Monday, December 06, 2021

When will Boris be prosecuted ?


Boris Johnson was seen 'playing dress up' as a police officer on Monday


(1)Any person who with intent to deceive impersonates a member of a police force or special constable, or makes any statement or does any act calculated falsely to suggest that he is such a member or constable, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

(2)Any person who, not being a constable, wears any article of police uniform in circumstances where it gives him an appearance so nearly resembling that of a member of a police force as to be calculated to deceive shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(3)Any person who, not being a member of a police force or special constable, has in his possession any article of police uniform shall, unless he proves that he obtained possession of that article lawfully and has possession of it for a lawful purpose, be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.

(4)In this section—

(a)“article of police uniform” means any article of uniform or any distinctive badge or mark or document of identification usually issued to members of police forces or special constables, or anything having the appearance of such an article, badge, mark or document.

See -

Wednesday, December 01, 2021


Save Our Care Homes!

Derbyshire County Council intends to close seven of its
Care Homes. We fear this may be the beginning of more
County Home closures. We need to stop the closures to
protect our elderly, sick and frail residents. The jobs of
skilled and dedicated staff are at risk, too.

Residents may be offered places in privately-owned
Homes up to ten miles away. As many Homes do not
accept residents with dementia, it is hard to see how
every resident will be able to find another place to live.

The Council claims it will cost a vast sum of money to
refurbish the seven Homes. Yet they have paid £6.63
million to private consultants to find out how to save
money on services!

DCC claims that demand for residential care places is
falling. This is because since early 2020, DCC has been
restricting access to assessments for these places.
Across the whole County, only 70 long-term placements
were allowed between February and December 2020.

Nationally, the Association of Directors of Social Services
disagrees strongly with Derbyshires claim that demand
for places in Care Homes is falling. The Association says
that the worsening shortage of care home places is cause
for deep concern. Why does Derbyshire County Council
think it knows better than the national organisation of

What can you do?

Tell your County Councillor this plan must be scrapped

Sign the petition online https://bit.lySaveOurCareHomes

Tell friends and family
p&p Chesterfield Save Our NHS 22 Boythorpe Avenue S40 2QE


Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Role of an MP.

Speaking in the Commons over 20 years ago when I was an established MP. Much has changed since then. It had its weaknesses, but they are now generally even worse. I retired in 2005.

Parliament has changed considerably since I was an MP from 1987 to 2005. Three of the transforming factors have been  - 

(1) The impact of new technology, with MPs now running face-book sites. I was restricted to what was the then parliamentary avenues - mainly the media, phone calls, surgeries, public and party meetings and considerable letter writing.  Any fees I received for work such as my prize as the MP's weight-watcher of the year, went to charities - such as War on Want

 (2) There is the increase in the number of female MPs. Out of 650 MPs there were only 41 women when I was first elected and there are 191 today.   Childbirth issues then led to the initial introduction of voting arrangments by proxy. A technique that was recently extended when MPs were being protected from Covid.  In 1987 Labour only had 21 female MPs out of 229 members. Aided to by all-women-short-lists, by the tme of the 2015 election Labour women MPs were in the majority by 99 to 80 males. A consequence of this change was that over the period of the birth of MPs children, proxy voting was first introduced into parliament for both women and men. But what was a proxy need has now been extended.

(3) In particular, the make-up of the Labour Party in parliamemt has changed. The collapse of industries such as coal mining has reduced significantly the proportion of Labour MPs who come from industrial and working class backgrounds. There when even four miners in my time whom I had taught on Sheffield University Industrial Day Release Courses. Another whom I studied with when at Ruskin College. And one I was first elected alongside, whom I knew from the Yorkshire Miners Office.  Then there were earlier day-release students, such as Dennis Skinner.           

 There are different roles and payment systems which MPs can be subject to, mainly depending on whether they are front benchers or back benchers, and also whether they are on the Government or Opposition side of the House. Over a time many MPs will often move in and out of these categories. Except that when I was an MP for 18 years, I remained a back-bencher throughout that whole time. This has also been Jeremy Corbyn's position for 38 years, apart for his four and a half year spell as leader of the Labour Party.

Currently a back-bench MP is paid nearly £82,000 per year, with expenses for running an office and employing staff. Those living outside of London can claim allowances for rented accomodation in the capital of up to £23,000 a year so that they can make it readily to parliament. I rented a flat a bus journey from the Commons. Whilst those from London such as my successor Natascha Engel (who rented accomodation in Barrow Hill and then Dronfield) can nowadays claim up to £16, 000 annually.  Jeremy living in his Constituency in London close to the Commons could and can make no such full claim, although smaller travel claims can be made by those travelling to the Commons from London's outskirts.

