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Posts from the ‘Spiky’ Category

Belated spike!: the great frock n robe swindle anti-jubilee newspaper

Shaun Featherstone, an artist from Cardiff, has published an alternative to the “overbearing deluge of pro-monarchy, diamond jubilee media coverage”. He has spent the last four months, with the help of a small army of volunteers compiling and editing the free newspaper which is being given away free all over the UK.  The paper is called the great frock n robe swindle – a play on words of the title of the film ‘the great rock n roll swindle’ – a film about and starring the sex pistols.  The paper has been produced “in the spirit of punk and working class activism”.

The newspaper has over 100 articles and artworks – mostly new copy – written or produced especially for the paper as well as re-published items, vintage republican and anti-monarchy cartoons, quotes and articles.  The newspaper includes items from Julie Birchill, Patrick Jones, Paul Flynn MP, Mary Macleod MP, Heathcote Williams, Mab Jones, Emma Geliot, Glenn Davies, Dr. Stuart White, Dr. Gavin Grindon, Prof. Andre Stitt, Brian Frank, Brian Jones, Jamie Reid, Michael Cousin, Boo Povey, Sean Kisby, Neil McNally, James Gray, Andrew Blick, Billy Ridgers, Martin Rowson, John Robb, Scarlett Blades, Liz Morgan, Attila the Stockbroker, James Keir Hardie and many more..

“I wanted to put another side to the jubilee story. At the heart of my protest, which is really what the paper is, is an opposition to the constitutional position of the monarchy in the UK.  It’s less anti monarchy and more pro-republican. Significant numbers of people in the UK and the wider ‘commonwealth’ are less than supportive of the British monarchy but you wouldn’t know it judging from the celebratory coverage in the UK media. So the paper is a way of getting some balance into the public domain and hopefully sparking more debate on the whole issue.” said Shaun Featherstone. “At the end of the day if it makes a few people think a little more deeply about some of the issues then it has achieved its purpose – being curious and questioning the way of things is always a good thing.”

Contributors are international too – from Canada, USA, Australia, Germany and all over the UK. Content was sourced by a variety of means: by open call, recommendation but above all exhaustive research and over 600 solicitation emails sent by me – and facebook was used extensively. The paper also includes an exchange of emails between two serving UK MP’s : Paul Flynn MP (Labour), Mary Macleod MP (Conservative) – see pages 32 and 33.

Distribution & circulation: 6,500 copies were printed and sent around the UK – the newspaper is available FREE from bookshops and art galleries across the UK including:   Word Poer, Edinburgh; Star and Shadow, Newcastle; Peoples Bookshop, Durham; News from Nowhere, Liverpool; Radish Books, Leeds; Hotcakes, Hebden Bridge; Spike Island, Bristol; Mission Gallery, Swansea; G39/Milkwood, Cardiff; Oriel Wrexham; IKON Gallery, Birmingham; SOAS/bookmarks/Freedom/Newham Bookshop/56a Infoshop/Judd Books/Gays The Word/Church Street Bookshop/Pages of Hackney/Central St Martins/Calder Bookshop/Housmans – all inLondon; The Cowley Club, Brighton; October books, Southampton.

Further information:

“Even under a representative system of government it is possible to paralyse a nation by maintaining the fiction that a reigning family is a necessity of good government. Now, one of two things must be – either the British people are fit to govern themselves or they are not. If they are, an hereditary ruler who in legislation has more power than the whole nation is an insult ; if they are not, they should not be entrusted with votes. Despotism and monarchy are compatible; democracy and monarchy are an unthinkable connexion.”

James Keir Hardie on Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, 1897

 (re-published in the great frock n robe swindle 2012)

Spike: Rats in Church

Not such good counsel

From our New York Correspondent

To challenge companies that employ under-paid, non union labour, New York trade unions  picket with a giant inflatable rat outside the front door.

In this case it’s a church. ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ on Manhattan’s Upper East Side has not been well advised. Rather than support the living standards of low-paid workers and  invest its wealth in the local community,  the church has hired a company that undermines union minimum standard wages and organisation.

Now which of the ten commandments was that?


Spiky Facebook. #ThingsILearnedOnMyEconomicsCourseYesterday

‎1) Climate change experts in Brazil are ‘all beautiful women’

2) Prostitute joke

3) The financial value of a human life

Comment 1:
Not sure that you got value for money there.

Comment 2: 

Sounds a bit like a lecture I heard in college that discussed poor productivity of women during their time of the month. Very useful stuff!! I actually find the opposite is true – if I put a box of tampons on my desk, the men leave me alone and I have more time to get my work done!


