Sunday, 25 September 2011


America, Japan, and the European countries are in crisis, so we are informed.  It is indeed a crisis for the members of the population who are not billionaires or even multi-millionaires and now see their jobs being threatened, benefits being slashed or stopped altogether, and services upon which we rely for our health and wellbeing being sold off to the highest private bidder who is in it to make a fortune for the shareholders.  The need for profit placed before the needs of people.

Several Furness people will be attending the TUC organised march past the Conservative Party's conference in Manchester as detailed in the poster above.  Sadly, the Furness contingent has not been organised by Barrow Trades Union Council, Ulverston Trades Union Council, or any of the unions in Cumbria and will travel to Manchester by car.  It is also sad that the Trade Union Congress has organised this event yet it is studiously and collectively ignored by local trade unions and their members, leaving it up to a few individuals to use their own initiative and act independently.  
I cannot think of a better example than this to illustrate the degree of universal union apathy in Furness in particular and Cumbria in general.

Bearing in mind that trade unionists are supposed to be the most 'class' and politically savvy members of the general population, then it follows the level of political understanding possessed by the vast majority of the general population here in Furness must be close to zero because, if trade union members don't 'get it', what hope is there for ordinary members of the public?

But efforts are being made to encourage people to join together to consider the options - to take action to resist the cuts or to roll over and take what comes.  It is here that everyone has a choice: what's yours going to be?  Before you decide, have a look at the following and listen.
*Michael Moore Joins Labor Protests: "America Is Not Broke" - YouTube
then look at
*pete seeger which side are you on - YouTube
finally, have a look at
*Labor Day - Solidarity Forever - YouTube
*Please note - these are not links. You'll have to log in to YouTube then enter each one in the search box.  The usual 'link' facility works but the videos are listed as 'unavailable' when clicked on - which is why you will have to go to YouTube to see/download them.

Given that the agent of our MP has announced John Woodcock will not be present at the 6th October public meeting (no reason provided) and that neither will any local trade union representative it is reasonable to ask of them "Which side are you on?"  Are they on the side of the bankers and financiers who have, aided and abetted by New Labour and encouraged by the ConDem government, returned to their seats to play 'casino economics' once again  (with OUR money!), or are they on the side of those who did nothing to cause the economic crisis: workers, the young, the elderly, the sick and disabled and the unemployed?  Keeping your head down and muttering about how awful things are is not acceptable.
           "WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?"

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


The printed poster is not tilted like this!     
If you click on this link you will open the official Flogging Molly myspace page. On 'music', scroll down to Float and hover on the 'play' symbol (white triangle on a black disc). Click on this to start the song.  I selected this because it was this song - especially the chorus - that gave me the idea for the slogan on the poster.  But now back to work......
OOPS!  Last digits on phone number should be 1405
Error corrected on distributed posters.

I do not like those who sit on the fence or those who are 'two faced' because they are untrustworthy; this is why I have never liked the LibDems.  Now, however, there is not much to choose between them and the Labour Party which also advocates cuts to 'solve' the economic crisis.

Interestingly, at the very recent LibDem conference, retired GP Charles West used the same 'boat' metaphor as I have used on the poster (except he called it a 'ship')  Described as one of the leaders of the grassroot opposition to the NHS reforms, Dr West declared that LibDem inspired amendments to the Health Bill were merely changes in words rather than substance.  He then called the bill "a leaky ship" and said "I'm worried that the ship will sink and that the NHS will sink with it, and if our name is on that ship we will go down as well." concluding "And, friends, we deserve to."  Anyway, he wasn't the only delegate raising concerns about the bill but to read more see the report by H. Mulholland, political reporter,, Wednesday 21st September.  Not that such concerns were of any consequence because the LibDem leadership denied delegates a vote on a specific motion relating to the bill.  Well, that democracy for you, eh?

And this at a time when we are being informed by really knowledgeable financial specialists that Europe is on the brink of an economic disaster. William Keegan, in last Sunday's Observer newspaper, actually used the word 'catastrophe'. "The British economy is on the verge of an economic and social catastrophe. So is our principal export market, the eurozone." (If you don't know who William Keegan is - look him up!)

Locally, our NW Evening Mail provides a couple of snippets - another group is holding a meeting at The Forum on the 6th October, but in the morning. 'Moving Forward for a Healthy Future in Furness' will provide people with an update on developments in the NHS.  The event will also provide people with information about locality commissioning and public health, and give them an opportunity to discuss important issues that will help to shape the future of health care in Furness.
And a new chairman has been chosen for the NHS trust which runs Cumbria's community, dental and mental health services.  Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has appointed Mike Taylor to the position and he will work alongside the current post holder, Bryan Betterton (who is retiring), until his term starts in November.  We are informed Mr Taylor has leadership experience across the private, public and voluntary sectors, including a lengthy career with Shell in the UK and overseas.  He should be able to manage a privatised NHS, then.

