Archive | September, 2011

Freedom Books at Houseman

30 Sep

Now when I was a kid I watched far too many Walt Disney films set in London with dancing chimney sweeps and scenes where everyone would break out into a song and dance routine at the drop of a hat. I try and stay away since I realised a few years back that it wasn’t really like that but I make the odd foray down there, one such reason for nipping down from Sandy Station on Saturday was a FREE event at Houseman books next to a porn shop on Caledonian Rd when those nice people that produce Freedom magazine launched the new monthly edition. Donald Rooum that does “Wildcat” the cartoon that graces the back page was there as well ! Donald I would say is ino his mid 70s at least, sharp as nails and comes complete with a Bradford accent as thick as the best gravy.

Freedom magazine is a regular (now) monthly magazine that is a mix of news, noticeboard, light theory by that I mean I don’t get lost when I read it, worth a look at their website, they also have a wonderful bookshop down in Whitchapel called Freedom Books tucked away up Angel Alley.

Meanwhile Housmans (below) has been serving up a radical alternative to boring bookshops since 1945 and from 1959 just round the corner from Kings Cross. Both bookshops are gems in a world where online shopping rules and we need never leave the house. Although both will sell you stuff down telephone lines they are excellentg places for a mooch!

A really good event as Londoners basked in unseasonal weather!


Local Likely Lad!

30 Sep

Local lad Stephen Lennon from the Bedford village of Wilstead doubles up as Tommy Robinson from Luton, he was in Bedford Prison a week or two back as hordes of English Defence League members, sometimes into double figures championed his case as a political prisoner!

Anyway Mr Lennon / Robinson might be seeing the inside of a prison cell again in November after being convicted of head butting a fellow EDL supporter at a rally. They certainly sing from the same hymn sheet these EDL folk.
Anyway there’s talk of an ASBO against Lennon to stop him attending EDL demo’s so expect the conspiracy theory growing. It will be interesting to see what sort of sentence he gets considering those dished out to people half inching a packet of cigs, chewing gum and a bottle of pop when the UK caught fire last month.

Lead us to the promised land!

28 Sep

It’s the same old speech from the new Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (spelt correctly this time which just shows how much notice I take of him.
Blair made them laugh with his Bambi / Stalin comment 15 years back before setting fire to Iraq and decimating Afghanistan then nipping off to make his millions. Miliband tried and failed to win them over with his I’m not Blair / Brown” patter before giving the game away by saying he’s going to lead the Labour Party as he sees fit so sod anyone else. That’s leaders for you!
Actually he will listen to others, the spin doctors, advisors, media guru’s, self appointed business gods and people that eat out at top notch places most nights. As for the grass roots of the Labour Party, look just send your subs off, we will send you a magazine stuffed with adverts for stair lifts and be content.

Meanwhile just to remind us that like those soap / pop stars that you think are long gone and then turn up on Eastenders or similar, the UK mining industry is still about with a fourth death within two weeks, the third at this particular Yorkshire mine in a matter of years. We come in handy don’t we!

How it Works

26 Sep

Welcome to Liverpool Mr Milliband

You will sense the feel of deadened useless minds later this week when Ed Miliband takes to the podium to give his (technically) first speech to the loyals at the Labour Party Conference, he will be whizzed in and out in a choreographed move with no chance of him seeing any of the real Liverpool. There will be applause and rapture for their leader bordering on the religious. Some of them might just be prepared to admit that Miliband has no chance but it will be huddled. Today’s government relies on character, spin and greasing the right palms, keeping the masses content with mind numbing game shows, “famous” people learning to tango and a culture of tits and beer wrapped up in a England football shirt. Yesterdays (as in the 60s) Government was much the same without the television to keep us quiet, same old threats, loosing your job, your house, your sanity to keep you in line. At times, more so after the ruling class saw the excitement felt across the UK after the Russian Revolution, concessions were made, council housing (dubbed “Homes for Heroes” after WW2, which might sound familiar), education and the NHS. All there not to show a developing society just an elite shitting itself in case an increasingly unionised and seething population took to the streets.
Its population management by propaganda and stealth. Here’s an example of how the UK works. The Tory’s led by exclusively educated chaps and supported by the Lib Dems have introduced fees for education. What was once a right is fast becoming the domain of the few like it was after the second world war. We deserve no more than the right to work and die in something slightly above poverty.
The cost has been set by the education system at approx £9000 a year for a degree course and the Government themselves had a rant when the majority of the more prestigious universities went for top whack.
Milliband has now made one of those pre speech speeches that the Labour Party if elected will cap tuition fees at £6000 and the media have wet themselves as it shows Labour trying to appeal to the young and disaffected Lib Dem supporters.

