Dave Smith, co-author of Blacklisted, published by New Internationalist earlier this year, was at trial today (23 July). Smith, one of thousands of workers blacklisted by the construction industry, is charged with unlawful obstruction of the highway when, along with 40 other protesters, he stopped traffic on Park Lane outside a Construction News Awards ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel in March this year.
For more than 6 years campaigners have called for jail sentences for those directors of transnational companies responsible for the construction industry blacklist conspiracy. To date, not a single senior manager has even been interviewed by the police or disciplined by their employer.
But when the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) dared to protest about safety concerns on Crossrail and the ongoing blacklisting of union activists on the publicly funded project, Dave Smith (BSG secretary) was arrested.
Smith has repeatedly claimed that both he and the BSG continue to be spied on by undercover police because of their campaigning activities. The BSG is one of the groups that has made submissions to the Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing recently set up by Theresa May.
The Metropolitan Police have refused to supply Smith with a copy of his police file, claiming ‘national security’ and ‘ongoing investigations’ as the reasons. Freedom of Information requests in relation to police spying on the BSG receive the response that the Metropolitan Police can ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ whether surveillance is ongoing. Yet Police notebooks disclosed as evidence for Thursday’s trial state that the Metropolitan Police had intelligence about the demonstrators before the protest took place. Full details will be disclosed during witness evidence at the trial.
Dave Smith commented, ‘It seems that it’s one law for big business and another law for the rest of us. Transnationals and the secret police can conspire against trade unions and destroy evidence that would be used in court cases, and nothing happens. But if we dare to protest about the human rights scandal, we get arrested. At a time when the Conservative government is attacking trade unions and increasing state surveillance, this trial is about defending the democratic right to protest.’
There is currently a High Court group litigation on the blacklisting scandal, with around 700 blacklisted workers against 40 of the largest firms in the British construction industry. The full trial is set for May 2016 and will last 10 weeks.
Explosive new book Blacklisted launches at Houses of Parliament
Last Thursday, Theresa May announced a public inquiry into undercover police
spying on peaceful protest campaigns and bereaved parents of murder
victims. This came on the same day as the publication of an important
new book called Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and
Union Activists, written by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain
and published by NewInternationalist.
The book, exposing the illegal blacklisting scandal orchestrated by the
largest transnational construction companies in Britain including
McAlpine, Carillion, Costain, Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Kier,
provides previously unseen documentary evidence about the role of
undercover police spying units in colluding with the blacklisting
Speaking of the book, co-author and Blacklisted worker Dave Smith said: 'There are secret political police in the UK; they are called Special
Branch, MI5, GCHQ, NETCU and SDS. These coercive arms of the state see
their role as supporting big business against anyone who may threaten
their profits. Trade unions and peaceful campaign groups are viewed as
'Undercover police infiltration of justice campaigns set up by bereaved
relatives, anti-racist and environmental groups and trade unions is an
affront to democracy - it is essential that this is part of the remit of
the public inquiry announced by Theresa May. Blacklisted workers should
be consulted before the inquiry starts.
'Blacklisting is no longer an industrial relations issue: it is a
conspiracy orchestrated by directors of multinational companies and the
security services against trade unions. Blacklisting is not just in
construction, it is endemic across UK industry from NHS whistleblowers,
airlines, North Sea, retail and railways. We now know that the fire
brigades' union, UNISON, CWU and NUT were also targets of this national
scandal. The full extent of the corporate and police spying against
trade unions demands that blacklisting is given a full standalone public
inquiry of its own.'
A statement from Peter Francis former SDS undercover police spy and now
police whistleblower was read out. In it he said: 'I would like to take
this opportunity to unreservedly apologize to all the union members I
personally spied upon and reported back on whilst deployed undercover in
the SDS, including those not only engaged in working in the construction
industry but also those in the National Union of Students (NUS),
National Union of Teachers (NUT), Communication Workers' Union (CWU),
UNISON and the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU).
'I am prepared to repeat all of this under oath at the public inquiry
and should UCATT or any other union or the blacklisted campaigners wish
me to, in any court cases they might bring against the relevant UK
'This remarkable, well-researched and must-read book clearly shows how
police spying on political activists has destroyed lives and that I,
most unfortunately and regrettably, played a part in this.'
At last weeks's launch John McDonnell MP highlighted the 'heroic
campaign' undertaken by all those involved with the book, stating that
Blacklisted will help 'right some of the wrongs' individuals fighting
for justice have faced for many years. He also highlighted the
important role New Internationalist had played in bringing the book to
publication, citing the reluctance of other publishers approached to
take on the project for fear of legal action.
Journalist and co-author Phil Chamberlain said: 'They tried to tell us that
blacklisting didn't happen. They said there was no evidence. They
said nothing could be changed. Drawing upon years of research and
hundreds of interviews we demonstrate a failure at every turn by
the state to act upon this scandal. And the reason is not
incompetence but collusion. But we also show how an alliance of those affected brought this
scandal out of the shadows. A full public inquiry is needed to
ensure that justice is done.'
Dave Smith concluded: 'Blacklisted is very much a team effort. It is
the fruit of a campaign for justice involving investigative journalists,
unions, politicians, lawyers and activists, but above all blacklisted
workers themselves. Blacklisted is not just a book, it is a political
hand grenade that will blow the scandal wide open. It is part of the
ongoing fight for justice.'
To interview the authors, receive a review copy of Blacklisted,
or for more information, please contact:
The Oxford Publicity Partnership Ltd
2 Lucas Bridge Business Park
Old Greens Norton Road
Towcester, NN12 8AX, UK
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44(0)1327 357770
A catalogue of brutality: Atlas of Migration in Europe book launch
29 November 2013
Fortress Europe: Activists trying to dismantle the fence around The Netherlands 'detention boats' in the town of Zaandam.
