Eight Labour MPs who should hang their heads in shame

plotters

IN an act of narrow self-interest and political opportunism, eight right wing Labour MPs are using the Brexit vote as a chance to knife their leader Jeremy Corbyn in the back.

MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey yesterday submitted a motion of no confidence against Mr Corbyn to the Parliamentary Labour Party chairman, John Cryer.

Mr Cryer will decide whether it is debated. If accepted, a secret ballot of Labour MPs could be held on Tuesday.

This morning, six other Labour MPs were on record as backing the motion, another 47 are said to have signed support.

The letter, sent to John Cryer, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will result in a discussion about Corbyn’s leadership at the next PLP meeting on Monday. It could then lead to a secret ballot of MPs on Tuesday.

Mr Corbyn, a long-time Eurosceptic, defended his conduct in the Euro referendum campaign amid criticisms that he offered no more than lukewarm support for remain, blaming government austerity cuts for alienating voters.

“I’m carrying on. I’m making the case for unity, I’m making the case of what Labour can offer to Britain, of decent housing for people, of good secure jobs for people, of trade with Europe and of course with other parts of the world,” he said last night. “Because if we don’t get the trade issue right we’ve got a real problem in this country.”

Asked about the vote of no confidence, he said: “Margaret [Hodge] is obviously entitled to do what she wishes to do. I would ask her to think for a moment. A Tory prime minister resigned, Britain’s voted to leave the European Union, there are massive political issues to be addressed.

“Is it really a good idea to start a big debate in the Labour party when I was elected less than a year ago with a very large mandate, not from MPs – I fully concede and understand that – but from the party members as a whole?”

The move to oust Mr Corbyn is outrageous, and more than 145,000 ordinary Labour members and supporters have already signed an online petition of total confidence in Mr Corbyn – who already has a mandate as leader from the vast majority of party members.

Yet the  MPs have no mandate whatsoever and most have been plotting their move for a long time.

Indeed six of the eight MPs I named in my investigation back in January entitled The Enemy Within – the 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accuses many of the would-be assassins of being linked to the Blairite campaign group Progress.

“They all come from a sort of a narrow right-wing clique within the Labour Party based around the organisation Progress,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ve really ever accepted Jeremy’s mandate. I’m afraid they have to recognise that Jeremy got elected with the largest mandate of any political leader from any political party in our history.

“I’m afraid they haven’t respected that leadership election result.”

So let’s shine a searchlight on these shifty eight MPs and expose their real agenda, which has little or nothing to do with the European referendum or its Brexit outcome:

Margaret Hodge (Barking)

A senior Labour MP and the prime mover of the motion to oust Mr Corbyn. She is a Blairite. She also voted for bombing Syria and was one of 20 rebels who did not oppose George Osborne’s law banning the government from borrowing to fund infrastructure during normal times.

As chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee she is the party’s fiercest critic of tax avoidance but today it was revealed she was handed more than £1.5million in shares from a tax haven.

The Times reported the multi-millionaire had benefited from a controversial scheme that lets wealthy Britons move undeclared assets back to the UK without facing criminal action.

  • One of my original list of 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn
  • On an official list – leaked from Labour HQ – of MPs ‘most hostile’ to Jeremy Corbyn

Ann Coffey (Stockport)

Co-mover of the motion and a solid Brownite. She voted for bombing Syria and was one of 20 rebels who did not oppose George Osborne’s law banning the government from borrowing to fund infrastructure during normal times.

  • One of my original list of 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn
  • On an official list – leaked from Labour HQ – of MPs ‘most hostile’ to Jeremy Corbyn

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)

A Blairite and vocal right winger, openly hostile and an ongoing critic of Mr Corbyn. He voted for bombing Syria and was one of 20 rebels who did not oppose George Osborne’s law banning the government from borrowing to fund infrastructure during normal times.

  • One of my original list of 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn

Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)

Another Brownite and vocal critic of Mr Corbyn. He voted for bombing Syria and was one of 20 rebels who did not oppose George Osborne’s law banning the government from borrowing to fund infrastructure during normal times.

  • One of my original list of 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn
  • On an official list – leaked from Labour HQ – of MPs ‘most hostile’ to Jeremy Corbyn

Frank Field (Birkenhead)

A senior right wing Blairite MP and probably the fiercest open critic of Mr Corbyn. Voted for bombing Syria and was one of 20 rebels who did not oppose George Osborne’s law banning the government from borrowing to fund infrastructure during normal times.

  • One of my original list of 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness)

Another Blairite and prominent among the attack dogs on Mr Corbyn. He is the former chairman of the Progress group. He voted for bombing Syria. In January he resigned in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s so called ‘purge’ of right wing MPs from his front bench team. Has previously openly mocked Mr Corbyn. In March he tweeted that Mr Corbyn’s performance at the despatch box had been: “A fucking disaster”.