That’s the degree side of education system sorted out and tied down. Then you get Academies, Free Schools and a whole load more that have completely dispensed with any form of democratic control. Housing is now totally removed from any form of social input, we are told how to live. The Health Service has become a game of Monopoly, £££millions to be made and no mention as yet about the true cost (to us that is) of the great PFI rip off.

There’s a view in anarchism that the terms right wing and left wing in the Conservative / Labour tennis game we have is totally misleading in that each “extreme” is just two slightly different takes on the same means of social control, one with a softer edge, just a means of keeping a political “tanker” floating along merrily in search of the same conclusion. In short if you are still with me the system maintains itself. Education becomes a privilage, Labour get to drag along a % of the population by saying “look how benevolant we are” much nicer than the Conservatives. I’ll vote for them, they won’t sell us out. Health becomes a luxury for the minority and a bun fight for the “bewildered herd” a phrase coined by Noam Chomsky.
And we come in handy don’t we. The elite, the bosses and bankers made millions, the crunch comes along and hovers like a bad smell and then we are all in it together. Paying all the way for the cock ups and stashed fortunes of others. The role of the last but one Labour leader is forgotten for the most part, he’s made a mint as well and at the same time the dead soldiers keep arriving home draped in a flag mostly associated with royal weddings and a dress worn by a Spice Girl. Pride in our “heroes” seems to always win as opposed to the question of why and how we came to be sending them to be killed in the first place. Help for Heroes is the catch phrase and equals national pride. Mrs McClinton (my Ma) is releasing a CD to raise money for soldiers that have lost limbs. I’ll end up buying a copy no doubt. I will feel like I’ve sold my soul for a £5.00 disc of Northern Irish tunes but I will say my bit when the moment comes and get ignored again for three years. Protestant offspring buying Gerry Adams’s book “A Pathway to Peace” doomed me to the greenhouse one night then a few years later Mr Paisley sips tea with Mr McGuinness.

Ed Milliband will never be Prime Minister. No big secret, the contenders are lining up, a few more party conferences and then persons way above us will decide that in order to keep us in our place a new Labour leader will be swept to power to some resurrected pop tune and we will all be assuaged by the fact that it only costs us £6000 a year to go to university. And the rest!


The Cunningham Amendment

24 Sep

Just a shamless plug for a super duper little publication called The Cunningham Amendment Volume 12 number 4 of which was waiting on the mat as we returned from a five day sojourn to austerity hit Portugal. I’ve put a little review in the Anarchism for Beginners page!
I’ve also waffled on about our chums “Now or Never” over in Norfolk!

As a postscript to The Cunningham Amendment note, sitting amongst its pages is a very excellent article by Ellie Mae O’Hagen from The Guardian of May this year. It starts with a nod of respect to Colin Ward, a writer and dedicated anarchist who managed that rare fete of crystalising anarchist thought into easily absorbable text. Several examples adorn the shelf of the Bedford Bypass bunker. Ward’s anarchism wasn’t smashing shop windows or gobbing on people the reason being that this isn’t anarchism. Ward’s passion was directed towards inspiring people to say no to bullies by forming co-operatives and increasing community cohesion.

The Guardian article then gives a very precise description of what we personally believe anarchism is and why the state simply adores it when it manages to associate the term with mob rule and violence.

