Lib Dem / Conservative Gagging Bill targets trade unions

The Transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill is passing through Parliament and is currently being debated in the Lords.

The third part of the Bill is particularly damaging to trade unions where there are proposals to alter the regulations concerning trade union membership records.  The particularly worrying aspect of this part of the Bill is the number of people who will be able to look at trade union membership data which will include the government and employers’ agents. This is a direct attack on trade unionists.

A petition has been established, which makes the point that we can’t trust Andrew Lansley and his Lobbying Bill with union members’ personal data.

Government should seek urgent talks to avert firefigher strike

Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Chippenham constituency, Andy Newman, has called for the government to seek urgent talks to seek to avert planned strike action by the FBU, firefighters union. Firefighters are intending to strike over pensions on Wednesday 25 September. The strike will take place for four hours, between noon and 4pm.

A strike ballot earlier this month showed almost 80% support for the strike. The union warns that it is neither safe nor practical to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.

Mr Newman claims that the government’s own figures show that thousands of firefighters could face the sack without access to a proper pension simply because extending the retirement age would mean they could no longer meet the physical demands of the job. A recent review found that over half of firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 would no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the standards. And although the government has previously claimed that older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles, FBU research found only a handful of ‘redeployment’ opportunities in fire and rescue services, meaning mass sackings would be inevitable.

Firefighters already pay some of the highest pension contributions in the UK public or private sector and have seen increases for two consecutive years. The majority of firefighters already pay almost 13% of their salary in contributions with further increases due next year. This will mean some firefighters now face an increase six years in a row.

Firefighters also argue that the government’s financial projections are flawed. They are based on a prediction of a 1% decline in pension sign-up, but their own information suggests that over 25% of whole-time firefighters recruited last year chose not to join. The FBU has warned these figures clearly demonstrate that changes to the scheme are already having an impact and, if the trend continues, that the financial viability of the scheme will be seriously undermined.

Mr Newman says: “No one wants to see a strike in an emergency service, but clearly trust and confidence has broken down, and it is vital that the government acts swiftly to address the flaws in the changes they are proposing”

Andy Newman, Labour candidate for Chippenham


I am delighted to announce that I have been selected to stand as Labour candidate at the 2015 general election in the Chippenham constituency, which includes Bradford on Avon, Corsham, Chippenham, Melksham and surrounding villages.

You may be interested to know that famous sons and daughters of the area include the veteran Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn; Stop the War Coalition leader, John Rees; leading Green Party member Derek Wall;  firebrand trade union leader Ken Gill; and pioneer woman trade unionist Dame Florence Hancock.

Here is the announcement in the Bath Chronicle, Wiltshire Times, and in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald.

My website, Andy Newman for Chippenham, is here.

Andy Newman, in Chippenham constituency

Andy Newman, Labour Party in Corsham High Street, Chippenham summer

In Corsham High Street, Chippenham constituency, see my website Andy Newman for Labour

My New Website


picture credit: Pete Dewhirst


Mark Haddon’s book “The Curious Incident Of the Dog In the Night-time” was set in Swindon, referencing the famous dictum by Sherlock Holmes, in the story “The Silver Blaze”

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

Throughout the recent furore concerning Paulo Di Canio, the contrast between the reaction to his appointment at Sunderland and his appointment at Swindon has been pronounced. For example, pompous Tory idiot Iain Dale:

It was OK for him to manage little old Swindon Town in League One, but oh no, the thought of him managing Premier League Sunderland is repellent. No, I’ll tell you what is repellent – it’s the so-called ‘liberal left’ deciding who should do what based on whether someone conforms to their own idea of normality or political acceptability. And then, only deciding to enforce their own illiberal ideas when it suits them. Where were the howls of indignation when Di Canio took over at Swindon Town? No one cared, because, well, it was only little old Swindon, wasn’t it?

finalconflictIt is not entirely true of course that there was no reaction to Di Canio’s appointment at Swindon, as I have explained myself before. Several Swindon Town Fans returned their season tickets in protest at his appointment, as admitted by the Club’s chief executive, Nick Watson, in June 2011. Di Canio’s appointment was also noted by the far right, on the neo-Nazi website Final Conflict. (This was not a spoof). Opposition to Di Canio’s appointment at Swindon was also reported in the national press, for example the Daily Mail.

But certainly pressure on Sunderland AFC has been much more sustained. Even the American NBC have reported how the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have called for Di Canio to be sacked by Sunderland’s American owner, Ellis Short.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, dismissed the statement and said Wednesday that Di Canio should be fired, comparing him to sacked Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice.