  • One of my original list of 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)

The son of former Labour leader and multi-millionaire European commissioners Neil and Glenys Kinnock. He is married to Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Prime Minister, and as a fervent Euro campaigner probably had more to lose from the Brexit vote. His father Neil Kinnock has been opposed to Mr Corbyn’s politics for more than 30 years.

Back in March Stephen publicly gave notice of a leadership challenge if Labour failed to come second in the Scottish parliament election (Labour came third) and if Mr Corbyn failed to mobilise Labour voters for Remain.

He is viewed as a potential leadership contender from the right wing of the party.

Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge)

Another vocal right winger and former party whip. She voted for bombing Syria and was one of 20 rebels who did not oppose George Osborne’s law banning the government from borrowing to fund infrastructure during normal times

In March she gave notice of a leadership challenge and accused Mr Corbyn of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” after failing to “skewer” David Cameron over the Budget.

“If Corbyn is not prepared to buckle down and show proper leadership he should just go, and give us a chance to get a leader who can properly take on the Tories,” she said.

But Mr Corbyn still has a number of allies within the parliamentary party, led by John McDonnell, Andy McDonald, Dennis Skinner, Jon Trickett, Catherine Smith, Graham Morris and Diane Abbot.

Outside parliament, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, has been a close ally of Mr Corbyn for three decades, and gave warning to the plotters.

“If your local MP is undermining Jeremy Corbyn, opposing the anti-austerity measures that we want, people should have a right to say: ‘I’d like to have an MP who reflects my view.’ It shouldn’t be a job for life,” he said.

He reiterated his support for automatic reselection, saying it was one of the things he disagrees with Mr Corbyn on.

“The Parliamentary Labour Party does not represent the party outside,” he added.

The remarks by Mr Livingstone fuel suspicions among Labour MPs who oppose Mr Corbyn’s leadership that their time in Westminster may be numbered.

The redrawing the parliamentary boundaries, as part of plans to shrink the size of the Commons from 650 MPs to 600, will provide the opportunity to move against some right wing Labour MPs.

Under the Labour rules for boundary changes, existing MPs have the right to be reselected for a new seat if they can claim a “substantial territorial interest” of at least 40% in the new seat.

But reselection battles could be triggered under the current rules in many of the 206 Labour-held seats in England.

Just 36 will remain unchanged while in 54 of the seats the proposed boundary changes will be larger than 40% of the territory of the constituency, potentially opening them up to new candidates.

  • An hour after publishing this piece, Caroline Flint (Don Valley) – another from my List 28 – was interviewed on Radio Five Live. She celebrated the capitalist free market and denigrated Jeremy Corbyn as a failed leader.

 

 

What Boris’s Brexit cabinet has in store if you vote Leave

 

Boris Brexit

I published this three days ago. Now the reality is upon us!

WITH less than 36 hours until the polls open for the EU Referendum, most political observers admit the outcome of the vote is too close to call.

Today the Daily Telegraph’s daily poll of polls has the Remain vote at 48% and Leave at 52%, despite a recent surge of support for Remain.

The UK’s leading polling analyst Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University said the Prime Minister must now be feeling discomfort at the thought that the outcome really could be in doubt.

Most pundits agree that if the Brexiteers do win the day it will lead to the swift resignations of David Cameron and George Osborne.

The likely successor as Prime Minister will be right wing Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Boris Johnson.

Already national broadsheet newspapers have predicted the likely members of Johnson’s post referendum Brexit cabinet – a cabinet more right wing than any, since the days of Margaret Thatcher.

According to the voting record of Johnson’s likely top table of Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox, Theresa May, Graham Brady and Theresa Villiers it would head a Government which is in favour of:

  • new nuclear weapons
  • academy schools
  • fox hunting
  • the Bedroom Tax
  • cutting welfare benefits
  • university tuition fees
  • privatising the NHS
  • curtailing immigration
  • more restrictive regulation of trade unions
  • ignoring measures to prevent climate change

If you are now unsure how to vote… according to the Hansard voting records on the website They Work For You, this is exactly how these likely post Brexit cabinet members have voted in the House of Commons on some key issues:

Boris Johnson – Prime Minister

Consistently voted:

against the hunting ban

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

against higher taxes on banks

for academy schools

against measures to prevent climate change

Generally voted:

for more restrictive regulation of trade unions

for a stricter asylum system

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

 

Michael Gove – Deputy Prime Minister

Consistently voted:

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

against a tax on the value of expensive homes (mansion tax)

for academy schools

for university tuition fees

for a stricter asylum system

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Almost always voted: for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

Generally voted:

for reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

for reforming the NHS

against measures to prevent climate change

 