Numbers of MPs who are not front benchers, can also have additional employment outside of parliament. The case of Sir Geoffrey Cox is very prominent at the moment. He earned £900,000 last year as a lawyer. But whilst it is a feature which is stronger in the parliamentary Conservative Party, Labour is not free from this practice. When Starmer was first elected he was still involved in outside pay for a period before he became leader - for legal work. Then Dan Jarvis the MP for Barnsley has only just decided to pack in his role as the paid Mayor of South Yorkshire, which helped to almost double his MP's salary. In all almost a third of MPs now have second outside jobs.

Then there are openings for salary increases in the Commons itself - although Ministers are not allowed to take on any outside paid work. They receive salary increases instead. The Prime Minister gets an extra £75,000, plus his Downing Street accomodation. Cabinet Ministers get an extra £67,000. Ministers of State over £31,000 and Parliamentary Under Secretaries (such as our Lee Rowley at the Department of Business, Energy and Industry) an an extra £22, 475. 

The Speaker receives £ 77,000 on top of his MPs salary, plus free accomodation in the Commons.

The extra parliamentary salary openings for MPs on the back benches is limited to an extra £16,422 for those taking on the roll of chair of a Select Committee. Ken Livingstone once wished to nominate me as Chair of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, but instead I accepted the unpaid post of Vice Chair. For the Chairmanship has extra heavy work , especially working with the staff of the Commitee. And I had other paliamentary work to do.

Sitting days in parliament last for roughly 30 weeks a year on so, normally running for five days a week.  Breaks are provide for holiday periods, party conferences and a recess between the parliamentary years. Each fresh parliamentary year is set going with a Queen'a speech setting our her government's coming legislative programme. 

Apart from work directly in parliament, MPs need to involve themselves in a numbers of related activities. So my interest in resolving the conflict situation on the island of Ireland led to me joining the Northern Ireland Select Committee and another organisation entitled the British-Irish Parliamentary Body.  My costs on visits would be met by either parliament or by our hosts parliament. My wife would join me for numbers of these activities, but we privately met her costs.. On Northern Ireland I also chaired a voluntary (and unpaid) organisation called New Consensus, pursuing their concerns (as with other local, national and international issues) via parliamentary and other avenues.

I never gained parliamentary office, because I joined the Socialist Campaign Group and was seen as a left-wing rebel. But this presented me with no day to day problems in the parliamentary labour party when we were in opposition from 1987 to 1994 and I was voting, speaking and acting mainly against the Tories. But matters changed when Labour came to power under Blair in May 1997. Later that year I joined in a major rebellion voting against the Labour Government with 54 other Labour MPs, over reduced child benefits for lone parents.

I was then called in by my rather gentle Regional Whip (Graham Allen) who was obiged to inform me that the next time I rebelled I would lose my membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party unless I informed him of my rebellious intentions beforehand. This would allow the Whips Office to know were they stood and (if necessary) prevent a loyal MP from having leave of absence so they could vote wth the Government - and cancel our my rebellion. I agreed to give advance warning,  knowing that our Parliamemtary Party had enough votes to get their way anyway on most issues.

Dispite a record of regular rebellions, I was never taken to task by Graham again. Once I sent him a detailed letter to jusify my rebellion and he told me that I had won that weeks Booker Prize ! But then often I only placed my rebellious information on the Commons letter board for him as I went in to vote against the Labour Government - too late for him to cover my move. But he never took me to task, probably working out in advance what I would be doing. 

The only other direct problem I faced from the Whips was to be dragged into their main
office to be told off over a a specific rebellion. I pointed our that the issue concerned a parliamentary amemdment submitted in my own name. How did they think I would vote? I then stormed out and heard nothing further. But it would not have added to my popularity with the leadership.

The question is how do we get dedicated MPs devoting their time and energy to issues such as saving the planet,  overcoming Covid on an national and international basis, tackling poverty and ending conflicts and expliotation.  Surely the Parliamentary Party of Keir Hardie, Clem Atlee, Nye Bevan and company should now direct itself to what are the crying issues of our time.





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Monday, November 01, 2021

In Memory of John Halstead



 The recent death of John Halstead is a very sad loss. We first met in 1966 when we were both only 30 years old. At the time he was a recently appointed member of the teaching staff of the Sheffield University Extramural Department, which I had then also joined. We soon became close colleagues and friends. For our patterns of teaching were often interconnected.

