Friday, 6 September 2013

SORRY - POSTS DIVERTED TO WORDPRESS

SAD END TO ASSOCIATION WITH BLOGGER
I need to be able to produce 'hard' (printed) copies of my blogs so that, when the need arises, I can run off copies and distribute them as leaflets.  Those responsible for  Blogger have denied me that opportunity so it has been necessary to move to Wordpress.

The former 'A Furness Red' is now ... http://redslot.wordpress.com
and 'Furness Against the Cuts' is now.. http://furnessantiausterity.wordpress.com

The Blogger postings for 'Barrow Peace Council' and 'Tenth Dimension' will be placed in hibernation until revived by local activity.

Muddz

Sunday, 9 June 2013

AND THE GREMLIN IS........GOOGLE!

USERS ARE JUST USERS - SO 'PUT UP AND SHUT UP'
The loss of 'reader' (that made it possible to print a hard copy of the blog posting) has been removed by Google and is not, therefore,  a Gremlin as I had thought it to be.

Fortunately, I do not use Blogger to earn money. However, some unfortunate people actually use the service to run a small business and they are complaining bitterly about loss of customers and contacts.  What is even more unfortunate is that there is absolutely no one they can complain to about this loss of service provision.  Google is a world mega-business and is quite indifferent to the problems its action has created for common plebs.

I don't know what others are choosing to do to solve this problem.  The 'reader' facility is to close down completely for all Blogger weblogs next month (July).  I need to be able to obtain hard copies of my blog postings - if Blogger will not enable me to do this then I shall be forced to move to an altenative weblog service, probably Wordpress., and I'll be looking to doing so this week.  

Google executives probably regard this to be 'progress' but I know many Bloggers who will not agree and the solution will probably be "Pick up thy blog and walk." 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

LATEST POSTINGS ON MUDDZ TENTH DIMENSION

The following posts are a response to the recently published report of the 'Furness Poverty Commission'  - an initiative of Labour Party member and Barrow and Furness Member of Parliament John Woodcock. 

21 May  THE PIOUS MAKE ME WANT TO PUKE

23 May  FURTHER COMMENTS ON THE 'POVERTY COMMISSION' REPORT

24 May  POVERTY IS NOT AN ACCIDENT

These, and future postings that would usually appear on A Furness Red, can be viewed at:

http://muddz-tenthdimension.blogspot.com

Thursday, 23 May 2013

POSTS REDIRECTED UNTIL GREMLIN SORTED

Yahoo appears to be experiencing problems so, until these are resolved, all posts that would normally appear on A Furness Red will be on Tenth Dimension which can be viewed at -
http://muddz-tenthdimension.blogspot.com

Sunday, 5 May 2013

MAY DAY IN FURNESS 2013

WORKERS' MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS, BARROW 2013
BARROW TOWN HALL, 1ST MAY
Just like last year and the twentyfive years before it, there were no May Day celebrations of any kind
in Barrow or at any other location in Furness on the first of May or on Saturday 4th.  The local labour movement  (Labour Party, trade unions, and Barrow and Furness Trades Union Council) are not interested.  It is worth noting that May Day events were soon abandoned following the collapse of Barrow and South Lakes Communist Party.  The last time I made mention of what was once some local May Day activity many years ago was in the posting of 14 May 2011.

Although there is no sign of worker solidarity or class consciousness anywhere in Furness I am encouraged by the well-supported rallies in numerous towns and cities throughout Britain.  Some unions are to assess the likely response to a call for a General Strike and the leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, has indicated his belief that civil disobedience may be necessary if working people are to defend the Welfare State and the National Health Service but this might be wishful thinking on his part.

In the absence of any celebration I will be content with reproducing a poem, a copy of which was published in the 1st May edition of the Morning Star.

GATHERING
When I woke in this city one fine May Day morning
I saw a small crowd, like a gathering stream,
And though they were only a few hundred strong,
They were singing old songs I'd not heard for so long
That it seemed I was still in a dream.

'O where are you going this fine May Day morning?
And what are these flags that you carry so bright?"
"We are marching," they said, "in the steps of the dead,
Of all those who have marched under banners of red,
So that we may continue their fight."

"But why are you angry this fine May Day morning,
When the Summer is wearing its holiday hat?"
"We are angry," they said, "that the people must pay
With their jobs and their homes for the world's disarray
While the rich and the powerful grow fat."