Andrea Leadsom – Chancellor

Consistently voted:

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

against a tax on the value of expensive homes (mansion tax)

for reforming the NHS

for university tuition fees

for a stricter asylum system

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Almost always voted:

for reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

for academy schools

Generally voted:

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

against measures to prevent climate change

 

Liam Fox – Home Secretary

Consistently voted:

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Almost always voted:

against the hunting ban

for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

against a tax on the value of expensive homes (mansion tax)

for reforming the NHS

Generally voted:

for reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

for academy schools

for a stricter asylum system

against measures to prevent climate change

 

Theresa May – Foreign Secretary

Consistently voted :

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Almost always voted:

against the hunting ban

replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

for academy schools

for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

against a tax on the value of expensive homes (mansion tax)

Generally voted for:

reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

for more restrictive regulation of trade unions

for reforming the NHS

for a stricter asylum system

against measures to prevent climate change

 

Iain Duncan Smith – Work and Pensions Secretary

Consistently voted:

against the hunting ban

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

against a tax on the value of expensive homes (mansion tax)

for more restrictive regulation of trade unions

for reforming the NHS

for academy schools

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

Almost always voted: for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

Generally voted:

for a stricter asylum system

for reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

against measures to prevent climate change

 

Graham Brady – Education Secretary

Consistently voted:

against the hunting ban

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

for reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

against a tax on the value of expensive homes (mansion tax)

for more restrictive regulation of trade unions

for reforming the NHS

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

for academy schools

Generally voted:

For a stricter asylum system

against measures to prevent climate change

 

Theresa Villiers – Health Secretary

Consistently voted:

for replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons

for reforming the NHS

for university tuition fees

for a stricter asylum system

Almost always voted:

against paying higher benefits for those unable to work due to illness or disability

for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits

voted for academy schools

Generally voted:

for reducing housing benefit for tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (bedroom tax)

for more restrictive regulation of trade unions

for stronger enforcement of immigration rules

 

  •  In addition to the above voting records, each of the MPs have also voted in favour of military interventions in other countries, fracking for shale gas, the privatisation of the Royal Mail and for the rights of the police and secret services to have complete access to anyone’s electronic communications.

Now you know what’s in store if you vote Leave.

The racist frontline of Batley and Spen is not what it seems

Batley

IN 1974, I left the sanctuary of my parents’ home in rural West Sussex to begin studying for a history degree in the grey Yorkshire mill town of Huddersfield.

My new compatriots spoke with an accent I had only previously heard on TV’s Emmerdale Farm.

But they were warm and welcoming and a real sense of community existed everywhere I turned.

I quickly sampled the local cuisine of Sam and John Smith’s beer, pie floaters on mushy peas and fish wibbits.

And more importantly a regular Friday evening curry at a Punjabi café run by two brothers, first generation migrants from Indian Gujarati.

I loved it all and stayed to work in the area long after graduating.

Less than seven miles away in the neighbouring town of Heckmondwike, Helen Joanne Leadbeater (who would one day become Mrs Jo Cox) was born, in June 1974, to a caring working class household.

Mum Jean was a school secretary and dad Gordon worked in a toothpaste and hairspray factory in nearby Leeds.

Heckmondwike is a small industrial town, alongside Birstall and Batley, nestled in the Kirkless valley with its larger neighbour Huddersfield.

It was part of the Heavy Woollen District, so-called due to the dozens of woollen mills which had been built alongside the fast flowing Calder and Spen rivers during the Industrial Revolution.

The area was enhanced during the 1950s and 1960s by the immigration of hundreds of people from Pakistan and India, who came to work in the local textile industries.

My friend Faisal Akhtar migrated with his young family from Kashmir in 1972.

“When we arrived we were housed in a shared terraced house in Hounslow – near Heathrow Airport – but it was cramped and we faced racist name calling every day,” he recalls.

“I was a skilled machinist and knew I had to find work if we were to get on. In 1973 we moved to Leicester, where my brother told me there was work and a chance of a better life in West Yorkshire.

“In 1974 we moved again and settled here. Forty years later my youngest daughter Kemal is born here and my granddaughters speak with such a strong accent that I sometimes have to ask them to repeat what they say,” he laughs.

But in 1974, the woollen industry was in decline and the UK hit by recession, the Three-Day Week and regular electricity blackouts.

There was also double-digit inflation, which peaked at more than 20%.

But around me life went on, and many of the first generation Asian migrants immersed themselves in their communities, making a living by running small corner stores and market stalls and in some instances larger retail and manufacturing enterprises.

The only thing which divided the Asian migrants from the white indigenous population was the occasional language barrier.

If racism did exist, it was not obvious and certainly not violent.