Stephen Lawrence

It has taken over 18 years to bring two murderers to justice for the killing of Stephan Lawrence, just a little longer than he was alive. The killing and the struggle for justice that followed revealed the depth of racism in the UK, to the extent that the Macpherson inquiry had to develop the concept of ‘institutional racism’ to adequately describe what had happened.

Just a few days before the guilty verdict in the Stephen Lawrence trial, an Indian student, Anuj Bidve, was shot and killed in Manchester leaving another family to grieve and us to reflect that little may have changed.

Simon Hattenstone writing in the Guardian catches the ongoing issues for us well and institutional racism and racism is not just an issue for the police. Political parties need to find time to take account of these dreadful events. Carol Ann Duffy had a loving but chilling poem in the Guardian on Saturday simply called ‘Stephen Lawrence’, which should be read widely.

A spike! From today’s Guardian letters

Your interview with Ed Miliband reveals how far Labour has drifted from its origins. Talking about restoring “responsible capitalism” is surely a contradiction in terms. Why not responsible socialism? Reduce the power of the banks, develop manufacturing, take back the energy supplies, renationalise the railways, which is what most people want. In other words, reclaim socialism, even perhaps under another name if the chattering classes take fright at being seen as “red”.
Peter Woodcock

Owen Jones spikes Liam Byrne.

“[Liam Byrne’s] shameless hypocrisy is but a mere gripe compared to his real offence, however. The Tories are currently hacking large chunks off the welfare state, and it is Liam Byrne’s job to oppose it. After all, this is a government planning to drag cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy from their hospital beds to undergo assessments to see if they can work. It has sent letters to 700,000 terminally ill patients informing them that they may lose their benefits. It is introducing a benefits cap that will provoke one of the biggest population movements since World War II, which one Tory minister has compared to the Highland Clearances. Even Boris Johnson hyperbolically made references to Kosovo-style social cleansing.

But – with a few mealy-mouthed, heavily caveated exceptions – Liam Byrne is not leading the charge against this unprecedented onslaught. Instead, he is himself arguing for more punitive treatment of people on benefits, drawing on a completely distorted interpretation of William Beveridge’s thought.”

This is an extract from the article ‘Liam Byrne’s capitulation‘ in Labour List

Voting left for Labour’s Welsh Executive

For those so inclined, Celyn supports Welsh Labour Grassroots’ call for votes in the Welsh Labour Election….

“Ballot-papers for the election to Labour’s Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) – the party’s ruling body in Wales – are out, after a delay of several weeks. There are ten seats representing Welsh CLPs on the WEC, two for each of the five Assembly regions, of which at least one in each region must be a woman. The term of office is two years and the deadline for voting is 27th January.

It is clearly important that the left and centre-left should secure as many of these seats as possible.

The following Welsh Labour Grassroots members are standing in the election:

  • North Wales: Donna Hutton
  • South Wales Central: Annabelle Harle & Darren Williams
  • South Wales East: Mark Whitcutt
  • South Wales West: Nick Davies & Fran Griffiths.

Donna, Annabelle & Fran are incumbents.

We would also recommend a vote for Christine Gwyther & Marc Tierney in Mid & West Wales and for Debbie Wilcox in South Wales East.”

From 38 Degrees on HMRC and the Tax Dodgers

The government’s tax collectors – HMRC – don’t seem to have been doing their job properly. Instead of making sure everyone is paying their fair share of tax, they’ve agreed to “sweetheart deals” letting big companies off paying billions of pounds in tax. [1]

The government will be hoping we’re too busy doing our Christmas shopping and working out how we’re going to pay our heating bills to care what their tax officers have been up to. But they’re wrong.

A huge public outcry and a flood of complaints to HMRC will send a powerful message: we won’t stand for the government giving big business the green light to dodge billions in tax.

It only takes 2 minutes to send a complaint letter to HMRC – we’ll collect all the letters together and deliver them in the New Year. 

Today’s news is full of the shocking details of these deals. The Daily Mail warns “While families, shopkeepers and small businesses are forced to pay their bills in full, big businesses are striking favourable deals and have a ‘far too cosy’ relationship with HM Revenue and Customs.” [2]

As lots of us prepare for winter on a tight budget, it’s not hard to imagine that those billions of pounds could have been spent on something better than stuffing the wallets of the most powerful companies in the country. We could have spent it on schools, on hospitals, or making sure everyone can have a safe, warm home this Christmas time.

