Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


The West Indies Test series, CLR James, Test Cricket & the IPL

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2015 by kmflett

The West Indies Test series,CLR James, Test Cricket and the IPL

images (4)

It is the time of year when (certainly if you have access to Sky TV) you can watch Test cricket and the IPL on the same day.

The comparison is instructive. The IPL has its excitements. A recent century by Kiwi Brendan McCullum was superb.

Yet the first Test between West Indies and England in Antigua while far from a classic (James Anderson’s record 384 wickets as an England bowler aside) gripped in an entirely different way. It went down to the last hour of a five day match. The presence of the Beard Liberation Front banner throughout (thanks to Hazel Potter and Ian Marriott amongst others) provided sustainability too.

Its worth recalling the words of the very sadly late Mike Marqusee on CLR James (1901-89), the Trinidadian author of Beyond a Boundary, a cricketer,journalist and socialist  on Test cricket:

James would be a staunch defender of Test cricket and its classical virtues against the upstart claims of shorter versions. For James it was precisely “the long hours (which so irritate those who crave continuous excitation)” that make Test cricket a stage where “human personality is on view long enough in sufficiently varied form to register itself indelibly.”


Trade Unionists say Tory jobs recovery has by-passed Tottenham

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2015 by kmflett

Haringey Trades Union Council

Press Release 17th April

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266;



Haringey Trades Union Council has said that the much proclaimed Tory jobs recovery has simply by-passed some areas such as Tottenham where the Tories have little electoral support

While the Tories have claimed that since 2010 two million jobs have been created, March employment figures released on 17th April show that Tottenham still has, at 3.8%, the highest jobless figure in London just as it did 5 years ago when the Coalition entered Office.

The trade unionists say that while overall jobless numbers have dropped in the area it is highly likely that much of this simply relates to draconian benefit sanctions more than job creation.

The largest number of jobs created in Tottenham in the last 5 years has been at the new Sainsburys at Northumberland Park by Spurs but even here the supermarket pays less than the London Living Wage.

Haringey TUC Secretary Keith Flett said, the reality is that the Tory jobs recovery isn’t working in Tottenham and there is no sign of them doing anything about it. Just as Thatcher was kicked out in 1997 so the area needs to make sure Cameron leaves office on May 7th for their to be hope on new jobs here



Beard Power: A Year On from ‘peak beard’ facial hair flourishes

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front


Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266



The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that a year after Australian scientists published research purporting to show that the numbers of people with beards had peaked, facial hair is still flourishing.

The scientists, evolutionary biologists, claimed that the more beards there are the less attractive they become.

The Beard Liberation Front criticised the research as hetero-normative and says that contrary to the researchers claims there are more beards than ever.

Estimates show that there are more hirsute candidates for the UK General Election on May 7th than at any Election since 1945.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said a year after the Peak Beard research was published on 16th April 2014  in Biology Letters, the scientists are silent while the hirsute are still very much with us

Link to article



E. P. Thompson, history, activism & General Elections

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2015 by kmflett

EP Thompson, history, activism and General Elections


The below is work in progress. As with EP Thompson’s work itself (to which it has no comparison) it has been interrupted in the researching by political activity, events and so on. Hopefully there will be more updates to come before May 7th

EP Thompson never stood as a candidate in a General Election, and his voting record is unknown, although following the publication of the first part of Eric Hobsbawm’s MI5 file recently it is possible that we might find the answer to this in the Public Record Office.  One might suspect Communist and then, mostly, Labour after 1956. However as an historian and activist he certainly had a perspective on General Elections and on occasion intervened in them.

He backed an Independent Left candidate, Lawrence a miners union official in Fife in the 1959 Election, who he had worked with closely in the new left, although he clearly saw more broadly that there was some difference between Labour and Tory positions. His 1959 Essay on Psephology underlined that point.