My grandparents’ best friend’s son David Smirthwaite was a local bank manager. He once told me: “I usually grant loans to Asian entrepreneurs, because they work hard, never default and more than any other immigrants want to feel British.”

The monetarist economics and politics of Margaret Thatcher were soon to test this.

During the 1980s national unemployment rose for the first time to over three million. In Kirklees the pain was felt as hard as anywhere as factories, mills and businesses folded.

And race holds no discrimination when it comes to unemployment.

By now a second generation of British Asians were being born and educated alongside white children… social cohesion thrived.

The pattern continued as members of the former homogenous south Asian communities gradually moved and integrated into predominantly white areas.

In 2013 a local government report traced these movements:

  • There is evidence of dispersal of ethnic minority groups from areas in which they have previously clustered in Kirklees.
  • The Pakistani and Indian groups are growing most rapidly in wards neighbouring those in which they are most clustered, including Lindley, Mirfield and Heckmondwike.
  • The 2011 Census shows that Kirklees is not becoming less British: more people report a British national identity than report White British ethnic identity.

Against this background, the far right never had a foothold in Batley and Spen.

Although the National Front kicked off at a couple of minor demonstrations in Huddersfield in 1969 and 1970; throughout the 1970s, 1980s and most of the 1990s the far right didn’t field a candidate at any General Election.

And when the BNP did fight the 1997 General Election their man Ron Smith polled just 472 votes – less than 0.5% of the poll.

But post 9/11 and the resultant surge of Islamophobia, the BNP looked at the seemingly high number of Asian Muslims in West Yorkshire – by this time second or third generation British citizens – and decided to target Batley and Spen.

In the 2005 General Election their candidate Colin Auty polled a shocking 2,668 or 6.8% of the poll. This was replicated in 2010 when the BNP’s David Exley won 3,685 (7.1%) votes.

In 2003, the Heckmondwike electoral ward elected Exley to the local council. He was re-elected in 2004, and in 2006 a second BNP member, Roger Roberts, was elected.

Suddenly, the far right was finding a racist toe-hold.

In 2009, Wikileaks published the BNP’s own membership lists, which showed that Batley and Spen had one of the highest memberships of any UK constituency.

Today experts claim at least seven far-right groups united by racist ideologies are active in the West Yorkshire region.

Among the organisations are the virulently anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL), which claims to have established “divisions” in Leeds, Huddersfield, Halifax and Dewsbury – all within 10 miles of Batley and Spen – along with the British Movement (BM), a small but ultra-violent group considered extreme even by the standards of the British far right.

Other organisations include National Action, a neo-Nazi nationalist youth movement that openly advocates violence and whose strategy document make reference to Hitler.

And among the most active are The Yorkshire Infidels, who belong to a regional network of “far-right fascist gangs” whose marches often descend into violence.

According to Prevent, the government’s counter-extremism programme, the region’s small but determined far-right nexus has led to far-right extremists accounting for half of all referrals in Yorkshire to its counter-radicalisation programme.

Matthew Collins of Hope Not Hate said: “When it comes to getting numbers, the north-west and the north-east are the hotspots, but West Yorkshire always manages to get the numbers out.”

The region’s Muslim population has amplified far-right sentiment, giving Islamophobic groups a visible “enemy” to rally against.

The far right in West Yorkshire also has links to the US with the National Alliance, a once-prominent white-supremacist group based in West Virginia, whose British representative, according to Hope Not Hate, lives near Leeds.

In 2013 Charles Farr, then director-general of the UK Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, warned that the threat from extreme-right-wing lone wolves was increasing.

Many of the largest caches of arms found in the previous five years had been connected to the far right.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate said the UK needed to prepare itself for the “rising militancy of Britain’s far right” which he said would “lead to greater violence in 2016”.

He said: “This could be manifested in three ways: a general increase in anti-left wing harassment and attacks; communal violence where gangs of far-right supporters clash with Muslim or Eastern European youths; or, in extreme cases, terrorism.”

The same terrorism which took MP Jo Cox’s life last Thursday afternoon.

 

Life Is Brief

I carried you in my arms

On that long hot summer’s day

Under the waxing crescent moon

I promised I would stay

Twenty-one years have now passed

Since your sapphire eyes

Looked into mine

Twenty-one years under a darkening sky

Your reflection does still shine

 

Grey hair tumbles into crow’s feet lines

Tears smart memories

As age defines

Tears of pain, tears of grief

I’m so alone

And life is brief

 

I cuddled you in my arms

On a frosting winter’s night

You held me tight and smiled

Before I gave up the fight

Twenty-one years have now passed

Since your little hand

Fell softly into mine

Twenty-one years under a darkening sky

Your reflection does still shine

 