Thanks to the Cunninghams for repeating the text of the original Guardian piece, to Ellie for taking the time and effort to concoct it and for full effect it has been included as an addition to the Anarchism for Beginners page.

Hang them, burn them, flog them!

24 Sep

There’s nothing like a bit of naming and shaming of benefit cheats to get the blood boiling is there? Its a no brainer really and in the most recent case three Bedford women have been done for claiming £85,000 between them for fiddling job seekers allowances and similar.
I’ve got no problem with people who maliciously abuse the system being fingered however what smacks about this is having Labour dinosaur Cllr Shan Hunt jumping on the bandwaggon whilst at the same time Queen Shan of Kempston and her husband Will Hunt claim over £30,000 from public funds just for being on the Council. I recall Will Hunt featuring in the local papers a few years back when, as a teacher he was off with stress unable to work whilst at the same time being very able to carry out council duties and claim the expenses. That might be below the belt as Will was quite seriously stressed out when I spotted him fishing down the Country Park soon afterwards.
Back to the main theme of fiddling, when I worked for Bedfordshire County Council and later the Borough Council I came across no end of fiddlers, enough for a good old folk session in fact. The neat trick at Christmas was for staff to take those three days off between Xmas and New Year and with the place being deserted, not to bother booking the days off and keeping quiet when everyone floated back in the new year, consultants paying for hotel rooms, flights, free beanos. One guy I worked with had a knackered Land Rover which he sold to the council for more than it was worth, had a shed load of work carried out on it at public expense and then wangled it for him to carry on driving whenever he wanted to.
Senior officers at Bedford Borough regularly went for away days and overnightstays at a hotel in Peterborough until the Chied Exec retired taking a serious pay off and pension with him. One Borough big wig quite literally spent the last year of his working career wandering the corridors as he simply didn’t have anything to do. Then we had the current Chief Exec pulling in £170,000 and then getting a bumper bonus for organising the local elections. One of the bosses in the Boorugh Direct Works Department bollocking a worker for going to the dentist on works time then going off to Rushden in a works van to buy a rabbit and employing her daughter without the formality of an interview and then openly telling people that its because she (the daughter) was short of money depite being a full time fire fighter. I couldn’t make this up. It goes on and on!
Now its not quite the boo hiss stuff of people fiddling benefit allowance and it not got the same ring as all those (mostly Labour) MPs that were caught claiming for Zebra food and chimney sweeps but our society is founded on people pulling fast ones and I don’t like the idea of one rule for some and not all!

Dimension Jump

18 Sep

Debbs has found a weird break in the time continuum, people from the past wandering the streets of Bedford. See the new entry on the Things to Do page. Who’d have thought it!

Bedford Lib Dems

18 Sep

Bedford’s students can sleep safely as they return to the College this week, its the Lib Dem Conference in Birmingham this week so the two faced weasels won’t be about.
I spotted several local Lib Dem faces on the news at what looked like a wine and cheese reception up in Brum, local teenage Councillor Henry Vann being prominent with his mouthfull of biscuits unless that’s his natural profile.
Apparently they will be given the chance to vote on things and there will be workshops, maybe they’ll do one on sticking to manifesto committments or keeping a straight face while making promises to pensioners.
I had an interesting chat with a senior Borough officer on Saturday night which shed new light on the Borough’s chosen method of dispatching people. Seems like those being made redundant are kept dangling on a string for several months on the off chance of being slotted into a job and being told not to speak to anyone else about how shit it is working there, just keep doing the job and maybe things will be ok however the mood at Borough Hall (and the old Town Hall) is slighlty gloomier than the undertakers further down Kingsway which reminds me, I can’t think of a better juxtaposition, a funeral parlour where you can watch the black van arriving throughout the day, that childrens fun play centre right next door where kids jump about in a pit of plastic balls whilst watching theblack  van sneak down the alley way, Bedford College where you can get trained for jobs that don’t exist and Borough Hall in between where the key big wig staff are making sure they are safe while sticking the boot into everyone else below them!
Meanwhile this week its the Lib Dems turn to have wine and litle cheese cubes on sticks. Burgers for Labour no doubt and salmon for the Tories in a week or two.