"But what can you do on this fine May Day morning?
When their lies are so many and you are so few?"
"Our strength," they replied, "is not measured in numbers,
For our songs have awoken the dead form their slumbers."
And I listened and knew it was true.

For I heard in the crowd this fine May Day morning
The voices of those who had marched here before:
In the fight for the Charter, for Land and for Bread,
For the Eight Hour Day, for the Haymarket dead,
For the victims of hunger and war;

They were marching from Sedgemoor, from Newport and Burford,
They came from Soweto and Moscow and Spain,
And they carried their flags from Hanoi and Havana
Till it seemed the city was one scarlet banner
And it shone like a glittering plain.

And I watched as they marched on this fine May Day morning,
Like a field full of folk by the banks of the Tyne,
As strong as a river that reaches the sea,
As old as the rings in a blossoming tree,
And I saw that their banners were mine.

Andy Croft, 2009

I find clever poetry such as this to be quite uplifting, especially when I become jaded following months of casting pearls before swine.  

It is highly likely that I will be taken to task by some comrades for that last comment and it would never appear in an official Party document but this isn't a Communist Party blog, it is the personal blog of a communist local activist struggling up to his waist in crap, who has been doing so (in Furness) for the past 32 years, and who is still not prepared to lie down.

Whilst the working class remains apathetic in the face of devastating cuts, wage feezes, price rises, and job losses the boss class of millionaires will be encouraged to dish out more punishing measures until there won't be any need for the working class to 'rise up' because there won't be anything left worth defending or fighting for.  



  


 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

MATERNITY UNIT CAMPAIGN

John Woodcock, MP and Mandy
EXCELLENT CAMPAIGN TO DEFEND STATUS OF LOCAL MATERNITY UNIT
It is really refreshing to be able to report on yet another local event  resulting in a positive outcome instead of the apathy and negativity usually found in this region.  Mandy Telford, wife of our MP John Woodcock, headed a very well organised campaign against a threat to downgrade the maternity unit at FGH (Furness General Hospital), part of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UHMBT)  

The 'Thousand Voices' campaign to save the FGH maternity unit was efficiently conducted and very well funded with support by the unions GMB and Unison together with the Labour Party.  Full colour glossy leaflets - doubling as posters - were posted throughout the town and use was made of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Leaflets were also handed out in the town centre from a garden 'gazeebo' at which locals could be filmed making their comments and these can be viewed at - www.YouTube.com/SaveFGHMaternity 

Constituents can sign the local petition at: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35936 and record a video message supporting the campaign and emailing this to: SaveFGHMaternity@gmail.com  'Thousand Voices' can be contacted by phone at : 
0797 407 8814 and updates are posted on Facebook: Save FGH Maternity Unit

There was an outstanding turnout of around 400 people at the Public Meeting held at the Forum from 6.00 until 7.30pm on Thursday 8th March and Mandy Telford demonstrated a high level of skill in chairing the meeting (indeed, she could teach 'Question Time' chairman Dimbleby a thing or two!) during which many people were able to air their concerns and put questions to Jackie Daniel, (UHMBT chief executive officer),  Dr George Nasmyth (Trust medical director), Dr Geoff Jolliffe (lead commissioning GP for Furness) and John Woodcock (MP for Barrow and Furness).  There was a good atmosphere throughout the meeting and everyone left the event satisfied that all had been given a fair opportunity to air their views on not only the status of the maternity unit but on other hospital related matters such as threatened ward closures and plans to create 'patient environmental assistants' i.e. porters will now also be required to engage in Terminal Cleans (deep cleaning operations of specific areas including any where there have been particular problems such as the highly infectious and deadly MRSA)  (I'll answer the Evening Mail comment on this matter in the next posting. - Muddz)  Strangely, chief executive Jackie Daniel claimed to have no knowledge of Patient Environmental Assistants but assured me she would discuss this with me 'on line'......?  Perhaps she means I must contact her so I'll try to do so early next week.

Last year Furness Against the Cuts organised a public meeting at the Forum to defend the National Health Service and the Welfare State with guest speaker Dr David Wrigley, a GP based in Carnforth who is also a national executive council member of the British Medical Association and leading voice in the national Keep Our NHS Public campaign. It attracted an audience of  just over twenty persons.  Hire of the small Studio Theatre for 2 hours was £40, hire of the 'roving' microphone was £16 and black and white photocopied leaflets cost £10 and these costs had to be met by FAC (which was not a fund-raising organisation) through voluntary contribution by those attending the meeting and a generous donation.  And this was all done by just three persons with no physical or financial assistance from any other source whatsoever.  No local media interest, certainly no national TV crews, and no union interest either.  Compared with the resources made available to the Thousand Voices campaign, FAC'c effort was of Cinderella status.  Jealous? No. Envious? Yes, a little but this was easily offset by the pleasure of observing the success of the Thousand Voices initiative.

