Friday, 29 June 2012

Sunderland AFC kit to cost the earth

Sunderland have just announced the price of their new kit. £55 for an adults long sleeved shirt, £45 for juniors and £35 for an infant. If you were mad enough to consider buying the complete kit it's £90 for adults and £73 for kids.

The more money football clubs have the more they seem to need.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The future of football reporting

The future of football reporting 
Many readers may not have noticed it but many of the reports now appearing in newspapers are not even written by reporters who have seen the games either live or on the television. (which despite pub signs and tv advertising is not actually seeing it live!) 
In the past journalists might be asked to re-write a report to make it look as if they had been there. Today it’s a lot worse than that. In the press association’s offices in Howden, Yorkshire 8-10 students each weekend (its called work training, other people may call it exploitation as the work they do makes a profit for the company) watch the games on television. The pitch is divided - four quarters in each half - and the students document how many times the ball goes into it, who kicks it and with which foot, as well as throw-ins. Shots at goal are recorded.......etc, etc.........its a statisticians heaven.
All of this is then totalled up and sent to newspapers who ask reporters to write an article on the game.  

Labour implements the cuts

According to independent research organisation the Institute for Fiscal Studies 94% of the coalition government’s spending cuts remain to be implemented. In a bid to save £10 million from its budget the South Yorkshire fire authority has just agreed to make 145 fire fighters redundant and close four fire stations.

Now, with nine out of the twelve councillors on the authority coming from the Labour Party a senior official within the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has cast doubt on their effectiveness and questions whether Labour councillors nationally are preventing the coalition government for taking the blame for cuts by acting “as a shield.”

Back in the 1980s Labour councils in Lambeth and Liverpool were unwilling to do the same and they defied the law and refused to set budgets that broke pledges on which they had been elected. This resulted in councillors being surcharged and debarred from office.

Having already lost £4.7 million in government grants, the fire authority has acted in advance of Government announcements on further cuts it will expect them to manage from 2013 onwards. According to councillor Jim Andrews, the organisations chair “the annual budget could vary by up to £6 million. We don’t want to make these changes but we have no other option faced with such a huge budget reduction.” 
The FBU had wanted councillors to wait, and according to its South Yorkshire Brigade Secretary Matt Winslow “have been left disappointed by the failure of councillors to consider using its cash reserve of £15 million until we know the real picture.” He pointed out that South Yorkshire Police Authority has agreed to use £11 million of its reserves over the next three years to save 110 police officers and 22 community support officers posts.
Winslow is worried about a possible hot spell during the summer, fearing that an outbreak of grass fires will be difficult to tackle as “we will have a lot less vehicles and it may mean having to prioritise calls and hold others till later.” 
A spokesperson for the authority has however denied being unable to “provide emergency fire cover at all times or that the service we provide is at breaking point.”
Meanwhile, Winslow is also concerned that even after these latest round of cuts have been implemented there will be more to come. In a joint government submission with West Yorkshire and four other Metropolitan authorities, South Yorkshire fire authority has warned these ‘would be unsustainable and would lead to life threatening reductions in fire cover and national resilience capacity.’ 
“The FBU has already been left disappointed by a Labour majority fire authority not doing more to minimise the cuts. There does become a point, and its not far away, at which there is little value to such people being councillors as they are deflecting attention from who is ultimately responsible for the cuts by acting as a shield” said Winslow.
Councillor Jim Andrews was unwilling to respond to Winslow’s comments.  

Friday, 15 June 2012

Osborne's 'plan' isn't going to work

Given the option of putting money in the pocket’s of those who will spend it or passing it on to the Banks in the hope that its simple availability will persuade businesses to grab some of it and invest in products that no-one has the money to buy must be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Especially when many major businesses literally have a stack of cash they have no intention of presently investing – for example BAE systems has a pot of £3bn but is still making workers redundant and closing sites such as its Tank factory on Tyneside down.

That though is what Chancellor George Osborne and his merry Cabinet colleagues have decided is the way out of the current crisis. This, of course, is a worldwide one but it should not be forgotten just how much involvement Britain’s banks had in making it so or how Osborne has attempted to benefit his class by getting the poorest to pay for it through his austerity programme of wage and job cuts, pensions changes and welfare reforms. The problem of course now for Osborne is that the whole system is threatened with toppling over. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Government minister defines 'the very rich'

Housing Minister Grant Shapps yesterday defined 'the very rich.' 

