Articles

Tory MP Ben Bradley’s place on Parliamentary Beard of the Year shortlist to be reviewed

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Press Release 24th November

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Tory MP Ben Bradley’s place on Parliamentary Beard of Year list to be reviewed

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that it will review whether or not Tory MP Ben Bradley finds a place on the Parliamentary Beard of the Year 2020 shortlist, due to be published on 30th November.

Mr Bradley won the annual on-line vote in 2019 but the campaigners say that a rebuke from Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, over the MPs’ inappropriate use of her father’s words on social media has raised questions about his suitability for a list that is designed to promote MPs who have provided a positive image of the hirsute during the year.

The campaigners say that no MP, Mr Bradley or anyone else, is excluded from the shortlist for being controversial since an MP that doesn’t say or do things that provoke reactions good and bad is hardly likely to be in the public eye in the first place. However there is a difference between being controversial and bringing the hirsute into disrepute.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, we’re not rushing into any decision. We’ll see what Mr Bradley has to say and come to a view on the shortlist at the weekend.

Articles

Socialist History seminar: has the black leader of London Chartism William Cuffay been ignored by historians?

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2020 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

December 7th Seminar. Has the role of black leader of London Chartism, William Cuffay, been ignored by historians?

The last London Socialist Historians seminar of the Autumn Term 2020 will take place on Monday 7th December at 5.30pm via Zoom.

It is free to attend but advance registration is essential. Simply click the link below (the e-replacement for the physical seminar register) submit it and you will be e-mailed the Zoom log-in details.

Dec 7th Keith Flett, 150 years since the death of William Cuffay black leader of London Chartism in 1848. Has he been ignored by socialist historians?

https://sas.sym-online.com/registrationforms/ihrbooking_socialist_history39272/done/

On the 150th anniversary year of his death in Tasmania the seminar will look at whether the life and influence of the black leader of London Chartism, William Cuffay, has been overlooked by socialist historians.

Spring Term 2021

Seminars for the Spring Term 2021 will once again be on Zoom. They will start in late January 2021 and run until March. Details will be available in the coming weeks.

Articles

Pubs,food & licensing restrictions. The Carlisle State Management Scheme 1916-1973

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2020 by kmflett

Pubs, food & licensing restrictions. The Carlisle State Management Scheme 1916-1973

The announcement by Boris Johnson that after December 2nd pubs in England will only be able to open (subject to a 11pm curfew) if they are in the lowest tier of restrictions will, given no additional support was announced, be very bad news for millions in the hospitality sector.

Pubs in the highest Tier 3 will be shut except for take away while in Tier 2 pubs can serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’. The only saving grace here is that while Johnson certainly hasn’t a clue what that means, case law suggests that its not all that substantial.

There is of course no evidence of note as to why all this is needed and the reason for that is because there is none. The moves are motivated by a view that drinking less alcohol is good and drinking none at all is best. A key way of achieving that aim is to shut outlets for alcohol. The name for this is temperance but to be fair to the long history of temperance it is a view held only by the extreme wing of the movement which now appears to hold sway. Historically spirits were seen as the key problem (to a degree correctly) and drinking beer was acceptable.

Given the above it might reasonably be asked, where is your evidence?

It lies with the Carlisle State Management Scheme of pubs which ran from 1916 until 1973:

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2020/10/10/revealed-the-1916-logic-behind-10pm-pub-closing/

Some details of the scheme and how it worked are below.

It was driven by temperance which was strongly influential in Government at the time (as now it would seem)but promoted as something a little wider. The aim was to move pubs away from being hard drinking establishments to places where food was served in decent surroundings and pub games and recreation encouraged. A related aim was to move the pub away from being a male dominated environment and make it welcoming for women and children.

The scheme worked well and delivered substantial profits to the Government. It worked too well for temperance campaigners however who before long were complaining that it was making pubs too popular and encouraging women to drink beer..

