Sunday, 28 February 2016

John McDonnell statement on Police Surveillance

The following statement was provided by MP John McDonnell for the
BIG BROTHER - who's watching you public meeting on 26 February in Hackney.

“Only in recent years have we been gaining some knowledge of the scale and nature of Police surveillance in this country and it has proved to be shocking.

Most people appreciate that Police surveillance is part and parcel of protecting society from criminal behaviour, including terrorism.

However people also believe that they have a right to privacy and to be protected from intrusion by the state, especially when harm ensues.

The issue is always one of appropriateness, balance and justification.

The upcoming Pitchford inquiry offers the opportunity to place on the record what we know of the recent history of Police surveillance and to expose the impact it has had on the lives of those that have been the targets and in many instances the victims of Police surveillance.

It also may give us the chance of discovering more about how surveillance has operated, under what authority, and on whose decisions.

The impression that many have gained is that Police surveillance was on a scale not justified in a democratic and supposedly open society and was out of control of suitable management and accountability.

Indeed from the stories recounted and evidence established it appears that some elements of the Police force operated almost with impunity.

I wish to cite just three varied examples areas from my own experience of surveillance that have been exposed.

Ricky Reel Family Campaign

The first is the family campaign to discover the truth about the sad loss of life of my constituent Ricky Reel.

Officers from the Herne inquiry informed the Reel family and me at a meeting last year that our campaign had been what they described as subject to “collateral intrusion.”

We were told that this meant Police officers secretly attended our campaign meetings to undertake surveillance on people attending our meetings.

There is a sad irony in this in that at the very time undercover police officers were attending our meetings for surveillance purposes, we were publicly campaigning for more police resources to be applied to the under resourced investigation into Ricky’s loss.


The second is the campaign against blacklisting, which I have long supported.

After years of pressing in Parliament for legislation to outlaw blacklisting I assisted in founding the Blacklist Support Group.

From the evidence gathered in the Information Commissioner’s raid on the Consulting Association many came to the view that the source of some of the information used to blacklist workers could only have been the Police or security services.

I subsequently received a statement from one Police officer involved in the surveillance of trade unionists that he and his unit had indeed placed trade unionists under police surveillance on some scale.

It’s a matter of record that I read this statement to a public meeting held at the House of Commons.

Climate camp

The third of my examples is climate camp.

Climate Camp came to my constituency to support our local campaign against a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

I welcomed the camp and did my best as the local MP to ensure that the camp operated peacefully and effectively.

This meant assisting in making representations to the Police about issues such as water supply to the camp and routes of marches from the camp.

I now know that not only was I negotiating with Police officers but at least one of the supposed climate campers was an undercover Police officer.

Common Theme

The common theme of each of these examples is that the surveillance was of people who were not engaged in or planning any criminal acts.

These were people who were simply seeking truth and justice.

There was no justifiable reason for the surveillance.

The surveillance has caused considerable harm and distress in many of these cases.

Simple Demand

I have simple demand.

It is for the truth to be brought out, for justice for those harmed by this practice of Police spying and for an effective system of democratic management and accountability to be established for the authorisation and operation of any surveillance measures in the future.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Updating the playing record of Alec Brady - Burnley, Sunderland, Celtic, Everton and Sheffield Wednesday

Everton, Sunderland, Burnley and Forest fans combine to update the football record of Alec Brady, best known for his time at Everton, Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday in the 1890s.

In my 2013 book THE ORIGINS OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE - the first season - I published that Alexander (Alec) Brady had arrived at Burnley at the start of the 1888/89 season from Patrick Thistle. Based on records I possessed (which are at the bottom of this page) I listed him as playing 20 times in the League and scoring 7 goals. I had him down as playing for Burnley throughout the autumn before leaving to join Sunderland in 1889.  

I then published that another player, a W Brady arrived at Turf Moor in December 1888. 

Since 2014 I have been co writing a book (THE OLIVE GROVE FLYER) for release later this year on Sheffield Wednesday and England winger Fred Spiksley. 

