Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely style icon of the summer of beards

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

press release                                               31st July


Contact keith flett                                            07803 167266





photo- Guardian, Getty Images

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn is set to be an unlikely style icon for summer 2015.

The campaigners say that the Corbyn look- open neck shirt, shoulder bag and controlled organic beard is setting the fashion with the exception of one group of people. Those Westminster male politicians who believe that someone can only be electorally popular if they wear a suit and shave twice a day are confounded by the Islington North MP’s support.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the Corbyn look, best described as ‘hirsute informal’ is the big style hit of summer. Suits, ties and razors are being put away across the country as people pick up on the latest trend, the summer of beards



Jimmy Anderson shows Ashes stubble power

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

press release                                              30th July


Contact keith flett                                           07803 167266





The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that Jimmy Anderson’s career best Ashes performance of 6-47 at Edgbaston on Wednesday underlined the importance of stubble power in English conditions.

The campaigners say that a combination of Anderson’s stubble, overhead cloud, damp conditions and favourable air currents made the England bowler close to unplayable in the session after lunch.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, there are often comments that stubble shows an element of scruffiness or lack of focus in performance on the field. As Jimmy Anderson demonstrated on Wednesday, to the contrary, stubble can be the key to a potentially match winning bowling performance



The link between Jeremy Corbyn & 1983…

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2015 by kmflett

Labour leadership Election: Is 1983 repeating itself?

The mainstream media are notoriously poor on history. Seeking out historical parallels takes journalistic resource which many modern media operations just don’t have.

The latest poorly thought out parallel is to suggest that current Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn is another Michael Foot. The Independent in an echo of 1983 dubbed the Labour leadership contest the ‘longest suicide vote’

There is a serious point to be made here but one that is less significant now than it was 30 years ago. Namely that leading a political party is hard work and takes lots of energy and arguably that could be tough on someone in their 60s (Corbyn is 66). Actually however both health and longevity have improved hugely in the last three decades so it is much less of a concern.

The reality is anyway much more complex.

Firstly while some of the policies Foot stood in 1983 were not universally popular with the electorate (after all he lost), most now seem like political mainstream common sense.

Secondly the bottom line reason for the poll defeat was not really any policies that Foot may or may not have had but the 1981 SDP split from Labour. The SDP ran an alliance with the Liberals as the Social and Liberal Democrats for a bit and then in 1988 became the Liberal Democrats.

You may recall that the Liberal Democrats spent the last 5 years propping up Cameron and Co and ended up on 7th May 2015 with 8 seats.

Foot won 8.4 million votes in 1983 achieving 27.6% of the poll which was 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 and did just a little bit better in 2015.

It was 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.

The reasons for Labour’s failure in 1983 have been pinned on the Manifesto dubbed ‘the longest suicide note in history’.

It was a manifesto of the left. 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 as a ‘suicide note’.

Thatcher, who banged 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.

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 proposed to set up a Foreign Investment Unit to keep an eye on what multinational companies operating in the UK were up to.

The defeat of 1983 was the product of a historical context that does not exist in 2015. Corbyn’s policies are not those of 30 years ago. Indeed the only thing that has endured over those three decades is his beard

A version of this post appears in the Morning Star 29th July


Campaigners say Gloucester police beard ‘ban’ policy remains in force

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Press release July 29th contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners say Gloucester police beard ‘ban’ policy remains in force


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has expressed concern that despite apparent backtracking from Gloucester police that a policy of requiring officers with beards to wear beard nets is not in force, that it does in fact remain so.

While Gloucester police have commented that the policy, which is yet to be publically promulgated, is simply about hirsute officers having neat and tidy beards, it is clear from comments from serving officers on the Police Oracle site, that exceptionally a policy of wearing a beard net could be enforced

The campaigners say that people should be able to dress or appear as they want, including at work. However the BLF has a long standing policy that people in public service should reasonably expect to be smartly turned out. Hence someone, for example, who was planning to enter their beard for the World Beard and Moustache Championships might check with their employer first.

Under UK law there is no right to wear a beard at work if an employer bans them. However it would be of questionable legality if someone was wearing a beard for religious, cultural or health reasons.

Nineteenth century police forces mostly banned beards altogether but in the modern day many, including the Metropolitan Police, operate similar rules to those which apply in some areas of the military, namely that people should have a full beard or nothing.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said it is concerning that while Gloucester Police appeared to have clarified their position, in reality they have not backed down from the very silly idea of beard nets for hirsute officers. It is time for them to make unequivocally clear that this is not something they plan to pursue


Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone at 50: did the hecklers have a point?

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2015 by kmflett

Like a Rolling Stone at 50: did the hecklers have a point?


It is 50 years (July 20th 1965) since the release of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone.

