Thursday, 24 May 2018

Rochdale Labour Party Split?

ROCHDALE LABOUR PARTY, according to sources inside the party, is for all practical purposes split in two.  Following the local elections on May 3rd, the Labour councillors voted to re-elect Councillor Brett as their leader and therefore the Council leader by 29 to 16.

Since then, a meeting of the local Rochdale Constituency Labour Party has voted by 32 to 1 against Coucillor Brett, on the grounds that he has brought the party into disrepute, owing to his recorded comments about possible discrimination in how road repairs are conducted in the town.

It is believed that elements within the party with entrenched cultural preoccupations in central Rochdale have been propping-up Councillor Brett in face of his critics.  One source close to the Labour Party told Northern Voices that there are now two Labour Parties in Rochdale.

On the 16th, December last year, the NV Blog in a story entitled 'Musical Chairs on Rochdale Council' reported:
'COUNCILLOR Allen Brett, Coun Farnell’s deputy, got the job as leader of Rochdale Council, after he was nominated by Councillor Sara Rowbotham and seconded by Councillor Neil Emmott,  The motion for Allen Brett to become Coucil leader was also supported by Councillor Ashley Dearnley and a number of  Conservaties.'  

Since then on the 5th, May this year, over a hundred 'grass-roots' Rochdale Labour Party members from 18 local wards issued an open letter calling for fresh leadership 'to take the borough forward'.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Peace News on the Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair

Anarchists barred from bookfair

One person barred and a second ejected from Liverpool event.

Septuagenarian Anarchist - Brian Bamford

ON 7 April, the organisers of the Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair excluded two people from the gathering, which was taking place in the huge Black-E community arts centre near the city centre.

Brian Bamford, a member of the Northern Anarchist Network, was told in advance that he would not be allowed in, and was stopped at the door.  Another man (whose name is not known) was taken from a workshop by organisers and thrown out of the bookfair. (The workshop was about employers barring trade unionists from jobs.)

I was told by bookfair organisers that Bamford had a history of causing disturbances, and they were determined to avoid such problems at their event.  The other man was apparently thrown out for circulating an offensive anti-trans leaflet.

Read more:

Sunday, 20 May 2018

"Sohm 2020" NEWSLETTER

  Below is the latest newsletter from Sohm Schools Support. In it you will find details of some very real recent successes and our most ambitious project yet: Sohm 2020. This is our project to raise £20k by 2020, in order to completely refurb 6 classrooms and demolish a condemned school kitchen and dining area, and replace it with a fit for purpose multi-functional school hall.
WE are delighted to announce the launch of "Sohm 2020", our drive to raise £20,000 over the next two years to fulfil two extremely ambitious projects.

Our sights have been raised as a result of an extremely fulfilling partnership we have struck with Beech Hill Primary school in Luton. 

We have also been encouraged by help from some other very generous donors and a working arrangement with a Swedish charity in The Gambia, that specialises in training and employing Gambian construction labour to work on not-for-profit projects, at cost price.

Our Beech Hill partnership

Beech Hill primary school in Luton is a large school in a modest, mainly Muslim area of the town. Its recently appointed deputy head, Natalie Carson, is daughter of SSS co-founder, Sandra Walker.  Natalie has previously worked with SSS in Sohm, when five years ago she and a colleague, undertook some training of teachers in the Gambian village.

Friendship cemented in Sohm 
with Beech Hill school, Luton

In her new role, in Luton, she has persuaded the school to "adopt" the Lower Basic school in Sohm. This will involve developing twinning arrangements, exchanging correspondence with individual pupils, exchanging curriculum materials and helping to fund raise on behalf on Sohm LBS. 

Beech Hill has already raised almost £1,500 for Sohm in the six months since the arrangement was agreed, and has committed itself to assist the school for upto three years. Sohm has also adopted the twinning enthusiastically, as the photo, above - taken in February - shows.

Beech Hill has other, exciting, twinning and fund raising events planned over the following months - and we will keep you up to speed on their progress.

Initial target - met!