Fred played for Gainsborough Trinity before signing for Wednesday in the summer of 1891. Fred twice had his autobiography published in 1907 and 1920. In the latter, published on 29 May 1920, he recalls the arrival of a Brady from Celtic at Wednesday in 1892. Below is the text - anyone wanting to see the original paper please let me know. 

Spiksley is very specific in that Brady had played briefly for Gainsborough before moving on to Burnley and he then comes across the same player when he is signed by Wednesday from Celtic. 

The Brady who arrived from Celtic was Alec Brady, who had gone to Celtic after 2 seasons at Everton (1889/90 and 1890/91), where he helped the Toffees win the League in 1890/91 before departing (along with Dan Doyle) in acrimonious circumstances. 

This information meant that Alec Brady could not be at two places at one time, that he could not be playing for Sunderland and Gainsborough (no matter how briefly) in the first half of the 1888/89 season and Burnley. 

How Brady had arrived at Gainsborough 

The team were struggling in 1888/89 and on the look out for players. Here is the text from the forthcoming book. The information is taken from the local Gainsborough paper - please make contact if you wish to see the original. 

William Croft though had had some success in recruiting new players when after employing football agent John McCabe of Leith, Edinburgh, Gainsborough were able to sign four new players - Shamrock Coyne, an Irishman from Hibernian, and three Scots; William McKay from Hearts and Alec Brady and John ‘Jack’ Angus from Newcastle West End. Each new man would earn double the match fee paid to local players. Only Coyne was available for the first Gainsborough home league fixture that Newton Heath won 5-1 before a crowd of 2,000.

These players were to depart in acrimonious circumstances - here is the text from the forthcoming book and which is taken from original papers - please make contact if you wish to see them.

On Monday 3 December 1888, three strangers with suitcases alighted from the Manchester train on platform 1 at Gainsborough’s Great Northern Station. Burnley had started their first season in the Football League very badly and was bottom of the table. Aware that Gainsborough had done well after signing four new players then the east Lancs club directors sought to boost their hopes of avoiding a re-election battle by obtaining the signatures of some of the four men. 

With Angus having let slip what was going on by saying he was not involved then, with the station porter forewarned to listen out for Lancashire accents, the news of the poachers arrival immediately swept through Gainsborough as they made their way to hideout in the lodging houses of the three players set to transfer their allegiance to the Turf Moor club. 

Britannia Ironworks closed for an hour at dinner time and so when all six men finally emerged to make a dash for the Manchester midday train they were pelted with eggs and tomatoes, then punched and had their clothes torn before they finally reached the sanctuary of their railway carriage. As the train departed disgruntled Gainsborough fans threw more eggs….

I was unsure of exactly who Gainsborough had signed Brady from but I was aware that an A Brady was (and as it turns out perhaps wrongly) listed in the various Sunderland history books as having played for the club in the FA Cup against Newcastle East End on 17 November 1889. 

I thus suspected that this might be the Brady who Gainsborough had signed in late November 1888 and who later went to Burnley in December 1888. Paul Days is a Sunderland historian and he duly sent me the match reports for Sunderland’s games in 1888/89.

The following is of interest on this:- 

10th  November 1888                                                                                Friendly Match

                  SUNDERLAND   1                                   GRIMSBY TOWN   1  
                        (Davison)                                                          (Lee)

Referee Mr Douglas of Gateshead                                                             Attendance ,000

Sunderland:-- Kirtley, McDermid, Ford, Rennie, McKechnie, Gibson, Davison, Douglas, Breconridge, McLaughlin, A.Peacock.

Grimsby:- Holtby, Lundie, Doyle, Taylor, Smith, O’Gilvie, Sutherland, Lee, Riddoch, Reid, Hunt.

The return match between these sides was played at Newcastle Road in fine weather although there was a strong easterly wind blowing. Sunderland were weakened by the absence of Brady who has left the town to play for Gainsborough Trinity and W.Peacock. They were replaced by Douglas and McKechnie with McLaughlin moving into the forward line to take Bradys place. McBett was missing for Grimsby and Reid took his place. Grimsby won the toss and elected to defend the Road end playing with the wind.

