Do you know what it took to make May Day?

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It wasn’t ribbons of pink and gold, red and blue.
It wasn’t the thump of clogs
And girls in summer dresses, circling round
A pole on a manicured village green.
It wasn’t May Queens and wet dreams
About an England of melting mists
And servile peasants forelock tugging
To Little Lord Exploiteroy.

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took class war in a Chicago Square,
Blood and hurt and broken bones.
That’s what it took to make May Day,
It took unions and socialists,
Anarchists and class fighters.
It took pickets and lock outs
And linked arms against every gutless, whining scab
Who crawled out of the sewer of profit and drudge.

Ah, I don’t hold a grudge,
Well, stuff it I do, for the many against the few,
The woman and man with a family to feed
In the face of shabby, corporate greed.
Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took snapping banners and marching feet
Pounding class rhythms on the police-guarded street.
It took tribunes of peace,
Opponents of discrimination and hate.

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took men coughing up coal dust.
It took women dragging carts
With their children crawling behind
On stone-torn knees.
It took steel-scalded skin
And sun-tortured faces.
It took labour and toil
And profits from oil.
It took bankers’ crashes and mutineer lashes.

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took sabres slashing down at Peterloo,
Butchering people like you.
It took men fighting for the docker’s tanner,
Resistance in the form of a well-aimed spanner
Lodged in the throat of the capitalist beast.
It took sweat. It took spit
In the factory, dock, workplace and pit.
That’s what it took to make May Day.

Do you know what it takes to make May Day today?
It takes cash-strapped hospitals and book-starved schools
It takes the drumbeat of war, the threatened tramp
Of racists’ and fascists’ boots.
It takes struggle, those green and tender shoots.
It takes resistance and guts, the defence of hard won
Women’s rights, a cry of rage and Tory shites.
It takes an election called on May the Eighth
A socialist leader, a hope reborn
So rally today for that silver dawn


It reminds you, at first sight,

Of a grey or brownish head of broccoli,

Bubbling skyward.

Well, what’s so scary about broccoli?

You may as well be scared of buttons.

I mean, buttons come in many colours,

Blue, green, yellow, black,

So why be scared of a red one?

Why fear something that looks,

Not like a broccoli head,

But a reindeer’s nose?

What damage could that do?

After all, nobody has pressed

The red button,

Released the broccoli head,

In decades

So maybe they never will.

I suppose the thing to do

Is look at the fingers

That could press the button,

Release the broccoli head,

The guy with the candyfloss hair,

The comedy fat boy

In olive fatigues,

The sub-Thatcherite wannabee

And ask yourself:

Do you feel safe?

Well, do you?

Greening’s grammar guff

Did anyone hear Justine Greening’s BBC4 interview? It went something like this:
“So if grammars have always benefitted the better off, why will it be different this time?”
“Because it will.”
“But if there have never been more than a tiny number of ‘ordinary working families’ in grammars, why will it be different this time?”
“It will be different because it is our policy.”
“But won’t the middle class just spend money on crammers that the working class does not have?”
“Our grammars will benefit ordinary working families.”
“Labour say….”
“I don’t know what Labour’s policy is.”
“The policy is no new grammars.”
“Nuh, Nuh, nuhhhhrrrr….”
That is caricature, but not much.

