Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


E.P. Thompson on internationalism & refugees

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2015 by kmflett

E.P Thompson on internationalism and refugees

gordon riots

From the 1790s the left and working-class movement has had a tradition of internationalism, of sympathy and solidarity with those fighting oppression elsewhere in the world and a welcome for those who had to flee and make their way to Britain.

In the nineteenth century Britain had an uncomplicated tradition of welcoming refugees which is why Marx and Engels, for example, ended up here.

E.P. Thompson in the Making of the English Working Class sums up the tradition well. He wrote:

The French Revolution of 1830 had a profound impact upon the people, electrifying not only the London Radicals but working-class reformers in distant villages. The struggle for Polish independence was followed anxiously in the working-class press; while Julian Hibbert , in the Rotunda, carried a vote of sympathy with the Lyons weavers in their ill-fated insurrection, likening them to the weavers of Spitalfields.

Of course the predecessors of the Daily Mail were around at this time too. The Gordon Riots in London in 1780 raised the cry of No Popery, they were against religious toleration and sought to attack both the houses and persons of religious minorities- numbers of whom were also in the UK avoiding persecution elsewhere.

The Daily Mail may always sing from the same hymn sheet but rioters did not.

The Gordon Rioters decided that another target of their hatred was bankers and marched to the Bank of England. At that point the Government which had been relaxed about ‘No Popery’ called out the army.

Keith Flett is the Editor of The History of Riots (CSP 2015)


Cardiff Brewfest: South Wales craft beer tide continues to rise

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2015 by kmflett

Cardiff Brewfest: South Wales craft beer tide continues to rise

Cardiff has been slow on picking up on the craft beer trend.

Partly it is a lower wage economy, where craft is more expensive than cask. Partly it is a cask, lower alcohol, pint drinking culture where some (not all) craft is strong-ish.

That has been changing recently with the appearance of a range of pubs from Brewdog to the Urban Taphouse and the Gravity station which speclalise in craft beer (however defined) the last two serving both cask and keg.

The August Bank Holiday weekend sees a craft beer festival at the Depot in central Cardiff organised by two of South Wales leading craft breweries, Otley and Tiny Rebel.

No doubt there are teething issues with a new event but the Cardiff Brewfest seemed to me another signal that craft beer has arrived in Cardiff.

There were some well-established craft breweries (from North London obviously) such as Camden and Beavertown. There were also some, equally well known, from Bristol and the south-west from Wild to BBF, Arbor and Left Hand.

At the core however was a range of Welsh breweries- Otley and Tiny Rebel of course but also Waen, Crafty Devil, Pipes, Heavy Industry, Celt, Grey Trees and the re-launched VOG. In most cases they were retailing both cask and keg beers.

For me stand outs included the Waen black ipa, the Pipes squid ink (double stout) and a Celt session ipa at 4.8% as well as an Otley, Crafty Devil collab Beetroot stout.

The Depot is a good space for a beer festival and the food was also good including pop ups from the Urban Tap House (top notch burgers of course) and the Bunch of Grapes (beer battered fish and chips).

There was plenty of seating and no issue getting served. Prices were mostly at £2 a third for keg and £1.50/2 a half for cask.

Toilets could be more extensive but in general the ambience and beer is great.

I, and my beard, are veterans of numerous craft beer festivals and I reckon Cardiff Brewfest has it more or less right. Decently sized, central, venue. A good range of food, lots of interesting beers (quite important at a beer festival) and a modest entry charge of a fiver.

Has craft beer arrived in Cardiff? More or less. Now for the rest of South Wales…


Campaigners give Jeremy Corbyn a Lifetime Achievement Award

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Press release August 28th contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners give Corbyn Lifetime Achievement Award

Embedded image permalink

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of the hirsute that campaigns against beardism, irrational prejudice against facial hair, has said that it has given Islington North MP and Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The citation for the Award, agreed by the BLF on Friday at a special meeting in Cardiff, was for resilience in the face of clean shaven revisionism.

Corbyn has won the Parliamentary Beard of the Year Award a record 5 times

While Jeremy Corbyn has kept his beard, suitably tweaked to allow for changing styles and fashions, other prominent hirsute Labour figures from Peter Mandelson to Alistair Darling and Ken Livingstone have ditched their trade mark facial hair over the years.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said it has taken time but Jeremy’s beard has underlined that he stands out as a man of hirsute principle from the ranks of clean shaven men in suits. His Lifetime Achievement Award is much deserved.