Taken from Newcastle Daily Chronicle.

So the Brady from Sunderland who played the first half of the 1888/89 season goes to Gainsborough in November 1888 and departs to Burnley in December. The same player arrives back in Sunderland in February. This is shown from the following match report:- 

9th February 1889                                                                                    Friendly Match

             SUNDERLAND   7                                   SCOTTISH CORINTHIANS   2                                     
        (Breconridge(2),Brady(2),                                     (Watson 1,Patten 44)
          Davison(2) McLaughlin)

Referee Mr                                                                                              Attendance ,000

Sunderland:-- Kirtley, McDermid, Oliver, McKechnie, Raylstone, Gibson, Davison, McLaughlin, Davey, Brady, Breconridge.

Scottish Corinthians.:- Chalmers(Clyde), Love(Thouleybank), McCartney(Cowlairs), Stevenson(Kilburnie), Ferguson (T.Lanark), McNab(Northern), Watt(Kilburnie), Sawyers(Clyde),  Patten(Vale of Leven), Watson(Northern), Bruce(Vale of Leven).

The weather was poor for the first tour match of the side assembled by Mr Mackay of Glasgow who rejoiced in the name of the Scottish Corinthians. The blizzard of the previous night had left the field covered in patches of snow and the keen frost which followed the snowfall left the ground like iron. Nevertheless the crowd was remarkably good considering that they had to stand for almost 2 hours in the coldest of NW winds. The visiting side was changed considerably with several players unavailable due to the replayed cup tie between Third Lanark and Celtic. 

Sunderland were without the services of the Peacock brothers but Brady had returned after a spell at Burnley to resume on the left wing.

What happened next? 

Brady made his debut for Everton in November 1889. His debut was delayed because of controversy of who had registered him as a player. On this we have George Orr, my good friend and Everton fanatic, who sent me the following information. This shows there was a dispute between Burnley and Everton that was eventually resolved in Everton’s favour.  

July 27, 1889. The Blackburn Standard and Weekly Express 
After considerable negations the Everton have secured the following well-known players for the team to play in the coming season –Andrew Hannan (Renton), Daniel Doyle (Bolton Wanderers), backs; Groves (celtic) and Brady (Renton), forwards. 
 Brady, (Renton and Burnley), will join Geary, 
The team that secured victory was not the one originally in tended, for no reason of their own, but owing to the action- weather justifiable or not the immediate future will show-of the English Council in suspending Brady for alleged duel registration. We say alleged disparity, for though he has been proacunced guilty and sentenced without hearing the defence, Brady still asserts he had not tied himself to Burnley. 
The Everton executive have been fortunate enough to secure Kirkwood to fill the gap caused by Brady's enforced idleness. He hails from East Stirlingshire, and only awaits the necessary ordeal of registration. Brady's case is likely to be the subject of discussion at to-day's meeting of the Everton committee. Sept 16th 1889

October 2, 1889. The Liverpool Daily Post. 
As the meeting of the above associations, held at London on Monday night, after hearing an explanation on Brady's behalf from Everton, Club's secretary, it was decided that the aforesaid professional's term of suspension should expire on the 31 st inst.

October 7 1889. The Liverpool Mercury 
The announcement on Tuesday that A.Brady's suspension, like that of most of the other dual signatories, had been reduced and that he would be available for services on behalf of Everton's on November 1, gave great satisfaction. Brady showed promise of unmistakable power in the practice game he had played at Anfield and of course a place will be found for him among the Everton forwards. It seems a pity to disturb the attack now they have got into swinging order, but it is as well to have a reliable man in readiness for emergencies arising from any accident that may happen. Milward has made such rapid strides, and gets on so evenly with Chadwick, that there will be reluctance in disturbing the left wing. It is most probable that Brady will therefore assume his old position as a right winger and join Latta and Cain of Airdrienians, who has just been secured, with Kirkwood in reserve. In future, players signing more than one registration form will be severely dealt with, and properly so; whilst all cases of being '‘ordered off'' the field'' are to be at once reported. to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

So the record books now need to show that Alec Brady played for Sunderland between August 1888 to early November 1888 before leaving to sign for Gainsborough and then playing for the Lincs club till he moved to Burnley in early December 1888 and then leaving Turf Moor in early February to resign for Sunderland. He then eventually signs for Everton in the summer of 1889 and plays for two seasons. He rejoins Fred Spiksley at Wednesday in 1892 and the pair go on to form one of the finest left sided partnerships in football over the next 7 seasons. 

