Campaigners say US Presidential Election is no place for men with beards

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2020 by kmflett

Benjamin Harrison

Beard Liberation Front

19th October

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners say US Presidential Election is no place for men with beards

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with the US Presidential Election in its last weeks of campaigning it is no place for men with beards.

There has not been a US President with a beard since Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) and pogonophobia rules at the highest levels in US politics.

Donald Trump is a notorious beard hater who agonised over appointing warmonger John Bolton, who has a moustache, as National Security Advisor at one point.

More recently he has said that he disapproves of the beard of Eric Trump

Business Insider magazine has commented that ‘Trump reportedly does not like facial hair. None of Trump’s close associates have facial hair, a pattern dating back decades’.

Joe Biden is also consistently clean shaven although he doesn’t have a record of pogonophobic remarks.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the message from the US Presidential Election is that if you’ve got a beard the two main candidates don’t want to hear from you. We expect Donald Trump might ban beards if re-elected. Joe Biden might not go that far but don’t expect a Beard Friendly White House from him either.


Black History Month: Making Black History Matter

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2020 by kmflett

Black History Month: still no memorial for black Chartist leader William Cuffay

Those who used direct action to remove the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston earlier in the year were criticised, not least by Labour leader Keir Starmer, for failing to follow the correct democratic process for doing so.

Starmer was in favour of the statue being put in a museum and felt it should have happened a while ago, but not by the method by which it will now get there.

The point was of course that local campaigners had been trying for some years to get the Colston statue taken down and had met resistance and delay at every turn.

There is the view point, usually found on the political right, that Colston is part of British history- which is certainly correct- and so the statue should have remained but with a new plaque to reflect is activities as a slaver.

That had been tried too, at some length, and ultimately got nowhere.

With Black History Month in progress its worth recalling that there is still no memorial to the black leader of London Chartism William Cuffay either where he lived most of his life in central London or in the Medway Towns where he grew up.

Until quite recently, and this reflects how partial the history written of the British working class, even by those who were on its side, has been, he was an obscure figure.

I checked on a book about English radicalism in the first half of the nineteenth century by respected historians Edward Royle and James Walvin published almost 40 years ago. It has a chapter on the Chartist movement including 1848 but has not one mention of Cuffay.

That is not a reflection on the historians as much as the reality that it took Peter Fryer’s Staying Power, to  give William Cuffay his rightful place in history.

The reality is that he was referred to by the Times in 1848 in the terms of ‘the black man and his party’. That was because he was the London organiser of Chartism in that year of revolutions and a key figure behind the great Chartist demonstration on Kennington Common on April 10th 1848.

Cuffay was to the left of the national Chartist leadership, arguably someone with revolutionary politics. He was also a central figure in a key part of the fight for what is now known as Parliamentary democracy.

Yet just as all official efforts to get the Colston statue taken down failed so all attempts to get any kind of memorial to Cuffay- who died 150 years ago this month- have also so far got nowhere.

There was a long running campaign to get a plaque put up on a premises in central London near where Cuffay had lived in the Seven Dials area. This has got nowhere because the private owner refused permission and ultimately nothing more has been done.

Medway looks a little bit more promising. I was one of the speakers at a well-attended public meeting organised by Medway Trades Council in July on Cuffay where plans to re-name an area to mark Cuffay’s origins in the area, were discussed.

There is a lot of local campaigning effort behind it so hopefully, unlike in London, something may actually happen.

It is a reminder of one of the key lessons of the Black Lives Matter movement. Certainly official channels should not be ignored. However changing the attitudes and the memorials of centuries of racism and imperial endeavours requires more than polite requests. Campaigns and protests on the ground are central, as William Cuffay himself well knew.


Ambridge Socialist poll. What should happen to Philip & Gavin Moss?

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2020 by kmflett

18th October


Following the science on COVID-19 pub restrictions?

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2020 by kmflett

Following the science on COVID-19 pub restrictions?

Below are a couple of paragraphs from an Observer report (18.10) on COVID-19 pub restrictions. A link to the full article is also below.

If such restrictions were reasonably certain to limit infections they would be worth it-with a furlough for staff and support for businesses. As it is the report suggests that what is being proposed is not science at all but simply a mantra.

Manchester leaders had also had problematic meetings with Prof Jonathan Van Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer for England, which made them wonder if there was any science at all behind the plan. They had asked Van Tam if he could guarantee that closing pubs and clubs would bring the virus under control in their areas – and Van Tam said he couldn’t.

At 10.30am, things got even more fractious when the 29 local Labour and Tory MPs began a meeting with junior health minister Helen Whately. Van Tam was present again. When Van Tam told the MPs – who included five Tories who had won their “red wall” seats for the first time last December – that people in pubs and bars who talked above loud music were more likely to spread the virus, the Labour MP Lucy Powell was so cross she un-muted herself and told him in no uncertain terms that for 12 weeks it had been table service only in Greater Manchester, and that households had only been able to mix outside anyway.