And whilst earning between £60,000 to £100,000 is more than adequate for anyone to live on, it may come as a surprise to anyone doing so that they are 'very rich.'

Shapps, never the brightest button in the box, made his comments as the Department for Communities and Local Government released consultation proposals to try and force high-income tenants in social housing to pay more. 

This is what it says on the DCLG site says:- 

The proposals published for consultation today would see high-income tenants - for example those earning above £60,000 or £100,000 - potentially paying up to market rents if they want to continue living in taxpayer-subsidised housing.
The move could see tens of thousands of high earning social tenants paying market rents to continue living in their social homes.
Mr Shapps said that with millions of people languishing on waiting lists, it was right that those who could afford it 'pay to stay' in homes that should be helping those in the greatest housing need.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

"For far too long, millions of people on waiting lists have watched helplessly as high-earning social tenants continue to occupy homes designed to help the most vulnerable. These high-income tenants are not only blocking homes that could benefit those in greater housing need, they're also relying on poorer taxpayers to subsidise their lifestyle.
"A lazy consensus about the use of social housing has left landlords powerless to deal with this problem. So we want to call time on this blatant unfairness and these handouts to the very rich. Proposals I've announced today will give landlords the option to charge high-earning social tenants a fair level of rent - so if they want to continue using this precious national resource, they will pay for the privilege."

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Adoption apology urged

A Manchester MP wants his Parliamentary colleagues support for a government apology to unmarried mothers forced to offer their children for adoption from the 1950s to the 1970s. 

Liberal Democrat John Leech has acted after being contacted by one of his Withington constituents. Writer and broadcaster Phil Frampton’s BBC radio programme The Crying Shame saw him revisit, for the first time, the unmarried mothers home in St Agnes, Cornwall where he was born in 1953.

“My mother was a Birmingham teacher. Not being married she bore me in secret to avoid bringing shame down on her head and losing her job” says Frampton, who remained in care until he was 18.

Frampton was shocked to discover the “extent to which mothers were systematically humiliated, including being forced to watch from a locked room as the adopters put their baby into a car and drive away.” In some cases children and birth parents were denied any contact following childbirth. Many of the institutions that carried out these cruel acts were publicly funded through the Church of England and local authorities.

Leech’s early day motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons, “notes the women were not given information about welfare services including housing and financial help and there was no questioning whether women putting their children up for adoption had given informed consent.”

The MP has won support from the Movement for an Adoption Apology, a group established last year. One of its members, Green Party member Jean Robertson-Molloy, gave up her newly born daughter in Australia 49 years ago, believing “every child needs a mother and a father.” Ironically when she did return to the UK, married and had two children she ended up looking after them on her own when the marriage collapsed. Only then did she discover her parents would have been more than happy to have assisted her care for her youngest born. 

Robertson-Molloy praises Australia’s registry programme, which she claims “puts Britain’s to shame, making it easier for birth parents to find their children.” Nevertheless her daughter was 28 years old when they re-met, and the relationship remains strained.

Many children were also forcibly deported to Australia to populate the country, and abused in the homes they were put in.

Next month South Australia’s premier Jay Weatherill is set to offer in the State Parliament a formal apology to people affected by past forced adoption practices.

From the 1950s until 1980, it has been estimated that more than 17,000 children were adopted in South Australia, many through forced removal by agencies or churches. South Australia is the first state to act after an Australian Senate report recommended all states and territories make official apologies.

Leech would now like to see the UK follow suit: “Women subjected to forced child adoptions have carried a lifelong sense of shame. The same is true for child victims of such adoptions. An acknowledgement from the establishment that they did not take enough action to prevent forced child adoptions may help ease the personal hurt that the women and children who went through such adoptions experienced.”

Leech, who at the 2005 General Election became the first Liberal or Liberal Democrat to win a Manchester seat since 1929, feels Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official public apology in September 2009 for the persecution suffered by wartime codebreaker and computer genius Alan Turing sets a precedence that should be followed.

