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Tolpuddle: one of the first times the State bent the law to attack working people but not the last

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2018 by kmflett

Tolpuddle: one of the first times the State bent the law to attack working people but not the last

The law in a capitalist state favours the rich. The better off are more likely to be able to afford to pursue justice and perhaps more likely to get a better outcome when they do.

At the same time of course since at least the 1860s the labour movement has exerted considerable pressure and energy on pushing for changes to the law (and sometimes for the law not to apply in some employment matters) and it still does. The latest piece of Tory anti-trade union legislation was passed in 2017. It was opposed and hopefully when Labour returns to Office it will be repealed.

There is a difference however between class law and occasions when the law is deliberately bent with hand picked judges and juries to give the State the result it wants on a particular occasion.

The case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834, six farm labourers tried in Dorchester in March 1834 and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia for administering an illegal oath is a case in point.

The labourers were prosecuted under a 1797 Illegal Oaths Act which had been aimed at naval mutinies. It was unclear at best why it should apply in Tolpuddle and the judge in the case spent some time in legal argument justifying why it should.

Since the convictions were later overturned on appeal it seems reasonable to suggest that it actually did not apply but the Government rightly judged that it could get away with it for a period when it was concerned about growing trade union organisation.

The Times Editorial on the case (21st March 1834) makes interesting reading. It said (in part):

The offence of swearing agricultural labourers, and binding them to the observance of an illegal oath, by ceremonial partaking of mingled folly, superstition and ferocity was brought home to the accused and the conviction was followed by a sentence of transportation for seven years against the whole of them, six in number. This sentence as regards the poor deluded men who are the objects of it seems to us too severe, but it may be useful if spreads alarm among those more powerful and acute disturbers of the town populations throughout England who combine in spite of high wages and whose combinations are as destructive to honest workmen as they are to all but the richest masters.

It could not be clearer that while the Times thought the Dorchester convictions were doubtful it also thought they served a useful purpose.

The State was at it again in 1848. On 10th April 1848 it passed the Crown and Government Security Act apparently designed to deal with unrest in Ireland. It was used however against the Chartists particularly a passage on ‘open and advised speaking’, that is a pre-meditated attack on the Government. Numbers of Chartists were arrested and jailed including the leader of London Chartism William Cuffay who was also sentenced to be transported to Australia.

There have been other instances since and one thinks for example of Orgreave during the 1984/5 miners strike where, were an inquiry ever to be held, it would be interesting to see what is made of issues around political policing and political courts.

 

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Pogonophobe Peter Alliss says Open golf is full of beards due to ‘Growmore’

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media release 19th July

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Pogonophobe Peter Alliss says Open is full of beards due to ‘Growmore’

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has hailed the 147th Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie as the most hirsute of the Modern Era.

However BBC commentator and veteran pogonophobe Peter Alliss has claimed that the proliferation of beards at the Open is due the application of ‘Growmore’ a garden fertilizer.

While most major sports including football, cricket and even tennis, have embraced the beard, golf has been much slower with some leading players even looking as if they shave between holes.

However the campaigners say that with leading players such as South Africa’s Eric Van Rooyen and Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood sporting full beards golf has at last embraced the hirsute

The BLF has a special team of beard monitors watching at Carnoustie to judge hirsuteness levels.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, at least Peter Alliss has noticed that this is the most hirsute Open of modern times. As a pogonophobe he obviously doesn’t like that hence the rather insulting suggestion that golfers have grown beards with the help of a garden fertilizer

 

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The Ambridge Socialist: Tolpuddle 2018 special issue

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2018 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

68 Years of the class struggle in Borsetshire

Tolpuddle 2018 special

In 1834 six Dorset labourers were sentenced to be transported to Australia for 7 years for trying to form a trade union. They became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

In 2018 the only person going to jail in Ambridge is Brian Aldridge.

However the issue of proletarians in rural Borsetshire is a key one and much under reported by the BBC.

Fruit pickers

Adam, who voted Leave, has struggled with fruit pickers this year as workers from the rest of Europe have steered clear of Ambridge. He has been forced to try and recruit local labour which given the low wage rates he pays is no easy matter

Damara Capital

Parish Councillor Emma Grundy is looking for a new home in Ambridge and had hoped that the housing development by Damara Capital would provide sufficient affordable homes. However Damara have reduced the numbers of such properties claiming financial concerns. Emma has set up an on-line petition. The Ambridge Socialist also has an on-line petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/kit-malthouse-parliament-uk-affordable-homes-in-ambridge?recruiter=45817997&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_petition.nuTOQr9FSliiD9vHkB7fug.1&utm_term=triggered

Neil Carter Patrician

Neo-liberalism doesn’t rule in every area of Ambridge though. Neil Carter manager of the Berrow Farm pig unit has suggested that an under-performing new worker should be given time to learn the job.

Trade Unions

Our main concern however is that there is so little obvious sign of trade union organisation in Ambridge. There is work for Unite the Union to do. Mike Tucker was an effective local union organiser but since then, nothing it seems.

