Wassailing in the age of Covid-19

A busy year for Birmingham Clarion Singers. I would love to have heard their “Sans Day Carol,” a jolly song of which I have such fond memories.
Such things bring joy to the world – but that’s another tune! I wish them well into their ninth decade doing good through the agency of song.

Birmingham Clarion Singers

What a year 2020 has been.

When we celebrated International Womens Day with Erdington Labour Women’s Forum on March 7th,  we could never have imagined the circumstances we would find ourselves in just two weeks later. A global pandemic, social distancing, mask wearing and sanitising everything in sight, became our new normal. Plans to celebrate 80 years of Birmingham Clarion Singers were folded up and put in the cupboard, and the vibrant, noisy celebrations of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers were relocated online.

Wednesday rehearsals were temporarily displaced by Zoom quiz nights, as the realisation that singing was one of the most dangerous activities on the planet became apparent (but we always knew that. In times of unrest and protest, song has invariably been used by the people, for the people).

We said some sad goodbyes in 2020. Graham Stevenson, long time supporter of Clarion (and father of…

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Back to School? Women and Education – Monday 28 Sept 7pm

Happy to reblog this meeting, I hope that good discussion arising from it might inform future action.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

As schools and universities re-open across our region, we host a discussion around the challenges facing women working in, and accessing, education in the light of Covid-19.

This is an open meeting, so all women are welcome, including non-Labour Party participants. Speakers include:

  • Sarah Barton – SEA Birmingham
  • Kate Taylor – SEA Birmingham
  • Saima Suleman – PCS and local parent
  • Kate Anstey – Child Poverty Action Group
  • Rhiannon Lockley – UCU

This meeting will take place on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84115896873…

Meeting ID: 841 1589 6873
Passcode: 364895


The SEA – the Socialist Educational Association – is an affiliate of the Labour Party. Visit its Birmingham branch at https://www.facebook.com/brumsea/

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Birmingham Council COVID19 funding crisis

Second wave, or spike, notwithstanding the 2019 novel coronavirus is the gift which will keep on taking, more so in England courtesy of the many dubious policy decisions – diktat – taken by the UK Government, generally unencumbered by meaningful discussion or oversight. And now the pressure, from the top, is for “business as usual.” Large cities and metropolitan bodies are in the unenviable position of having to budget around mandatory provision under epidemic conditions but also to mitigate shortcomings in national provisions – test, trace and isolate for example – all on top of the defunding of the past ten years.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

This report is by David Hughes, UNISON Birmingham Branch Officer, based on the talk he gave at Birmingham Trades Council on 6 August.

“Emergency budget for Birmingham as Covid-19 ‘catastrophe’ raises prospect of service cuts” was the headline on a Birmingham Mail article at the end of June 2020. The article said the Council was facing a £212 million shortfall and predicted drastic service cuts that could impact on any or all of the council’s services – from bin collections to schools, pothole repairs to libraries, youth centres to day centres for the elderly.

The city’s finance chief Cllr Tristan Chatfield warned that the ‘already struggling’ city would have to review all of its spending decisions for the rest of the year ahead and into next year. He reported an emergency budget was due to be considered at the Council Cabinet on 21 July 2020.

The report that was presented…

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Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate ‘Get Serious about the Climate’

I have lived in Birmingham for over half a century. Much of the article reblogged here is new to me; communication to the public, to council tax payers, of climate related issues is essential given that the council has declared a climate emergency – something else which was news to me.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Our demands to Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council declared a climate emergency on June 11th 2019. This is a very serious declaration. Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate believe the council is not taking the declaration seriously and thus we put forward these demands. We want the council to respond formally and publicly to our demands, it is in the best interests of all residents of Birmingham and of the world that they do so. To highlight the council’s failings, we will be targeting them in 6 areas where we feel they have contradicted the declaration of climate emergency. We want the council to Get Serious about the Climate.

  1. Communicate.

We want the council to communicate to the public in a way that is clear and accessible for all residents of Birmingham, especially on climate-related issues. The council should prioritise climate-related issues in their communications and ensure they are telling the public what they are doing to tackle the…

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F.A. Cup final 1987, Coventry 3–Spurs 2, but British Rail were my real winners!

This match always puts me in mind of the Monty Python Communist Quiz sketch, in which Lenin, Marx, Mao and Che Guevara, believing themselves to be on a political debate show, find they are actually participants in a game show. One of the anglocentric football questions is this:
“Well bad luck there, Karl. So we’ll go onto you Che. Che Guevara – Coventry City last won the FA Cup in what year? (cut to Che looking dumbfounded) No? I’ll throw it open. Coventry City last won the FA Cup in what year? (they all look blank) No? Well, I’m not surprised you didn’t get that. It was in fact a trick question. Coventry City have never won the FA Cup.”
Clearly no longer the case post ‘87.
Then again Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson didn’t win the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest, so I am assuming certain comic licence.
Cheers Phil, great story, thanks for sharing.

