Thursday, 25 May 2017

John Frost : Radical Chartist Leader (25/5/1784 - 27/7/1877)

John Frost  radical Chartist leader was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales  on this day  25th May 1784, the son of John Frost and his wife, Sarah, landlady of the Royal Oak public house in Mill Street, Newport. His father died when John was very young and his mother remarried twice. Aged about sixteen, Frost was apprenticed to a tailor in Cardiff. In 1804, he was an assistant woollen draper in Bristol and the following year he worked in London as a merchant tailor. There he joined radical circles and sharpened his political education by reading Paine and Cobbett. On his return to Newport about 1806, he continued his business as a tailor and draper. On 24th October 1812, Frost married Mary Geach (née Morgan), widow of a timber dealer, with whom he had eight children between 1815 and 1826.In 1821 Frost became involved in a legal dispute with Thomas Prothero, a Newport solicitor. The original problem concerned the will of John Frost's uncle, William Foster. Frost accused Prothero of being responsible for Foster's decision to exclude Frost from his will. When Frost included this in a letter, Prothero sued for libel and in March 1822, Frost was fined £1,000. Frost continued to accuse Prothero of malpractice and in February 1823, he was found guilty of libel again, and this time he was sent to prison for six months.
Frost was told he would serve a long prison sentence if he repeated his allegations against Thomas Prothero. Frost therefore decided to direct his anger against Prothero's close friend, Sir Charles Morgan, one of the major landowners in Newport. In 1830 he wrote a pamphlet, A Christmas Box for Sir Charles Morgan, where he accused the landowner of badly treating his tenants. In the pamphlet John Frost also advocated that universal suffrage and secret ballots was the only way to curb the power of people like Sir Charles Morgan.
Over the next five years Frost established himself as the leader of the supporters of universal suffrage in Newport. As a result of the Municipal Corporation Act, tradesman such as John Frost became more powerful in the running of towns. In 1835 Frost was elected as one of Newport's eighteen new councillors and was also appointed as a magistrate. The following year he was elected mayor. However, his aggressive behaviour upset a lot of people and Frost was replaced as mayor in 1837.
Frost became  an enthusiastic supporter of the People’s Charter, launched in 1837 to fulfil the aims of Chartism. A year later he was elected by his supporters to go to London and represent them at the National Convention organised by the Chartists as a sort of alternative Parliament  The Chartists wanted the vote for all men (though not for women) and a fairer electoral system. They also called for annual elections, the payment of MPs, and the introduction of a secret ballot. Working conditions in many coalfields and ironworks in South Wales were harsh, and there was often conflict between workers and employers. Across Britain men, women and children worked 14 hours a day for little reward. For a time workers looked to the Radicals in parliament, but the much talked about Reform Act Of 1832 only gave votes to the rich. John Frost said that the working man should 'look to no one but himself, for if he depends on those who are in superior situations, he will always be disappointed.' Chartism was about the working class looking to itself. Given these circumstances, it was no surprise that Chartism developed quickly. In the summer of 1838 a Working Men's Association was formed in Newport, Monmouthshire to publicise the People's Charter.

Following a split in the movement, Frost threw in his lot with the Physical Force Chartists, who advocated violent action to achieve reform. This outraged the Home Secretary Lord John Russell and in March 1839 Frost was sacked as a magistrate.
Around Britain, and especially in South Wales, discontent was smouldering  and in May 1838 eloquent speaker Henry Vincent was arrested for making inflammatory speeches. When he was tried on the 2nd August at Monmouth Assizes he was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. Vincent was denied writing materials and only allowed to read books on religion.
Chartists in Wales were furious and the decision was followed by several outbreaks of violence. Frost toured Wales making speeches urging people not to break the law. Frost's plan was to march on Newport where the Chartists planned to demand the release of Vincent.
The authorities in Newport heard rumours that the Chartists were armed and planned to seize Newport. Stories also began to circulate that if the Chartists were successful in Newport, it would encourage others all over Britain to follow their example. On 4 November 1839, 5,000 men roused with much anger  marched into Newport ,and attempted to take control of the town. They marched to  Westgate Hotel, where they had heard that after several more arrests, local authorities were temporarily holding several chartists, began chanting "surrender our prisoners". Troops protecting the hotel were then given the order to begin firing into the crowd, killing at least 22 people, and another fifty being wounded and resulted  in  the uprising being bought to an abrupt end. Among the injured was a Chartist named John Lovell, who was shot in the thigh and badly wounded. It would be the last large scale uprising in the history of  mainland Britain.