Some details of the Carlisle scheme

…strict opening hours were enforced, the managers became government employees on a fixed salary and offered no inducement to increase alcohol sales (in fact, commissions were given to the sales of non-alcoholic drinks and food only). The sale of food was actively encouraged and ‘snug’ bars were re-purposed as eating areas. Pubs were made to be attractive to women and families and table service was introduced

Whenever a cup of tea or coffee or food is asked for it is the duty of managers to meet the customers’ requirements, providing that these are reasonable…This applies to both town and country houses. In country houses in particular Managers should endeavour to cultivate a reputation for good catering in the tearooms specifically set aside for the purpose

Carlisle & District State Management Scheme.  Regulation 10

The Cumberland Inn, Carlisle

Articles

Jurgen Klopp faces Stormzy in 2nd ‘trim-off’ vote for Beard of the Year shortlist

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

23rd November

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Jurgen Klopp faces Stormzy in 2nd ‘trim-off’ vote for Beard of the Year shortlist

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the second ‘trim-off’ vote for places on the Beard of the Year shortlist is now open.

There are four contenders with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp facing musician Stormzy for a place on the final list

Bill Bailey easily topped the poll in the first ‘trim off’ vote with 65% of the vote with Lenny Henry second on 18%

The long list consists of twelve names of whom eight will feature in the Beard of the Year vote

The first four listed on the long list have either won or featured consistently in the quarterly Beard of the Season votes held during the year as well as other regular polls. These four will feature in the ‘Beard-Off’ votes for Beard of the Year 2020 which will open on 1st December and close on 24th December. Beard of the Year will be announced on 28th December.

The remaining eight names will go to two deciding votes (four names in each vote) which will run for five days on 16th and 23rd November via Twitter. The top two from each round will join the first four to create a final list of eight on December 1st.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the second ‘Trim-Off’ vote starts on 23rd November will determine the final two coveted places on the Beard of the Year shortlist. It could be a close shave.

Vote at this link or the vote is embedded on Twitter @kmflett

Beard of the Year 2020 Longlist

Automatically on the final ‘Beard-Off’ votes from 1st December

Michael Rosen (winner Beard of Summer & Autumn)

Michael Sheen (winner Beard of Wales)

Peter Coles (winner Beard of Ireland)

Richard Osman (winner Beard of Spring)

Trim-Off

2nd vote

David Olusoga (historian)

George Alagiah (journalist)

Jurgen Klopp (football manager)

Stormzy (musician)

_____________________________________________________

1st vote

Graham Norton (broadcaster)

Peter Alliss (golf commentator)

Bill Bailey (comedian)

Lenny Henry (actor)

Articles

22nd November 1990. Thatcher resigns. Tony Benn notes her ideological resilience

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2020 by kmflett

Its 30 years today since Mrs Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister. It is an important anniversary although as it turned out it did not mark the end of an era in British politics.

Mrs Thatcher resigned but Thatcherism lived and lives on. As Michael White made clear in a Guardian article on 23rd November 1990 the key purpose of Thatcher’s resignation was to achieve that aim. Her chosen successor John Major did indeed see off Michael Heseltine in the Tory leadership contest. He won the 1992 Election and stayed in Office until 1997 privatising the railways in the meantime.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/08/thatcher-resigns-from-archive

Of course there was a cause for celebration in Thatcher’s departure since the key reason for it was not the adversial brilliance of Labour leader Neil Kinnock but the mass movement of 1990 against the Poll Tax. Thatcher had been warned that it was unpopular, ignored the warnings and paid the price.

Tony Benn in his diary (22nd November 1990) noted that her resignation was ‘dazzling’ news but recorded that her performance in a Commons censure debate later in the day still far outshone Kinnock because she had her ‘ideology’ to fall back on.

Articles

Ambridge Socialist. Eddie Grundy MUST appear in the Christmas Show

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2020 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

22nd November

70 years of class struggle in Borsetshire

Eddie Grundy MUST appear in the Christmas Show

In what can only be seen as a blatant case of class discrimination Freddie Pargetter has failed to cast Eddie Grundy in the forthcoming Ambridge Christmas Show. Eddie is rightly upset about this as is the show’s sponsor Lynda Snell. Snell is well aware that without Grundy’s presence the masses of Borsetshire wont engage with the show and it will be a disaster.

