Hucknall Tory MP Mark Spencer – Slammed by constituents over patronising poverty stricken benefit claimant with learning difficulties

Less than one month ago, Tory DWP chief and upper crust class warrior Iain Duncan Smith visited Mark Spencer’s office in Hucknall. One could be forgiven to assume the small clique of Tory activists met with IDS to learn tips on how to bash the poor, the sick and demonise anybody who claims benefits.

It now seems Mark Spencer has taken on board IDS’ callous approach of clobbering the most vulnerable people in society in a jaw dropping turn of events during a debate in the House of Commons this week.

Wigan Labour MP Lisa Nandy told the house about a constituent who had learning difficulties was sanctioned by the DWP and lost his benefit entitlement because he turned up to an appointment late due to his genuine inability to read the clock. Nandy also told the house that because the benefits had been withdrawn the man hadn’t eaten for days and was left alone, in his house, cold with no electricity to even turn the lights on.

The Hucknall Tory MP then suggested that people like him needed to learn “the discipline of timekeeping”, and stated the education system needed to improve to ‘cure’ the constituent’s learning difficulties.

This triggered a huge backlash towards Spencer as the news spread via a Huffington Post article which was shared online via Facebook & Twitter. The article even made it to the ‘I love Hucknall’ group with a cascade of negative comments towards Spencer’s actions followed on the drop box.

To the MP’s defence leapt the fresh faced Tory lackey, Ben Bradley who is conveniently employed by Mark Spencer as his campaign manager and official bag carrier.

Clearly taken completely out of context – he said people on Jobseekers should be held to the same expectations as people in work – which is fair and reasonable… The ”benefits system” didn’t leave the guy without food or electricity, a lack of social care/support did… and Mark suggested he needed more help! Ridiculous article!claimed Bradley.

Since the news broke the Hammer has read a copy of the official Commons Hansard report which can be read below:-

So people can judge for themselves what was said and what was allegedly said.

The local newspaper (reluctantly) covered the story online after being contacted by numerous angry Hucknall constituents in what was a pitiful one sided news story that Mark Spencer could have written himself.

With the General Election looming could this have damaged Mark Spencers reputation even further? Only time will tell.

Hucknall Tory MP Mark Spencer – Slammed by constituents over patronising poverty stricken benefit claimant with learning difficulties

Community Unites To Save The UKs 3 Remaining Pits

The Hucknall Hammer Supports The Miners

We walked up to the meeting point – Knottingly Town Hall in West Yorkshire, and I was immediately handed an Orgreave Truth & Justice leaflet outlining the campaign for the release of all papers and demanding a public inquiry into the terrifying police led violence which took place during the great miners strike of 1984/85.

Upon lifting my eyes from the leaflet, I glanced to the right to see the worn but defiant banner emblazoned with ‘Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners’ – which was the original banner as featured in the hit film ‘Pride’ held by two wind swept men.

After another bone chilling, icy blast of Yorkshire wind I held onto my hat, looked back at the people now lining up behind artistic miners banners with the distant sound of a proud brass band assembling at the front, ready to lead the march.

For a split second I could have been forgiven for thinking I had stepped into a time machine and transported back in time to 1984. Why are the miners on the march again in January 2015? Because the UKs last 3 remaining pits are on the verge of closure and time is running out to save them.

It was Saturday afternoon on 31st January 2015, the march had been called by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to finish with a rally & refreshments at Kellingley Miners Welfare.

The march took off and we were placed in front of the Nottinghamshire pit – Thoresby NUM banner. Halfway round a camera man accompanied by a young female TV presenter from the BBC accosted a man waving a Union of Construction & Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) flag. The question followed from the presenter ‘why are you marching today?’ to which the man fired back ‘because if this town loses the pit, it loses everything’

We managed to thaw out in the Miners Welfare and were herded into the main conference suite of the club where a table full of Labour MP’s sat with the General Secretary of the NUM. The rally got underway first with the local MP Yvette Cooper stating her support for the campaign but dodged questions from the audience on Labours energy policies.