After the Chartist attack on the Westgate Hotel Frost and others involved in the march on Newport were arrested and charged with high treason. During Frost's trial  his popularity grew," His self-possession, dignity and respectability, reported during his trial at Monmouth impressed many people."
Several of the men, including John Frost, were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered in what would be a traitor's death. The severity of the sentences shocked many people and protests meetings took place all over Britain.
Some Physical Force Chartists called for a military uprising but Feargus O'Connor refused to lead an insurrection.
The British Cabinet discussed the sentences and on 1st February the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, announced that instead of the men being executed they would be transported for life.
John Frost was sent to Tasmania where he worked for three years as a clerk and eight years as a school teacher. Chartists continued to campaign for the release of Frost. Thomas Duncombe pleaded Frost's case in the House of Commons but attempt to secure a pardon in 1846 was unsuccessful.
Duncombe refused to be defeated and in 1854 he persuaded the Prime Minister, Lord Aberdeen, to grant Frost a pardon but he stipulated that he must not enter British territory.
Frost and his daughter, Catherine, who had joined him in Tasmania, went to live in the United States. Frost toured the country lecturing on the unfairness of the British system of government.This campaign for his return  had kept running for 16 years, until he was an old man of 72 and he was finally granted a full pardon.
To the surprise of the authorities, he had not been forgotten and in 1856 several thousand people crowds turned out in Newport, London and elsewhere to see and hear this man of principle, and give him a hero's welcome. He told them that one day not only would they have the Charter but they would also have 'something more'--a better world where those who make the wealth would enjoy it to the full.
Frost retired to Stapleton near Bristol where he wrote articles for newspapers on subjects such as universal suffrage and prison reform. John Frost died at the  grand old age of ninety-three on 27th July, 1877.
John Frost Square, in Newport city centre, was named in his honour. A 1978  mural of the Newport rising in the square was shamefully  demolished in 2013 :-
We should be grateful to John Frost, that almost all of the reforms for which he and the Chartists had campaigned had been enshrined in law. I believe it is important to respect and honour the legacy of the Chartists and John Frost and the sacrifices they made , as the struggles for democracy continue. Many people have been arguing that modern politics is broken, and now is a time for a  new People's charter. Generations later  the fight to defeat elite driven policies continues, for the many not the few. There is still so much to fight for.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Light rises up

When  blinded by our differences
Life often makes no sense at all,

It's enough to darken the soul
The world  falling  apart at the seams,
Nothing left but blood and bodies
Images that haunt our compassion,
Some people will shout for vengeance
Others  will sing songs of peace and love,
Finding time to ease the pain
Light  candles among the darkness.
Mourning the loss of innocents
That fall on this twisted earth;
United in grief and solidarity
We stand together and cry,
Carrying the weight of heartache
The need for blind retribution must die,
Step by step we can run from  fear
try to reconcile ourselves with one another.

Clinging on to healing overtones
Find the strength and courage to move on;
To a place where hate refuses to grow
Too much pain keeps us suffocating
Not sure we can withstand much more,.
Lets spread  tender inclinations
Build bridges out of  destruction,
In moments of despair cling on.

There is much in life worth saving
But we have to keep working together;
Otherwise the same old divisions take hold
And the second we close our eyes;
Every advance we've ever made
Drowns in  pools of  impossibility;
Hold hands now with your neighbour
Share what you have in common
Beyond our different sadness, light rises up.

* The above poem can also be found here :-

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester Terror Aftermath

At least 22 people were killed and up to 50 injured in an explosion at the end of a concert by pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena last night.  Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack. People are being urged not to speculate about the attacker's identity or share names until police confirm more details.
If confirmed, it would be the deadliest militant assault on Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.
Police responded to reports of an explosion shortly after 10:35pm at the arena, which has a capacity for 21,000 people, and where the U.S. singer had been performing to an audience that included many children
The S**n  newspaper this morning sickeningly has since been using this terrible tragedy to push their own disgusting political agenda .Their article about Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell  on their front page is opportunist, ill-timed, inaccurate and quite simply beyond the pale.The Daily Mail equally should be ashamed of itself.
We cannot let this latest incident make us more divided, if this is the case the perpetrator's job is done.All over the UK we cannot allow our communities to slip in to fear and hate, which is what whoever was behind this would want. There are too many bad people out there who see things like this as something to exploit sadly. We need as much goodwill now as ever before, and that goes for all of us.
I remember that dear Jane was a frequent gig goer in Manchester and worker, thank goodness to the  people of Manchester,  who valiantly helped out to save lives last night, they will mourn, but will not be cowed  ever. Have been reading reports  of acts of kindness and resilience in light off the attack, people across Manchester offering up rooms for those affected by the suspected attack, donating blood and taxi drivers provided free lifts as road closures left survivors unable to get home. In Manchester's darkest hour the cities huge spirit still shines through. The city has come together after previous incidents, and hopefully will carry on going from strength to strength.
While politicians bicker daily at how best to run the NHS and how many policemen and women should be on our streets, it is quite something to hear reports of how they have continued to work under the greatest of stress. It’s at desperate times like this where we should all be grateful to the dedicated men and women in the emergency services..
This post dedicated and in loving memory and in defiance of all those who would harm innocents for a murderous cause. Hopefully the perpetrators will face the full weight of justice.
Several people are still missing in the wake of the attack and their pictures are being circulated on social media. Their friends and family are asking people to retweet and share them in the hope of finding them.A hotline has been set up for anyone concerned about loved ones who may not have returned home.  Families and friends can ring 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900.
Now is not the time for politics, it is time to show some bloody respect to those that died and those who have been injured. May the 22 rest in peace and the rest of us live in peace.
In the meantime, if you want to donate money, Manchester Evening News has set up a crowdfunder for the families of victims of the attack.