Libraries round up

Belfast Telegraph: 22 April

Union chief slams MLAs over fresh library cuts




Bath Chronicle: 22 April

Please re-open Bath Central Library exhibition room



Rugby Advertiser: 22 April

Frankton making the most of phone box

Another book exchange referred to as a ‘mini-library



The Shields Gazette: 22 April

South Shields’ The Word wins four gongs at building awards


BBC News: 21 April

Northern Ireland | Cuts to library stock and opening hours

4NI: 21 April
Northern Ireland | Political Parties To Blame For Failure Of Libraries
Richmond and Twickenham Times: 21 April
Richmond | A new chapter for Tudor Drive Library
Extension to provide ‘flexible community space’
Bury Times: 21 April
Anonymous benefactor donates £15,000 to help keep Tottington Library open
Volunteer-run facility
BBC News: 21 April
Scotland | Crossmichael phone box takes on new life as a library
A ‘Wee Book Hoose’ created in a disused phone box offering donated books.
The Star: 21 April
Sheffield | Feature: Saving our library was the start of a new chapter
Refers to volunteer-run facility
St Helens Star: 20 April
Author Frank Cottrell-Boyce speaks of importance of libraries in wake of service review
Dumbarton Reporter: 20 April
Former Ladyton Library edging towards new future as dance school
The Star: 20 April
Sheffield | Community focus: Frecheville Library in good hands
The self-funded library relies on community donations and four annual fundraisers to keep it going.
Plymouth Herald: 20 April
Library campaigners stage 14-hour reading protest in Plymouth
Herts Advertiser: 20 April
Wheathampstead library takes great step forward
More volunteers step forward to run the service
Dorset Echo: 20 April
‘It is just not what Dorchester is all about and it is bringing down the town’: Anti-social behaviour becoming ‘concerning and noticeable’ problem
‘Since the beginning of February there have been nine reported incidents around the library on Charles Street.’
Keighley News: 20 April
Bradford | New warning issued about austerity’s likely impact on communities in the Worth Valley
Local parish council is already running services, including library. Warning of need to put up parish precepts

Blackburn with Darwen Council | More volunteers running Darwen Library as part of council savings



2BR Radio: 17 April

Lancashire | It isn’t over yet for Whalley Library



Leigh Times: 17 April

Westcliff Library Open Again



Chester Chronicle: 17 April

Funding options on table for Chester’s £300m Northgate Development

Chester Library is now closed as books are moved across to Storyhouse ready for the grand opening on May 11



Chester Chronicle: 17 April

Storyhouse in Chester invites community groups to use the space



Sutherland Northern Times: 17 April

Huge cuts but ‘stable’ year for High Life Highland?

High Life Highland, the charity running leisure & cultural services, inc. libraries have been hit by the council’s demand to cut cost by near £1mill. The leisure company has now cut management, library and business support jobs as a consequence.


Lancashire | Warning over library bid ‘chaos’



Big Issue: 14 April

Government considers inquiry into library closures


Get Reading: 14 April

Cost-cutting hits Reading libraries



Yorkshire Evening Post: 14 April

Free wi-fi switched off at Leeds community buildings to ward off troublesome teens



Grimsby Telegraph: 14 April

Anti-social behaviour at Grimsby and Immingham Libraries ‘will not be tolerated’



Brixton Buzz: 14 April
Lambeth Council explores new site for Lambeth Archives to help ‘maximise income generation’ at the Minet Library





The Bookseller: 12 April

Government considers intervening in Swindon and Lancashire library closures



Bolton News: 13 April

Fears about future of B:easties youth club as Topping Fold Library faces closure



Huddersfield Examiner: 13 April

Kirklees | Birkby library could close – to solve a DIFFERENT problem

Library housed in school may go to make way for more classroom space to cope with demand for school places.



The Guardian: 13 April

Parish councils: an unlikely urban safety net



Fife Today: 13 April

Library set to re-open doors
Re-opens after essential repairs


Lancashire Telegraph: 13 April

Lancashire library closure probe is on the political cards



Enfield Advertiser: 13 April

Arts Centre could be new home for Haringey Library



Midsomer & Radstock Journal: 13 April

Bath and NE Somerset | Library consultation results published


Lancashire Post: 12 April

Government inquiry into Lancashire libraries not ruled out



Public Sector Executive: 12 April

Decision to close Lancashire libraries was ‘predetermined’, letter claims


Blackpool Gazette: 12 April

Under-threat Lancashire’s libraries to get a stay of execution?



Blackpool Gazette: 12 April

Lancashire | MP warns county over wasteful library closures as inquiry looms


Walsall Advertiser: 12 April

Rushall library in Walsall to be saved with late community bid?