Help and assistance on this was provided by Paul Days, George Orr, Ray Simpson, Clive Nicholson and

Clearly the Burnley history books now need to be revised as clearly Alec Brady did not score 7 times for Burnley in the season 1888/89 as he was at Sunderland and Gainsborough for most of it. It may be that W Brady scored 7 times and Alec just the twice. Ray Simpson, the Burnley historian, is, I know checking the newspapers and I know once he has got more information he will get back to me. 

Burnley record 1888/89 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Charity work not fair

Charity exits workfare but leaves door open 
Article from current issue of Big Issue North magazine, please buy a copy when you see a seller. 
A decision by Manchester- based homeless project Mustard Tree to end its involvement in the Mandatory Work Activity scheme for jobseekers has failed to satisfy the group that has been campaigning against the charity participating in the government’s workfare programme. 
Workfare – where people must work in return for benefits – dates back to the establishment of workhouses in 1834. It was re- introduced by the last Labour government and has been hugely expanded since 2010. Workfare critics argue that it punishes claimants, forces wages down and replaces paid employment. 
Benefit sanctions 
The rise in workfare has been accompanied by huge sanctions against claimants for allegedly breaching benefit rules, with over 587,000 claimants sanctioned between April 2004 and March 2015. One of the hardest hit groups during this period was disabled people, with sanctions up 30 per cent in one year. 
Boycott Workfare aims to “end forced unpaid labour for people who receive welfare”. The organisation has criticised charities that participate in the programme. 
From December 2014 Boycott Workfare Greater Manchester has put pressure on Mustard Tree to withdraw from the Mandatory Work Activity scheme for jobseekers, lasting up to 30 hours over a four-week period, by organising protests outside the charity’s offices. 
Other Boycott Workfare groups have held similar events outside participating charities. A number of charities, such as North London Hospice recently, have subsequently pulled out of the scheme. 
Campaigners have been urging all charity and voluntary organisations to sign the “Keep volunteering voluntary” agreement that currently has 637 signatories. They believe
that such opposition was the reason why George Osborne announced that the MWA programme would not be renewed in April 2016.
The chancellor claimed the decision was because the decline in the number of benefit claimants meant spending on employment programmes could be reduced. 
Suspicious motives 
The Mustard Tree charity had defended its MWA participation by claiming that those who had signed up were not ready for work and had benefited by the opportunities that had been made available. However, on 13 January, the charity altered its position and said it was withdrawing from MWA as “we have come to the conclusion that at this current time the best course of action that will ensure we do the best possible for the most number of beneficiaries is to withdraw from our engagement in this programme”. 
BWM spokesperson Gwyn Morgan said: “We critically welcome the announcement because it leaves open the possibility of Mustard Tree – which has never been able to provide any information that those on MWA with them have benefited from their experiences – later re-engaging with the workfare programme at any time. 
“We would like to see the charity join with hundreds of other organisations by signing up to a long-term policy of keep volunteering voluntary. Until they do we will always be a little suspicious of their real motives.” 

A spokesperson for Mustard Tree said: “We are not entering into any interviews on this topic.” 

Monday, 8 February 2016

2016 Rugby Super League has started

The opening games in the 2016 rugby league season kick off on 4 February when league champions and Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos host Warrington Wolves. With Kevin Sinfield having switched codes to rugby union, Leeds have a new captain in Danny McGuire, who says he’s glad to see the new format adopted last year maintained for this season. 