Over the last year, our charity efforts have been focused on raising enough money to completely refurb and re-furnish broken down classroom in a decaying block of six at the Lower Basic school.  Supporters have generously provided us with the £2,500 we felt necessary to undertake this task. And we thank them (they know who they are!), very sincerely for their generosity.

The six photos in this sequence 
are of some of the damage to the 
walls in the classrooms which will 
be fixed, via steel girder
supports in the six classrooms

Above and below - close ups of the 
extent of the damage to the 
walls, on the photo, two up

Your generosity will also pay to 
replace the broken classroom 
furniture, desks and chairs

Termite damage has made this, the 
door to the deputy head's office, 
unusable.  This will be fixed by September
We have, in fact, been able to raise twice that amount for this project! 

In January we were given an estimate, by the government's education building surveyor for refurbish and re-equipping the whole six-classroom block. We have given the spec to the local Swedish/Gambian charity, mentioned above and they have given us a cost price quotation for the work.

Working on a "matched-funding" basis with our colleagues from Jersey, we are delighted to announce that we have now collected enough to restore the whole six classroom block, and an office within it!

Work will commence at the end of the summer term and we hope everything will be complete in time for the pupils' return to school in September.

More innovative funding

Until two years ago we had free container space to ship donated items out to The Gambia.  This arrangement enabled us to take, among other items, a whole classroom computer suite, with associated equipment.

Stationery: donated ...

The "free passage" offer has, unfortunately ended. One of our long-time supporters, forgetful of this, however, donated a large supply of unwanted stationery to us, as he was closing down his stationery business. It would have been ideal for the children in Sohm - but the commercial transportation costs of getting it there would have been greater than it was realistically worth to the schools in the village.

... and transported.  That's another 
classroom refurb paid for!

A generous, local-to-us, retailer stepped in and offered to buy the stock from us.  Friends and colleagues transported it free.  Result? Another few hundred pounds to help restore the classrooms! Thanks to all concerned in that transaction - on behalf of the children of Sohm Lower Basic school!

The big one!

Flushed with success, and some certainty about future levels of funding, we began exploratory talks, while in the Gambia earlier this year, about embarking on our most ambitious-to-date project. The demolition of the school's decrepit, unusable, 35-year old school kitchen and dining hall and replacement with a fit-for-purpose facility.

Above and below: the existing, but condemned 
kitchen and dining room, from outside. 
Note the interesting curvature of the roof!

It has been condemned and out of use for three years now. Even when it was operational the 'dining area' was inflexible, as the "furniture" consisted of immovable concrete blocks. In the absence of a proper kitchen and dining room, children have to make to with pieces of bread, dipped in a sauce, from outside stalls in the school grounds.

Complete with dilapidated windows - above -
and holes in the wall (not ATM's unfortunately)
 - below- you can put your fist through

Once more, we got the schools' building inspector to give us a price for demolition of the building and the reconstruction of a kitchen area and multi-functional hall.  The initial estimate is £20,000, inclusive.

The hall will have movable tables and chairs - so it can still be used as a dining area, and so much more.

The current kitchen area, above, with a close-up,
below, of the cement units in which wood is 
burned to heat the pots to cook the rice

The furniture can be moved to one side - so offering the school its first ever: assembly hall, indoor gym, meetings room, performance area and prayer room.

Above - the condemned dining hall, with 
immovable cement "furniture". Below the outdoor 
"dining" arrangements the children are making 
do with in the absence of the unfit dining hall

We aim to raise £10,000 over the next 18 months to pay for this - and so, with our Jersey partners, reach our £20k by '20 target.

Your help - as ever, would be much appreciated! And, as ever, we will keep you up-to-date on progress with the project.
John Walker 07954 153 305 Gambia stuff: @GambiaSchools Forest Gate stuff:, @E7_NowAndThen

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Gaza massacre - 600 Palestinans killed on Monday!

"Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." (Friedrich Nietzsche).