It says some interesting things about popular culture, longevity and memory that not only is Dylan still performing it but that the song, far from being consigned to an audio archive, is still current too.

The details of the song are well enough known.

It was an electric Dylan, a break from his folk days and a deliberate one. That was not universally popular.  It was also 6 minutes long, too long in the view of record company executives who at first declined to release it. Radio stations received a disc with the song split into A and B sides at 3 minutes each, a more normal single length.

DJs simply ran the two together on a tape so compelling was the song.

There are theories about what the lyrics mean, and you can Google them. Suffice to say they were not inspired by Dylan’s reading of Marx’s Capital. Even so lines like ‘no direction home’ arguably summed up the changing times of the 1960s.

The song did have politics though. As the late Mike Marqusee argues in his book on Dylan Wicked Messenger, the protests by Pete Seeger and those involved with the Newport folk festival, of which Dylan had been a feature were not simply those of old fuddy-duddys who disliked electronic guitars and organs.

Their argument was that the folk festival and the unity amongst black and white that it had achieved was a really significant thing in terms of 1960s America. Electronic Dylan was the music of commercialism, of the charts and big money and it risked undermining what had been achieved.

Dylan’s view it seems was that in reality while Newport was fighting against the reactionary nature of US society, it too in terms of the cultural forms it supported had become conservative. For Dylan the really radical thing, in terms of musical form, was to move on to the terrain of electric music.

Marqusee suggests that later Dylan felt that the Newport organisers had more of a point than he had allowed for at the time and that he by contrast had overestimated the radical impact of going electric.

After Newport the heckling of Dylan on his subsequent British tour was at least in part the work of socialists and Communist Party members who were able to promote some organised walk-outs of concerts when the acoustic folk music turned to electric instruments.

At the time this form of protest was largely seen as backward and somewhat reactionary. It seemed to be trying to argue against the youth culture of the 1960s and alternative and radical politics that often went with it.

Yet 50 years on as we survey a mass market music industry, itself now challenged by developments in downloading music via the internet, it seems more and more likely that the protesters had a point.

Like A Rolling Stone was and remains a great song but the direction it led in was not always so happy. Bob Dylan’s recent records, focusing more and more on the traditional US folk songs which represent where he started out in the early 1960s underline the point.

In terms of the ‘Judas’ comment made via a heckle at an electric concert he played at Manchester Free Trade Hall (now a Radisson Hotel) in 1966 the political context of the song has some importance.

Like a Rolling Stone remains an important song and Dylan’s electric turn a key moment in the history of popular music post-1945. However 50 years we should at least be able to understand what those who didn’t agree were on about.


Campaigners compare beards of Jeremy Corbyn & Karl Marx

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release 27th July

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266


Campaigners compare Corbyn, Marx and Beards

On July 26th Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn on being asked if he was a Marxist noted that he hadn’t thought about the matter in a long time.

However actions can speak louder than words and the Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, says that it is possibly no accident that both Karl Marx and Jeremy Corbyn are amongst the better known of British beard wearers.

In their 1852 work Heroes of the Exile, Marx and Engels noted that a German liberal of the time had retired from public life for a period “in order to grow a beard, without which no prophet can succeed”

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the media have made much of Mr Corbyn’s beard which he himself has said is a form of dissent. However it might be noted that Marx and Engels 1852 remark was a joke.

Jeremy Corbyn is 5 times winner of the Parliamentary Beard of the Year Award



Tsipras battles Lemmy for sideburns of the year title

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2015 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Tsipras battles Lemmy for sideburns of the year title

Press Release 27th July Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266



The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has announced the shortlist for the Sideburns of the Year 2015 with the third National Sideburns Day set for 10th August.

Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras is going cheek to cheek with veteran musician Lemmy for the coveted title

The event was originally held to mark Bradley Wiggins Olympic victory in 2012

The campaigners say that sideburns, sometimes known as mutton chops, and named after US Civil War General Ambrose Burnside were often worn by Victorian politicians

Bradley Wiggins reinvented the post-1945 tradition of sideburns from Elvis Presley to Noddy Holder and the late Alvin Stardust, turning them into something no self-respecting hipster would be without

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, National Sideburns Day on 10th August marks the resurgence of designer facial hair underlining that facial hair can be stylish and fashionable


The Sideburns Shortlist will go to an on-line public poll with the result announced on 10th August

The criteria is that a contender should usually have had identifiable sideburns for at least 30 days in 2015 but should not be wearing a full beard

Sideburns of the Year 2015

Stuart Broad, cricketer

Hugh Jackman, actor

Boris Johnson, publicist

Lemmy, musician

Nicholas Lezard, writer

Will Self, writer

Alexis Tsipras, politician

Duncan Weldon, BBC Newsnight correspondent


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