With the intention being to make game more competitive, the 2015 Rugby Super League contained 12 teams – two less than the previous year. A season that therefore began without the relegated Bradford Bulls and London Broncos ended in Leeds narrowly beating Wigan 22-20 in the Grand Final at Old Trafford, with a record attendance of 73,512. It was the first time that Leeds had beaten their opponents in a major final and the result meant that the long serving trio of Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and Sinfield departed in glory. 
Sinfield became the first man from the sport to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and finished second to Andy Murray. 
McGuire, a local lad who scored two tries in the defeat of Wigan, says: “I know it is going to be difficult to replace the greatest captain there has been in Super League but I’m looking forward to taking on the extra responsibilities.” 
McGuire is also set to lead Leeds as they bid to win the World Club Challenge for the fourth time in their history when they face NRL champions North Queensland Cowboys at Headingley just two weeks into the new season. 
McGuire was happy to see promotion and relegation re-introduced last season and believes the slimming down of Super League was highly successful.
“It produced more competitive, closely fought games than before – none more so than Ryan Hall’s try at Huddersfield in the last minute of the last game that helped us win the league leaders’ shield. But there was also plenty of drama in many other games and I have heard a few fans say it was the most entertaining season they’d known.” 
McGuire believes the domestic challenge to Leeds will again come from those who finished in the top six last season, including Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves. He is also looking forward to seeing how Sam Tomkins performs on his return to Super League with Wigan after two seasons with NRL side New Zealand Warriors. “He was playing well for Wigan before he left. Warrington have also spent a lot on new players from abroad. I don’t expect there to be a lot between the top sides.” 
Having invested in their academy, Rhinos have also chosen to bring in four new players this season in Beau Fallon, Keith Galloway, Anthony Mullally and the England international player Brett Ferres, who left Huddersfield Giants acrimoniously. “It’s going to be tough to peak for the World Club Challenge game and then retain consistency to reach the Super 8s before peaking again to try and retain the Super League,’ concludes McGuire. “But that’s our target.”

