Saturday, 18 August 2018


Boris Johnson is not that daft, he knows his history and that racism and flirting with fascism wins elections.

Book review from 2014.

Published by Cambridge University Press

Enoch Powell was one of the most influential and divisive political figures of the post-war period in which Britain was forced to withdraw from its Empire and become a junior partner to the USA. Best known for his explosive rhetoric against black immigration, Powell was loved by many of his political generation. Camilla Schofield analyses why in this highly informative book.

1) What is the book’s theme?

It is ‘biography meets social history’. It tracks Enoch Powell’s political ideas from the 1930s onwards. It seeks to understand Powell’s popular appeal by analysing some of the thousands of letters he received in the years after the ‘rivers of blood’ speech in 1968. The letters are packed with popular racism. But they also reveal working people facing dramatic social and political changes, due to housing shortages, economic uncertainty and imperial decline.

2) Why did Powell hate the US?

This is key to Powell’s understanding of international relations and his strident US criticism meant he was sometimes accused of being a Soviet spy! He attacked ‘Cold War’ America for simply dividing the world into ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. In contrast, he felt the British Empire, at its best, respected the diversity and uniqueness of different peoples. American imperialism was, therefore, far more threatening to national cultures. He read post-war internationalism—like the United Nations and human rights law—as new forms of empire that profoundly threatened national sovereignty and political survival.

3) Why did Powell suggest Britons read the histories written in the two generations before 1880?

He felt an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ could be found in those years, which had been dampened by postwar economic controls. More importantly, in 1965, amidst talk of British decline, he insisted Britain must put the ‘imperial episode in parenthesis’. Preoccupation with the history of empire just doomed British national culture to a state of decline.

4) What motivated Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in which black immigrants wrongly became transformed into hostile invaders?

Its immediate cause was the 1968 Race Relations Act, which made it a civil offence for private businesses, like pubs or boarding houses, to refuse to serve individuals because of their ethnic background. At the time, Sikh bus- drivers in Powell’s town of Wolverhampton were demonstrating for the right to wear a turban and beard to work. Powell viewed this as a threatening example of ‘communalism’ that would be strengthened by the Act’s legal protection of minorities.

Additionally, two weeks prior to the speech, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. African-American protest and unrest was at its height at that time. In 1967, Powell had travelled to the US soon after Detroit witnessed one of the deadliest riots in US history. This cast a shadow on Powell’s understanding of race in Britain and contributed to his apocalyptic visions.

5) How was Powell’s supporters’ concept of the welfare state reinforced by a belief in upper class obligation?
Britain remained a class-bound society in 1968. We see among Powell’s supporters a respect for tradition, social deference and—partially—an acceptance of the ‘natural’ rule of the upper classes. Clearly any community’s understanding of government power—or state legitimacy— comes from a vast array of beliefs and traditions. Among Powell’s generation, understandings of the welfare state contained a complex, contradictory mix of beliefs. Welfare services could represent the expansion of social rights and egalitarian principles, but could also be seen as part of a traditional, charitable relationship between social classes.

6) Did Powell’s ‘enemies within’ speech - in which he attacked ‘organised disorder’ by students and union militants, the liberal media and clergy - assist the Tories to win the 1970 General Election?

Powell thought so—and those who have studied the election have tended to agree. There were major swings to the Conservative party in areas that showed support for Powell’s views. This is when he clearly articulated an anti-liberal populism. Right before Margaret Thatcher’s 1978 statement that Britons feared being ‘swamped’ by newcomers, she had been reading a book that argued that it was Powell who had won the 1970 General Election.

7) How did Powell help make the electorate more receptive to Thatcher’s radical politics?

Powell’s apocalyptic visions of racial violence profoundly contributed to fears of revolution in the 1970s and to the notion that Britain’s very existence as a nation was threatened. According to Powell, the liberal ‘enemies’ of the nation were everywhere—on television, in the Church, in the unions, and even within the Home Office. These liberal enemies had, among other things,
failed to protect working people from the ‘unarmed invasion’ of black immigration. Like Powell, Thatcher adopted the argument that the liberal establishment had grown too powerful and could not be trusted. With all this, Powell offered a holistic way of seeing the unrest and economic uncertainty of the 1970s—and called for radical political solutions.