When you hear that seven US governors have written to the Nobel committee nominating U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel peace prize, it makes you think that the inmates have taken over the lunatic asylum. That educated idiot, Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, has also called for Trump to be awarded the peace prize and believes that the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem, "could be a force for peace."

On Monday, 60 Palestinian demonstrators were killed at the Gaza border fence, many by Israeli snipers. The killings which included eight children under the age of 16 and a double amputee in a wheelchair, who was shot for throwing stones,  coincided with the high-profile ceremony to mark the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the 'Nakba' ('catastrophe'), when more than 70,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled in 1948, following the creation of the state of Israel. At least 2,400 people were wounded. Trump called the embassy move a "great day" for Israel and his daughter Ivanka, celebrated the opening to cheering and clapping from American and Israeli VIPs. 

The foundation of the Israeli state 70 years ago, involved the deliberate ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Demands for compensation and restitution have been routinely ignored for decades. In what some people see as a provocative act, Donald Trump chose to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on the very day the Israeli's commemorated their state's anniversary and the Palestinians mourned their Nakba.

Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has now reached its 51st year. The people of Gaza have had to endure eleven years of blockade since they voted in a Hamas government in 2006. Despite being a flagrant violation of international law and an obstacle to peace, the Israeli's continue to expand Jewish settlements on the West Bank and to pursue a policy of ethnic cleansing. UN Security Council resolution 2334, passed on 23rd December 2016 - the U.S. abstained - condemns the Israeli settlements on the West Bank as a flagrant violation of international law; demands that Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem", and seeks a two-state solution to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. The resolution is entirely consistent with international law going back to 1967, which sees Israeli settlements on occupied land as illegal. 
Fadi Abu Salah killed by the IDF

There are 430,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and 200,000 Israeli's in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state. Despite almost universal condemnation of the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the Israeli's continue with their illegal seizure of Palestinian lands. Two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President, Israel revealed plans for nearly 600 settlement homes in East Jerusalem. 

Although many of the Palestinian demonstrators are unarmed and throw stones and no Israeli soldiers have been killed since the protests began in March, Israel's hard- line prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, blames Hamas for the deaths of Palestinians and says that every country has the obligation to defend its borders even if these borders are illegal and a violation of international law. Netanyahu says there will be no Palestinian state on his watch. He and is government are addicted to  grabbing Palestinian lands and moving in illegal Israeli squatters. 

In 2014 the Israeli's killed 1,500 civilians, one-third children, using shelling, bombing, drone strikes and sniper fire to kill people in Gaza. In February 2015, the U.S. Congress gave 25 standing ovations to the man (Benjamin Netanyahu), who ordered the attack. The U.S. gives £3.8bn a year to Israel in military aid. The killings in Gaza will intensify demands that the Israeli top brass be prosecuted for war crimes.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Shadow of Rochdale's Danczuk Dynasty survives

by Brian Bamford
ALMOST four years ago on the 3rd, June 2014, BBC News announced:
'Rochdale Council is set to have a new leader after a coup in the ruling Labour group.  Colin Lambert was unseated by former leader Richard Farnell at a Labour group meeting on Monday evening.

That brought a tweet from the then Rochdale Labour MP, Simon Danczuk:
'Good news for Rochdale that Richard Farnell is to be new council leader, commiserations to outgoing Councillor Colin Lambert.'

This 'good news for Rochdale' was to turn into sour milk as a bumbling Richard Farnell squirmed under cross-examination in the hot seat of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse in 2017.

In 2014, BBC Radio Manchester claimed there had been a long term plan to replace Colin Lambert as leader of the Rochdale Council following the local elections of that year.

At that time it seemed that the now disgraced Councillor Farnell was being pushed by the Danczuk mafia within the Rochdale Labour Party to take over the leadership almost against his will.  Sources inside the party suggested Farnell even then foresaw his own future downfall, and was in a state of distress at the thought of taking over at the top.

Councillor Farnell, we now know is suspended and in some disgrace, though still in receipt of his council stipend.  His close colleague and pal Councillor Allen Brett replaced him in December 2017.

