Saturday, December 31, 2022

The sad loss of Alice Mahon

Alice Mahon

It is deeply sad for me to learn of the death of Alice Mahon. We were both Labour MPs for exactly the same period from 1987 to 2005 and shared in many similar political and social activities at Westminister. She died on Xmas Day.

We were both members of the Socialist Campaign Group and often participated in identical Commons activities due to our shared political interests. We also met up in similar social circles, drawn together with others due to our common political concerns.

Prior to being MPs we had both obtained University Degrees as adults and went on to teach Trade Unionists. 

Unlike myself, she resigned from the Labour Party in April 2009; although I shared many of her concerns about its problematic development. 

Details of her telling life can be found here -



Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Edith's Story


Edith Jacques lived from 1909 until 2012. Her twin sons Terrance and Ernie were born in 1938 and at their current age of 84 have written the above fine biography about their mother. The book is very impressive, even more so as it is the only book they have ever written.

     "Edith's Story" is particulary telling and hopefully it will help to start a new trend in the writing of biographies. For the bulk of biographies we normally turn to are about people we have already heard about. From prominent heroes such as Nelson Mandela to villians such as Adolf Hitler. Few working class people get the biographical coverage which tells us about the social and personal problems they were obliged to tackle. Edith handled these in an impressive way. Being faced with especially harsh conditions from the time of her birth, until improvements which she made effective use of with the establishment of the Welfare State from 1945.

    Edith came from a long line of families where the men were agricultural labourers, including her father who died when she was only 10. Then the following year her mother broke her back and was bed ridden for the rest of her life. Edith was obliged to pack in schooling to look after her invalid mother and her younger brother. For by then her four elder sisters had all left home to become domestic servants, the main form of employment that was then open to females. Her four older brothers being agricultural labourers.

    Beyond nursing her mother and doing the housework, Edith grew vegitables for consumption and sale. Then even when she married an agricultural labourer at 18 she continued to help her mother and also her mother-in-law who soon became ill and was eventually taken into a workhouse at York in the area where Edith lived.

    With the subsequent deaths of her mother and mother-in-law, Edith settled for a while into the more normal life of the wife of an agricultural labourer, starting her own family with a son. Then in 1938 she gave birth to the twins who wrote this biography. But disaster struck. As her husband cycled to record their births he was hit by a torrential rain storm. It led to his death only a fortnight later.

   Pursuing her struggle to survive, Edith gained employment at RAF Clinton nearbye. She worked a nine hour shift and a six day week. Looking after her young twins became a massive problem. In 1941 she sort to square the circle by placing them locally at York in Dr. Barnardos home. She expected this would give her a regular opportunity to see them. But matters soon changed. For the twins (who wrote this biography) were quickly shunted distantly from place to place, almost ending up in Australia. They experienced 13 distant moves as far apart as Dumfries and Essex. She faced great difficulties in tracing them, sending letters and attempting to visit her sons. Only in 1943 did she finally managed to visit them in Scotland and then two years later in Sussex.

    In 1947 Edith gained fresh employment in York at Rowntrees, eventually becoming a trade union representative and also took in a lodger. She had moved into a Council House and was finally in a position to reclaim her twins from Barnados. Edith's help and influence over them being shown by their moving on to qualify via the Open University and now producing this telling biography.

   My great hope is that amongst those who decide to read this fine book, will be numbers who then decide to turn their own hands to writing about their own equivalent working class parents. Even if like me (being two years older than the Jacques twins) all they come up are blog items about their working class mother and/or father. Such works can tell us much that we need to know about the shaping of our society, even more than works about the high and mighty.

Although the book is some 400 pages long and is littered with many relevant photographs and key references, I found to be a compelling work explaining Edith's extremely tough but compelling life. It is a long time since I have been consumed a biography so quickly.

(For my own modest blog efforts on my own parents see and )

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Fracking Minister Resigns.

 Great news - Jacob Rees Mogg the MP in charge of Fracking has resigned as Business Secretary. Hopefully this indicates that fracking will bite the dust.

 28 October sees the return of controls on fracking. See -

For more nonsense from Rees Mogg on facking see -

3:4 portrait of Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

Monday, October 10, 2022

Commons Library on Fracking Dangers

 See this House of Commons Library Briefing Paper published on 31 March 2020. It reveals the serious dangers fracking can lead to especially in former built upon Coal Mining Areas such as the one in the item below this one. Link into

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Dronfield's Coal Mining Heritage and its Fracking Dangers

Dronfield Eye published the following article from me in March 2019, issue 161. You will need to click onto it to enlarge it, so that you can read it. Although it makes no mention of fracking dangers in the Dronfield area, the information it provides shows just how serious fracking operations would be in the territory it covers. For Dronfield and its surrounding area is pock-marked with several hundred former coal mining operations, many of which now have houses, gardens, roads, shops and public buildings  built on top of them. As mining operations in the area took place between the 16th Century and the 20th Century, there will be additional areas where coal mining took place yet they have not yet been indentified. Fracking such territory would create major safety problems. There can hardly be an area where fracking operations would be more harmful.

The Coal Authority holds a similar map for the whole of North East Derbyshire showing an overall spread of past coal mining operations. I do not, however, hold their permission to publish it.


Wednesday, September 07, 2022

The Minister for Fracking

 The new and highly dangerious Minister with responsibilities for Fracking - 

Lee Rowley our local Tory MP supported the election of Liz Truss as Prime Minister. How does he now feel about her appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg to the key fracking role of Business Secretary? We can only hope that Rees-Mogg falls asleep on his new job. 

8th September. Watch out -

Added 23 September. See what we are now up against from Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Govenment on Fracking -

Monday, September 05, 2022

Was Liz Truss elected as Prime Minister on a Minority Vote ?

 It is claimed here that the Conservative Party had a total membership of between 180,000 and 200,000 on 1st July 2019 -

If this estimate has held up since then, it means that Liz Truss has just been elected as leader of Conservative Party and thus Prime Minister on the votes of a minority of its party's membership.  She obtained 81,326 votes to Sunacks 60,399, making it a total of 141,725 legitimate votes being cast. This is well below the membership estimate for 2019.

This time 624 members submitted invalid voting papers, but what number of others could not be bothered to vote given the nature of the choices ?

3:4 portrait of Elizabeth Truss

P.S. This claims that Truss received only 47% of the eligable votes -

Added 28 September - What vote would she have got now ?