Castleford Tigers 
Having only just missed out on the top four play-offs last season coach Daryl Powell has largely been content to retain the same squad. Australian Joel Monaghan has moved from Warrington to add his experience to a team that includes Ben Crooks, who has a point to prove after a disappointing season with NRL side Parramatta Eels. Will the Wheldon Road side win their first major trophy since 1986? 
Catalans Dragons 
The decision by the Perpignan side to retain the successful 2014 side backfired last season when the Dragons finished in eighth place in the table. The French club have signed experienced Irish winger Pat Richards – previously a great success with Wigan Warriors – from Wests Tigers in the NRL, as well as Paul Aiton. 
Huddersfield Giants 
Looking for a replacement for star forward Brett Ferres after they were forced into selling him when his wife accused him of cheating on her with wife of teammate Craig Huby. Giants often fall away after making the top four in Super League. Much might depend on how Ryan Hinchcliffe, from Melbourne Storm, and former New Zealand Warrior Sam Rapira adapt. Captain Danny Brough will be looking forward to leading Scotland in this season’s Four Nations tournament in October. 
Hull FC 
Improved last season to finish in seventh place but then won only once in the Super 8s and failed to make the play-off semi-finals. They’ve been busy in the transfer market and the signing of Frank Pritchard, the New Zealand and Samoan second row international, will help ensure that coach Lee Radford’s team are competitive. New man Scott Taylor was signed from Wigan Warriors and can expect a rough reception when his side face another of his former clubs, Hull KR, in the local derby. 
Hull Kingston Rovers 
The Robins, thrashed 50-0 by Leeds in the Challenge Cup final last season, retained their place in Super League when they finished top of the subsequent qualifiers. They’ve appointed Jamie Peacock as new head of rugby with a big input in recruitment – buying Iain Thornley, Chris Clarkson, Thomas Minns, Ryan Shaw and Robbie Mulhern. A top eight spot is the aim but long term the hope is Peacock will use his experience at Leeds Rhinos to develop home talent through the new City of Hull Academy. 
Leeds Rhinos 
Treble winners in 2015 Leeds will be the team to beat. Departures of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai are a big blow. Yet the signing of four new players, especially Brett Ferres, allied to emerging young talent such as Ash Golding, Liam Sutcliffe, Jordan Lilley and Ashton Handley, should ensure that a Leeds squad containing the likes of Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow will be thereabouts when trophies are handed out. 
Salford Red Devils 
Another close season of major recruitment at a club formed in 1873. After a disappointing 2015, owner Marwan Koukash allowed Rangi Chase, signed for £115,000 two years before, Harrison Hansen and Cory Paterson to leave as free agents. A further eight have also departed and in return 10 new players have arrived, including Justin Carney on loan from Castleford. 
St Helens 
Defending champions finished in fourth place in the table last season before losing out on
a place in the Super League final when they lost 20-13 against Leeds Rhinos in the play-off semi final. They’ve signed Salford’s Theo Fages and Lama Tasi, Jack Owens from Widnes and Dominique Peyroux from NZ Warriors. There must be some doubt as to whether this will be sufficient to bring a trophy this season to the 18,000-capacity Langtree Park. 
Wakefield Wildcats 
Won just three of their 23 Super League fixtures and only retained their place after beating Bradford Bulls in the qualifying play-off decider. Brian Smith was appointed as coach part of the way during last season and has chosen to radically alter the squad with Tinirau Arona, Anthony Tupou and Bill Tupou arriving from the NRL. Even so, it would be a surprise if Wakefield finished outside the bottom four. 
Warrington Wolves 
New signing Daryl Clark, who collected the Man of Steel Award for being the outstanding Super League performer in 2014, had a disappointing season and Warrington didn’t sparkle in 2015, failing to make the play-off semi finals. So coach Tony Smith has spent heavily on Tom Lineham and Joe Westerman, with Hull FC receiving around £275,000 when they allowed the pair to move west. Kurt Gidley has also signed from NRL club Newcastle Knights and the former Australian captain can play in a number of different positions. Wolves will surely do better this season. 
Widnes Vikings 
Eighth in 2014, ninth in 2015. Coach Denis Betts has boosted his squad with Chris Houston from Newcastle Knights, while Chris Bridge, Setaimanta Sa and Corey Thompson have also arrived. It may not be sufficient to prevent the Chemics from finishing in the bottom four and requiring them to again compete with the top four in the Championship for a place in Super League in 2017. 
Wigan Warriors 

The re-signing of fans’ favourite Sam Tomkins after his two years with New Zealand Warriors, who paid a world record fee of over £450,000 to sign the England international full-back, is one of just two arrivals at Wigan. With six players having left the club – the most successful one in rugby league – coach Shaun Wane looks set to give young academy players their chance in a side that has lost in the Super League final in the last two seasons. 


In advance of the two London meetings (on 25th and 26 of this month) at which former members of the Colin Roach Centre will be speaking about Undercover Policing I have pleasure in making available a booklet that was written in 1993 and titled ON THE BORDER OF A POLICE STATE - a strategy for challenging the emergence of a police state.

Friday, 5 February 2016



In January, Jeremy Corbyn’s dismissal of Maria Eagle, Pat McFadden and Michael Dugher from the Shadow Cabinet was met with a chorus of condemnation. Many critics echoed the views of Conor McGinn, a serving Labour whip, who claimed Dugher and McFadden were “authentic, working class, traditional Labour voices…..…If we aren't careful Labour will completely lose touch with the people we are supposed to represent.”

Perhaps it is me but in McFadden’s case - a man who did not emerge from the expenses scandal with a great deal of credit (1) - I am not sure how going to University, before starting out as a researcher for Donald Dewer and then working for Labour leader’s John Smith and Tony Blair before becoming an MP makes him authentic and working class. Dugher’s career has followed almost exactly the same pattern, University, a very brief spell as policy head in a trade union before becoming an MP. 

Eagle also went to University and then became a solicitor before becoming an MP. She was another MP who failed to emerge from the expenses scandal with any credit. 

Now all this might not be so bad if all three had not been an integral part of the most right wing Labour Government ever. A Government that really did lose touch with the people they are supposed to represent.