Saturday, 17 September 2011


The Town Hall, Barrow in Furness.
Representatives of Furness Against the Cuts attended the Town Hall and were present at meetings of  the EDP (Equalities and Diversity Partnership) in the afternoon of Tuesday 14th September and of CCC (Cumbria County Council) in the morning of Thursday 16th September.

The EDP meeting was nothing more than the usual 'talking shop' but at least we were able to distribute leaflets advertising the 6th October public meeting to the six persons present.  The EDP is not a campaigning organisation but one which discusses things affecting disabled people such as 'dropped kerbs' for wheelchair users, passes on observations and makes requests on behalf of persons with disabilities.  There was no response to our information about the public meeting or the campaign by FAC (Furness Against the Cuts) so it is assumed they will not inform members of their particular disabilities organisation of either the public meeting or the FAC campaign.

The CCC meeting confirmed that SS (Single Status) would be applied to all TAs (Teaching Assistants) It also applies to Night Carers, but there has been no mention of this. Cumbria TAs mounted a spirited action against the imposition of the new ruling but to no avail.  It should be noted that the TAs were absolutely disgusted by the lack of their union's - Unison - support for their campaign.   

The meeting was also attended by members of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service who were informed the council had finally decided to back the closure of the control centre at Cockermouth and the transfer of this service to Warrington in Cheshire involving the loss of twelve jobs.  (Evening Mail journalist John Simpson provided a comprehensive report published in the paper later that same day. The Evening Mail is available online at

Ms Lesley Bowers, a former controller (pictured below) gave a heartfelt appeal for the retention of the Cockermouth centre, explaining local knowledge was essential for a speedy response to life-threatening situations in which every second counted.   At the close of the meeting a FAC member spoke with fireman Ade Kevern, secretary of Cumbria FBU (Fire Brigade Union) and urged him to ensure the union had representation on Barrow Trades Union Council as this could be a means of approaching the public whose support will be vital in the struggles ahead. Ade agreed but, as always, the proof of the pudding.......

Former controller Lesley Bowers 

Also attending CCC that morning was Marianne Birkby who is leading the Cumbria campaign against proposals to bury highly radioactive nuclear waste in huge manmade caverns on the coast of West Cumbria. This is a most serious subject but one which cannot be dealt with here.

Once more, Evening Mail reporter John Simpson provided a full report and this was published in the Saturday edition of the paper.

 I regret that John Simpson has now retired for I always found him to be a reporter of great integrity.
I wish him a long and happy retirement.

FAC now has a Facebook page - Furness Against the Cuts
email address:


Monday, 12 September 2011


John Woodcock MP at TAs Barrow campaign 
Furness Against the Cuts will hold a Public Meeting at the Studio Theatre, The Forum, Barrow, 7.30 til 9.30pm on Thursday 6th October.

The principal guest will be Dr David Wrigley GP in Carnforth, Lancashire, speaker for Keep Our NHS Public and British Medical Association UK Council member who will expose the government's plans to privatise parts of the National Health Service and explain why this should be rigorously opposed.

A speaker from the Public and Commercial Services union has yet to be confirmed.  Unison is unable to provide a speaker for this event at this time.

Member of Parliament for the Barrow and Furness constituency, John Woodcock, has been invited as have members of the Constituency Labour Party. The Green Party has also been invited to attend.
A 'roving microphone' has been booked to enable members of the public to be heard by all when asking questions of the speakers.

The photograph above was taken when John Woodcock briefly attended an event held last March by local Teachers' Assistants petitioning in protest against 'Single Status' to be imposed on them by Cumbria County Council - for many TAs this could mean a substantial reduction in pay and, perhaps, some having to give up the job completely.

Wednesday 14th September. Live theatre performance of Robert Tressell's 'Ragged Trousered Philanthropists", Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal 7.30pm Tickets £14 and £13.
Saturday 1st October. FAC Street Stall, Dalton Road, Barrow, 10am until 12 noon.
Saturday 1st October. Giant Book Sale, Abbot Hall Social Centre, Dowkers Lane, Kendal 11am until 4pm - organised by Westmorland & Lonsdale Constituency Labour Party.
Sunday 2nd October.  TUC national protest march outside Conservative Party Conference. Rally at Number One First Street, Manchester. (Behind Manchester Central - the old GMEX) Local transport - try Barrow TUC secretary Robert Pointer, (01229) 470616 or mobile 07979605276 or email 
Tuesday 4th October. Barrow Trades Union Council, GMB Office, Hartington Street, Barrow 7pm.
Wednesday 5th October. FAC Steering Group meeting, Greengate Children's Centre, Greengate Street, Barrow 6.30 until 7.30pm
Thursday 6th October.  FAC PUBLIC MEETING, Studio Theatre, The Forum, Barrow. 7.30 until 9.30pm.
Saturday 8th October. Leon Rosselson In Concert, Shakespeare Centre, Highgate,Kendal, Tickets £10.  Bookings - Dave Cope 01539 729599 or email