Coucillor Brett was Simon Danczuk's Parliamentary agent and he is reputed to have praised Mr Danczuk in the following terms:
'Simon is someone with the qualities and skills to represent Rochdale in Parliament very well indeed.  He’s got a breadth of experience in the trade union movement and in business.  He’s a former councillor and because of his own upbringing, understands how difficult life can be for people and families in Rochdale.  I’m looking forward to working with him.'

Thus, yesterday's news that Councillor Allen Brett had been re-elected as the Leader of the local Labour Party and hence the Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, will be cause for concern for a large section of the party.  The day before Brett's re-election (6th, May) in a letter on Rochdale ONLINE, over a hundred  'grassroots members of the local Labour Party' from 18 wards in the borough of Rochdale, urged local councillors to vote for Councillor Jacqui Beswick as Labour Group leader which they claimed 'will give the fresh leadership to take the borough forward.'

Instead, the Rochdale Labour Party has just gone politically backwards.


Saturday, 5 May 2018

Who Pissed on Rochdale Labour Party's Chips?

by Brian Bamford
Damaging 'Off the Cuff' politics of Dancuk, Farnell & Brett

AFTER last Thursday's local elections, West Heywood's Labour Councillor Jacqui Beswick,  announced her bid to take over the leadership of Rochdale Council by standing against Allen Brett the current leader.  She said:  'I don't want to drag up the past difficult times', but 'the bad press' she insisted, won't have helped the Labour Party in Rochdale.

At this Sunday's AGM the future of the Rochdale Labour Party will be in the balance, when elections are to be held for leader.  Tellingly, Councillor Beswick told the Rochdale Online website:  'I believe in change!  Not from the top down', but from the ward membership upwards.

Councillor Beswick stood before for the leadership last November, when the disgraced Richard Farnell stood down, but she failed to get in.  What she didn't say yesterday, is that she didn't succeed because of opposition from her minority group opponents with special cultural interests within the local Labour party.  Northern Voices, at that time, was told by sources close to the Party, that she lost because she refused to parley with these minority  'clans' with unique influence in the party.

Yet it may well be to these forces, which Councillor Beswick may be eluding to below when she talks of 'an opportunity for a new broom to sweep out the old order instead it was consolidated with backers of the former leader who seemed in denial'.

Yesterday, in her Rochdale Online interview, Councillor Beswick declared:

'Recent events in Rochdale have shown there is a need for change in Leadership.  Some of us tried to make this make this point when the national party asked the previous leader to step down last November following his evidence to the IICSA enquiry.
'This should have been an opportunity for a new broom to sweep out the old order instead it was consolidated with backers of the former leader who seemed in denial.
'Timescales were deliberately short and instead Richard Farnell's close ally and deputy [Allen Brett] took over. 
'At this time the level of change at the top was not sufficient, which is why a number of cabinet members and a deputy resigned last December.
'Rochdale and its residents deserve better than this and especially after the IICSA report that has identified historic failings 
'I believe fresh Leadership is important to take the Borough forward. For this reason I am putting my name forward at the next group AGM with an agenda for change that says the old ways of doing things are not good enough for Rochdale.'

With Allen Brett as the Labour leader, and with the former disgraced leader still in the wings as a Rochdale councillor, the Rochdale Labour Party is tainted by the political ghost of the disgraced former Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, to whom both were close.  All Danczuk's sexual peccadilloes, and the misdemeanours with regard to his expenses, have over the years soured the political atmosphere in the Rochdale Labour Party.  But, Councillor Allen Brett hasn't helped to clear-the-air by recently trying to dissemble his way out of what he said about being selective favouring Labour wards in spending the £12 million government grant on local road improvements, and then when caught out claiming this was just an 'off the cuff' remark.

This terrible triumvirate Danczuk, Farnell and Brett, all in the end pissed on the chips


Dave Chapple’s MAY DAY Speech

Wells May Day 2018:

International Worker’s Day greetings from a life-long Somerset trades unionist, a school-cleaner for 11 years, a postman for 38, a shop steward for 35 of those years, to the Wells Constituency Labour Party for organising this, the first May Day March in Somerset for 24 years.