Eddie Grundy wins the franchise to search for Roman coins at Brookfield

Eddie Grundy has again demonstrated where the intellectual firepower of Ambridge lies this week. Its not with the Archers but with the Grundys. David Archer had previously seized Eddie’s metal detector (without realising it was his) and threatened to go to the police. Now Eddie has persuaded Archer to return it on the promise of protecting the area from treasure hunters. He of course will now hold the single franchise for searching for Roman coins at Brookfield.

Scruff gin sell-out to Shires Brewery

The two genuine craft products produced in Ambridge are cheese and Scruff gin.  Toby has now taken up an earlier offer to sell the brand to Shires Brewery which certainly needs some kind of craft angle to its rather tired portfolio.

Alice seeks help

Alice has finally been forced to seek professional help for her drinking problem this week. Its likely that the root of the problem lay in being an Archer and the implications of that in Ambridge. Its perhaps worth noting however that her problem related largely to drinking spirits rather than sampling Shires bitter or Tumble Tussocks cider

Articles

Did British Communists ban beards?

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2020 by kmflett

Founding Conference August 1920

Did British Communists ban beards?

It’s the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of Great Britain this year. Its founding conference was held in London in August 1920. The Party dissolved itself in 1990 although a successor, the Communist Party of Britain and the daily paper, the Morning Star live on in 2020.

There have been a range of events to mark the anniversary some organised by the CPB, others by the Socialist History Society (the broad successor to the Communist Party Historians Group) and one I attended today under the auspices of the Society for the Study of Labour History.

Prof. Kevin Morgan (Manchester)a noted authority on the CPGB spoke about the symbolism and structure of the early Conferences and Congresses of the Party up until the early 1940s.

There is a fair bit of detail about these events from published official accounts to detailed reports (these are held in the Moscow archives). There are also some photographs of delegates (later representatives)who attended.

One incidental detail was who those attending were. There are break downs by age and gender but as interesting to anyone on the left in 2020 is the dress and appearance of attendees.

I haven’t spotted one beard and Prof. Morgan opined that the emphasis was on respectability with bohemians and eccentrics strongly discouraged by the 1930s. Photos show rows of clean shaven men in suits and ties and (fewer) women wearing dresses and hats.

Raphael Samuel in his social history of the CPGB The Lost World of British Communism notes that while appearance as such was not an issue (rather taking care to produce a particular appearance- hair styles etc was frowned upon) the whole emphasis was on party members as part of the respectable working-class.

While this may have been more of a priority for the CPGB in terms of how it positioned itself in the labour movement there isn’t much evidence that the Labour Party or other left-wing organisations were significantly different.

It was really a question of formally banning beards, its just that the beard wearer was not a Communist type of person.

Things have changed.

Articles

Bill Bailey wins place on Beard of the Year shortlist

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

21st November

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Bill Bailey wins place on Beard of the Year shortlist

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that Bill Bailey and Lenny Henry have won the first ‘trim-off’ vote for places on the Beard of the Year shortlist.

Bill Bailey easily topped the poll with 65% of the vote with Lenny Henry second on 18%

The long list consists of twelve names of whom eight will feature in the Beard of the Year vote

The first four listed on the long list have either won or featured consistently in the quarterly Beard of the Season votes held during the year as well as other regular polls. These four will feature in the ‘Beard-Off’ votes for Beard of the Year 2020 which will open on 1st December and close on 24th December. Beard of the Year will be announced on 28th December.

The remaining eight names will go to two deciding votes (four names in each vote) which will run for five days on 16th and 23rd November via Twitter. The top two from each round will join the first four to create a final list of eight on December 1st.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Bill Bailey’s Strictly Come Dancing performances have clearly helped his beard profile. The second ‘Trim-Off’ vote starts on 23rd November and will determine the final two coveted places on the Beard of the Year shortlist.