And November, so far...
Wednesday 2nd November. FAC Steering Group, Greengate Children's Centre, Barrow, 6.30 until 7.30pm
Sunday 6th November. 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists', talk and discussion led by David Harker of North East Shop Stewards, Abbot Hall Social Centre, Dowkers Lane, Kendal.  Details from
Date of FAC's November 'Street Stall' to be confirmed.

Friday, 2 September 2011


Click on the link for scrolling visual

As the days go by without any word from our proposed main speaker it is very likely the planned Public Meeting of 14th September 'Keep Our Services Public' will have to be postponed.
In the meantime, a visit to: will provide plenty of food for thought - why not sign up to receive regular updates and, whilst you are considering this, read - and contemplate - the following:

Extract from 'The Plot Against the NHS' by Colin Leys and Stewart Player. Merlin Press 2011
pp. 146,147.
In the second reading of the Health Bill, Labour's shadow Health Secretary, John Healey, put forward a cogent and detailed critique of the Bill but fell short of offering to do more than 'explain and expose the gap between what Ministers are saying and what they are doing in every debate at every stage of this legislation'.  He was handicapped by Labour's complicity in so much that had gone before.  (My italics. Norman)

In the end it will be up to the great majority of the public, who rely on the NHS, to stand up and fight for it. (My emphasis. Norman) Ever since the marketization process began in earnest in 2000, and in some cases well before that, numerous organizations have been resisting it and trying to uphold the values and principles on which the NHS was founded. The list includes Keep Our NHS Public, Health Emergency, the NHS Support Federation, the NHS Consultants' Association, and a host of groups and campaigns, sometimes supported by Unison or Unite, fighting to defend local NHS services.

Until Lansley's White Paper of July 2010, all these campaigns were met at the national level with a large degree of public apathy.  But since 2010, and in the new era of mass mobilizations of public opinion, from the students in London to the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the mood has changed. Paul Corrigan, a former adviser to successive Labour health ministers, confidently assured readers of his blog: 'Governments with majorities don't publish Bills that don't become Acts.  This Bill will become an Act.'  Maybe so, but by the time it reaches the end of its passage through both Houses of Parliament it could look different in some key respects.  And it remains to be seen how long Lansley's Liberal-Democrat allies will endure being seen as co-responsible for the results.

And how long will the measures in the Bill survive if it is passed?  What may the Labour leadership find it necessary to promise, if opposition to the legislation among the public is sufficiently widespread and profoundly felt?  In his first comments on the issue since becoming leader, addressing the Welsh Labour Party Conference in February 2011, Ed Milliband denounced the Bill but stopped short of any commitment to repeal it. (My italics. Norman)  A sufficiently strong and focused public reaction in England could stiffen Labour's resolve.  The cuts that were beginning to be implemented seem bound to work in this direction.

That penultimate sentence, 'a sufficiently strong and focused public reaction in England could stiffen Labour's resolve'  is one of the tasks of Furness Against the Cuts: to increase public awareness and build opposition to the cuts in order to apply pressure on the Labour Party, and another is to persuade the Liberal-Democrats that, politically, they are backing the wrong horse.  Unfortunately, for Furness anti-cuts campaigners, it would be easier to make progress through thick, waist-deep, mud than through local public apathy in this locality.  Nevertheless, the work will continue.

Tuesday 6th  Barrow Trades Union Council, 7pm, Engineers' Club, Abbey Road, Barrow.  (Trade union members may attend and contribute to discussions but only official delgates may vote)
Wednesday 7th Furness Against the Cuts, Steering Group, 6.30 until 7.30pm, Greengate Children's Centre, Greengate Street, Barrow. (Representatives of unions, community associations, charities, social welfare campaigns and church organisations welcome)  
Monday 12th Barrow&Furness Pensioners' Association, 1.30 until 3.00pm, Studio Theatre, The Forum, Barrow.            
Wednesday 14th  Live Theatre performance of Robert Tressell's 'Ragged Trousered Philanthropists', Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 7.30pm. Tickets £14 and £13

Dates of Furness Against the Cuts upcoming events to be announced shortly.