Solidarity, also, to Wells, from Somerset’s working-class capital: Bridgwater.
Bridgwater, a town where, today, 14 out of 16 town councillors; 10 out of 15 district councillors, and 2 out of 3 county councillors are Labour.

Bridgwater, home of 17 pub-based workers Carnival Clubs, which organise, at weekly meetings of 10 to 30 members, on November’s first Saturday, the greatest West Country working class cultural event, one enjoyed by 100,000 people from all over. 
Bridgwater:  The home of Robert Blake, Cromwell’s General at Sea, staunch republican if not a regicide, who personally inflicted some of the first Royalist casualties of the Civil War.
Bridgwater, where, after the battle of Sedgemoor in 1685, no member of the Royal Family set foot in the town for over 300 years.

Bridgwater, the town, a century later, that remembered Judge Jeffries sending 800 Monmouth rebels to Barbados sugar plantations, so well, that radicals like John Chubb organised Britain’s first ever petition against the slave trade.

Bridgwater, which, even if the town’s large factories have been replaced by warehouses, still hosts militant trade union organised workplaces, like the Unite union at Refresco-Gerber and ARGOS, who have struck for two weeks and three weeks, respectively, in the last few years. 
Like Hinkley Point “C” construction workers, who won back lost bad weather wages recently after a successful and illegal sit-in. 
Like my former workplace, the Royal Mail Delivery Office, where, still, national and regional managers are regularly thrown into panic upon rumours of yet another wildcat strike being planned by the CWU Reps and Committee;
But what of the rest of Somerset?  What of the Mendip area?  What of Wells itself? Well, it seems clear now, 33 years after the epic NUM strike of 1984/5, that Tory Governments planned, starting with the miners, to shut down whole industries in order to weaken or eliminate strong trades unions. 
Over the next decades, Thatcher, Major and Blair were glad to wipe out 90% of UK manufacturing, to critically wound trades unionism as a whole. So Somerset, too has been almost completely de-industrialised: we now have hardly any large factories that make things. 
Think at all those losses: the dozen or so Somerset Clarks shoe factories; Moorland and Bailey sheepskins; printers and packagers like Butler and Tanner, Mardon, Purnells; Cider makers like Showering; Evercreech dairy; Nutricia; St Cuthberts paper mill at Wookey; and for Wells, skilled engineers like Clares and EMI. 
So it wasn’t just the cities, not just the NUM: Somerset has, also, descended, within two generations, from a place where working-class people through their union could negotiate reasonable wages, conditions and pensions, to a dog-eats-dog individual race to the bottom: bullying supervisors, zero-hours, no holidays, no sick pay, no pension no rights at all.
But why, then, I am proud to announce, in the last few weeks, has Wells hosted the launch of Mendip TUC, the newest local trades union council in the UK?

Because trades unionism still exists in the Mendips, there are reps and stewards and union branch officers in every town and many villages.

Because rural trades unionism can still thrive: in every village school, every small town Royal Mail Delivery Office, every time you see a BT Openreach worker shimmying up a telegraph pole, shop in most supermarkets, try and find a job in one of the few remaining job centres, you will come across trades unionists: in the CWU, in the NEU, NASUWT, UNISON, in PCS, Unite, GMB or USDAW.

If you are a Mendip area trades unionist, join us at our next Wells meeting in the Lawrence Centre, Union St, 6pm on Monday May 21st!

What of the radical and socialist tradition in Mendip, and Wells itself?

George Howell was a bricklayer, shoemaker, and Chartist.  He was also an auto-didact, a historian, and Secretary of the TUC Parliamentary Committee in the 1870’s and 1880’s. George was born and grew up in Wrington. 
Fred Swift was a Writhlington coal miner, an ILP/Independent Labour Party socialist and, with the Bridgwater railwayman James Young, one of the first two socialists elected to Somerset County Council before World War One.