“I would say sports is a very special category. Sports plays a very important role with young people,” he said. “I would say racism or bigotry reverberates in a greater way, so the standard needs to be much higher than, I would say, the manager of a garage.”

“Our society uses athletes and sports figures not only to sell Wheaties and sneakers, but also because they are looked up to as role models,” he said. “Here [with Di Canio], I think firing is appropriate.”

Foxman said he believed people could have “an epiphany” about past mistakes and be given a second chance if they had genuinely changed.

“This is not one of those. He [Di Canio] is very clear what he is. He’s both a fascist and a racist and he’s proud of it,” he said.

“For the moment, he denies it [being a fascist and a racist] because his job is at stake,” he added.

Foxman’s observation that Di Canio’s current weasel words of non-denying denial need to be contextualised by the fact he fighting to keep his job is an obvious point, but one that needs to be repeated. Di Canio’s actions and past statements speak loud and clear. For example, the Sun Newspaper reported with pictures how just a few months before he took over at Swindon, Di Canio had attended the funeral of convicted fascist terrorist, Paolo Signorelli, who spent eight years in gaol after a 1980 bomb attack which killed 85 people. This same story was picked up by the Mail and ITN.

Incidentally, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has recently said he would never appoint Paolo Di Canio as the club’s manager because of his fascist views.

Di Canio’s evasive and absurd statement that he does not support “the ideology of fascism” (implying that he refuses to renounce allegiance to the history, symbols or deeds of fascism) is flatly contradicted by this picture of Di Canio wearing a T-shirt in 2008, bearing the slogan  “Dio, Patria, Famiglia” which translates as “God, Country & Family”, a popular slogan used by supporters of the Mussolini regime since the 1920s and still used today by supporters of right-wing extremist parties in Italy. Hope Not Hate have tracked the source to a pro-Mussolini website named Ferlandia Predappio which specialises in far-right memorabilia.

It is also pertinent that while Di Canio has made a point of emphasising that he is  not racist, he has in the past given reason to believe he is anti-Semitic.

When Lazio played Livorno, a team known for its left-wing following, Di Canio also raised his arm in a fascist salute. Whilst the Livorno fans chanted anti-fascist songs, visiting Lazio “Irriducibili” Ultras held up a swastika banner.

Particularly outraged by Di Canio’s salute were various Jewish groups within Italy, including the president of the Italian Maccabi Federation, Vittorio Pavoncello who called on Lazio and the Italian authorities to take action.

However, in a display of abject antisemitism, Di Canio replied arrogantly to the criticism declaring: “If we are in the hands of the Jewish community it’s the end”.

Which brings us again to why the dog didn’t bark when Di Canio started at Swindon. Let us be clear, this is not because Di Canio was outstandingly popular in Swindon, or because people were unconcerned about his fascism. This is the state of opinion IN SWINDON, as evidenced by the Adver’s own poll this week:

swindon advertiser poll do canio

Normally, local papers are keen to prolong controversy, but in the Di Canio case they killed it as soon as they could. This makes business sense as the survival of the paper is predicated upon local sports, and any denial of access to the Town board, manager or boot room would damage its readership, and that would damage it advertising income. The Swindon Advertiser could not afford to rock the boat with the club, and with relative lack of national interest in Swindon Town, this suppressed the story.

In addition, the Swindon Advertiser is now owned by the American giant Newsquest, and has only a perfunctory interest in the reputation of the town, the editing is even done in Oxford now, and there is a steady churn of inexperienced rookie journos; the profits of Newsquest are repatriated to the USA, and UK Newsquest journalists are usually poorly paid, and there has not been a payrise for the last four years. There is a general threat to the quality of local journalism, and therefore to the standards of accountability

But sadly, the Adver did get swept away with ridiculous Di Canio fever, and would it seems happily have invaded Abyssinia for him. Compare this photo of Italian fascists in 2002

irriducibili di canio 

with this poster produced by the Swindon Advertiser:


Had they no shame? Did the Adver journalists really NEVER research Di Canio in his nearly two seasons at the County Ground? As professional journalists they should have known about the demonstrations in support of Di Canio by openly anti-semitic fascists at Lazio, but they went out of their way to reproduce the same scenes at Swindon. They let themselves down, they let the club down, and they let the people of Swindon down.


bedroom tax

bedroom tax 2

50 people protested in Swindon today, organised by the Labour Party, and addressed by Martin Wicks and Brian Shakespeare of the Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, and Anne Snelgrove, the former MP, and prospective parliamentary candidate for South Swindon