Bedford Borough B**locks

15 Sep

The Mayor of Trumpton is on page 8 of the local freebie Times and Citizen urging us all to take the time to look at the full list of proposed cuts, I’ve spent two hours yesterday looking at just those affecting Adult (mostly social care) and Community Services. By the end of the weekend I might just be finished. Its good of Dave to suggest we get involved however in the same paper on page 3 it clearly states that cuts to services were approved by council chiefs last Wednesday. The next stage is Full Council on October 19th which will give all those Councillors that have been very quiet up to now the chance to so something which will probably be “fine by us your Mayorness, please give a Portfolio so I can claim an extra £10grand”
Its odd that given the affects of the cuts on exceptionally vulnerable minorities the one that’s kicking up stink (wow I should be on telly) is changes to bin collections and in putting this on the agenda the Mayor has sort of invented a new term this being “smelly waste”. Now waste has always been whiffy but what Dave Hodgson is suggesting is that one wek we can put our sloppy stinky food waste in with the garden waste and the next in the rubbish bin Then having confused people they collect your bin every two weeks instead of weekly.
Copper turned Vicar Charles Roydon pops up praising those noble courageous council officers for imagination and vision. Stewart Briggs (£130,000 a year) lives in very posh Biddenham, Paul Pace lives a bit further on the outskirts of Bedford, in Peterborough to be precise and his Waste Manager lives in the pretty Bedford village of Northampton so in terms of being at one with the communities of urban Bedford where interfering with bin collections will have the most impact, they really will be closely involved won’t they! Also they all know that in many areas, Urdu, Gurjurat and Polish are the primary languages and if you want to exclude minorities the best thing to do is stick to english. If they want to exclude English speakers the best trick is to make things mind numbing so well done there Dave.
I digress…back to smelly waste. There’s nowhere round here able to deal with garden waste and food waste mixed together so either a facility will have to be built or more likely the Borough will end up paying the cost to move it out to somewhere that can treat it according to animal by product regulations as it will contain meat residue. This will affect all the Borough’s collected garden waste so how any knobhead can suggest this will save money is beyond me.
Look at Central Bedfordshire. They brought in alternate week collections some years ago when they were Mid Bedfordshire District Council. It saved money first of all and then the complaints over maggots and rats poured, in scared the shit out of Conservative Councillors so they brought in food waste collection which wiped out any serious savings from going fortnighly in the first place. “Oh but it helps create electricity” they may say to which some with maliable minds might nod until you point out that they have a fleet of seven diesel vehicles racing around their area then trecking through Bedford to drop it off at Bedfordia Farms where it helps support an intensive pig farming where the sausage machines briefly see daylight only on a trip to the abbatoir.
Phil Simpkins the Chief Executive must be on holiday again as despite this being the week when the effect of the cuts start to be realised, he’s not mentioned once in the paper. Phil earns £170,000 and lives down Luton way.

Bedford Against the Cuts

13 Sep


Just got back from the Bedford Against the Cuts meeting and its a case of Bright Lights on the horizon!

Enough to wallop the cynic in me there’s a range of folk there from education, railway worker, trades council and two pensioners one of whom must be nudging 80. I hope I’m that sharp when and if I hit that ripe old age.
OK, to recap, Bedford Borough Council are forcing through cuts of millions. The devil is in the detail and going off what’s been published so far Poirot, Sherlock Holmes and that lot off New Tricks would be stumped, but seek and you shall find so I’m going back to the paperwork to in search of common denominators, those areas facing cuts that matter to the most.
There’s passion there and that’s what counts. I’m pleased and pleasantly surprised so I’ve signed up.
The next full meeting of Bedford Borough Council is October 19th and this town of ours, if these cuts go ahead will quite literally become a disaster area!

Now a voice has piped up from the other side of the sofa “how will this make Bedford any different from any other town, everywhere is facing cuts” the answer is it won’t but its our town, our services, our people being hit and if we don’t start shouting no one else will.