Beard of the Year 2020 Longlist

Automatically on the final ‘Beard-Off’ votes from 1st December

Michael Rosen (winner Beard of Summer & Autumn)

Michael Sheen (winner Beard of Wales)

Peter Coles (winner Beard of Ireland)

Richard Osman (winner Beard of Spring)

Trim-Off

David Olusoga (historian)

George Alagiah (journalist)

Jurgen Klopp (football manager)

Stormzy (musician)

_____________________________________________________

Graham Norton (broadcaster)

Peter Alliss (golf commentator)

Bill Bailey (comedian)

Lenny Henry (actor)

Articles

Pubs, police spies & the left

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2020 by kmflett

Pubs, police spies & the left

The pub has been a traditional meeting place for radicals and the left (although some sections of the movement that disavowed drink met in a range of other locations).

The 200th anniversary of the Cato St Conspiracy (a plot to kill the Cabinet in the wake of Peterloo) was marked in February. Police evidence at the trial of the conspirators noted a number of central London pubs where radicals were known to meet and both police and conspirators mingled in the Horse and Groom in Cato St itself.

200 years on not much has changed.

The evidence and tabled reports from undercover police officers in the first days of public hearings of the SpyCops Inquiry covered the late 1960s and early 1970s. Frequent reference is made to police spies having a drink with people they were watching in pubs after meetings. Reference can also be found to the point that more useful information was to be gathered this way than in meetings themselves:

Unfortunately no reference is made to what was being drunk, although at Cato St 200 years ago it would have been London porter.

The officers note that they claimed drinks they had back on expenses,they were after all ‘working’.

Tom Foot a journalist on the Camden New Journal has provided a detailed report of Spycops activities in Camden, including details of pubs that were used for left-wing meetings where police spies had been in attendance.

He notes that police monitored meetings of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in the Laurel Tree pub in Bayham St which is now Camden Town Brewdog

http://camdennewjournal.com/article/secret-mission-how-detective-grew-a-beard-and-started-to-wear-corduroy-to-infiltrate-activist-groups

A new volume on the German SPD before 1914 also underlines the point about the links between police surveillance and pubs:

A particularly valuable source of working-class opinion is the collection of police surveillance reports of workers’ pubs in the Hamburg State Archives

Andrew Bonnell Red Banners, Books and Beer Mugs, the Mental World of German Social Democrats 1863-1914 (Brill 2021)

The Spycops sessions have contained only one reference to an officer getting drunk on a surveillance mission in a pub but we might recall the Alex Glasgow and Henry Livings song from Close the Coalhouse Door: A Soon As This Pub Closes (The Revolution Starts)

Articles

Equal Pay Day: 50 years since the Equal Pay Act, the fight continues

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2020 by kmflett

Equal Pay Day: 50 years since the Equal Pay Act the fight continues

20th November is Equal Pay Day:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/20/women-in-mid-30s-may-never-know-equal-pay-in-their-working-lives

In summary due to unequal pay with men, women at work will in effect work for the rest of 2020 for nothing compared with how much their male colleagues are paid.

The Government has suspended the requirement to report the equal pay gap due to COVID-19 but there is solid evidence that in many areas it remains significant as does the related gender pension gap.

It is 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed and 45 since it was implemented in 1975

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2020/05/29/50-years-of-the-equal-pay-act-changes-to-the-law-needed-but-workplace-organisation-is-key/

Given that it has been illegal to pay unequally for equal or like work since the 1970s one might question how it is that there is still an equal pay issue at all. After all there are meant to be no, no go areas for law and order so one might expect transgressing employers to face the full force of the law.

A problem of course is that law doesn’t come cheap and people earning an average wage are certainly not in a position to engage a lawyer unless of course they are a member of a trade union.

Unionised workplaces generally have lower equal pay gaps because workers can address the issue collectively.

That said while the focus on the lack of equal pay and the recognition that it is an issue does represent progress the fact that unequal pay remains a significant issue underlines how difficult it is to make lasting progress and while persistence across generations is the key to doing so.