We say:

Organise, Organise, Organise

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Campaigners hail the most hirsute Open Golf Championship of the Modern Era

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media release 19th July

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners hail the most hirsute Open Golf Championship of the Modern Era

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has hailed the 147th Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie as the most hirsute of the Modern Era.

While most major sports including football, cricket and even tennis, have embraced the beard, golf has been much slower with some leading players even looking as if they shave between holes.

However the campaigners say that with leading players such as South Africa’s Eric Van Rooyen and Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood sporting full beards golf has at last embraced the hirsute

The BLF has a special team of beard monitors watching at Carnoustie to judge hirsuteness levels.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, golf has struggled to accept in some cases that women should play on equal terms so perhaps it is no surprise that it’s also tended towards the pogonophobic. However it looks like the 147th Open is at last embracing beard power on the course.

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Vote Leave, the Electoral Commission & William Cobbett’s Rotten Boroughs

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2018 by kmflett

Vote Leave, the Electoral Commission & William Cobbett’s Rotten Boroughs

The decision by the Electoral Commission to fine Vote Leave for overspending and other malpractice during the EU Referendum campaign tells a story about the state of British Parliamentary democracy.

Of course not everyone who backed ‘leave’ in the Referendum was involved in malpractice. Some genuinely wanted out of what they saw as a neo-liberal EU.

However it seems clear that Vote Leave was engaged in targeting funds to whip up racist sentiment and hence in effect to attempt to ‘buy’ a leave result. They were only just successful and we cant really be sure what precise impact they had.

The reality of large sums of money being used to buy political decisions however takes us back to the days before the 1832 Great Reform Act started the century long process of allowing everyone to have a secret ballot.

Even after 1832 it was common for candidates to buy drink for those eligible to vote during an Election (a minority) and to keep an eye on how they voted. The campaigns of the Chartists helped to end that.

William Cobbett referred to those constituencies which could be bought containing few voters but offering Parliamentary influence as ‘rotten boroughs’. He wrote of ‘vile borough-mongers, their tools and their stopgaps’.

We haven’t quite yet got back to that yet- after all Farage has failed 7 times to be elected as an MP- but Vote Leave is a staging post on the road to it.

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So, Farewell then the Haringey HDV

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2018 by kmflett

So. Farewell then the Haringey HDV

On Tuesday 17th July the new Haringey Council Cabinet (Labour) met and decided to put an end to plans for the Haringey Development Project.

This grand project in which multinational privateer Lendlease was to be centrally involved had as its focus plans to knock down substantial numbers of Council homes (and some private houses) in North Tottenham around the new Spurs stadium. They would be replaced with new housing which might but probably would not have been occupied by the original tenants.

The end of the HDV was the work of a broad and active campaign. It ranged from anarchists, the SWP, the Labour Party, the LibDems, Haringey Defend Council Housing, the main Haringey trade unions, Haringey TUC (of which I was President until January) and of course lots of grassroots tenants and community campaigners and activists.

The campaign is not completed (when are they ever). There are still grand housing plans for High Rd West (by Spurs), Tottenham Hale and Sky City (in Wood Green). There is also the important issue of Broadwater Farm and blocks that have safety issues and whether this can be sorted out by repair or if it needs reconstruction.

That said it must be noted that the HDV campaign was a victory. As Paul Burnham, centrally involved in Haringey DCH posted on Facebook, so many similar campaigns end in failure or just fold that something that wins is important to celebrate. We’re not used to success on the left and rightly wary of those who claim it, but we do need to recognise it when it happens.

All credit too, to the Guardian journalist Aditya Charabortty who gave the anti-HDV a wider coverage and higher profile. Hopefully that means this victory will encourage others who are also fighting neo-liberalism in housing policy.

As for Tuesday’s Cabinet it agreed to set up a wholly owned Council structure to build housing in future. There will be concerns and issues with that of course. But as I tweeted it represents progress with pragmatism.

Not of course the kind of class struggle socialism I believe in, but we have to start by grappling with things as they are rather than as we’d like them to be.

Compared to the almost maoist, putting politics in command, plans of the previous Council, this looks like a more modest attempt to start with the needs of ordinary working people in Haringey and make some progress (no not that kind of progress) on actually building a few council homes in an age of Tory austerity.

Work as it were, in progress

Keith Flett is immediate past President of Haringey TUC

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The Ambridge Socialist: Affordable Homes in Ambridge now. Sign the petition here

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2018 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

18th July

Affordable Homes in Ambridge Now!

Emma Grundy is struggling to get support for her on-line petition demanding that Damara Capital owned by fat cat Justin Elliott stick to the original number of affordable homes in its new Ambridge development. The Ambridge Socialist has started a petition to demand that Housing Minister Kit Malthouse intervene. Sign it here and get your friends to sign to:

https://www.change.org/p/kit-malthouse-parliament-uk-affordable-homes-in-ambridge?recruiter=45817997&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_petition.nuTOQr9FSliiD9vHkB7fug.1&utm_term=triggered