There is, of course a fundamental difference between the FAC campaign and that of the Thousand Voices:  Thousand Voices is, essentially, a single issue campaign that could be broadened in the future but the FAC campaign was broad-based, embracing the cuts being made against jobs, benefits, care provision, pensions, privatisation of the courts, prisons and probation services, depletion of fundamental public services, reduction in social housing and inability of councils to continue supporting the voluntary sector - as well as resisting government plans to sell off our National Health Service.   It also campaigned against rising living costs and 'wage freezes', against escalating gas and electricity bills, against the mega-bonuses of the bankers and financiers who had created the economic mess and against wars and the further development of nuclear weapons.  At the same time, however, FAC promoted the People's Charter for Change, a charter that had been fully endorsed by  delegates attending not one but two national conferences of the Trades Union Congress but local unions and Trades Union Council remained indifferent. Furness Against the Cuts is now dormant but can still be viewed at  http://furnessagainstthecuts.blogspot.com  

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

DEDICATION AND DETERMINATION WON THE DAY

Anti-nuke dump campaigners at Barrow, September  2011
SOMETIMES,  PEOPLE REALLY ARE PUT BEFORE PROFITS
The plan to house the waste site in Cumbria was rejected by the County Council last month and so Baroness Verma has confirmed the county is no longer an option and announced work must begin on identifying an alternative UK site.

For many years the campaign against the shipment, processing and storage of highly irradiated nuclear waste was conducted by CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) formerly BAG (Barrow Action Group).
(I never discovered why my alternative suggestion for BAG - Barrow Anti-Nuclear Group - BANG! - was rejected in those earlier days.  Too flippant, maybe?  Anyway, once it was agreed to expand the action beyond Barrow and include the whole of Cumbria whoever thought up CORE did a great job.  Muddz)  There isn't  space here to describe the work and campaigns of CORE but Martin Forwood and Jean McSorely deserve special mention as they were the leading lights of the organisation.  Jean achieved international recognition for her work and lived for some time in Japan.  Martin stayed in Cumbria and remains spokesperson for CORE to this day although the group seems to have become much depleted (no pun intended! Muddz) in recent years.  Fortunately,  Radiation Free Lakeland together with supporters of Friends of the Earth stepped in to take the reins.  The photograph shows wildlife artist and RFL member, Marianne Birkby,(centre), with two fellow campaigners outside Barrow Town Hall having delivered their protest before a meeting of Cumbria County Council.

I remember attending a Cumbria Joint TUC meeting at Whitehaven during the 1980s when an expansion of the irradiated waste facility at  the Sellafield site had been proposed and was met with resistence by trade unionists.  Ray Buckton, a senior national officer - probably General Secretary - of the ASLEF union became most agitated when, despite his cajoling and pleading for the proposal to be adopted, members still rejected the idea. Then, as it is commonly said, he 'lost his rag'.  He ranted and he raged. It was, he claimed, a brilliant idea because trade unionist would be involved so safe handling and procedures would be guaranteed.  Sadly, some members changed their minds but I suspect this had more to do with preventing Buckton from having a seizure than actually agreeing with him.

So what's the situation at the moment?  Moves to have the council decision overturned are now afoot.  Councillor Anne Burns (pro-dump) "The waste is already at the site, it's deteriorating unless we do something about it.";  Councillor Oliver Pearson (pro-dump) "If we shut the door on this, they (the government) may shut the door on us."  (That's blackmail, Oliver!  Muddz) Steve Nicholson, Sellafield Workers Campaign, "Fifty thousand people in my community depend on the nuclear industry.";  Councillor Tim Knowles (pro-dump) "It is inherently uncertain whether a suitable site can be found. Is it worth more to reduce doing that uncertainty?" (A nice example of mangled English! Muddz)  T. Farrer, in letter to Westmorland Gazette "Why was it that only ten councillors - the Cabinet - made the decision? Surely a matter of this magnitude should have been debated in full council....Once again it seems that the 'green' lobby with its anti-nuclear stance is blocking progress."  Kevin Coyne, Unite union national officer "This is an extremely short-sighted decision by the Cumbria councils that voted no." (Shades of Ray Buckton?  Muddz.)  