Bradford Park Avenue 1 Stockport County 1

The home side earned a deserved draw against the team tipped by the bookies to finish top of the National League North, English football's sixth tier. 

Sadly, the reputation of some Stockport fans meant the crowd was segregated with decent Avenue and County fans unable to sit or stand next to one another and enjoy the craic. 

The away fans did include some idiots and the stewards faced a difficult afternoon and needed to throw out a number of County fans, some of whom invaded the pitch when their side took the lead late in the second period. At this point it was a deserved lead and the goal by Matty Warburton was a real belter of a shot from a good 25 yards out. 

County, for whom Warburton missed a first half penalty, harshly awarded I felt, then sat back. As a small number of police officers turned up to make sure everyone behaved themselves, Avenue fashioned a number of chances in the final 15 minutes of time that was played. The equaliser was a beauty with substitute Adam Nowakowski volleying home a superb cross by Beesley. 

Some photos of a game that failed to sparkle in the first period but was much better to watch in the second.

Steven Drench saves Matty Warburton's first half penalty

No Standing please!

The home side needed to employ additional stewards
because of the poor reputation of Stockport fans, some of whom did fail to behave themselves.

Avenue players congratulate scorer Adam Nowakowski on his late equaliser 

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Community rebuilds Grimsby

Apprentices trained to renovate local housing 
Project aims to create quality jobs and homes 

A retired businessman who began work as a teacher in the late 1960s on Grimsby’s East Marsh has joined with a local residents group to try to create long-term, well-paid skilled jobs that will revitalise the local economy and community pride. 
After a 20 year education career, Peter Rowley established his own manufacturing company, employing 40 people. 
Throughout his working life, Rowley, who sold his business seven years ago, warned that a lack of investment in skills training was damaging Britain’s industrial base, leading to a long term decline in manufacturing. 
Working-class pride 
Now he has linked up with local community group East Marsh United (EMU) to set up a construction training centre, offering apprenticeships to local people who will also refurbish and build much needed housing. 
Rowley witnessed the collapse of Grimsby’s fishing industry. Scotsman Bruce Forbes, an East Marsh resident of 42 years, first went to sea in 1970. “The pay rates were never good but jobs were plentiful,” said Forbes. “That helped breed a working-class community that prided itself on being self-sufficient and supportive of each other. The death of the fishing industry created high levels
of unemployment, crime, antisocial behaviour and drug use.” 
Late last year, Rowley published Class Work, a book examining an economy “on a roller-coaster as seen through the eyes of Grimsby school leavers from the 1970s to the present”. Their life experiences are mirrored in many northern towns. 
In the book Rowley interviewed Tony McLernon, a former pupil who became a training provider, lately with North East Lincolnshire Council. McLernon admitted: “Looking at Grimsby today it is hard not to be negative.” 
"Out of control" 
This downbeat assessment was being mirrored in the summer of 2017 on the boarded-up East Marsh streets, where, according to resident Billy Dasein, a former teacher, things were "out of control. Residents feared leaving their homes because of antisocial behaviour and drug dealing.” 
EMU was then formed with the backing of Canon John Ellis, an inspirational character who has run the local Shalom Youth Centre next to his church since 1971. 
Ellis outlined his experiences in Chicago at the Lawndale Community Church, where residents transformed their rundown area by purchasing houses and transforming them using construction teams they had trained. Newly moved-in couples completed the indoor decorations. 
Dasein, who joined EMU, said: “People want decent homes, employment and interesting things to do. It is hard getting motivated when you see a rundown neighbourhood. We first cleared up the litter. Flower baskets were hung up. Children now help water them. We have developed relationships with the council and police. 
“When Peter and Tony joined EMU, which has around 20 activists, our horizons expanded. We are conducting a Community Asset Transfer from the council of all of the abandoned Edwardian Holme Hill school. This will house a construction training centre and multi-skilled apprenticeships can
be created, all EMU-employed.” 
Rowley, who describes himself as a socialist, added: “We have secured £200k of funding to deliver a community housing project. We will buy two houses and refurbish them using an initial group of six apprentices.
We will then leverage in additional funds in order to complete a further 40 houses and complete our recruitment of the full apprenticeship cohort of 18.” 
EMU has partnered with Doorstep, a charity that acts as a social and ethical landlord to house young people and deliver support. It has given EMU the maintenance contract on all its East Marsh property portfolio. All the refurbished properties will be rented out. The aim is to provide a real alternative to the absentee landlords who are all too prevalent in the area. 
“In addition we are linking with a Hull-based national charity which specialises in providing workspace for young people in business start-ups and routes into self-employment,” said Rowley. “They wish to rent space from us. We have bid for some very significant projects. 