If you felt inclined to make a complaint to the Independent press standards organisation, about certain newspapers inflammatory reportage you can do so here:-

Monday, 22 May 2017

You Ain't Done Nothing If You Ain't Been Called a Red

The American folk music revival during the early half of the 20th century was infused with a very strong sense of left-wing rebel sentiment .The following song makes me smile from ear to ear. An inspiring one, that hopefully makes people, get up and want to make the world a better place.
Maybe not as popular as “Solidarity Forever” or “The Red Flag”, but this one is still one glorious uplifting anthem . I simply love its fighting spirit. I for one am not ashamed to be called a Red.
Taken from Rebel Voices: Songs of the Industrial Workers of the World.An extensive collection of writings by and about the Industrial Workers of the World union in the US, compiled and edited by Joyce L Kornbluh and first published in 1964.

You Ain't Done Nothing If You Ain't Been Called a Red

When I was just a little thing I used to love parades
with banners, bands and red balloons and maybe lemonade
when I came home one mayday my neighbours father said
them marchers is all commies tell me kid are you a red?

well, I didnt know just what he meant my hair back then was brown
our house was plain red brick like most others in the town
so I went and asked my mamma why our neighbour called me red
my mummy took me on her knee and this is what she said

Well you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

When I was growin' up, had my troubles I suppose
when someone took exception to my face or to my clothes
or tried to cheat me on a job or hit me on the head
when I organised to fight back why the stinkers called me red

But you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if youv'e marched or agitated, you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

When I was livin' on my own one apartment that I had
had a lousy rotten landlord let me tell ya he was bad
but when he tried to throw me out I rubbed my hands and said
you haven't seen a struggle if you haven't fought a red!

And you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, then you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
'cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

Well I kept on agitatin', cause what else can you do?
you're gonna let the sons of bitches walk all over you
my friends said you'll get fired, hanging with that commie mob
I should be so lucky buddy, I ain't got a job

And you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, then you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

Well I've been agitatin' now for fifty years or more
for jobs or for equality and always against war
I'll keep on agitatin' as far as I can see
and if that's what being red is then It's good enough for me

'cause you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, then you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

Here's a fantastic version by 96 year old Faith Petric. Simply awesome

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Theresa May: She’s a Liar Liar! You can’t trust her - Captain Ska

Captain SKA's track 'Liar Liar' has been remastered to target Theresa May and the Conservative Party for the General Election. It's a scathing attack on Tory Government's record.
It only takes a few thousand downloads to get it in the top 40s. We need your help to spread the word to your friends, family, workmates.
In 2010 the original track hit No 1 in the UK Reggae charts - the target that time being Cameron, Clegg and the Coalition government. In the run up to such a crucial election we want to think big and get it into the official top 40- obliging the BBC to play it on the airways  reaching millions. 
Today I share a short teaser video - please share on social media, spread the word and get ready to download it on Friday 26 MayAll proceeds during the election will be split between foodbanks, and  The People’s Assembly Against Austerity directly helping those suffering most at the hands of the Tories and and also to help sustain a campaign for the alternative to austerity.
The group says it was “just so angry” recently when Theresa May appeared in one of her first proper media interviews of the election campaign. In her interview with Andrew Marr on 30 April, the presenter challenged May’s record in several key areas. And in particular, he asked about her record on public sector workers who’ve received below inflation pay rises. Marr said:We have nurses going to food banks at the moment. That must be wrong.
The country has seen food bank usage grow and grow under the Conservatives. And what left Captain SKA and others across Britain so angry was May’s failure to give a simple and convincing response to Marr’s point. The Conservative leader simply said: there are many complex reasons why people go to food banks
She also claimed that the problem would only be solved “if you have a government that understands the importance of that strength in the economy”. This in spite of organisations like The Resolution Foundation saying we’re set for the biggest rise in inequality since the Thatcher years. And after seven years of Tory rule, it’s difficult not to point the finger.
Theresa May has already undertaken a number of U-turns since she became Prime Minister. She also has the record of being only the second Home Secretary in history to have been found in contempt of court. A ruling which saw a judge slam her behaviour as “regrettable and unacceptable”.
And her party doesn’t have a much better record itself. In fact, citizens have almost come to expect that the Conservatives will break their promises:
2010 saw Captain SKA hit the spotlight for the first time with the original version of Liar Liar – aimed at the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition:

More recently, the group recorded the following song, which it “dedicated to everyone fighting against the privatisation of our public services”. The inspiration behind the song, it said, was the increasing “marketisation of our education system”; a system in which “head teachers are having to focus far too much time on business plans, marketing strategies and league tables”.