Thompson was clear that a Tory victory would make things worse for working people in a variety of ways, but he also looked much wider in respect of its impact in terms of Britain’s defence and foreign policies.

Thompson also focuses very much on how Elections take place and how attempts are made to manipulate public opinion in them just as they were, in much cruder days, pre-1832 when Old Corruption and rotten Electoral Boroughs existed.

He argues in the Poverty of Theory that while a Cobbettian Old Corruption is clearly long past, it had by the 1960s been replaced by The Thing which sought in less direct ways to manipulate society and the opinions and views in it.

This was hardly a conspiratorial view of things since just as Thompson had detailed in The Making how people rallied and organised against Old Corruption from below, and the Freeborn Englishman asserted himself and his civil rights, so Thompson and others addressed a similar agenda in modern times.

In 1983 he wrote a substantial pamphlet for Merlin during the Election campaign titled ‘The Defence of Britain’ which focused largely on the issue of the parties attitudes to British nuclear weapons, but also made some wider historical points.

His general drift was that the things that had exercised voters over time at General Elections should and were likely to influence them still: ‘we are not well fitted by our history to be the kind of people who just lie down & give up the ghost’ (p75).

He suggested that a symbol for a left approach to a General Election should be George Cruikshank’s Freeborn Englishman who found himself in 1820 with a padlock through his mouth (p85)

To be continued…






Labour Manifestos. 1983: before its time?

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2015 by kmflett

Labour Manifestos. 1983 : Before its time?


It is a little over 30 years since Mrs Thatcher defeated Michael Foot’s Labour in the 1983 General Election.

According to a Radio 4 Archive Hour programme on the subject in 2013, the Labour Election campaign was shambolic and Foot, while appealing to some of Labour’s core vote, failed to connect to a wider audience.

In fact Foot won 8.4 million votes achieving 27.6% of the poll which was certainly on the low side. Labour has often topped 10 or 11 million votes in General Elections and on occasion higher. It is worth reflecting however that in 2010 Labour got 8.6 million votes and 29% of the poll.

The electoral focus in 1983 was the break-away of the Social Democratic Party to the right of Labour which split the left of centre vote and allowed Mrs Thatcher to achieve a decisive victory and Parliamentary majority. It might be argued that the Falklands War helped although it could also be noted that the Labour leadership under Foot had supported the war.

It is argued that Foot, by 1983, a veteran Labour activist was not the man to lead Labour at a General Election.

Foot was certainly a man of the left- a nuclear disarmer and an MP for a radical South Wales seat. Yet he was of the post-1945 left, not the new left that had appeared from the 1960s onwards. His victory in the Labour leadership election after the 1979 Labour defeat to Thatcher represented the culmination of decades of political work in the Party. But that was the past and Elections tend to be about the future.

It is an awkward reflection on modern politics that it is doubtful someone as old as Foot would lead a party into an Election now. It is a question of image, spin and discrimination that existed in the 1980s and that has grown worse since.

The reasons for Labour’s failure in 1983 have however been pinned on the Manifesto dubbed ‘the longest suicide note in history’. It is certainly long- manifestos tend to be even now- but the notoriety relates to its political position.

It was a manifesto of the left, or one kind of left anyway. Its focus on managing the British economy and tackling high unemployment hardly seems that controversial now. Rather it was the attacks on it by Mrs Thatcher and those that had split to the SDP that framed it in this way.

Thatcher, who used to bang on in much the same way as Osborne does about absurd comparisons between individual household borrowing and the national debt attacked the manifesto because it openly said that money would need to be borrowed to stimulate economic recovery. New Labour got around this charge of economic mismanagement in 1997 by saying it would stick to Tory economic limits. The 2015 Manifesto published on 13th April appears to suggest something broadly similar, though there are differences between Labour and Tory spending plans

The SDP (now part of the LibDems) meanwhile were upset by things such as the call for Britain to leave the Common Market. One doubts Nigel Farage has read the 1983 Labour Manifesto but it reminds that the demand to depart the EU has been as strong in parts of the left as it certainly is on the right.


