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Why did the National Front march in Wood Green on 23rd April 1977?

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2017 by kmflett

For those who protested at the time why the National Front march were marching in Wood Green on 23rd April 1977 was too obvious to need stating. The key thing was to try and make sure they did not.But at 40 years distance some explanation is surely required for those who were too young to be there.

While some claim UKIP are in part fascists the briefest consideration of what the NF were doing in 1977 in North London that UKIP never does or intends to do underlines the difference. At that time left-wing and trade union meetings could find themselves violently attacked and broken up by the National Front and the same was true of left-wing campaigning on the streets. The aim of the NF march 40 years ago was to intimidate and to show, as they thought, that they controlled the streets.

That is why it is so important they were stopped.

By why the 23rd April and not another day? The 2017 answer might be because its St George Day and the NF claiming to be patriotic wanted to show that by marching. St George has an interesting history:

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/st-george-karl-marx-public-holidays-2/

However 40 years ago St George’s Day was not what it is today. It is a bigger date in the calendar now perhaps primarily because commercial interests have decided its another occasion they can sell things. Hence you can buy St George’s Day flowers, cakes and beer.

Probably the real reason the National Front chose 23rd April to march was because it was the nearest Saturday to the birthday of their real hero, not St George but Adolf Hitler.

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Campaigners say Government must do more on workplace dress codes discrimination

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

press release

21st April

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners say Government must do more on workplace dress codes discrimination

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, which campaigns for people to be able to dress and appear as they want, has said the Government must do more on workplace dress code discrimination.

In response to a petition launched by Nicola Thorp who lost her job after refusing to wear high heels, the Government has claimed that the existing law deals with discrimination but that it should be made clearer to employers that they must comply with it.

The campaigners say that dress code discrimination applies not just to high heels for women but ties for men and workplace beard bans are far from unknown, even if rarely officially codified.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, some jobs require uniforms and no one can complain if customer facing workers are required to appear smartly dressed. However to focus that on being told to wear a particular item of clothing or to have to appear in a very a specific way is both Victorian in outlook and often illegal. The Government needs to actively monitor the matter not just ask employers nicely to keep within the law.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39667912

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s role in organising opposition to fascism at ‘The Battle of Wood Green’ 23rd April 1977

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2017 by kmflett

The Battle of Wood Green 40 years on

On 23rd April 1977 the National Front decided to march from Ducketts Common by Turnpike Lane tube in North London down a busy London High Road packed with Saturday afternoon shoppers. There were several thousand fascists but they were outnumbered by opponents, including many people out shopping, appalled that fascists were marching on the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday.

It would be bad enough today but this was a mere 3 decades after the end of the Second World War and numbers who had been actively involved in fighting Hitler were no doubt around on that Spring day.

Only a small part of the NF march made it to a concluding rally as it was broken by protesters.

40 years on that day is being marked with a festival to celebrate diversity and oppose racism on the very same Ducketts Common. The fascists never returned in any numbers to the Borough, but the fight against racism needs to be maintained in each generation.

One of the keynote speakers on 23rd April is expected to be Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. It is of course the kind of event that one might expect he would attend, but it is little bit more specific than that.

In 1977, before he defected to a neighbouring North London Borough and became the long serving MP for Islington North, Corbyn was a trade union official and Labour Councillor in Haringey for the area adjacent to Ducketts Common. He is still remembered for the hard work he did then.

Part of that was to act as the co-ordinator for all of the local Haringey Councillors, including Tories on 23rd April.

The Councillors had called for the National Front march to be banned, recognising the provocation it was designed to be. The police had declined. On the day all of the Councillors assembled on Ducketts Common, before the fascists marched, holding a giant banner making clear they stood firm against racism.

But there was another group of people, anti-fascists, trade-unionists, socialists, who were determined that the National Front would not march. The main aim was simply to stop them by force of numbers but some physical engagement with the fascists was envisaged.

Using his influence Jeremy Corbyn was able to act as the spokesperson for both groups of people, presenting in effect a unified protest against the NF. Indeed the following week he was quoted in the local Hornsey Journal paper in just this role.

The day was notable for several things. It was the last time the police appeared on such an occasion without riot shields. The largely successful effort to stop the National Front set a template that was repeated when the fascists tried to do the same thing in Lewisham on 13thAugust 1977. Here however there was no Jeremy Corbyn to bring completely together those who wanted to protest peacefully and those who planned to stop the NF.

That day led to the formation of the Anti-Nazi League and the first huge Carnival in conjunction with Rock Against Racism at Victoria Park in May 1978.

Corbyn’s role in some of the events that led to the birth of the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement that did much to stop the National Front from becoming, as it threated to in the late 1970s, a major political force, should not be forgotten.

Given that it is not unknown for labour movement leaders to develop hazy memories of how they came to be leaders in the first place, it’s also good that the current Labour leader has not forgotten those days either.

 

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Haringey Diversity festival to mark 40 years of opposition to racist march in Wood Green

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2017 by kmflett

Haringey TUC

Media Release 20th April

Contact Haringey TUC Secretary Keith Flett 07803 167266

Haringey Diversity festival to mark 40 years of opposition to racist march in Wood Green

Haringey TUC the local North London organisation of the TUC has said that it is backing a major Haringey Diversity Festival to be held at Ducketts Common, Turnpike Lane, North London on Sunday from midday.

Haringey has the most languages spoken of any political constituency in Europe and the festival will celebrate the diverse cultures of the Borough.

It is being held 40 years after a National Front march assembled at the same place, on 23rd April 1977, and attempted to march through shoppers in the busy Wood Green High St. The 1500  NF supporters met mass opposition and the far right have never returned to the Borough.

The co-ordinator of the protest on the day was current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He was a local Councillor in 1977.