The Conservative government and their toxic flotilla of cuts are ruthlessly hacking away jobs, damaging vulnerable lives and chipping away at the very fabric of our society. We cannot afford to stand by and let this country sail towards a future of inequality.

For more from Captain SKA, check out their YouTubeFacebook and Twitter pages.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017

Old people - we'll take your house and your pension  and make sure  you pay for your own social care

Young people - We offer you no future

Poor people - we'll keep making you poorer

Benefit Claimants - we  will exterminate, exterminate

Children - buy your own lunch you scroungers, Theresa May strong and stable will steal the food from your table

Workers - have less money

Public Services - Cut, Cut, Cut

An affordable home for every landlord

Tax dodging corporations - we'll spend even less chasing you

Cut taxes to the rich

Corrupt millionaires - don't worry we're getting rid of the serious fraud office

Kill more wildlife

Corporate Media - Thank you for having our back , we'll cancel that pesky enquiry into your ethics

NHS -  cackling laughter and the sound of circling vultures

More Fracking

Hard Brexit

No turning back

Strong and Stable

Light on detail

Repeat , Strong and Stable

Vote Conservative June 8th

You Know it makes no sense at all

( Disclaimer: We don't have to live in the dystopia  outlined  by Theresa May . The wonderful thing about living in a democracy is that we have a choice, a fairer Britain  or the backward vision summarised here.)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

R.I.P Chris Cornell, singer and songwriter for Soundgarden, dead at 52 (20/7/ 64 - 17/5/17)

Sad to hear that, the powerful dynamic singer Chris Cornell, best known as the lead singer of the grungeband Soundgarden, who were one of the architects of grunge music has  passed away  Wednesday night just hours after a sold-out show in Detroit.
He was 52.
The singer-songwriter made his name with the Seattle-based rock band,  founded in 1984 creating such hits as “Black Hole Sun” and "Spoonman" in the 1990s, before branching out to create Audioslave, where he found renewed success with former members of Rage Against the Machine.
Prior to Audioslave, Cornell lent his impressive vocal range to another supergroup to honor his deceased friend Andrew Wood by teaming up with members of Pearl Jam to create Temple of the Dog.
Cornell had been on tour with his band and tweeted out a message celebrating their return to the "Rock City" just before performing Wednesday evening.The musician's representative Brian Bumbery confirmed the news that he passed away. The cause of death is currently unknown, but was sudden and unexpected, and the police in  Detroit are treating the death as a possible suicide.
Whatever the circumstances heartbreaking nevertheless for all his friends and family, and his legion of admirers.Bumbery stated that Cornell's wife, Vicky Karayiannis, and family were shocked by his "sudden and unexpected" death.
Mr. Cornell appeared to be active on social media in the hours before his death. A post on his Twitter account on Wednesday announced that the group had arrived in Detroit, and a clip of the group’s 2012 release “By Crooked Steps” was posted to his official Facebook page hours before his death.
Mr. Cornell had admitted in interviews to struggling with drug use  and depression throughout his life. In a 1994 Rolling Stone article, he described himself as a “daily drug user at 13,” who had quit by the time he turned 14.
After Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, Mr. Cornell returned to heavy drug use, he told The Guardian in a 2009 interview, describing himself as a “pioneer” in the abuse of the opiate OxyContin, and saying that he had gone to rehab.
Cornell also pushed himself as solo artist, putting out four studio albums between 1999 and 2015.Known for his soulful covers of popular songs. Cornell co-wrote and performed “You Know My Name,” the theme song for the 2006 “James Bond” film, “Casino Royale.”
He released the single "The Promise" in March on iTunes, with all proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid, relief and development nongovernmental organization.
In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
Out of the big four, the original vocalists for Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains are all dead now… Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is now the only living original singer of these bands.
R.I.P Chris Cornell far too young. Tough one this one , as is every passing, but did listen to his beautiful voice quite a lot over the years. Can hear him singing at moment, his  unique voice lives on. Hey Chris say hello to Jane, a favourite person, who keeps reminding me over and over what could have been..

Chris Cornell -  Black hole Sun ( solo acoustic)

Chris Cornell - Be Yourself  (solo acoustic)

Chris Cornell - The Promise

International Rescue Committee

The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Their website is, email address or call free on 116 123.