We basically taught trade union day release students from avenues such as the coal, steel and railway industries. These students normally attended classes which had common coffee and meal breaks, which tutors such as John joined in. These meetings normally operated from 10am to 4pm for weekly spells of 24 days a year, including the coffee and lunch breaks. These courses lasted for three years,with different tutors such as John normally taking a year's class.  We also took courses for shop stewards from a variety of different industries. Whilst numbers of these classes operated from Sheffield University itself, others involved us in travelling to places such as Chesterfield, Doncaster and Scunthorpe. 

Numbers of our ex-students moved on to become local trade union leaders or went into full time studies at adult education colleges such as Ruskin, Coleg Harlech and later the Northern College. Those who become full-time students often then moved on to avenues such as teaching and college lecturing. Amongst those who mantained their local trade union work, a number became local Labour MPs or Council members. One became a Euro MP.  Bob Heath (a former Derbyshire Miners day-release student) also joined the Sheffield University Extramural Depertment as a lecturer when I did. He had been a fellow adult student of mine at both Ruskin College and then Hull University. So he also came to have very close links with John. On one occasion John, Bob and myself taught for a fortnight together at Coleg Harlech on summer courses.

Michael Barrett Brown ran the Industrial Day Release Classes at the Sheffield University Extramural when John, Bob and I arrived. As a strong advocate of the formation of a Northern College catering for adult students who had no university-style A level qualifications, Michael went on to became their initial Principal in 1978.  Both John and I came to undertake teaching activities there. A book was published in 2004 after the first 25 years of its operations.  There is a fine section by John entitled 'The Local Tradition of Working-Class and Self-Help Education'.

John had a special interest in working class history, although his day-release activities went beyond this and covered issues such as the development of student skills, economics and contemporary political issues. Then in teaching his approach was by no means dogmatic, for he shared the view expressed by John Stuart Mill who said that someone who only understood their own side of the case knew little of that. 

His own experiences meant that he could help his students to test out their basic views - even when he basically shared them. The fact that he first served in the Civil Service before entering university at the London School of Economics to obtain a degree in economics and politics, meant that in his later teaching he drew from his own experience as an adult student. He had, for instance, been taught by the questioning leftist Ralph Miliband.

He had considerable long term involvement with two major Labour History societies. Serving actively on the committee of the Notts and Derbyshire Labour History Society. He also engaged in considerable work with the Society for the Study of Labour History; as treasurer from 1969, then secretary, editor of their bulletin and finally as vice-president until his death. He contributed to their journal fully over this lengthy period.  See -

In 2011 Ken Curran and John set up a school for Democratic Socialism in Sheffield, which I participated  in. Then from 2006 onwards John played a full role in monthly discussion meetings ran by my local Dronfield Labour Party. Due to covid problems the last of these meetings which he ever attended was held in our garden in June. It was to be the last time we met.

In recent years John, Ken and myself also participated in the annual general meetings of Independent Labour Publications, which until Covid were held in Sheffield.





Saturday, October 30, 2021

The late John Halstead



I link below to an initial obituary from the Society of the Study of Labour History concerning the sad loss of John Halstead. He worked with them in a telling way over a vaste period.  We were both born in 1936.

    I knew John very closely from the period from 1966 when I first joined the teaching staff of the Sheffield University Extramural Department, where he was already established.  Although I left the Department (which was then known as the Division of Continuing Education) to become an MP in 1987 we still maintained close links. Then when I retired in 2005 our meetings again became especially close. One area in which we regularly met being monthly Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Meetings. We last met around June when one of their meetings was held in our back garden.  It is a telling final memory to have of him.

Like the Society for Labour History I will elaborate on my memories of John soon.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Keir Starmer's Political Stance

 Keir Starmer is 59 years old being born in 1962. At the age of 16 he joined the East Surrey Young Socialists. His political links would later be effected, shaped and initially somewhat restricted by his move into University studies. He obtained a first class honours degree in Law at Leeds University in 1985. Then he moved into post graduate studies at Oxford University obtaining a Barrister and Civil Law Degree. However at Oxford from 1986 to 1987 he edited "Socialist Alternatives" which was an international revolutionary Marxist Journal which was strongly critical of Kinnock's Labour leadership. 

       He then embarked upon a legal carrier which especially as time developed came to place restrictions on his having clear party political links. He first became a Barrister with Middle Temple and then in 2002 a Queen's Council. From 2003 to 2008 he also served as Human Rights advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. He was also Director of Public Prosecutions from 2005 until 2013 becoming head of the Crown Prosecution Service. 

      In 2013 he finally placed himself in a position where he could re-join the Labour Party at Holborn and St. Pancras. He did this as he wished to become their local MP.  Frank Dobson the sitting MP was due to retire , but Keir needed a year's recent membership of the Labour Party in order to be able to seek nomination as a parliamentary candidate. Frank, therefore, delayed the announcement of his coming retirement to allow Keir time to qualify. In the meantime, Keir was knighted. 

