Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Chelsea Flower Show: historians call for allotments and parks to be the ‘new normal’

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2021 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians Group

22nd September

Contact Dr Keith Flett 07803 167266

Chelsea Flower Show: historians call for allotments & parks to be the ‘new normal’

The London Socialist Historians Group, which organises the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, has said that with the delayed  Chelsea Flower Show open until the weekend, a reminder about the wider role of allotments and parks needs to be made.

While the Flower Show is often seen as an event for the better off in society it reflects a much wider interest in gardens, flowers and plants.

However as recent ONS statistics underlined those who have access to gardens are more likely to be at the better off end of society. By contrast the poor who live in shared accommodation, with a higher proportion of ethnic minorities, rely much more on parks for outdoor space and enjoyment, with access to gardens at best limited.

Public parks have been a focus of campaigning since the 1830s with growing provision in the late Victorian period aimed at allowing the least well off with poor living conditions the ability to get outside. In recent times parks, including displays of flowers and plants, have fallen victim to austerity inspired cuts.

A related movement developed around allotments, with the first Act providing for provision dating back to 1908. While the focus here was and is on growing fruit and vegetables they also allowed less well-off people the chance to get outside. Well known current allotment holders include Jeremy Corbyn and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

LSHG Convenor Dr Keith Flett said, many enjoy the Chelsea Flower Show. However if we are looking at provision of outdoor space for the many not the few there needs to be more of a focus on the provision of parks and allotments. They must become one of the benchmarks of the new normal and there is an impressive history of people fighting for their provision that needs to be renewed now.

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Beard of the Year Michael Rosen sets Autumn Equinox trend for the hirsute

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

22nd September

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Beard of the Year Michael Rosen sets Autumn Equinox trend for the hirsute

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that joint Beard of the Year 2020, Michael Rosen, has set an Autumn Equinox beard trend for the autumn months.

A picture of the author and Arsenal supporter wearing shaded glasses and a semi-pork pie style hat together with a prudently trimmed beard has been posted on social media.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, of course there are many autumn beard styles, but when the joint Beard of the Year, posts this is definitely one that will be on trend in the weeks to come.

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Electing a Labour leader: a matter of historical perspective

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2021 by kmflett

Electing a Labour leader: a matter of historical perspective

I don’t always agree with what the political correspondent Stephen Bush of the New Statesman writes but when it comes to media reports on changes Keir Starmer’s plans to how Labour leaders are elected he is right.

Every available position has been held by the key sections of the Labour Party at some point in the last 40 years or so.

Originally the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party was elected only by MPs. One might speculate that the changes in how people saw the world after 1968 led to a mood reflected in Labour but also elsewhere that this was not democratic enough.

Labour held a Special Conference at Wembley on 24th January 1981 to look at moving away from the MP only method of electing the Labour leader.

Tony Benn and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy which had pressed for change wanted an Electoral College. Benn recorded in his Diary:

Eric Heffer moved the principle of the Electoral College and Frank Chapple of the EEPTU then proposed the ballot of individual members. Moss Evans (TGWU now Unite)spoke for the College at conference. David Owen said he stood by the principle of one member one vote..

In the end an USDAW motion proposing an electoral college of 40% trade unions and 30% for MPs, 30% for CLPs was passed by 5 million votes to 1.8 million.

The right supported OMOV because they wanted to split from the unions. So committed were David Owen and others to Labour democracy that shortly afterwards they walked out to form the SDP.

The Electoral College was seen then as an advance by the left, while both Neil Kinnock and John Smith backed OMOV.

Labour moved to OMOV under Ed Miliband in 2014. By this point the left saw the trade union leaders(not union members) as a conservative layer who blocked any chance of an effective radical Labour leadership

Meanwhile the Tories had moved to OMOV in 1998 and William Hague was the first leader elected under the system in 2001.

Reports suggest that Starmer wants to move back to an Electoral College. I suspect this is not because he has been reading the collected works of Tony Benn. He sees a union vote as a block to a more radical membership. It might be reflected though that it was precisely this membership that gave him a resounding victory as leader just last year. Meanwhile the current leaders of the largest affiliated unions, certainly Unite and perhaps the GMB, may be less than thrilled with the idea that they again will be charged with a significant role in determining the Labour leader. They have other priorities in 2021 often focused on practical policies to defend members.

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Gas & Haulage.E P Thompson on the impact of crisis on a sense of people power

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2021 by kmflett

Gas & Haulage. E P Thompson on the impact of crisis on a sense of people power

The late historian E P Thompson wrote an essay’, Writing By Candlelight’ on the 1970 power strike which led to power cuts, about one of the impacts this had on how people saw the world.

He noted ‘it is only when dustbins linger in the street, unsorted post piles up or petrol pumps run dry that people know suddenly the great hidden unspoken fact about our society, their own daily power’ (paraphrased by Francis Wheen, Guardian 13th September 2000)

The current crisis of gas supplies and shortage of goods due to lack of HGV drivers is not due of course directly to industrial action. It does however serve as a reminder that society works because it is based on what ordinary people do, rather than the pronouncements of the rich and powerful and this is as true now as it was 50 years ago.