After supporting speeches from Welsh MP Sian Jones and the NUMs Ex National President Ian Lavery MP, the key note speaker shot to his feet- the legendary coalfields MP Dennis Skinner.

Dennis spoke of the ‘most honourable dispute in history’ (miners 84/85 strike) the electoral threat UKIP poses, and the future of coal mining in Britain. ‘This is the last throw of the dice and we need to re-kindle the spirit of 84/85 to save these 3 pits’ the Beast of Bolsover blasted.

He stated that Labour is doing all it can to keep the pits open by lobbying ministers and keeping the pressure up, but insisted the campaign needs as much support as it can muster.

Taking a pause, Dennis finished in typical Skinner style by thundering ‘what we need is public ownership of the mining industry and energy utilities as a whole! Thank you very much’ which brought the whole club to its feet in rapturous applause.

This event was supported by local Hucknall people including ex miners and their families, and Sherwood Labour Parliamentary Candidate Leonie Mathers. The bitter memory of the 1984/85 miners strike still resonates with many in the community after Hucknall number 2 colliery was finally closed in 1986 leading to thousands of men losing their jobs and the community losing its focal point. Marching to save Kellingley, Hatfield and more locally (Nottinghamshire) Thoresby pits demonstrates the miners are still united and will never be defeated.

The question is – will this be enough to save the coal mining industry in the UK?

Community Unites To Save The UKs 3 Remaining Pits

Rejecting Austerity – We Are All Greek Today

Five years ago, Greeks immunised their children; their children were protected from measles, meningitis and polio. It was not true, five years ago, that nearly a third of Greeks weren’t covered by any form of health insurance. Five years ago, unemployment in some districts didn’t approach two-thirds of the working age population.

Five years ago Syriza was a tiny fringe part of the Greek Left.

Five years on, doctors, those that haven’t lost their jobs, have had their wages and pensions reduced by a third. Five years on, Greeks are taking their malnourished children to health charities, for the hospitals have no drugs. Five years on, one Greek man takes his own life every day because of his poverty.  Five years on, family break-ups are soaring.

Five years on the Greeks have voted Syriza as their Government.

What has brought about such a change? One word: austerity.

Austerity, peddled as the cure for Greece’s ills has proved worse than the disease itself. Medicine is often hard to swallow but it isn’t supposed to kill the patient. That is what austerity has done to Greece. Austerity is killing Greeks.

The Greeks have now rejected austerity. All of Europe must do likewise.

A financial crisis that began in the United States, that spread across the world, caused by bankers, speculators and city traders is the sickness. Austerity, the medicine prescribed by the very people responsible for the malaise, is killing its victims, while those responsible are now richer than ever before.

The Greeks know this. They were offered the chance to blame the weak, foreigners and immigrants for their problems. Golden Dawn, their version of the BNP or EDL, has been rejected in favour of hope.

Hope comes with new jobs, raising the minimum wage, while collecting all the taxes due from the richest; from those who who have prospered as the rest have suffered.

The price of accepting austerity is never going to be paid by those who caused the problems we all face today. It’s time for us all to become Greek.

Jim Grundy

Rejecting Austerity – We Are All Greek Today

Social Change for Hucknall – Wiping out Patriarchy (Never buy The Sun!)

As Karl Marx put it, social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex. It’s time women in Hucknall were empowered – The Hammer is smashing patriarchy.

As a supporter and activist for the No More Page 3 Campaign, I was ecstatic to hear that The Sun (Disclaimer- I have never and will never buy The Sun #JFT96) has removed its famous objectifying page 3. I couldn’t help but notice, when looking through the local press online, that it had posted an article on Ashfield’s Labour MP, Gloria De Piero, who posed topless for Page 3 when she was just 15. I can’t help but feel the local publication is using some sort of shaming tactic, which is quite frankly sickening. The MP fell in to the industry through poverty and is now supporting the No More Page 3 campaign to stop young girls from being exploited in the same way she was. So, no, Page 3 is NOT “just a bit of harmless fun” as the local media put it. It has a devastating effect on our girls and society as a whole. I came across some vile comments that were made on the article made by the public, one being “If she got her knockers out a few more might vote for them [The Labour Party]”– Is this really what we want our young girls of Hucknall to see and to learn? They deserve so much more.

