Refugee poem


Warplanes burst my ears,
Filled my mind with endless fears.
Bombs brought walls down on my head.
Gunmen filled the streets with dead.
You who live in peace,
Don’t turn me away.

Traffickers promised to take me in,
Razor wire tore and slashed my skin.
Tear gas fell like stinging rain,
Filled my throat and eyes with pain.
You who are human just like me,
Don’t turn me away.

An alien looks at the Iraq War

“Hello, Mr Burnham, my name is Krillion V from the planet Xergon. What is your position on the war in Iraq? Would you apologise like Mr Corbyn?”
“What I regret is the lack of planning in the aftermath.”
“Do you mean they could have planned more deaths?”
“Oh no, fewer.”
“By planning?”
“Yes, better planning.”
“Did Mr Blair try to plan fewer deaths with Mr Bush while they were praying together?”
“Not really. We kinda assumed the Americans would have better plans in place.”
“Did you ask them?”
“Not really.”
“I don’t understand your planet.”

An alien looks at the Labour leadership contest

“Excuse me, my name is Krillion V from the planet Xergon. Can you explain the purge please?”
“Well, it’s like this, the Labour Party thought it was a good idea to extend the constituency able to vote for the leader.”
“So the constituency able to vote for the leader grew?”
“Yes, up to 600,000.”
“What a fantastic success.”
“The Labour leadership is excluding a lot of them.”
“Ah, for being Tories, the Labour Party’s natural enemies.”
“Not exactly. They are excluding a lot of socialists.”
“Isn’t it a socialist party?”
“I don’t understand your planet.”

Slavery Remembrance Day, Liverpool

IMG_7583IMG_7465IMG_7577IMG_7578I have just returned from Liverpool’s Slavery Remembrance day commemoration. The events were to commemorate the deaths of millions of enslaved Africans, to remember the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and its role in the spread of racism and to celebrate the resistance, rebellion and revolution that destroyed this evil trade and laid the basis for struggles for civil rights and social justice. In a wonderfully life-affirming couple of hours we followed vibrantly dressed drummers to the Albert Dock where we heard speeches, drumming, a wonderful rendition of Change is Gonna Come and watched some amazing dance and drama. As my son said, best party ever.

Round up

On The Wight : 26th August

Libraries are not a luxury and the council should reconsider approach say Friends



Shropshire Star : 26th August

Action group formed to safeguard Ellesmere Library

“Many people have serious reservations about the feasibility and practicalities of this project and we want firm guarantees that the library service will continue to be run by professionally trained staff …”



Louth Leader : 26th August

Lincolnshire | Sutton on Sea leads the way in library changes

Initially the focus of our efforts will be to continue with the library services in association with Lincolnshire County Council and the high standards they have set. However we will also start …”


THE BOOKSELLER : 25th August

Scotland pilots automatic child library membership


BBC News : 25th August

Scotland | Pilot schemes to give all children automatic library membership

From 7 September, every baby registered in the Glasgow area will be given a library card by the registrar.



Fife Today : 25th August

Community urged to lead library fight

THE BOOKSELLER : 24th August

Southampton library closures ‘halted’


Daily Echo : 24th August

Labour leaders plans to stop running six libraries in Southampton have been

halted due to opposition from Tory councillors



Birmingham Post : 24th August

Literacy campaigner hits out at cuts to Birmingham’s library service

Mr Poole said libraries generate an economic return, ….



Liverpool Echo : 24th August

Knowsley library cutbacks: shorter opening hours begin today

MP “appalled”




Hereford Times : 24th August

Library campaign goes to the streets in Leominster

Public meeting at Leominster Library on Thursday (August 27) at 5pm.



Tinder Press : 20th August

Tinder Press Celebrates Libraries


Celebrity endorsements won’t solve illiteracy

Morgan’s plans are problematic, and smack of government tendencies to hastily paper over serious cracks in educational issues. By laying blame for children’s illiteracy upon teachers, schools and parents for taking an active interest in their child’s development, Morgan deliberately detracts from the real issues at hand – the closure of local libraries, the failure to fund school libraries with well funded resources and full-time staff, …



Public Libraries News : 23rd August

Editorial | Just £100k, volunteers and some curious stock policies

Shropshire Star : 22nd August

Anti-cuts campaign started over Leominster Library



The Courier : 22nd August

Fife library closures will be a ‘looming catastrophe’

THE BOOKSELLER : 21st August

Southampton Council accused of political point scoring over libraries



Leicester Mercury : 21st August

UNISON accuses Leicester City Council of planning to decimate library services through cost-cutting



THE BOOKSELLER : 20th August

Pullman blasts government over status of arts in schools

Alan Gibbons Blog : 19th August

Alan’s Letter to Nicky Morgan


Public Libraries News : 19th August

Special: Automatic English child library membership? No, not really.



Leon’s Library Blog : 20th August

What is comprehensive & efficient?

? …



Fife Today : 20th August

Could communities unwittingly undermine efforts to save libraries from closure?

Quoted in the Bookseller

I am one of the library campaigners quoted here:

Campaigners welcome literacy drive but condemn government hypocrisy
Published August 19, 2015. By Charlotte Eyre

Library groups have welcomed education secretary Nicky Morgan’s drive for all children to have a library card, although campaigners say the news rings hollow at a time when many public libraries are closing.

Desmond Clarke, a veteran library campaigner who has spoken out against library cuts in the past, said the announcement was “very good news”.

“I’m delighted Nicky Morgan is going to work hard to improve literacy in this country and everyone should welcome what she’s trying to do,” he said, adding that having the Department of Education, a government body, recognise the importance of libraries was “terribly important”.

Nick Poole, chief executive of Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), agreed, saying: “We welcome that Nicky Morgan has recognised the difference that libraries and librarians make in helping children build skills and confidence through reading…. Trained librarians have the knowhow to engage children and their parents, recommend appropriate books and resources and support literacy in a structured way.”

For Sarah Mears, chair of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL), anything that encourages children into libraries is a “good thing”. She said: “There are challenges but the more we can encourage children into libraries the better.”

However, other library campaigners have pointed out the hypocrisy of the announcement at a time when another government body – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), led by culture secretary Ed Vaizey – is allowing local authorities to close public libraries.

Chair of the library campaign Laura Swaffield said public libraries were closing “by the hundred – especially the small local ones children can actually get to”.

She said Morgan should “have a word” with Vaizey, who has “done nothing to help local people trying to stop this wholesale destruction [of the library service]”.

Meanwhile author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons asked: “So will there be an immediate moratorium on all library closures? Will funding be restored to the three hundred plus library points closed in the stewardship of this government? Will Vaizey halt the cuts to library staff that have seen a fall of 20% under this government? Will we see action to stop the slashing of opening hours and book stocks, an issue that hit the headlines at the crisis-ridden Library of Birmingham? Answers please.”

He added that he thought it was “astonishing” that Morgan says she supports children enrolling in libraries whilst refusing to make libraries in schools a statutory requirement. “Morgan could also help by demanding schools spend money on books,” Gibbons said.

Children’s authors also complained about closures. Gary Meehan said Morgan’s campaign is “pointless symbolism if the libraries have either been closed down or had their hours slashed so kids can’t use them”. Lydia Syson said every child needs an “accessible, open library”.

This morning the Telegraph published an article co-written by David Walliams and education secretary Nicky Morgan saying that children’s literacy should be a “national mission”. As part of this, the government will work with the Reading Agency to set up Chatterbooks book clubs in 200 primary schools and hopes “many other schools” will get involved. It said will also “support” the Reading Agency’s goal of getting every eight-year-old enrolled at their local library.