Arthur James Cook: AJ Cook, born at Wookey in 1883, brought up in Cheddar where he worked on Caleb Durbin’s dairy farm, became at 17 a Rhondda miner, a fiery and revolutionary syndicalist orator jailed twice, for sedition and for opposing World War One, and finally, leader of the MFGB during the General Strike and Miner’s Lockout of 1926. 
The General Strike, where the local Wells strike committee, led by railwaymen, ordered 200 copies of the TUC’s daily The British Worker during those epic nine days. 
From syndicalism to Parliamentary socialism: Only two generations ago, Labour and Tory were almost neck and neck in Wells: In the 1945 General Election, the Tory majority over Labour was reduced to only 2,465.

In 1950 Labour polled 18,000 votes to the Tories 20,600 in a turnout of 87.8%.

In 1951, Dai Llewellyn, former Welsh miner and veteran International Brigader from the Spanish Civil War, the Somerset Miner’s Agent, won 21,500 Labour votes and again came a narrow second.

It wasn’t until 1974 that the Liberals overtook Labour in Wells. 
You can never tell me, looking back at that astonishing working-class Labour support, in Wells, a Cathedral City for goodness sake, the “Belly of the Tory Beast” that what happened once, a long time ago, could not happen again, but better still, Labour winning Wells!
Why not? People can sometimes change very quickly! 
After all, 50 years ago, a fortnight before the French Revolution of May 1968, were not learned Marxist historians predicting decades of working-class subservience? 
To start winning, we do need to organise, campaign, show solidarity, on a Somerset county-wide basis. 
From Dulverton to Bath, Portishead to Chard, Burnham on Sea to Frome, Keynsham to Yeovil, Radstock to Wellington, Cheddar to Wincanton.

Poor public transport does make this difficult. 
You can get a bus from Clevedon or Wells to Bristol up to 10.30pm at night, yet try and get to Bridgwater from Glastonbury, or Burnham on Sea from Bridgwater, after 7pm, and this is the same First Group bus company! 
Reason: the Tory Somerset County Council is the only West Country county that cannot be bothered to have a County Transport Forum: then again, how many Tory Councillors have ever caught a bus? 
Somerset needs county-wide independent campaigns, supported by the six Somerset Trade Union Councils and all local Labour Parties:
Against Library Closures; 
Against cuts and closures to NHS Community Hospitals;
Support teaching and other education unions fighting Academy attacks on their pay and conditions;
Against Tory County Council cuts to children centres, children and adult disability learning services;
Against outsourcing of NHS District Hospital non-medical staff: 
The list of dismantled Somerset public services is almost endless. 
I suggest that, from 2019, trades unionists and socialists in every Somerset town host an event, such as a public meeting, on May 1st, but for all Somerset towns to come together in Wells, the centre of our County, to celebrate International Worker’s Day on this first May Saturday. 
Today, we still honour the sacrifices of those anarchist workers in Chicago who in the late 1880’s suffered state execution for fighting for the 8-hour day, but in dying for our socialist cause, they lit a torch that still, if sometimes dimly, burns.

2018 should be the year that Somerset’s workers get of their knees, learn that if you fight you can win, if you never fight you always lose.

Don’t be a drop-out! Get up, get into it, get involved! Refuse to lose! 

Three rap titles from the greatest of all popular musicians, The Godfather of Soul, the Minister of Super Heavy Funk, James Brown.

But, 2018 in Somerset, not Atlanta, Georgia: Get involved in what? Refuse to lose what? Fight for what?

I hope you don’t mind me ending with a personal point of view.

Just remember, I was a Labour Parliamentary candidate a long 31 years ago!

I have been a Somerset socialist agitator for over 40 years, but I’m not tired:

I fight for a country that is run by a radical industrial workplace democracy, that has priority over councils and parliament; 

The fundamental units: Community Assemblies (They were called Soviets);
The old and still un-achieved Chartist demand for annual elections with recallable delegates;
An anti-militarist, non-nuclear federation of the nations, where the rotor blades of Westland/Leonardo PLC really are turned into Bristol Channel wind and underwater turbine blades;
Where swords really can become ploughshares;
Where, here in Somerset and throughout the world, the long-suffering working-class, the peasants and the poor are anything but meek, are so bloody-well organised that they really can inherit the earth.