Ambridge Socialist: Modern Slavery Day. Philip & Gavin Moss confess

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2020 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

18th October

Modern Slavery Day. Philip & Gavin Moss confess to the BBC

As the Ambridge Socialist has previously reported while Philip and Gavin Moss’s gangmaster activities are bad enough it is the cover-up that is likely to get them caught. Kirsty has continued to be on the job of Gavin’s apparent problems with the ‘horses’ in fact of course slave labourers with two legs not four.

This week Gavin has had to listen to a lecture from Alastair about how he addressed his gambling addiction. Philip has clearly taken the view that the pretence is likely to end badly before long and started floating the idea of moving back to Wales.

18th October is Modern Slavery Day and you can find Philip and Gavin Moss speaking out about the horses @BBCTheArchers in a short video.

One wonders if Sergeant Harrison ‘Sherlock’ Burns will take a look at their confession

Alice & the bottle

It has been another week of angst for Alice. On the one hand yet more temperance on advice. On the other hand zero attempts to deal with her actual drink problem. Abstention may well be the answer to that but it will be a process not an urging.

The search for Roman coins. Eddie Grundy retrains as a local history expert.

The Government has been urging people to re-train recently as unemployment rockets. Eddie Grundy is never knowingly unemployed when potential cash is around and so has styled himself as a local historian. He has an excellent claim to the title and predictably the Archers Dynasty are sneering at him

Vince Casey: do the Elbow Bump

Philip and Gavin Moss could take a few lessons from Vince Casey about how to be a dodgy businessman legally (ish). This week he has told Elizabeth that he hasn’t quite perfected his elbow bump technique yet. We wonder….


Beyond statistics: the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2020 by kmflett

Beyond statistics: the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities

All deaths matter and it is right that those who sadly die from COVID-19 are recorded and statistics kept.

The ONS published on 16th October updated statistics on the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities which underlines the point, occasionally mentioned in the media, that death rates are considerably higher.

I have extracted a couple of paragraphs from the reports Executive summary and a link to the full report below:

In England and Wales, males of Black African ethnic background had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, 2.7 times higher than males of White ethnic background; females of Black Caribbean ethnic background had the highest rate, 2.0 times higher than females of White ethnic background.

“Our statistical modelling shows that a large proportion of the difference in the risk of COVID-19 mortality between ethnic groups can be explained by demographic, geographical and socioeconomic factors, such as where you live or the occupation you’re in. It also found that although specific pre-existing conditions place people at greater risk of COVID-19 mortality generally, it does not explain the remaining ethnic background differences in mortality.”

As the report notes the reasons for the higher death rates are not primarily related to existing health conditions but rather to ‘demographic, geographical and socioeconomic’ factors.

That is far as statistics can take us but there are real people here, with friends and families and tragedies when they fall ill and die.

Our understanding of that is poor to non-existent. Who after all is inquiring?

One example comes from Tottenham in North London where the Borough of Haringey’s basketball coach Hesketh Benoit reports on the deaths from COVID-19 of 37 people he knew. All but one were from ethnic minorities.

As infections rise again this issue cannot be ignored again and nor can the people and communities where the impact is.

A problem is that as a study by the GMB union has shown even now 25% of BAME workers do not have proper PPE. The history and lessons from earlier in the year are being ignored:


Jacob Rees Mogg discovers Wales

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2020 by kmflett

Jacob Rees Mogg discovers Wales

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees Mogg has been opining on the decision of the Welsh Labour Government to restrict travel into and out of Wales in order to more effectively control COVID-19 infections.

The First Minister Mark Drakeford had asked Boris Johnson to act but he declined to do so on several occasions.

Mr Rees Mogg could not of course resist having a pop:

He blamed those “voting for socialists” and replied: “What would you expect of a hard left Labour government?”

While I’m not really sure the Welsh Government is ‘hard left’ it has certainly done a rather better job overall (obviously there is scope for criticism) at managing the crisis of 2020 than Johnson has.

Rees Mogg made the point that England and Wales are part of the same country. That is correct if and until the Welsh people decide differently. Its also true that there is no legal border between the two countries. If one wanted history Wales has played a significant role in the development of British capitalism and imperialism, not of course to the benefit of ordinary people anywhere.

However as the Welsh Government has made clear the travel restrictions relate not to any of that but simply as a practical measure to try and grapple with rising COVID-19 infections. When one considers that there is a longish list of places from which people who travel into the UK have to quarantine for the same reason one can understand that it is not a particularly exceptional move.