Other bits of the Manifesto now seem to be amazingly good sense. For example it says the banks will need to be regulated to make sure they lend and invest. It also proposes to set up a Foreign Investment Unit to keep an eye on what multinational companies operating in the UK were up to.

Whether you think scrapping British nuclear weapons is a good idea or not (I do with alternative work for the skilled workers concerned) it was part of the 1983 Labour Manifesto and has been a subject of some debate in 2015.

EP Thompson (who wrote a pamphlet for the 1983 Election, The Defence of Britain) noted in his introduction to the Making of the English Working Class that causes that were lost in nineteenth century Britain might yet be won in other places and at other times.

Michael Foot may have been thought too old to lead the country by some, but these ideas were it seems 30 odd years before their time…

This is an amended and updated version of a post that first appeared in 2013


The Ambridge Socialist: Titchener fails Master Chef Audition

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2015 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

April 12th  CONTACT  KEITH FLETT 07803 167266

The real Borsetshire Echo: 65 years of class struggle in Ambridge

Crisis  as Titchener ruins the Mushroom Stroganoff

Helen being busy with cheese at the temporary Village Shop, Titchener has been forced to make dinner. Unfortunately the cupboard (and the fridge) was largely bare and Helen advised him to give Henry fish fingers. Titchener declined to do this and instead made a mushroom stroganoff. Unfortunately there was no sour cream so he used a mixture of single cream, salt and lemon that made the whole thing inedible. That did not of course stop Titchener from trying to force Henry to eat it…

Richard Locke is back


Archers Anarchists are also back

After a long period of apparent silence the Archers Anarchists have announced on Facebook a convention later in the year. Well after the Tories lose the Election they’ve got to do something with their time.

Daphne held in captivity

Daphne the ferret has been captured in the laundry at Grey Gables and is now being held in captivity by Roy Tucker. The Ambridge Socialist says: free Daphne now!

In Other News

Shula and Alastair are attending a Regimental dinner

Heather is returning to the North





Uncovered cricket pitches: the degree syllabus

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2015 by kmflett

Uncovered pitches: the degree Syllabus

cricket pitch

In its issue of 21st January 2015 the Times Higher reported that the University of the Highlands and Islands is to offer a degree in professional golf.

I responded that it was surely time to offer a degree in cricket too (28th January 2015).

Subjects covered could well include the Laws of Cricket, the history of the game (a very substantial subject in itself) Gentleman v Players and class in cricket, Race and Imperialism in cricket. There is also scope for modules on cricket management and coaching and like many degrees no doubt students would select those areas of most relevance to their interests and future careers.

One area that must certainly should be covered however is that of Uncovered Pitches.  To mark the start of the English cricket season and indeed the start at nearly the same time of a West Indies v England Test series, below are some initial thoughts on what an Uncovered Pitches module of a Cricket Degree might cover.

1] Geoffrey Boycott the former Yorkshire and England batsman, now cricket commentator, frequently talks about uncovered pitches. Why do you think he does this?

2] Boycott wrote in the Daily Telegraph (19th July 2011) ‘in the early days pitches were so poor they had stones in them. Many players batted on uncovered pitches open to the elements until that was changed in 1979’. Why do you think it took so long for change to come about given that no one would think to play on an uncovered pitch in 2015.

3] The final match of the 1968 Ashes series played in August at the Oval is one of the most famous games where an uncovered pitch had an important influence. Find out why and who was involved.

4] Imagine what it might have been like to play on an uncovered pitch affected by weather conditions. What changes to your batting or bowling technique might you make?  How might this impact your psychological perspective on the game?

5] What was Geoffrey Boycott’s career record on uncovered pitches up to 1979?

Module 1A will focus on Uncovered Pitches, practical sessions and the physics of bowling and batting on such pitches (with thanks to Peter Coles)


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