Grey hair tumbles into crow’s feet lines

Tears smart memories

As age defines

Tears of pain, tears of grief

I’m so alone

And life is brief

 

I said goodbye and kissed your cheek

On the last time that we met

And cried a veil as I drove away

How can I ever forget

Twenty-one years have now passed

Since your gentle laugh

Made life seem sublime

Twenty-one years under a darkening sky

Your reflection does still shine

 

Grey hair tumbles into crow’s feet lines

Tears smart memories

As age defines

Tears of pain, tears of grief

I’m so alone

And life is brief

 

(With reference to Bob Dylan’s Tears of Rage)

Don’t Look Away

Sionnan I love you dearly

Don’t look away

I never left you

Sionnan I long to see you

Don’t look away

I am still waiting

Sionnan I long to hear you

Don’t look away

I still need you

Sionnan I long to hold you

Don’t look away

I am not leaving

Sionnan I long to kiss you

Don’t look away

I am not running

Sionnan I long to sense you

Don’t look away

I am still pleading

Sionnan I will not leave you

Don’t look away

This is your father

 

A Grief Observed

Oh to leave behind this

Feeling

The lost souls are still

Bleeding

I watched you

On the beach

The white horses

Crashed

Vein hopes

Dashed

But in my dreams

You were calling

But still

Out of reach

My Shannon

 

Oh to leave behind this

Feeling

The lost souls are still

Bleeding

The years

The fears

The broken raven

Dies

At my window

While time

Ticks

The years passing

But not love

Without you

My Shannon

 

Shannon

Your blue eyes linger

With your impish grin

Your dark hair wavers

The joy that’s within

5,000 days is too long my daughter

Much too long

Please come home

At the end of this song

 

You play in the meadow

With sun in your hair

You shout at your sister

With barely a care

5,000 days is too long my daughter

Much too long

Please come home

At the end of this song

 

Your voice resonates

In the caverns of my mind

Your tears wash away

What was left behind

5,000 days is too long my daughter

Much too long

Please come home

At the end of this song

 

You run over the sand

Your buckets to fill

We sit and watch blithely

From the side of the hill

5,000 days is too long my daughter

Much too long

Please come home

At the end of this song

 

We walk the old wall

Along by the farm

You scream with laughter

Safe in my arm

5,000 days is too long my daughter

Much too long

Please come home

At the end of this song

 

Now the years have passed

The memories remain

It’s time to come home

It’s the end of the game

5,000 days is too long my daughter

Much too long

Please come home

It’s the end of the song

 

The Let Them Eat Cake University Bash

UCU Nic

THERE is revolution stirring in the hallowed halls of our universities and colleges… an unrest not witnessed in the UK since the heady days of student sit-ins of the late 1960s.

But it is not the students who are fermenting 21st century strife, but their older and wiser lecturers and professors.

Amid pay freezes, zero hours contracts, spiralling staff absences due to stress, revised academic calendars and resource cut-backs, while vice chancellors earn more than twice that of the prime minister, academic staff have had enough.

This week’s two day strike of University and College Union (UCU) members highlighted the chasm between vice chancellors earning an average £274,405 per annum while lecturing staff have suffered a 14.5% cut in pay in real terms.

UCU branded the disparity a ‘disgrace’.

Along with strike action and working to contract, union members are now withdrawing their services across all aspects of the curriculum.

And that is only the tip of a row, which threatens to even overshadow the junior doctors’ acrimonious dispute with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The University and College Union is highlighting a new trend where some universities are now going down the Austerity road of zero hours contracts.

They body-swerving their statutory of pay and conditions by sub-contracting out recruitment to commercial agencies such as Kaplan and INTO.

The powerful Russell Group of Universities has already advertised, via INTO, for new lecturers at Manchester University through this method.

One national recruitment advert taken out on 23 May details the move:

Teacher of English (Zero Hours Contract)  

INTO Manchester are looking to recruit, as soon as possible, a zero hours hourly-paid English Language teacher to join the organisation and to help us cover by teaching on English Language programmes at various times as and when required throughout the summer of 2016.

The job entails: “To teach English to international students on a variety of programmes. This is likely to include full-time General English and Academic English courses, but may also include Foundation, Undergraduate Diploma and Graduate Diploma programmes.”

The duties of this position are identical to that of many full time senior lecturers at other universities who have the security of permanent full time contracts.

But in addition to teaching duties, the successful zero hours candidate must:

  • Work with key stakeholders across other functional areas of INTO such as marketing, finance, student services.
  • Prepare, select and use teaching-learning materials for international students
  • Provide oral and written feedback to students and other stakeholders
  • Provide pastoral and academic support for international students as appropriate through the personal tutorial system.
  • Carry out administrative and record-keeping tasks such as: student progress reports, test invigilation, marks sheets, attendance and activity records, tutorial logs, advising logs, and UCAS references
  • Participate in the social programme such as accompanying trips and attending events
  • Attend regular staff and student representative meetings.
  • Set and mark coursework, liaising with the Examinations Board as necessary and keeping reliable records of scores achieved

The 24 universities (including Oxford and Cambridge) which make up the Russell Group produce more than two-thirds of the leading research produced in UK universities, support over 300,000 jobs across the country and have a total economic output of more than £32 billion every year.