In a period when homosexual acts were illegal, Turing’s homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952 and he accepted chemical castration treatment rather than go to prison. In 1954, aged 41, he committed suicide after taking cyanide poisoning.

“An apology will bring what happened to thousands of women and their children into the open, acknowledge it happened and exert pressure to make sure it doesn’t re-happen. Furthermore, it may also help repair some damaged family relationships. I hope MPs support the early day motion” says Jean Robertson-Molloy.

However, no-one from the Department of Education, was able to say if government ministers – including children’s minister Tim Loughton – would be amongst them.

The Movement for an Adoption Apology can be contacted at 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Support group established for Spanish miners

A solidarity group for striking Spanish miners has been launched by former miners and their supporters, including female activists from Women Against Pit Closures. Those involved have drawn parallels with the 1984-85 strike here against pit closures; particularly the Spanish Conservative government’s use of the Guarda Civil to quell protests by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at miners and their supporters.
In protest against drastic subsidy cuts of €190 million, 8,000 miners from the Asturias and Leon provinces, fearing for their own jobs and that of around 30,000 connected to the industry, went on indefinite strike on 31 May. With an unemployment rate of 25% in Spain, the highest in the European Union, there would be little prospect of finding alternative employment if job cuts are forced through by Mariano Rajoy’s government, who earlier this week secured an £80 billion bailout for Spain’s banks. Especially, as like the government here, Rajoy is intent on further austerity measures.
Miners have mounted roadblocks and shut down railway lines. 10,000 miners’ supporters marched last week in Madrid. Some miners have occupied a mineshaft in a fight to reverse the cuts that will affect 40 mines.
Asturias has a history of opposition to right-wing governments. In 1934 the fascist General Franco ruthlessly suppressed an uprising that was led by striking miners in the region, located between Galicia and the Basque Country. Over 1700 miners and civilians were killed, along with 280 Spanish troops and police.
In announcing its support the Spanish Miners’ Solidarity Committee has declared its ‘admiration at the determination by strikers not to pay for the crisis of capitalism caused by the financiers and the bankers.
The road ahead will be long and hard but we will do everything possible to support you because a victory for the Spanish miners will be a victory for us and for all workers of Europe.’
Two members of the Solidarity Committee, whose honorary chairman are former NUM president Ian Lavery and Justice for Mineworkers national convenor Rick Sumner, are visiting Spain to meet, and build links with, striking miners this weekend. They will take with them the following message from Ken Loach: “Not for the first time, it is miners who fight on behalf of all working people. This crisis causes such misery through mass unemployment and attacks on working conditions and the social wage. The responsibility lies with the ruling class and those who defend an intolerable, unjust system. Good wishes and solidarity.”
Me at Easington Colliery, August 1984 - the calm before
a storm 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Solidarity with striking Spanish Miners

A solidarity group with striking Spanish miners is to be established tomorrow evening in Sheffield. 2 members are due to fly out there on friday, taking them with solidarity messages and to establish formal links.   

Below is a link to photographs about what's happening 

And for those not knowing owt about this below is a letter that is being sent to various papers

Although many of the ‘quality’ British newspapers have quite rightly given extension coverage to the financial crisis in Spain there appears to be an almost total blackout of news about the response of the workers’ movement in Spain to the austerity measures being pursued by the government. Most significantly, any reader of the British press could be excused for being unaware of the indefinite strike by Spanish coalminers which began on 31 May and is already escalating to the point of near civil war in some areas of Asturias and Leon. The announcement by the Conservative government of Mariano Rajoy to drastically cut subsidies to the mining industry which will threaten the livelihoods of around 8,000 miners and endanger another 30,000 jobs is being met by miners and their communities with a determined and united resistance. The response of the government, is classically neo-liberal and has no doubt brought tears of joy to Christine Lagarde and the other free market warriors of the IMF. For those of us in the UK who remember 1984-5, it is also depressingly predictable, with the Guarda Civil out on the streets in force firing tear gas and rubber bullets at miners and their supporters. In the year long strike of the British miners the Spanish miners were unstintingly generous in their support - it is time for a payback.