Site Title


The cup final of 1987 was a remarkable match. Not only because it was Coventry City’s first and only appearance in the FA’s Wembley final, but for me, it was also one of the best days I ever spent with my late father in law Harry Moore. Tickets for the match were hard to come by in Coventry. Everybody in Godiva’s city wanted one, and I, as a young father couldn’t afford the official price let alone the ridiculous figures at which they changed hands in Coventry pubs. However, Harry ran a business in Foleshill Road and had obtained two tickets through the Chamber of Trade. He wasn’t really an avid football fan and confessed to me he really wanted to go for the community singing and marching bands that precedes the match. Still, a Wembley final is a special event and something everyone should experience at least once in…

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Adult Social Care in England and Birmingham – and how the Council can take it out of the market

Birmingham Against The Cuts

These are Notes for a talk by Richard Hatcher at Birmingham Trades Council’s May Day event, 2 April 2020

We all have experience of doctors’ surgeries and  hospitals. Most of us have little experience of adult social care. (I’m not going to include children’s social care which raises different issues.) It has taken the pandemic to make people more aware of the social care system – the number of deaths the shortage of PPE, the risk to dedicated staff.

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A 35% job loss in Birmingham as the result of Covid-19 in April to June

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Professor Anne Green writes about ‘Estimates of the Local Impact in the West Midlands of the OBR Scenario of a 35% Reduction in Real GDP in Q2 2020’ in the City REDI Blog at Birmingham University, 28 April:

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What will be the impact of Covid-19 on the West Midlands economy?

Much is broadcast about the national and supranational affliction with 2019-nCoV.
The English Midlands are one of the metropolitan super-conurbations of the UK, one of the “powerhouses” of this Kingdom, from the Victorian metal smithing in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in the West, to the high speed HS2 rail link into our Eastside and all the cutting-edge technology that attends and supports it. Novel Coronavirus and, in particular the attempt to retard it’s spread, will affect individuals not only through infection itself but through the social, public health, logistical and economic effects concomitant on lockdown.
The piece I reblog is a study into those issues as the affect the West Midlands, where I live and, currently, where I am locked down.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Below are links to 3 blogs by Andre Carrascal Incera, a researcher at Birmingham University, published recently on the City REDI Blog.

In a series of blogs regarding the economic effects of disruption, I identify three different ways in which the coronavirus COVID-19 could impact the West Midlands economy:

  1. National borders are closing worldwide limiting the connections between countries
  2. There’s going to be an increase in the demand for health services
  3. Some sectors are going to be closed due to the lockdown while the demand of others is going to increase or decrease because of people working from home.

Economic Exposure to COVID-19 (Part I): The Situation in the West Midlands Region – Closing the Borders

Posted on 20/03/2020

Economic Exposure to COVID-19 (Part I): The Situation in the West Midlands Region – Closing the Borders

This first blog will look at sectoral effects and then I will try to…

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Donny throws Rudy under the bus, plus impeachment news and other headlines

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

There is one behavior (among many) Donald Trump has consistently shown when the heat from various investigations into his presidency and private life got too hot for him to take.  He always throws his closest associates under the bus in order to save himself.  Trump is nothing more than a raging megalomaniac without a shred of character, integrity, morality, or sophistication.  Like he did to Michael Cohen – his former personal lawyer and fix-it man who is rotting away in federal prison, he is doing now to Rudy Giuliani – his current “personal lawyer” and point-man in the Ukraine scandal who is under federal investigation for a bagful of potential criminal charges.

While Trump demands loyalty from everyone, he gives loyalty to no one.

However, Rudy said he has “insurance” to protect himself from Trump’s abandonment.  We’ll see.  Cohen came clean, but he went to jail…

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Monday Kickoff: Impeachment news, Trump versus the U.S. Navy, big Hong Kong vote, and more

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

We kickoff this Monday with several impeachment developments and related news, President Trump’s authoritarian turf war against the U.S. Navy, a big election result in Hong Kong, a story on rising social unrest across the globe, an unfolding election in Uruguay marking further political change throughout South America, and a climate change update on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Also, an important court ruling is expected today on former White House Counsel Don McGahn‘s refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena which had ordered him to appear before a House committee for testimony.  This case may affect other such witnesses as well.

Impeachment news

From:  White House review turns up emails showing extensive effort to justify Trump’s decision to block Ukraine military aid

A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up…

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