The Beard Liberation Front has named August 30th as grow a beard for Jeremy Corbyn day


Campaigners say climate change brings early start to conker season

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2015 by kmflett

Campaign for Real Conkers

Against bans on conker playing

Press Release August 28th Contact Keith Flett, 07803 167266

Campaigners say climate change brings early start to conker season


The Campaign for Real Conkers, the group that opposes bans on conker playing, has said that climate change leading to warmer temperatures means one of the earliest starts ever a conker season this year. Traditionally the season gets underway on the August Bank Holiday Monday but it is usually several weeks into September before sufficient conkers have fallen to allow games to start.

In 2015 trees in many areas have excellent conker crops and recent winds have seen some starting to fall already.

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, 2015 looks like being a bumper year for conkers and a real chance for the traditional game to fight back against screen based attractions.

  • 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 11th where it encourages people to have a go at playing conkers without the need for rules, regulations and teams.

Notes for Editors

  • 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



Which Newsnight Beard has the most gravitas: O’Brien or Paxman?

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front
Press release 26th August
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with peak summer James O’Brien, winner of the Hirsute Broadcaster of the Year Award in 2015, doing another stint presenting Newsnight this week, and reports that Jeremy Paxman has re-grown his 2013 beard, there is a debate about which beard brings more gravitas to the programme.

The BLF says that it is putting the question to an on-line poll in what has turned out to be a summer of beards.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, The BBC is still very slow, if not pogonophobic, to use hirsute news anchors but we can at least celebrate Jeremy Paxman and James O’Brien. The issue is however, whose beard delivers news with most gravitas?

The result of the poll will be announced at 10.30pm on Friday evening

The Beard Liberation Front has named Monday August 31st as Grow a Beard for Corbyn Day


Campaigners cautious on ‘beard only’ railway carriages

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front
Press release 26th August
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266



The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that it is cautious about an idea for beard only railway carriages to protect the hirsute from pogonophobic remarks and occasional attacks on the beard on public transport.

The idea has arisen after media attention was given to the long running call for women only railway carriages.
The BLF says this is a much more serious issue than pogonophobia and while it can be understood why the call has arisen it believes that in a diverse and pluralistic society, people should be able to mix freely with each other without fear of comments or assaults.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, some might say that a beard only railway carriage would, at least according to caricature, be full of men boring each other into sleep. We believe that the hirsute and clean shaven can get along together and if that isn’t the case then existing regulations and laws will no doubt apply, although existing laws on pogonophobic abuse are extremely limited

The Beard Liberation Front has named Monday August 31st as Grow a Beard for Corbyn Day


You don’t need a weatherman…

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2015 by kmflett

You don’t need a weatherman….


Pelting with rain all day
Tony Benn Diary 15th August 1969

Tony Benn did not regularly comment on the weather in his diaries but he did note a spell of bad August weather in 1969.

It is August and the weather has been rather poor. That said I was at a meeting in Manchester on Monday and not only did it not rain the weather was rather pleasant. In London I believe it was tipping it down.

Weather is however in the news for a couple of reasons.

Firstly and most importantly because the BBC has said it will end its very long term relationship with the Met Office for weather forecasts next year.

It is a bit early I think to say exactly what this will mean for the existing weather forecasters and other specialists who are members of Prospect, the union of which I’m also an officer (although I don’t deal with weather except here as an historian).

The justification for the change from the BBC is pure self-serving man in suit management speak. It notes they are required by law to tender for the weather contract. They did and found someone cheaper and they do after all need to cut costs. Furthermore quality will not be compromised because no doubt they’ll mention that in the contract.

It comes down to weather forecasts on the cheap rather than using the acknowledged experts. The Met Office being a Government body under the rule of Osborne no doubt has its own cost imperatives but a discussion between the BBC and the Met Office should have taken place and it is not too late.

A petition is here if you like that kind of thing

One weather forecaster the Met Office does not like is Piers Corbyn who runs Weather Action. I had an interesting chat with someone who used to work for Piers as an analyst recently and he reminded me how successful and accurate the forecasts- based on sunspots- actually are. I’m sure that Piers once claimed they were based on Marxist principles and Tony Benn records in his Diary how a forecast supplied by Piers for an event in Pinner he was attending had been proved just right.

Again it being August I’m not sure why the media don’t treat us to some more details of Piers weather forecasting..


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