We know that tax dodging is a big issue. That’s why last month we decided that it should be something we should make an urgent priority. [3] This is our chance to make sure we get a fairer system. A people-powered flood of complaints now will surprise HMRC and force them to think again.

Send your letter of complaint to HMRC now.

Over the last few hours on Facebook lots of 38 Degrees members have been speaking out. [4] Here are some of their comments:
– Tober: “It’s a Scandal. Get to it 38 degrees!!”
– Paul: “A list of these firms need to be published and the individual amount they owe. Im glad this is front page news today”
– Andy: “disgusting smell of corruption hangs over this whole business.”
– Dean: “I feel so angry about this – and so impotent, what can be done?”
– Michelle: “No it isn’t fair, but sadly I’m not surprised! The rich get richer and the poor can pay!”
– Diana: “No it isn’t fair and that unfairness is at the heart of all the resentment and division in our society. When did someone decide it was OK for tax officials to accept lunches or other gifts?”

Send the tax office your letter of complaint now – then we’ll collect them together to make a huge people-powered impact:
Do it here!

Thanks for getting involved,

Marie, Hannah, Johnny, David, Becky, Cian and the 38 Degrees team

[1] See for example:
BBC: MPs attack HMRC’s ‘cosy’ deals with big business

Guardian: HMRC hid ‘sweetheart’ tax dehereals for big business, MPs sayMirror: MPs blast tax chief for ‘cosy deals with big firms

Channel 4 news: HMRC “bent rules” for big firms

Metro: HM Revenue and Customs ‘hiding corporations’ unpaid tax worth £25bn

Scotsman: Taxman ‘helped big business avoid bills and cost public purse millions’

[2] Daily Mail Big firms let off £25BILLION in taxes: As families are chased for every penny, corporate giants dodge their massive bills.

[3] Read more on the 38 degrees blog here.

[4] You can read more on facebook here:

Spike! – Welsh Labour Grassroots supports Occupy Cardiff

The Occupy Cardiff campaign receives support from Welsh left socialists’ steering committee.

Welsh Labour Grassroots (WLG), the network of left and centre-left activists in the Welsh Labour party, pledges our full support to ‘Occupy Cardiff’. The international ‘Occupy’ movement has been a huge inspiration to millions around the world seeking equality, social justice and democratic control over the economy. It has struck a chord with the ‘99%’ who are excluded from real power and has forced the global elite onto the defensive.

We therefore welcome the initiative to establish ‘Occupy Cardiff’ and deplore the eviction by the police, with wholly unnecessary force, of the initial encampment from the grounds of Cardiff Castle. We support your decision to reassemble at Transport House – the organisational hub of the labour movement in Wales – and we commend you for the links you have made between the occupations and industrial struggles and for your solidarity with trade unions taking strike action on 30th November.

Like you, we believe that direct action and industrial action are both important elements – alongside other campaigning methods – of the struggle for an alternative to the present unjust and irrational world order. Your efforts help to make the case for such an alternative and demonstrate that ordinary people can challenge the irresponsible and unaccountable ‘1%’.

We offer you our solidarity and pledge to raise awareness of, and support for, your actions through our activities in the Labour party, the trade unions and other areas of political activity.

Support TUC bid for Nov 30th Chart Success!

Ahead of the Day of Action on 30 November, the TUC has brought together a group of public sector staff as The Workers to re-record the classic song Let’s Work Together as a charity track that celebrates everything that is good about the public sector and raises money for today’s pensioners.

The song was launched on Monday 21 November to chart on Sunday 27 November – the week of the TUC Day of Action.

The Workers are 14-strong and include a firefighter, probation officers, a teacher, civil servant, social worker, student support officer and health service staff including a nurse, midwives, a physiotherapist and a clinical engineer.

The aim of the song is to get people talking about the importance of the public sector and its staff in a week when the government wants to focus on union bashing.

The single will also raise money for charity. A major part of the sale price, equivalent to about 40p out of the 99p cost in most outlets, will be donated by the TUC to Age UK to show support for today’s pensioners.

Let’s Work Together is available to download from 2pm on Sunday 20 November on iTunes, amazon and other major online retail outlets. Further information about the band and how to buy the single is available at

The more singles that are bought, the higher the chart placing and the more attention the song will get. This is why we need your support!

Ways for people to support the song:

Create a buzz ahead of the release of the song by posting the website on to Facebook / Twitter and forwarding the link to friends, family colleagues.
Encourage people to buy the song next week by re-tweeting info about your favourite band member, posting the website on Facebook and asking your favourite radio station to play the song.

Buying this record will also give 40p to Age UK (Age Concern) 

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