The bureaucratic structure of local government administration involving several borough councils here in Cumbria can create complications. For example, Copeland Borough Council has voted to remain within the process (of searching for a suitable Cumbrian site for nuclear waste storage) and Copeland's MP, Jamie Reed, could now pressure the government to have the repository built within his district.  

Then, of course, we have the 'Political Thespians' dramatically hamming up all too expected performances in enacting scenes of subterfuge and 'outrageous fortune'  (Apologies to Bill the Bard. Muddz)  County Councillor conspirators claim Council Leader, Eddie Martin, had threatened to quit unless fellow Tories backed him in the vote (against the repository) (Friends, councillors, Cumbrians! I come to bury the repository, not to praise it! Muddz)  and this is denied by Eddie Martin who then announced he would not, in any case, be standing for re-election in May (Touche! Muddz) Now, get this for a great closure by Eddie Martin: "There was no one single reason for rejecting.  It was a cumulative effect. We were left with no other choice. This particular issue is not Copeland specific.  It affects the whole of Cumbria and my responsibility is to the people of Cumbria, not Westminster.  I'm not beholden to Westminster or David Cameron.  The people of Cumbria elected me, not David Cameron."         
(Bravo, Councillor Eddie Martin!  Although you are a Tory, you get a standing ovation from this Communist.  As for the Labour specimens who would consign Cumbria to the nuclear dustbin in perpetuity it's a case of 'hold the nose and yank on the lavatory chain'  Muddz)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

SOMETHING POSITIVE AT LAST

Anti-dump celebrations may be somewhat premature
COUNCIL CABINET VOTE WITHDRAWS COUNTY FROM SELECTION PROCESS










Despite a huge financial outlay in terms of newspaper advertising, hiring halls for public meetings, prime-time slots on radio and TV,  glossy brochures with full-colour illustrations and distribution of literature by those having a vested interest in a vast underground facility for the storage of high level irradiated nuclear waste beneath Cumbria the only thing to be dumped was their ambition.

Now, most people can be forgiven for believing that this is the end of the matter because  democratically elected councillors had weighed up the results of the numerous public consultations and lobbying by both those for and against the proposal and agreed the weight of local opinion was firmly on the side of rejection.  In the words of Council Leader, Eddie Martin, "I have to ask myself why it is no other community in the whole of England or Wales has ever wanted to host a geological disposal facility, even given that there are 36 placesin the UK that produce nuclear waste. I am just not convinced that Cumbria is the place to even begin looking for a geological disposal facility."  

Three councillors voted for continuing the planning process and seven voted against but it was not long before there was a clamour of protest against that decision from the usual suspects .......the 'pro-nuke' tribe comprising big money interests such as developers and the construction industry, local trade unions whose only interest is 'jobs' (irrespective of consequences for the environment and the health of the local population) and 'populist' politicians who will milk the 'positive economic' aspects for all they are worth.  Then, of course, there is the government that only wants to bury this highly toxic material as quickly and with as little fuss as possible.  None of these will accept their plans have been thwarted by a bunch of local peasants and, in the weeks and months to come, I can imagine great pressure will be brought to bear upon those councillors who had the audacity to bow to the will of the people and morality.

Consider for a moment the situation in Barrow, just a few miles south of the proposed dump site - 'work' is the only thing that matters which is why Barrow imports irradiated nuclear waste, why nuclear submarines are built here and why it is likely that a new fleet of submersible launch platforms for American Trident weapons of mass destruction will also be constructed.  "Such work is good for the town because it boosts the local economy and will allow the town to grow." parrot the pro-nuke lobby. If this really is the case in the past why has Barrow got a declining population, high unemployment, areas of deprivation and shops and businesses closing down?  "Trident means jobs!" was the slogan bleated by the pro-nuke lobby in the late 1980s....we got Trident......and 11,000 jobs were lost!  But they've got a short attention span in these parts and take little account of the long-term damaging consequences of seeking immediate short-term gains.

Forces are already gathering to have the County Council's decision overturned.  The unions cannot see further than their economic snouts , some councillors will use the myth of 'jobs and a brighter future' for purely political purposes (in the hope of getting re-elected) and the government just wants to bury a really difficult problem so it can forget about it. So the people of West Cumbria should prepare themselves for the battles ahead.  Not everyone is a Nuke Nutter.  What of our farms and forests, our tourist industry, those who work in public services - hospitals, schools, colleges, accomodation, catering, environmental maintenance, utilities, etc.? And what of those in construction and manufacturing that have no connection with the nuclear industry in any form?