“Tony is a lifelong friend whose training sector knowledge is vital. I have always had a big feeling for this area and want to aid what was once a fantastic community. This is a 20-year rebuilding project to provide training that should lead to permanent jobs. In turn this will revitalise the East Marsh.” 

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Jojn the family and friends of Frank Swift and Jimmy Armfield at the plaque unveiling on 6 September

Doubts over Northern Forest

Doubts over Northern Forest 
Public money forms small part of project 
Environmental campaigners have cast doubts on the feasibility of government plans to create a Northern Forest, with up to 50 million new trees stretching from Hull to Liverpool. Tree cover around major cities would be expected to grow from eight to 17 per cent. 
The announcement by environment secretary Michael Gove in January came after just 1,000 hectares of trees were planted in England last year – the smallest figure for many years. Critics have also highlighted how the current HS2 high-speed rail link will decimate 97 ancient woodlands, including 35 north of Birmingham. Sceptics also say a similar new forest announcement in the 1990s has produced only mixed results. 
The 25-year Northern Forest project is expected to cost £500 million. The government has promised to provide just £5.7 million, with the rest to be raised by charity. Management of the project will lie with the Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust. 
Unused land for planting 
Local tree planting groups are engaged with the Woodland Trust on drawing up its final plans, including how to unlock further funding, a Woodland Trust spokesperson said. 
Under the proposals existing community forests such as the White Rose Forest and South Yorkshire Forest will be linked together by getting landowners within the schemes’ boundaries to give over unused land for planting. The Northern Forest will be a mix of native broadleaves, such as oaks, plus coniferous species such as spruce and pine. Landowners will be required to undertake the long-term maintenance of the trees. 
Roly Smith from the Peak District, an environmental campaigner and writer, said there are “far too many questions that need answering before the Northern Forest can be taken seriously” and pointed out that the National Forest in the Midlands has only just over half of its planned 13,500 hectares planted since being announced in 1995. 
“They intended joining up patchy woodlands but that hasn’t happened,” he said. 
Kate Dewey, planning officer from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, added that much of the tree planting in the National Forest “is not particularly amazing for wildlife”. Planting trees in itself is not sufficient, she said. “The trees in a Northern Forest need to be part of new projects that create new meadows and habitats. That requires long-term management and landowners will be unsure of getting involved if it costs them money. Public money of £5.7 million is not much.” 
Dewey warned against clearing existing ancient forests for HS2. “Many species such as barn owls and great crested newts will be damaged,” she said. “We are trying to get planners to consider some route diversions to reduce the environmental impacts.” 
Sheffield Wildlife Trust has also spoken out against HS2, expressing concerns that the loss of ancient woodlands and “their soils, wildlife and historical meaning cannot be compensated for by mitigation techniques”. 
Fewer trees being planted 
Smith urged the Woodland Trust to make clear how it intended to take forward the government proposals for the Northern Forest. “I hope it is not a case of there being a big announcement to take attention away from the fact that fewer trees than ever are being planted nationally, whilst ancient trees are also set to be sliced down,” he said. 
A Woodland Trust spokesperson said: “Once we have more information we will let people know. We believe we have the knowhow to make the Northern Forest a success, but it will rely on many different stakeholders. 
“The Northern Forest will be established across all sorts of different landholdings. Paying for projects is usually the hardest thing. A business plan is being drawn up. Sources will undoubtedly include direct tree planting funding, agri-forestry schemes, farming support payments, development levy payments, major donations and philanthropy, corporate sponsorship and individual donations.” 

30 July - 5 August Big Issue North 

Jobs, apprenticeships and an industrial strategy to revive former industrial heartlands - public meeting

Weymouth Unite bus workers back RMT strikers