Last year, more than 395,000 undergraduates and over 184,000 postgraduates were studying at a Russell Group university.

One senior lecturer at Sussex University, which is not part of the Russell Group, said: “This recruitment policy is bizarre beyond belief.

“While most university lecturers struggle daily to fulfil the increasing demands of the job with dwindling resources, it seems that Manchester University’s answer is to fill its needs with off-the-shelf temporary staff, who will not know from one semester to another whether they have any work.

“Suddenly universities are adopting the practices of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.”

UCU’s own research has found that 61% of Further Education colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland already have teaching staff on zero-hour contracts along with 53% of UK universities.

“Our findings have shone a light on the murky world of casualisation in further and higher education,” said a UCU spokesman.

“We have a real crisis with Further Education which seems to mirror what is happening in the commercial world outside”.

UCU members began working to contract from this week, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

They will also withdraw their skills and services as external examiners.

On Friday, 50 professors from academic institutions as diverse as Durham University, Cardiff, Southampton, Sheffield and Warwick signed an open letter explaining why they are resigning their roles as external examiners.

Their letter says:

“We have resigned because, while as senior academics we believe our role in underpinning the quality of education provided to students is vital, we are all too aware of the unfairness of the current pay policies of our universities and their impact on staff and their students.

“We have watched with sadness the pay of academic and professional staff fall in real terms by 14.5% since 2009; we have seen the numbers of casual staff proliferate; and seen universities do little or nothing to reduce the shocking gender pay gap despite having a collective surplus of £1.85 billion.

“Yet the final straw for many of us is the contention by our employers that the latest final pay offer of 1.1% is “at the limits of what can be afforded” when at the same time we discover that university leaders have themselves received an average pay increase of 6.1%. The blatant hypocrisy of this position is breath-taking.

“We have therefore resigned from our external examiner posts and there will be no “business as usual” until we have a commitment from our universities to fair pay in higher education.”

But already it is far from “business as usual”.

At the University of Wolverhampton they are now witnessing “disturbing levels of sickness among staff,” as stress takes its toll on under-resourced and under-paid lecturers.

The local chapel of UCU sent a letter to its members which highlighted the problem: “The figures of days lost through sickness absence amongst staff in 2014/15 are once again, damning.

“20,306 days have been lost in 2014/15, which is worse than the previous year (19,140 but with fewer employees).

“The breakdown of the nature of the illness will be of interest to members, as 25% of sickness absence is psychological, which is eight percentage points more than the average in the sector.

“HR have acknowledged that at least half of this category is work-related stress.”

“Yet the university has responded by closing its counselling services for staff.

“Your UCU reps are puzzled that access for staff to the University Counselling Service has now been withdrawn after nearly five years.

This is despite significant numbers of staff using the service and despite extremely high levels of satisfaction being reported by the 84% who completed a survey at the end of their period of counselling.

“Without the University provision, most of the staff concerned would have had to wait more than three months to access counselling via the NHS.

“University management have said that the institution needs to make cost savings and should not be taking on the role of the health service.

“However, a number of other universities in the West Midlands (Coventry, Keele and Birmingham) provide free counselling for staff.

“Members have speculated that maybe access for staff to the University Counselling Service has made the amount of human unhappiness in the institution much more visible and University management would prefer that it was hidden and not talked about.”

But university staff have hidden for too long.

One senior lecturer and governor at Wolverhampton notes the “Us and Them” philosophy which alienates the university bosses from their staff.

On Wednesday, he posted an anonymous attack on his employers via his online blog: “Today sees the first Staff Summer Party. There are rides and ice-cream stalls and a bucking bronco because that’s what academics really want to do apparently. Truth be told, a summer tea party after a long year is rather a nice idea, but this one falls on the eve of our strike.

“I’ve suggested that the party be renamed the Let Them Eat Cake Bash, but apparently that’s not helpful.

“I wouldn’t mind, but that very day the Times Higher Education Supplement published a report which singled out our Vice Chancellor for his 19.6% pay rise: a very handy £44,000 which should see him through the summer.

“The chair of the governors said the rise is due to the VC’s excellent performance, while forgetting to mention that the VC’s salary is being increased to the median for the sector as a matter of policy.

“Yet academic staff are not rewarded for ‘results’: we’re assessed and appraised and criticised, but not rewarded.