We have also seen the rise of an anti-women party in Hucknall: Justice for Men & Boys (J4MB). As our very own Hucknall County Councillor and feminist, Alice Grice, put it: “Feminism is about bringing an end to all gender-based oppression, discrimination and exploitation. Feminism is for the benefit of all members of our society.” – It’s important Hucknall women feel proud to be feminists and not made to feel that feminism is a dirty word. Feminism is for men and women; it is about equality, NOT female supremacy, as J4MB puts it. Let’s make Hucknall feminist friendly and address patriarchy in our Hucknall schools. Let’s get behind gender equality and prevent our girls from cruel self-fulfilling prophecies. As a young woman that grew up in Hucknall, I have experienced first hand the crushing setbacks and disadvantages of being a female in this patriarchal, capitalist society that is so embraced by our schools. As a past student of The Holgate Comprehensive School, now The Holgate Academy, it was clear to see the way young girls were undervalued. We need to intervene early, or else how will we ever teach our children that we are all equal? It is so sad that in 2015 in our Hucknall, the town we all work so hard for, women are still under-represented and underestimated?

Women are still continually oppressed and belittled through a capitalist society and The Hucknall Hammer refuses to sit and accept it. It’s time to smash patriarchy and empower our women. Shoulder to shoulder, we are kicking misogyny out of town and bringing big social change to Hucknall.

Lauren Mitchell

Social Change for Hucknall – Wiping out Patriarchy (Never buy The Sun!)

Tory Class Warrior – Iain Duncan Smith MP visits Hucknall – (And was met by a peaceful demonstration)

Iain Duncan Smith (IDS), the Tory work & pension’s chief visited Hucknall this morning around 11.30am the Hammer understands. This seems to be the 3rd high profile politician visit, with austerity crazed PM David Cameron visiting Bulwell on Monday and leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband visiting Hucknall for a public Q&A last Thursday.

Hucknallites can expect more ministerial and MP visits in the coming months as the countdown to Mays General Election draws nearer.

The Hammer has been informed that IDS specifically visited Sherwood Tory Mark Spencer MPs office on Vine Terrace in Hucknall.

As word got around IDS was in town, a peaceful demonstration formed outside of about 5 people holding placards which included slogans such as ‘Mansion Tax NOT Bedroom Tax’.

With the peaceful demonstration coming to an end, 3 police officers turned up to ensure the man who bought you the callous ‘Bedroom Tax’ – IDS was bungled back into his huge 4×4 to make a swift exit, whilst never making any attempt to engage with the demonstrators.

Shortly after a few more local Tories spilled out of the Under One Roof centre, Mark Spencer MP emerged to talk to the demonstrators, with one asking if ‘IDS had donated to the food bank situated within the centre?’ a resounding ‘No’ followed from the MP.

The Hammer finds this absolutely deplorable when IDS can’t be bothered to donate to a food bank, that his coalition created, whilst claiming free breakfasts at the expense of tax payers –

With the police keen to disperse the peaceful demonstration they then confronted demonstrators, after Spencer had returned back into the centre. Video footage seen by the Hammer shows police officers persistently asking about ‘Tweets’ being made about IDS whereabouts – one would assume this is not a crime or against democracy, unless the constabulary would like to point out otherwise….

Anyway another politician comes and goes from Hucknall but will these visits have any bearing on how you will vote in May? Do these visits make a difference to the electorate? Please get in touch with us.

Tory Class Warrior – Iain Duncan Smith MP visits Hucknall – (And was met by a peaceful demonstration)

Public Ownership Can Help The Whole Of Hucknall – Lauren Mitchell

Public ownership can help the whole of Hucknall

Social value is a priority, and public ownership is rightly in favour of people, not profit. Vast amounts of money for the people of Hucknall could be saved to ease the cost of living crisis through public ownership of services we all use. We have all been hit hard by Tory cuts and the Hucknall Hammer knows the importance of organising your hard earned money to get you through the month. We understand that in today’s austerity Britain, it’s the small savings that help to make a difference.