See you in Wells on our very own First May Saturday in 2019?

07707 869144

Friday, 4 May 2018

Tory bad boy makes good on Tameside Council!

Enfant terrible - Liam Billington

NORTHERN Voices congratulates Liam Billington, the Conservative Party candidate who yesterday won the Stalybridge-South ward with 1233 votes, in the Tameside  2018 May local elections.  Katy Flanagan, the Labour candidate, came second with 834 votes.

As the former editor of the scurrilous blog 'Tameside Eye', young Billington, once disclosed  that Tameside Council had spent over £30,000 on a variety of futile events - 'the diversity breakfast', 'lifestyle clinics', 'urban walks', all organised by sixteen 'well-being champions'.

In November 2014, he criticised a charity (Tameside 4 Good), for making a donation of £1000 to Tameside and Oldham Gay Society which they hailed as a success story.  He described 'Tameside Pride' as "a bunch of puffs mincing across Ashton", and suggested that the money would have been better spent on food-banks or care for the elderly, the people who need it most.  Asked whether he regretted his choice of language, he declared, "I'm gay myself and I use the word all the time."

As the Tameside Eye blogger, Billington was arrested in 2008 on an allegation of harassment relating to three doctored images that appeared on his blog.  The complaints were made by Labour councillor's  John Taylor - who Billington dubbed 'councillor fuckwit' - and Sean Parker-Perry.  Aged 19, Billington was held in custody for seven hours at Ashton police station, where he was photographed, finger-printed, and a sample of his DNA was taken.  His two computers were removed from his home and seized as evidence. After being charged with one count of harassment and two counts of racially aggravated harassment, he was eventually released on police bail.  After considering the evidence against him, Manchester Crown Prosecution Service, decided not to prosecute.

As the Conservative Party candidate for Stalybridge South, Billington recently launched a petition to bring back a market in what is now the Stalybridge Civic Hall.  He believes that reviving the market will be a key component to the regeneration of Stalybridge.  He is, however, no defender of public libraries and will find himself, well at home, among the many semi-literate councillors who make up Tameside Council, who have also closed many libraries throughout Tameside.  The young whizz-kid, once said, "Who needs public libraries when you've got Amazon and a laptop."  Needless to say, not everyone has a laptop or can afford to buy books online. But this doesn't seem to worry Billington.  I suppose that's what makes him a Tory - I'm all right Jack, fuck you!

No doubt, this young controversial 'enfant terrible', will bring some much needed opposition in the one-party state that's called Tameside Council and will enliven the debates in the council chamber.  A future Tory leader in the making on Tameside Council? Watch your back John Bell!

Cleansing the Stables?

by Les May

ON the evening of the local elections a lady who had spent the afternoon watching the antics of two Tory ‘number takers’ at a Castleton ward polling station described them to me as ‘a couple of daft lads’.  Later that day when the votes were counted one of those ‘daft lads’ came close to unseating the Labour incumbent, Aasim Rashid, whose majority was only 41 votes which was by far the smallest in any ward. How could this have happened?

It too easy to point to the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and the subsequent resignation of Richard Farnell.  But I believe the problem goes much deeper.   Farnell made the mistake of supporting the gone, but unlamented, ex MP Simon Danczuk, for far too long.  From the last day of 2015 until Labour refused to endorse his candidature in mid 2017 Danczuk had the support of Farnell and his cronies, which included some of the people who still hold the strings of power in the Rochale Labour group.  As a result the present regime just looks like ‘Farnell Lite’.

Danczuk brought to Rochdale an unpleasant style of politics.  If Labour in Rochdale is to avoid any more election night scares in what should be a safe Labour seat, it is going to have to show that it has broken completely with the past.  That means clearing out of the seats of power all the councillors tainted by too close an association with Danczuk.  Are they prepared to do it or will short term ‘horse trading’ open the door to the Tories in the long run?