More might have been done to counter the reactionary ‘Wales is closed to the English’ voices that one hears as part I’m afraid of a rising tide of right-wing and reactionary sentiment across the world. Perhaps a wall is needed?

Beyond all this the really important question is what does Rees Mogg know of Wales?

Speaking to Bridgend Tories he has opined that a relation on the Rees side of the family came from Wick (Vale of Glamorgan). The Moggs come from Somerset. The links between Somerset and South Wales are well known though probably not to Rees Mogg. The miners leader during the General Strike, A J Cook, who worked in the Welsh coalfields came from Somerset.

Turning to Rees Mogg’s recent book of ‘historical’ essays The Victorians Rees Mogg is to be found mentioning ‘England and Wales’ as if they were always had been and always will be one country together with a few mentions of the Prince of Wales.

In short one suspects that like so many who are not in Wales Rees Mogg struggles to intellectually understand that Wales does exist as a country. Hence when it is proposed that travel into it is restricted for specific reasons for those not travelling for work or education (etc) the ‘does not compute’ sign starts flashing.


The crypt door swings open on the Scariest Halloween beard poll

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 16th October

contact Keith Flett 07803 167266


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, which campaigns against irrational prejudice against the hirsute, has said that the crypt has opened on the  Scariest Beard of Halloween 2020 poll

The title, awarded each year on October 31st, takes a wry look at Halloween festivities by identifying the scariest beard in the public eye. The winner is likely to win by the narrowest crack of a squeaky floorboard.

The BLF does not generally believe that beards are scary a view promoted by generations of pogonophobes.

It is accepted though that on a dark moonless night as a beard looms through the gloom, nerves may rise a little as to what lies behind the beard.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said as midnight approaches the poll could get scary. To be safe. Vote now

Scary Beard of Halloween 2020

Richard Branson


Noel Edmonds

Laurence Fox

Philip Green

Lord Sugar

Antony Worrall Thompson

Eric Trump


Before you cheer Wetherspoons loss look further

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2020 by kmflett

Wetherspoons has made its first loss since 1984.

The reasons in 2020 are obvious enough and its not I’m afraid because people have got fed up with Wetherspoons or because the workers have taken successful action for decent wages.

Tim Martin’s pubs are popular with many because they offer well priced beer (etc) & edible food in relatively pleasant (mostly) surroundings. When money is too tight to mention that is important to many.

Of course Martin himself is rightly reviled for his hard-line Brexit views, Tory politics and in recent times eccentric views on COVID-19.

Many wont be shedding tears for Martin’s bank balance but there are wider issues at work:

1 Breweries,’the Beerage’ and pubs are historically associated most with the Tory Party. Whether that association still holds in 2020 is hard to tell not least because of the random policies of the Johnson Government.

The initial decision on Small Brewers Duty Relief back in July which favoured larger regional to national brewers, some of who do fund the Tories, suggested the Beerage lives on. Tim Martin’s enthusiasm for Sunak’s Eat Out scheme suggested that the Beerage had been extended to large pub companies. Now as furlough ends and pub restrictions abound, who knows..

2 If big pub companies are making losses- Wetherspoons will survive- imagine the situation for smaller independent pubs and their ability to carry on

3 Finally but not least take into account the impact on workers. Martin announced today that 108 people at Wetherspoons Head Office had been made redundant. One wonders if he is taking a pay cut?


Michael Rosen wins Beard of Autumn vote to take record Trio of 2020 Beard Awards

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2020 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

16th October

contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Michael Rosen wins Beard of Autumn vote to take record Trio of 2020 Beard Awards

The Beard Liberation Front the informal network of beard wearers has said that the poll for Beard of Autumn 2020 has concluded with author Michael Rosen shaving the newly elected Mayor of Haringey Adam Jogee for the honour. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was third.

Michael Rosen took a 42% share of the vote compared to Adam Jogee’s 28%

It is the last of the four seasonal awards that conclude with the Beard of the Year in December 2020.

As usual there was a wide ranging field of beard wearers who have made a positive impact in the public eye recently.

Michael Rosen has already won the Beard of Summer 2020 and the Beard of Lockdown Awards in on-line polls. His victory in the Beard of Autumn poll brings him a record third award

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the Award confirms that Michael Rosen’s beard is in fine form. After his dreadful experience with COVID-19 and the impact of Long-COVID we hope the rest of him will follow before too long.

Beard of Autumn shortlist

Lenny Henry, actor

Adil Rashid, cricketer

Nuno Espirito Santo, football manager

Julian Alaphilippe, sportsman

Vaughan Gething, Welsh Health Minister

Harry Kane, footballer

Jofra Archer, cricketer

Michael Rosen, author & Arsenal fan

Benjamin Zephaniah, author

Adam Jogee, Mayor of Haringey