Haringey TUC Secretary Keith Flett said, we want to mark the 40th anniversary of the day local people stood up to the National Front and laid the basis for the diverse multi-cultural Borough Haringey is today. But it’s about the present too. We stand against racism now as well as 40 years ago and we want to celebrate the unity of people in Haringey against those who would divide us.

Notes

Local MPs David Lammy and Catherine West will speak, along with trade union and community leaders. There is also entertainment, and the event is free to all without a ticket.

The 40th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Wood Green’ is backed by Unite the Union, the South and East Region TUC, Haringey TUC, local Labour Parties and Stand Up to Racism

Articles

Campaigners set to re-launch ‘For a Beard Friendly Britain’ Election Manifesto

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Press Release

19th April Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

_____________________________________________________

Campaigners set to re-launch For a Beard Friendly Britain Election Manifesto

The Beard Liberation Front is an informal network of beard wearers and welcomes supporters, both women and men, who agree with our core principles.

It is not party political and does not stand candidates in Elections. However it is political in a broader sense, as it seeks a less discriminatory and more beard friendly Britain.

Founded in 1995 it campaigns against prejudice and celebrates positive images of the hirsute with an annual Beard of the Year award at the end of December. Beard Week, which focuses on a range of beard related issues, takes place every year in late June.

To this end it will be producing an updated version of its Election Manifesto on which it will seek the views of candidates and will publicise those who sign up to its Beard Friendly Charter.

The campaigners say they are also considering re-launching the Beardies & Baldies Election Alliance

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, we intend to make beards an Election issue and to raise particularly the need to address Pogonophobic Britain and the discriminatory practices that are currently widespread.

The Beard Friendly Charter (Summary)

No to Beardism and pogonophobia prejudice against the hirsute

More hirsute MPs

More hirsute public employees and monitoring of hirsuteness levels in the senior Civil Service

Promotion of positive public images of the hirsute

No dress codes at work, beyond a requirement for smart appearance for public facing roles

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So. Farewell then Fixed Term Parliaments?

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2017 by kmflett

So. Farewell then Fixed Term Parliaments?

The Chartists on Kennington Common on Monday 10th April 1848

In calling an Election for 8th June Theresa May needs to override (not repeal) the Fixed Term Parliaments Act passed by the Tory-LibDem Coalition.

As most suspected at the time the aim of the Act was not to represent a conversion to the idea of stable fixed term Parliamentary governance but simply a political expedient to stop either the Tories or LibDems from stabbing one another in the electoral back.

Indeed its quite hard to think of anything that David Cameron did that did not amount simply to a political expedient.

Just because Theresa May’s decision to call an Election is also based on grubby political pragmatism does not mean that fixed term Parliaments are wrong in principle though.

Many areas of British life revolve around annual or biennial elections-and arguably more should [judges for example]. As a Union officer I am subject to both yearly and biennial election for various posts and that underwrites both legitimacy and accountability.

One of the Six Points of the People’s Charter of 1838, the cornerstone of British democratic practice, was for annual Parliaments. It was the only one of the six never to become law.

It might be argued that this was because it was not practical in the mid nineteenth century and is even less so now. Doing most things that make a difference in a complex world and doing them effectively takes time.

The labour movement in the last quarter of the nineteenth century recognised that point and the Chartist demand was modified to call for Elections every two or three years.

Three years seems about right to me. It gives enough time for a Government to effect legislative change and to start implement it. I note Theresa May has preferred the two year option perhaps feeling a greater affinity with the Chartists than the Social Democratic Federation.

Of course there are other ways of precipitating General Elections, fixed term Parliaments are not necessarily that fixed  and the Chartists also tried their hands at General Strikes and armed insurrections. They worked less well than the Six Points though

Articles

More beer travels in the North

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2017 by kmflett

More Beer Travels in the North

I spent much of Easter Oop North with my usual drinking companion, Megan Davies.

We weren’t of course just drinking but seeking out interesting food and checking out some of the magnificent buildings to be found.

We used to do this a fair bit at Easter (primarily in York and environs) but in recent years have been attracted by the Craft100 in Clapham (which didn’t run this year) and Brodies Bumny Basher (which did but was publicised late).

Looking back at posts for 2013/14 I note my view that ‘craft keg’ was making some headway in the North but cask was still king. Matters I think are now much more evenly balanced.

First stop was Hop City Leeds at the Northern Monk brewery in central Leeds (I’ll post separately on that). While in Leeds we also stopped off at some old friends- Friends of Ham, whose beer range remains excellent and Bundobust, whose food and beer range are also excellent. Subtle changes have taken place. Bundobust now has (I think) more hand pumps to go with the vegetarian Indian food. Without doubt the more interesting beers at Friends of Ham (which is as much as anything a place for great meat and cheese) were on the keg side although a commitment to cask remains. We also stopped by Leeds Brewdog opposite the Corn Exchange, whose historic location makes it one of my favourite of their bars. Finally we stopped by Little Leeds Beer a bottleshop actually in the Corn Exchange. Little it may be but the beer range was good and decently priced.

Travelling to Huddersfield on Saturday we made a belated first visit to the Magic Rock Brewery tap (again I’ll post separately) but it was good to see a mix of cask and keg on there in appropriate proportions. We didn’t in the end visit The Grove as planned but did stop by The Sportsman. That had more cask than keg by some distance but looked like a good community focused pub.

In short it would be difficult to claim that craft ‘keg’ was now any less easy to come by in the North than down Sarf- and prices are quite similar, which may be an issue in some cases. Cask is still very much there but I think there is a job to do to make sure that what is on cask is as ‘interesting’ as the craft for the nuanced drinker. Session IPAs can be a good answer here but weren’t really that much in evidence at the weekend.

Still, combined and uneven development in beer is at work here