Then, of course, I could be mistaken and the pro-nuke supporters will accept that a democratic decision has been made and move on........

(The 'nodding donkeys' piece will have to wait until a more convenient time)

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER STRUGGLE

Is that why you don't sell many in Barrow?
OBSERVING THE PROLETARIAT

Just as I predicted, I am now in the process of 'off-loading' some activities to enable me to engage in other things.  Barrow Peace Council - wrapped up.  Furness Against the Cuts - wrapped up.  Barrow and Furness Pensioners' Association -  resigned.  Barrow Association of the National Union of Teachers and also Barrow and Furness Trades Union Council - 'in the balance'.  I finally cancelled the venue for a weekly Morning Star Readers and Supporters Group and abandoned the Saturday Morning Star town centre sales pitch at the market entrance (which I held on my own for four months) because two people (not Party members) who had indicated they wished to support this simply failed to turn up.   In addition, my physical condition and my wife's general state of health may also force me to discontinue the 150 mile round trip to attend the three-hour CPB Northern District Committee meetings at Carlisle and this is the only activity I shall really be sorry to miss.

The comment beneath the photograph was made by an elderly and quite disabled former engineer who had worked in Vickers Armstrong (engineering and ship building) as he purchased a copy of the paper.  We both laughed and he added "You won't get much sense out of them round here!"   

In all the weeks selling the paper I never ever sold a copy to the same person twice (nobody returned the following Saturday, or any other Saturday).  As I stood at the market entrance I was able to watch assorted members of the local population as they wandered about.  Some strode by most purposefully as if heading for a pressing engagement or a transaction of some importance (but, more likely, just to catch a bus)  Young lads would pass as if on auto-pilot whilst they focused their attention on a small hand-held device on which they made small jabbing movements with their thumbs, avoiding young women with a similar object pressed against an ear and who talked incessantly as they pushed before them a babybuggy loaded with child and shopping.  Middle-aged, bored, disinterested husbands waited for their wives outside 'bargain shops' and outlets offering 'special sales discounts'.  

Most men and women of all ages, but especially those in their twenties to fifties, would only become animated when, in sunlight, they caught sight of their own reflection in the large window of a store - young women would appraise their figures and their outfits and young men would assess their 'style' and one or two would roll a tee-shirt sleeve just a bit higher so they may show off their latest tattoo or suddenly square their shoulders and puff up their chests to appear 'more manly'.  Yes, members of the Furnesss public certainly know what is important to them - until, one day soon, they begin to be deprived of the things they currently take for granted such as benefits, allowances, a roof over their heads, heating, lighting and food, social welfare and a free health service.  And that is how I was entertained when attempting to sell copies of the world's only English language national daily socialist newspaper in 'Lumpensville'.

And what of the Pensioners' Association?  Well, its constitution clearly states it is 'a campaigning organisation'.  Over a period of four years I did my best to involve members in campaigns to defend their pensions, their bus passes, their standards of health care and they just could not be bothered to make any effort whatsoever.  In the months before resigning I had begun to refer to the members as the 'Grub and Grumble Graveside Club' because they did not want a campaigning organisation and were determined to turn it into a pensioners' social club for entertainments such as raffles and bingo with tea and biscuits to pass the time whilst waiting to drop off their perches.  They didn't want me going on about the Retail Price Index and the Consumer Price Index, or maltreatment of the elderly in hospitals and care homes, or the privatisation of the National Health service - as one member said "You make us depressed and we come here to be cheered up!"  

Now, there is a really sad part to all this: the secretary of the organisation is no mug - she knows what the situation is.  Ordinary monthly meetings attract an attendance of around eleven or thirteen members yet subsidised 'dinners' (such as the Christmas lunch) attract thirty or forty!  When the annual Pensioners' Parliament is held in Blackpool, members queue up for the cheap deal four nights hotel accomodation and the vast majority use this as a holiday and have no interest in the parliament.  Members of the association want to use it solely for what they can get out of it and are not prepared to put anything back in (in terms of time, effort or money).  In many ways it is just like the situation with Barrow and Furness Trades Union Council (monthly correspondence club for nodding donkeys) except the secretary of the pensioners is heartbroken and the secretary of the TU council is very contented.......but more about sly nodding donkeys in the next posting.