Gazette & Herald: 12 April

North Yorkshire | Norton library reopens as a community hub

volunteer-run facility



Enfield Independent: 12 April

Haringey | Jacksons Lane Arts Centre approaches Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) and Haringey Council to discuss relocating to Highgate Library



Big Issue: 12 April

More young people are using libraries, Carnegie study finds



Western Mercury: 12 April

North Somerset | Library will be closed for 12 weeks for refurbishment and children’s centre moving in



Reading Chronicle: 12 April

Reading Borough Council intends to revive three key community hubs, while Southcote and Whitley services will be streamlined

Upgrades will be funded by partly by the disposal of Southcote and Whitley Library, as well as grant funding and a developer contribution.

 Battle Library will operate at reduced hours, while services in Southcote and Whitley will be relocated across the three community hubs.


DCMS ‘minded’ to intervene over Lancashire library closures

The DCMS is ‘minded’ to intervene over the closure of Lancashire libraries. The department may not, but it has served notice that it is possible and it wants a response from Lancashire. There have only been two interventions in the history of the public library service, Derbyshire and, most famously, Wirral when Andy Burnham halted the closure programme.


A cautionary tale

A cautionary tale:
For their birthday, Lefty, Softy and Righty got a Corby.
“What, one present between three of us?” they said.
“I’m afraid so,” Party said. “We’re not made of leaders.”
Well, Righty really wanted a Lizzy and Softy would have liked an Andy or a Vetty, but they both had to settle for a share in a Corby.
Lefty loved her Corby and couldn’t wait to see it work, but when she wasn’t looking, the others took out the batteries.
“See,” they said. “We told you it wouldn’t work.”
Lefty finally found the batteries hidden down the side of the settee and got her Corby started again.
“Look,” she said. “Party says this is the only present we can have so we have to make the best of it. Stop being so mean.”
Later on that day, Softy and Righty went up and down the street and told everybody the Corby didn’t work. Lefty went out to play and everybody laughed at her.
“Your Corby doesn’t work,” they said.
Lefty got her Corby going and tried to show them, but most people were looking the other way by then. There were pictures of a Corby that didn’t work everywhere you looked. Every day, Softy and Righty said they should swop the Corby for something better. Finally, they got their way and the triplets went back to Party. Softy and Righty wanted to swap the Corby for a Smthy. After lots of arguing, Party made up her mind.
“The Smithy doesn’t work,” she said. “It just produces a lot of hot air and goes backwards.”
Lefty was made up, but Softy and Righty were angry. When Lefty wasn’t looking, they kicked the Corby and pulled bits off. Quite soon, it wasn’t working half as well.
“What’s wrong with our Corby?” Lefty said, really upset.
“We’re not sure,” Softy and Righty said. “But we told you it wouldn’t work.”
They looked at each other and winked.

What’s this English the EDL defend?

What’s this English,

The EDL defend,

A mythical dream of 1958,

White bread, white faces

And maiden aunts cycling

To evensong under a northern sky,

A Butcher’s Apron

Snapping in the wind?

What’s this English,

The EDL defend,

Pathetic Alf Garnetts

Bending the knee

To ancient privilege?



So what’s this English

The EDL defend?

Is it the English of the Huguenots

Who worked in silk,

The Irish who dug and built,

The Jews who worked and thrived,

the Muslim workers

who struck for Altab Ali,

the Windrush West Indians

who became the muscles

of our public services?


What’s this English

The EDL defend,

Our good old brew

From the hills

Of Kenya and Assam,

An aromatic curry,

A piquant pasta,

A kebab on a Saturday night?

Or is it the full English

With a dash of nice brown sauce

Full of English syrup, sugar,

Dates and tamarind?


You can stuff this English

The EDL defend,

Slurred speech and red, sweaty faces,

Upside down Union flags

And tempers as short

As a crushed Woodbine.

You can roll it into the shape

Of a sweet English rose

And shove it up

Your rotund, racist arse,

Your fascist, English Khyber pass.


Every time they want to fight

The next war,

They say it will be different

To the last war.

There is always amnesia

About the last war

So that they can begin

The next war.

Maybe if people remembered

the last war

the next war

would not happen.