“Only senior executives – some of whom are demonstrably ignorant of what goes on in classrooms – are afforded bonus payments and a salary scheme which depends on an all-universities pay survey.

“What this essentially means is that the senior managements of all universities are on a one-way conveyor belt of pay uplifts. If senior pay is benchmarked to a sector average, all they have to do is tell each other that this year, they’ve deserved an increase.

“Hey presto, they all get one! As we say round here, credit and money rise to the top.

“Only blame trickles downwards.

“If it wasn’t for the sight of people on 20% pay rises sending out threatening emails telling us we’re greedy I wouldn’t mind so much about the salary.

“What I do object to is the complete absence of analytical rigour. Universities’ monies are loans from students, to be paid off (over decades).

“I want to see a Vice Chancellor or a Head of Finance of a university stand in front of a student and explain why he or she deserves to soak up the £9,000 fees of 30 students while they’re being taught often by insecurely-employed, part-time teachers who are expected to produce world-class research, generate external funding and top-class National Student Survey reports while often being employed on zero-hours contracts.”

This particular lecturer spent Wednesday and Thursday on his university picket line giving out peanuts to his colleagues while offering Whiskas treats to the “fat cat” bosses as they drove past in their Mercedes and Jaguars.

The university bosses have upped the ante.

But, UCU will not be brow-beaten into submission.

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt said: “If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, members have agreed to further strike action which could affect open days, graduation ceremonies and the clearing process.

“Universities need to answer some hard questions about how they will continue to attract and retain the best talent when pay is being held down and hardworking staff are receiving such poor reward for their efforts.”

 

Death is Not the End – the conspiracy surrounding the deaths of John Bauldie and Matthew Harding

John Bauldie

I NEVER thought for one minute that a life-long obsession with music legend Bob Dylan would collide head on with my 30 year career as an investigative journalist.

But it has done… in the most unexpected way imaginable.

It is a story of a common love, friendship, a sudden and tragic death and an ongoing murder conspiracy.

A conspiracy which may touch the highest levels of British society.

My love and obsession with Bob Dylan has now spanned more than 40 years.

But it was back in 1987-88, while I was hospitalised in Cardiff with cancer, that a new world of Dylan was unexpectedly opened to me.

And with it an equally unexpected friendship.

To while away the hours and weeks of radiotherapy, my mother bought me a copy of Robert Shelton’s definitive Dylan biography No Direction Home.

I consumed the book in a couple of days. And while meandering through the appendices I noted mention of a quarterly Bob Dylan fan magazine, simply titled The Telegraph.

With an annual subscription of just £10, including delivery, I wrote off and subscribed to the magazine instantly.

And so began the expansion of my world of Bob Dylan and an enduring friendship with the magazine’s editor John Bauldie.

John was an ebullient personality, sometimes sounding dour with his native Lancashire drawl, but always enthused by anything to do with Bob Dylan and his hometown football team Bolton Wanderers.

And as a fellow journalist, we automatically had a lot in common.

John was one of the world’s foremost authorities on Dylan’s music. He wrote several key books on him as well as – since 1981 – editing and publishing the superb Telegraph.

Yet there was nobody less like the stereotyped “anorak” than John.

A former lecturer in English literature he was a dapper and cultured man, who brought a well-rounded intelligence to his quest.

His vocation was to amass the data and win for his hero the serious appraisal due to an outstanding 20th century performer.

He only met Dylan once, and that was by accident.

Following a US tour, he was passing the singer’s tour bus when Dylan sauntered out.

The two men held a brief and genial conversation, in the course of which John won a much prized endorsement for his magazine.

“The Telegraph?” Bob murmured. “I seen a few issues of that. It’s pretty interesting.”

That was all the recognition that John required.

Then in 1987 – coinciding with our first contact – he left his teaching days behind him and joined the small team at the newly-launched Q magazine, as a sub-editor.

Meanwhile, I quickly became a regular contributor to The Telegraph and would often engage in long telephone conversations with John at his home in Romford, swapping his immense knowledge of Dylan with my suggestions for magazine lay-out, typography and style.

He seemed like a god to me and was always the first person I turned to for tickets to Dylan gigs – usually after he broke the news of the great man’s next tour.

John loved to travel with his longstanding partner, Penny Garner, and would invariably plan his year around Dylan’s interminable tour itineraries.

And he always cut a memorable figure at those gigs. You’d spot him, immaculately turned-out in his camel-hair coat as he shared his insights and a few drinks with fellow fans.

And it was wholly due to John that I joined him on a flight to Brussels in the summer of 1989 to follow Bob Dylan around Europe, and witness Dylan’s greatest gig at the Statenhal in Den Haag.