Noborder Network under a Creative Commons Licence
Each year, hundreds of migrants die by drowning or exhaustion, trapped at sea in boats that are unsuitable and overloaded. Seeking to flee countries in crisis or war, these people are not able to travel legally because of the enhanced surveillance of European borders, especially in the south and east. International law is often applied in a highly restrictive manner, or denied altogether. This leaves migrants in an almost impossible situation.
The text is enhanced with maps, charts and photographs throughout. For each of the themes, the Atlas brings together more than a hundred maps, graphics, texts and photographs: all resources that help us to understand how borders shift and are ‘outsourced’, expose the control infrastructure and illustrate the security development of migration in Europe and beyond.
The Atlas launches on Monday 2 December, 6-8pm, at the Garden Court Chambers, 57-60, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LJ. (Tube: Holborn).
Published by New Internationalist, the Atlas is the work of Migreurop, a network of researchers and activists across Europe and Africa, supported by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM).
Folarin’s story and four other shortlisted entries from
Nigeria’s Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chinelo Okparanta, Elnathan John and
Sierra Leone’s Pede Hollist as well as 12 other tales from the Caine
Prize Writers’ Workshop are published in the annual Caine Prize anthology, by New Internationalist in partnership with seven African publishers.
The plot unfolds in Texas, in an evangelical Nigerian church
where the congregation has gathered to witness the healing powers of a
blind pastor-prophet. Religion and the gullibility of those caught in
the deceit that sometimes comes with faith rise to the surface as a
young boy volunteers to be healed and begins to believe in miracles.
The Chair of Judges, Gus Casely-Hayford, announced the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held in Oxford on Monday.
Gus Casely-Hayford praised the story, saying: ‘Tope Folarin’s Miracle
is another superb Caine Prize winner - a delightful and beautifully
paced narrative, that is exquisitely observed and utterly compelling.’
Tope Folarin is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Institute
for Policy Studies and Callaloo, and he serves on the board of the
Hurston/Wright Foundation. Tope was educated at Morehouse College, and
the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a
Rhodes Scholar. He lives and works in Washington, DC. ‘Miracle’first appeared in Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012),
Pictures and short biographies of the shortlisted authors can be viewed in The Guardian.
'The Co-operative Revolution' launches in Sydney
3 July 2013
Author and illustrator Paul Fitzgerald, better known as the political cartoonist ‘Polyp’, is visiting Sydney for three months to launch his new graphic novel The Co-operative Revolution.
Fitzgerald will be joined by fellow artist Eva Schlunke at Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney, to host a launch and signing on 4 July 2013, between 6 and 7pm.
The Co-operative Revolution explores the history of the movement from its desperate roots in the north of England during the economic crash of the 1840s, to its astonishing spread across the world.
Today, the top 100 co-operatives in Australia have a combined annual turnover of over $14 billion. Worldwide, over 100 million people are employed by co-operatives, and total membership is nearly 1 billion people.
This beautifully illustrated book also explores the science behind altruistic behaviour in nature, revealing a host of little-known and amazing insights. It reveals that all plant and animal biological cells in the world, including those of humans, are in fact miniature ‘endosymbiotic’ co-operatives, composed of two different organisms linked together for mutual benefit. It boldly argues that co-operative behaviour is in fact the norm, not the exception, and that claims about human beings being relentlessly and innately greedy or self serving are a politicized distortion of Darwin’s ideas.
Elnathan John (Nigeria) Bayan Layi from Per Contra, Issue 25 (USA, 2012)
Tope Folarin (Nigeria) Miracle from Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012)
Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone)Foreign Aid from Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 23.3 (Philadelphia, 2012)
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria) The Whispering Trees from The Whispering Trees, published by Parrésia Publishers (Lagos, 2012)
Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria) America from Granta, Issue 118 (London, 2012)
It’s been the usual fast turnaround to put the book together since the announcement of the shortlist on 15 May. The print edition will be available soon at the New Internationalist shop. It also contains 12 stories created at the Caine Prize Writers Workshop, held this year in Uganda, including one by last year’s winner, Rotimi Babatunde and another story from Elnathan John (the title of which leads the collection). No sneak previews of these stories unfortunately – you’ll just have to get yourself a copy of the book!
In this second year of the award the prize was joined by a children’s equivalent called Little Rebels. The winner was Sarah Garland’s Azzi In Between, published by Frances Lincoln.
The event took place in Conway Hall in London and formed the end of the Alliance of Radical Booksellers first ever Radical Bookfair, which was packed with bookshops, publishers and distributors selling a huge range of titles – with remarkably little overlap, a testament to the breadth and vibrancy of progressive publishing.
Many thanks to the Alliance of Radical Booksellers and everyone else who helped organise the awards and fair. We hope that these efforts will bring important books to a wider audience and New Internationalist looks forward to supporting the prize in future.
State of the World Atlas launch, 10 January, London
So in the last couple of weeks it's been all systems go to turn everything around in a few weeks and get the book to the printers in order to have the copies in shops before the award on 2 July. The eBook will be available too by the way...
And not only the content is on a fast turnaround - it's also hard to create a cover until we have some material to work with. So this year cover inspiration comes from one of the shortlisted stories, African Violet, and the design is courtesy of our co-publishing friends, Jacana Media.
As last year, a group of intrepid bloggers are reviewing each of the shortlisted stories in turn in the run up to the award - they are already on the second story so keep an up-to-date with Blogging the Caine Prize through zunguzungu over the next few weeks.