the Chester By-Election for Labour with a 10,794 vote majority making it a safe seat for the Party. In 2015 it was highly marginal with a 93 vote majority for Labour.

The Tories vote share (down from 38%) is their worse performance in the seat since the 1832 Election which followed the Great Reform Act. The purpose of the Act was to avert revolutionary change by a significant increase to the numbers who could vote (still overwhelmingly the well to do at this point).

It surely begs the question of democratic reform in 2022 with a Government in office that clearly does not have public support but will not call a General Election. That democratic deficit if not addressed in Parliament will find its outlet in the workplaces and on the streets.

Chester By-Election 1st December

LAB: 61.2% (+11.6)

CON: 22.4% (-15.9)

LDEM: 8.4% (+1.5)

GRN: 2.8% (+0.1)

REF: 2.7% (+0.2)

REU: 1.0% (+1.0)

UKIP: 0.6% (+0.6)

MRLP: 0.6% (+0.6)

FA: 0.3% (+0.3)


Brewdog loses B Corp certificate. Time to recognise a trade union

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2022 by kmflett

Brewdog loses B Corp certificate. Time to recognise a trade union.

The Guardian has reported that Brewdog has lost its B Corp certificate:

Brewdog has said that it has withdrawn from the scheme after it was asked to make changes that one way or another it didn’t want to.

B Corp certification is given to SME companies that meet a range of criteria around ethics, employees etc. Few if any of those with the certificate are quoted on the Stock Exchange. There appear to be only 4 with more than 1,000 employees.

Your favourite fat cat companies who have far more workers publish annual reports to the stock market where they show how they are doing against a range of criteria. They also employ lots of people to demonstrate that all the right boxes are ticked, whether they really are or not.

Brewdog is not in that league. However recognising a trade union and dealing with suggestions of greenwashing on its climate policies would certainly help its public image (ltd)


1991: When Tony Benn proposed Disestablishing the Church of England in a Commons Bill

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2022 by kmflett

1991.When Tony Benn proposed Disestablishing the Church of England in a Commons Bill

The 2021 Census has revealed that for the first time a majority of people do not identify as Christians. The National Secular Society amongst others has called for the Disestablishment of the Church of England. After all if a trade union ballot for industrial action is only valid with 50% minimum support, why not.

In 1991 Tony Benn proposed a Bill in the Commons to Disestablish the Church and generally democratise British institutions. Dismissed at the time some of it has since happened. Other parts might yet

Source Wikipedia

The Commonwealth of Britain Bill was a bill first introduced in the House of Commons in 1991 by Tony Benn, then a Labour Member of Parliament (MP). It was seconded by the future Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The Bill proposed abolishing the British monarchy, with the United Kingdom becoming a “democratic, federal and secular Commonwealth of Britain”, or in effect a republic with a codified constitution. It was introduced by Benn a number of times until Benn’s retirement in 2001, but never achieved a second reading. Under the Bill:

The monarchy would be abolished and the constitutional status of the Crown ended;

The Church of England would be disestablished;

The head of state would be a president, elected by a joint sitting of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament;

The functions of the royal prerogative would be transferred to Parliament;

The Privy Council would be abolished, and replaced by a Council of State;

The House of Lords would be replaced by an elected House of the People, with equal representation of men and women;

The House of Commons would similarly have equal representation of men and women;

England, Scotland and Wales would have their own devolved National Parliaments with responsibility for devolved matters as agreed;

County Court judges and magistrates would be elected; and

British jurisdiction over Northern Ireland would be ended.

The judiciary would be reformed and a National Legal Service would be created.

The Constitution would be codified and an amendment process established.

The voting age would be lowered from 18 to 16.

MPs and other officials would swear oaths to the Constitution, not the Crown.


December 1st. World AIDS Day. Remembering the ‘other’ pandemic

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2022 by kmflett

December 1st. World AIDS Day: Remembering the ‘other’ pandemic

December 1st is World AIDS Day when time is taken to remember the many millions who have died (and, in lesser numbers) continue to die of the illness.

Cases and deaths still occur in Britain from AIDS but they are relatively limited. There remains no cure or completely effective vaccine against AIDS but there are treatments that can very significantly increase life expectancy.

I’ll take time to recall several friends who did die of AIDS in the 1980s before it became understood how important it was to keep to ‘safe sex’ practices.

In 2022 AIDS is a chronic illness in the UK rather than a pandemic but there remain significant numbers of cases and deaths around the world which impact, as is more or less always the case, the poor more than the rich and in areas where early treatment is less easily available.

In the context of COVID-19 it is interesting to note the similarities with AIDS and the downsides.

The origins of AIDS remain unclear but the line that it was deliberately started by scientists (American rather than Chinese in this case) is fanciful. Certainly transmission from the animal world appears a possibility but there are numbers of histories and theories

There were a number of false stories about how AIDS could be acquired including from toilet seats and through kissing mostly underwritten by a considerable level of homophobia, although AIDS is by no means entirely confined to gay men.

Likewise and this may also seem familiar there were those who denied that AIDS was a significant or noteworthy issue at all, the most well-known UK exponent of this was Dr Michael Fitzpatrick who argued that AIDS prevention was an industry and the scale of illness was vastly overstated.

The tough reality that AIDS is still with us and still kills might one think cause a re-think but Fitzgerald has moved on to other issues.

That aside keeping in mind this December 1st that COVID is not the only pandemic around in the world- TB and Cholera remain killers too-is a sobering thought.


What Labour MPs read in 1906

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2022 by kmflett

One wonders what a similar survey in 2022 would find. Hopefully no mentions of Nadine Dorries. The lack of mention of Marx,which several of the MPs at least would have had some idea of, can be attributed in part to a lack of English translations at this point.In general though it suggests a well read group, with a considerable input of radical if not left ideas. Again a comparison with 2022 would be interesting


From the Preston Lock Out 1854 to the CWU post-strike 2022. Stopping Scabs

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2022 by kmflett

From the Preston Lock Out 1854 to the CWU post-strike 2022. Stopping scabs

The Preston lock-out of 1853/4 was one of the great labour disputes of the nineteenth century.

My thanks to Robbie Judkins who has written a new piece on workers organisation in Preston in the 1840s and before for reminding me that Marx had written on the lock-out

Writing in the New York Daily Tribune on 31st March 1854 Marx noted that, while there seemed little real legal basis for it, several workers leaders had been arrested for conspiracy. They had successfully persuaded scabs hired by the employers not to work but to return home.

Strike organisers had met scabs being brought in by train (this was when trains in the north of England ran) and diverted them into a local hostelry. After a few beers the scabs were escorted back to the rail station and despatched home.

Until the 1871 Trade Union Act collective union action to stop scabs was regarded as conspiracy. Hiring scab labour while a balloted industrial dispute is underway was recently legalised by an obscure politician called Kwasi Karteng, although whether he had the power to do so remains disputed.

No matter effective action to stop scabs still works. The CWU has revealed that in an attempt to undermine a further two days of strike action to defend jobs and our postal service the Royal Mail planned to recruit couriers via the Ryde App. The CWU posted on twitter that they managed to pre-empt management. No pubs were involved this time. Rather hundreds of people applied for the jobs on the App and on the first day of strike action- 30th November- they were nowhere to be seen…