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Trudeau wins Canadian Election despite spin doctors beard shaving stunt

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

21st September

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Trudeau wins Election despite spin doctors beard shaving stunt

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that results from the Canadian Election indicate that Justin Trudeau has survived a spin doctor beard/clean shaven trick earlier in the year, which saw him shave his beard.

Trudeau shaved what had been a trademark beard in late June

The move to go clean shaven came just weeks after Data Sciences, a digital analyst connected to Trudeau’s Liberal Party, placed a series of Facebook ads in English and French. The ads showed Trudeau with and without a beard and asked which one was favourite.

The outcome of the ad campaign is unknown except that Trudeau lost the beard.

The BLF says that the campaign is strikingly similar to one that Blairite spin doctors ran against the late Frank Dobson in the 2000 London Mayoral Election. Voters were shown pictures of Dobson, a well-known beard wearer, hirsute and non-hirsute. Dobson a man of principle refused to shave his beard come what may. He lost the Election to then independent Ken Livingstone but his beard was not thought to be a factor except by clean shaven revisionist Blairites.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, it was a sad moment to see the Frank Dobson beard stunt played on Trudeau over 20 years on. However on this occasion it didn’t work. Its entirely possible that the image many Canadian voters had of Trudeau included his stylish beard not noting he had shaved.

Thanks to Justin Horton for info

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Trudeau victim of Frank Dobson style pollster beard/clean shaven trick

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

21st September

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Trudeau victim of Frank Dobson style pollster beard/clean shaven trick

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that as Canadians go to the polls it has become clear that Justin Trudeau fell victim to a spin doctor beard/clean shaven trick earlier in the year.

Trudeau shaved what had been a trademark beard in late June

The move to go clean shaven came just weeks after Data Sciences, a digital analyst connected to Trudeau’s Liberal Party, placed a series of Facebook ads in English and French. The ads showed Trudeau with and without a beard and asked which one was favourite.

The outcome of the ad campaign is unknown except that Trudeau lost the beard.

The BLF says that the campaign is strikingly similar to one that Blairite spin doctors ran against the late Frank Dobson in the 2000 London Mayoral Election. Voters were shown pictures of Dobson, a well-known beard wearer, hirsute and non-hirsute. Dobson a man of principle refused to shave his beard come what may. He lost the Election to then independent Ken Livingstone but his beard was not thought to be a factor except by clean shaven revisionist Blairites.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, it is a sad moment to see the Frank Dobson beard stunt played on Trudeau over 20 years on.

Thanks to Justin Horton for info

Articles

Nine Elms Station, April 1848 & the Chartists

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2021 by kmflett

Nine Elms Station, April 1848 & the Chartists

Two new London Underground stations (Northern Line branch from Kennington) opened today, Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station.

Nine Elms will serve the new US Embassy (handy for demos) and New Covent Garden market. It will also serve some new (largely unaffordable) housing being built to offset the cost of the project to TFL. Both stations are in Zone 1 which reflects Sarf London Exceptionalism.

There was however a previous Nine Elms station designed by Sir William Tite. It was opened on 21st May 1838 and was the terminus of the London and Southampton railway. It was not then in central London (is it now one wonders?)and passengers used steam boats on the Thames for onward travel to London Bridge

It closed to passenger traffic on 12th July 1848 when Waterloo opened, although Queen Victoria still used it to welcome Royal and other notable foreign visitors. Garibaldi entered London at Nine Elms in 1864.

The railway company extended the railway to Waterloo, 2 miles of marsh covered by railway arches which cost £35m in today’s money. One of the many joyful tasks Ive had over the years was to negotiate lease details for several of the arches on Goding St which were used to house specialist telecoms equipment for some years.

The line carried freight traffic until hit by a German bomb in 1941. The station and other buildings had been knocked down by 1968, despite opposition from John Betjeman and New Covent Garden Market occupies the site.

After the railways were nationalised in 1848 Attlee’s Labour Government proposed a national museum for larger railway memorabilia such as locomotives and hit upon Nine Elms as the ideal location. The plan had support but British Rail refused to release the site and the museum of course ended up in due course in York.

When the Chartists demonstrated for the vote at nearby Kennington Common on Monday April 10th 1848 the station was used (with the full support of the railway company of course..) to hold troops in reserve who had come up from Gosport. That included 35 marine artillery soldiers with two light guns and 450 infantrymen.

The expected revolutionary assault on London did not occur and they were probably not used, although some troops were deployed at Blackfriars Bridge to stop the Chartists going north of the Thames. The late historian of Chartism Malcolm Chase argues however that the main purpose of the troops was to protect the railway operation from the Chartists.

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Boris Johnson & Climate Change. Changing his mind to suit

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2021 by kmflett

Boris Johnson & Climate Change. Changing his mind to suit

Boris Johnson has defended comments made about climate change by the new International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan in 2010 and 2012 noting that just like him she now saw things differently.