When I moved to Scotland in late 1990 to begin a full-time job as a newspaper editor, our telephone conversations became less frequent, but we still had time to meet for a chat before Dylan’s gigs at Glasgow’s SECC in February 1991.

And my quarterly copy of The Telegraph still arrived promptly every three months.

So, it was in total shock and disbelief when I discovered that John, aged just 47, had been killed in seemingly freak helicopter crash in Cheshire.

It was the same crash which killed Chelsea multi-millionaire vice chairman Matthew Harding and three other people on 22 October 1996.

Harding had given John a lift in his private helicopter to watch his love Bolton Wanderers, defeat Chelsea in a Coca-Cola cup tie at Burnden Park.

Ironically it was their mutual love of Bob Dylan which first brought John and Matthew Harding together.

Some months later I wrote to John’s widow Penny, expressing my condolences and deep sadness at John’s death.

Penny replied almost immediately and I have treasured her hand written letter for the past 20 years.

And there my grief and memory of John Bauldie should have remained.

But, last month my investigative senses were stimulated by a chance conversation with another Dylan fanatic at record fair in my local town.

He told me that Penny had died homeless and destitute a few years after John’s tragic death, and both their deaths were not as they might seem.

On arriving home I quickly found online a copy of the official report into the helicopter crash which took John’s life.

The report, dated November 1997, said that the pilot of the twin-engined French Aerospatiale AS 355F1 Squirrel had neither the qualifications nor experience to control the aircraft after it got into difficulties.

Michael Goss, 38, had gone off route on the night of the crash and headed for an area of high ground which a weather forecaster had advised him to avoid.

The report said that after taking off from Bolton after the match, the flight had to operate below an overcast cloud layer which was below the minimum safe en-route altitude.

But, 20 years later there are now allegations that Matthew Harding and his fellow passengers died, not because of an incompetent helicopter pilot, but because of their knowledge of police and local council corruption in property development schemes within the London Borough of Havering.

And it was the friendship between Harding, John Bauldie and his partner Penny, which now may explain the conspiracy surrounding their deaths.

Penny Garner was a Biology lecturer at Havering College of Further and Higher Education – not far from her and John’s home in Romford.

She prepared her students for their A-levels and future careers in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Industry.

During the mid 1990s Penny witnessed criminal issues at the college, created in a failed attempt to close the college for property development.

She struggled with these issues not least due to the wayward management of a faculty head who failed to deal with staff who had purchased a machine gun with live ammunition on college premises.

The machine gun was fired on college grounds with a resulting flood of calls to Havering police.

The college had a large number of students from Irish backgrounds and with the Northern Ireland troubles still flaring many feared there might be links to IRA terrorism.

But witnesses later swore that a Conservative councillor encouraged the sale of the machine gun at the college, via a third party intermediary resident in Lake Rise, Romford.

The gun was later resold, by a science technician in Penny’s faculty, who was encouraged by a well-known local Tory activist involved in the property development plans.

Allegations soon surfaced that the firearms sales, random assaults and thefts were part of a dirty tricks campaign by local Conservative activists and councillors in attempt to close the college.

There were further allegations that their friends in the local police had full knowledge of this campaign.

Penny made John aware of these events.

John and his editorship of The Telegraph was already being investigated without just cause in an attempt to find “dirt” against those opposing the closure of the college for property development.

The corruption involved was such that the attempt to close the college was stopped for fear of official enquiries into the conduct of the Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster Conservative Parties and associates in Havering Borough Police station.

Shortly before his death, John told Matthew Harding about the events at the college. Matthew Harding took a keen interest to find out more and promised to look into the matter.

Harding also had a political axe to grind as he disliked the Conservative Party and recently donated funds to Tony Blair and New Labour.

But the conspiracy gets deeper…

Just two years ago it came to light that murdered BBC Crimewatch host Jill Dando had been probing the death of Matthew Harding and his four friends.

Ms Dando was gunned down on her doorstep in Fulham, south-west London, in April 1999. The killer has yet to be caught, but much evidence points to police, MI5 and political corruption at the highest level.

“Jill told me she was investigating the death of her friend Matthew Harding and money laundering claims,” said a BBC colleague.

“She was killed after ignoring two warnings to back off.”

The source claims Harding first told a friend, Irish investigative journalist Veronica Guerin, about his fears about corruption and money laundering over property developments.

But Ms Guerin was then murdered in 1996 while working on a drugs inquiry in Dublin.

A panicked Harding then repeated his concerns to BBC journalist Ms Dando.

He died just four months later.

The source added: “Jill told me she had begun investigating Matthew’s death and the concerns he had shared with her.

“Somebody tried to warn her off but she persisted in her inquiries.”

The conspiracy remains unsolved, but as someone once said: “This can of worms only opens from the inside”.

Watch this space!