     Keir was selected as Labour candidate in December 2014, then elected as local MP at the 2015 and  the 2019 General Elections. He became leader of the Labour Party on 4 April 2020. Just over five years after he had finally rejoined the Labour Party following a considerable gap. So his recent membership only covers a period approachng eight years. Sir Keir Starmer will address the conference in person on Tuesday

     The best indication of his political stance does not come from his recent speach at the Labour Party Conference, but from his Fabian pamphlet which appeared as Conference was due to commence. It is entitled "The Road Ahead". It raises two questions. (1) Is it election winning material ? (2) Does it have support amongst the declining Labour membership, plus attractions for the general public?  I will initially stress what I see as two problematic elements in his Fabian analysis.

       (A) Whilst he makes a commitment to updating our existing public services, especially in the areas of education and health, he is not in favour of further expanding the public sector. This would be understandable if he felt that tackling other key problems such as Climate Change and Covid had to take priority, but he also seems to be committed even in the long term to fully linking with existing private enterprise. For he refers in his introduction to a future Labour Government working "in partnership with a brilliant and innovative private sector to create good jobs and harness the potential of technology".  He later on page 5 adds that the "next Labour Government will be focused on creating jobs people are proud of, reimagining our public services for those who use them, creating a new and better relationship with business and delivering world-class health and education." This is to "build an effective partnership of state and private sector to prioritise the things we have seen really matter." (page 13). In a key section entitled "A New Deal for Business and Working People" (pages 20 to 22) he starts by opposing "a throwback to the planned economies of the 20th century". Yet it would, of course, be possible for us to learn to overcome past shortcomings.

     (B) On page 7 he starts a heavy criticism of nationalism. Saying that "forces pushing apart our country and tearing at the social fabric - nationalism, extemism and misinformation - need to be tackled, but have been embraced or ignored by Conservative and Scottish Nationalist governments" On page 17 he adds "Most immediately damaging to our country has been the rise of the multi-headed hydra of nationalism'' and his concluding point is - 'We are proudly patriotic but we reject the divisiveness of nationalism" Yet I feel that whilst many of us might have wished that Scottish and Welsh nationalism had not gained there current degree of support, unlike Starmer we have often tended to look for avenues of compromise and improvement in which some form of federalism will meet the needs of people to have both a greater say over political operations in their homelands. It is interesting, however, that Starmer makes no reference to the needs of Northern Ireland, despite his past links with the area. 

   On the more positive side on page 21 he says that  - "In the first 100 days of the next Labour Government, it will sign into law a New Deal for Working People... across the country, with improved conditions, quality jobs, training and better pay" including an increased minimum wage and increases in workers rights from day one. Whilst also replacing universal credit and changing our social security system to ensure that work pays and the low-paid keep more of the money they earn.

  For me the three key massive and immediate political issues we face are the tackling of Climate Change,  containing the impact of Covid and tackling wide areas of social injustice. Yet these are only issues which Starmer touches upon now and again in his Fabian analysis and they are easily overshadowed by the matters I cover in tems (A) and (B) above. His Fabian publication is entitled "The Road Ahead" but it raises more questions than it answers.

24 resolutions were carried at Labours Conference, many of them going well beyond the scope of Starmer's Fabian proposals. See -










Thursday, September 23, 2021


 Starmerism has been defined by the man himself. It is that the current public and private sectors of economy can both be improved significantly so they can then work together for the good of society. See his Fabian publication on this approach, which can be found here -

Thursday, September 16, 2021

21 SEPTEMBER - World Peace Day in Chesterfield

You are invited to join us in marking
World Peace Day 21 September 2021
12 noon until 1pm
at Shentall Gardens, just below the
War Memorial, near the Town Hall
The Mayor will lay a wreath of white poppies to
commemorate all who have died in war.
Members of Clarion Choir will perform, with a chance
for all to join in the singing.
There will be very brief speeches by ex-servicemen
and members of community groups.

Recent events have shown some of the horrors of war.
Please join us in remembering its victims by
marking World Peace Day in Chesterfield.

For further information contact
You are invited to join us in marking
World Peace Day 21 September 2021
12 noon until 1pm
at Shentall Gardens, just below the
War Memorial, near the Town Hall
The Mayor will lay a wreath of white poppies to
commemorate all who have died in war.
Members of Clarion Choir will perform, with a chance
for all to join in the singing.
There will be very brief speeches by ex-servicemen
and members of community groups.

Recent events have shown some of the horrors of war.
Please join us in remembering its victims by
marking World Peace Day in Chesterfield.

For further information contact