A Guardian report and extract from it is here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/20/johnson-defends-new-trade-secretary-after-climate-crisis-denial-tweets

“I don’t want to encourage you, but if you were to excavate some of my articles from 20 years ago you might find comments I made, obiter dicta, about climate change that weren’t entirely supportive of the current struggle, but the facts change and people change their minds and change their views and that’s very important too,” he said, adding: “The fact is the UK is leading the world and you should be proud of it.”

As recently as 2015, Johnson claimed “global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation”.

He also wrote an article in 2013 suggesting the government should consider preparing for a mini-ice age caused by solar activity, drawing on a discredited theory by the climate denier Piers Corbyn –

Piers Corbyn claimed that his theory focused on sun spots was based on Marxism (it wasn’t) and it was in any case completely wrong.

Last month Boris Johnson described the UN report on the impact of climate change as ‘sobering’. It was lunchtime and that suggested perhaps that he had already been following a Churchillian regime that morning (i.e alcohol for breakfast).

At least however he managed to appear to take the matter seriously, which is rare for Johnson and also marks him out from a swathe of right-wing politicians, including some in his own party, who don’t think the matter deserves serious consideration.

Of course its unlikely Johnson will do anything beyond words.

As Sonia Purnell notes in her biography of Johnson, Just Boris, he has developed, as in other areas a method of moulding his views on climate change to what he thinks is the current mainstream.

She writes:

He was once noted for scorning the global warming agenda, with caustic rants about the cult of climate change. Since then he has flipped sides so many times that petrol-heads and eco-warriors take turns to denounce him.

As ever action from below by climate activists, trade unionists and others will be essential

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BBC Country file highlights growth in interest & demand for British hops

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2021 by kmflett

BBC Country File highlights growth in interest & demand for British hops

Many of the hops used to make beer in Britain come from the US and Australia and New Zealand. These give the more vibrant hop forward tastes to beer that is growing in popularity particularly in the craft beer sector.

Many people who read my blog will be fully aware of this.

However there is a resurgence of interest in and the growing of British hops. Not just new variants of old standards like Fuggles and Golding but entirely new hop varieties.

On Sunday Country File on BBC1 focused on this. It looked at hop growing in a large, and mostly new, hop farm in Bromyard, Herefordshire. It looked how hop picking takes place in 2021 and the battle to keep hops disease free.

The programme also interviewed a surviving hop picker (mechanisation had taken over by 1960) and discussed new hop varieties and the kind of beer they could produce.

The coverage is split up through the programme at (roughly) the start, 16 mins, 37 mins and 52 mins

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000zx0r/countryfile-bromyard-hops

Given it was show on BBC1 the audience is likely to have been far larger than discussion of such matters usually reaches.

Articles

Ambridge Socialist.Poppy Grundy scoops special Show prize to mark Joe Grundy’s 100th anniversary

In Uncategorized on September 19, 2021 by kmflett

February 25, 1999 – London, UK – File photo dated 25/2/1999 of The Archers star Edward Kelsey, who voiced Joe Grundy in the radio soap, has died at the age of 88, the BBC said. (Credit Image: © Michael Crabtree/PA Wire via ZUMA Press) (Newscom TagID: zumaamericastwentythree815724.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

The Ambridge Socialist (Late Extra)

19th September

Poppy Grundy scoops special Flower & Produce Prize to mark Joe Grundy’s 100th anniversary

Eddie Grundy’s plans to enter and win the Flower and Produce Show to mark the 100th anniversary of Joe Grundy’s birth on 18th September 1921 saw a successful conclusion on Sunday. Joe died in October 2019 as the first Grundy cider of the year was produced.

Eddie’s plan was focused across a range of Grundy produce including trimmed beetroot but it was  Poppy Grundy’s monkey collage that attracted a special prize to mark Joe’s 100th.

Reactionary pub landlord Kenton Archer originally tried to sabotage Eddie’s plan, entering the Bull’s hanging basket with a view to stopping Eddie winning. Kenton appeared motivated by a dislike of proletarian drinkers like Joe and Eddie. However later following the intervention of supporters of the Ambridge Socialist he saw the error of his ways and brought Eddie a pint.

The Ambridge Socialist’s tribute to Joe Grundy

Alice is back again

Alice is back in Ambridge but not living with Chris, needing to continue to sort matters out without his well-meant but not particularly helpful assistance. It continues to be an important storyline, well told and acted.

Adam and Ian may leave Ambridge

Adam and Ian are Ambridge’s foremost gay couple. Unconnectedly they are also some of Ambridge’s most boring people(though competition for this is sharp). Brexiteer Adam is perpetually whingeing about something. This week it was his new boss. The Ambridge Socialist has little sympathy for the boss class but Adam himself doesn’t appear a particularly sympathetic person. By contrast Ian is clearly an excellent chef at Grey Gables and appears a decent sort but is rather one-dimensional. Adam has discussed moving out of Ambridge to be nearer to his new job. The Ambridge Socialist could accept this as a way forward.

In other news

Sergeant Harrison ‘Knacker’ Burns cant butter bread properly. Who knew?

A proletarian salute to Joe Grundy