Bills, bills, bills. You know the drill. Your heart sinks when the big bills come through the door and you worry about how you’ll get by for the rest of the month with such little money left. Our wages need to rise and our bills need to fall. Public ownership can achieve this. Public ownership is an aim of Socialism and under public ownership the workers are not masters of their work; workers are better treated and their wages are more likely to be higher than under private ownership. Under the coalition government, we have seen the extortionate rising prices of public transport fares, water bills and energy bills. The reason for such huge increases is down to private companies lining their own back pockets, putting profit before people. Money saved by public ownership can be reinvested into services to improve them, instead of subsidising the profits of private companies. This means big savings for ordinary tax payers like you and me. Here are just a few costs of privatised living and the money we could save:-

TRAIN FARES: 66% of people want public ownership as fares are £13 more expensive under privatisation.

WATER BILLS: 71% of people want public ownership as bills are £75 more expensive under privatisation.

ENERGY BILLS: 68% of people want public ownership as bills are £160 more expensive under privatisation.

Under public ownership, there’s more money for public service improvement and big bill cuts for us Hucknall folk… So why isn’t this government listening to the masses? It’s because the government elitists such as Cameron and Osborne benefit from privatisation to fund their privileged lifestyles. The Hucknall Hammer wants to stop any more of our services being privatised and put our public services back in to public hands for the good of Hucknall. It’s time to speak up about putting public services in to our hands to protect us against the Tory money grabbing political elite.

I believe making clear choices about public ownership alongside other strong left wing policies such as scrapping anti-union laws and exploitative zero hour contracts will set us apart in the May elections and win us a Labour victory. We need to take the means of production out of the hands of the capitalist class and place them into the hands of the workers.  It’s time for proper public ownership of utilities to ease the hardships and money struggles for the people of Hucknall.

Lauren Mitchell

Public Ownership Can Help The Whole Of Hucknall – Lauren Mitchell

Hucknalls own Josh Reynolds on Nottingham Forests slump in form.

I’ve been a fan of this club for all of my life and like the majority of our fans I once used to dream of one day pulling on the famous red shirt worn by so many of our heroes.

Right up until I stopped playing, in every game I played for my local team I wore my Forest jersey under our own.

This club meant the world to me and in many ways still does. It was around this time also when I realised I probably wasn’t going to live out my dream of a City Ground debut and so off to the world of full time work I went, working six days a week for minimum wage. At the age of 20 I decided I would buy a house and invest in the future.

Nothing in this life is guaranteed, success, happiness, money etc and I, like so many people in this world, had found myself out of work with the only given being the responsibility of having a mortgage payment to find once a month on top of other out goings.

Odds are you (the players) won’t have problems like your average fan in the stands. You need to consider yourselves extremely lucky.

You guys play for Nottingham Forest, a club with a rich history which to many people out in the real world would be a dream come true.

You guys earn more in a single week than some people out there do in a month, maybe even a year in some cases. For many, you’re living out our dreams every time you step onto that pitch.

Recent performances are NOT good enough to say the least, for us people who live in the real world, with responsibilities and commitments, not doing our job correctly results in the sack and we, unlike yourselves, don’t get our contracts paid off if we do.

You lot are in a privileged position playing for OUR club, Nottingham Forest. Things don’t always go your way on the pitch, we’ve seen that a few times this season and the fans sympathise with that.

What we don’t sympathise with is you just turning up out there for the pay day. To jog around for 90-plus minutes, make half hearted attempts at tackles, to stand with your hands on hips instead of tracking back.

You owe it to the fans of this club to prove your worth every single penny of your transfer fee’s and your wages.

Saturday’s game is the most anticipated fixture in any Forest fans calender… usually. A fixture steeped in history against our most heated rivals.

The question on every fans lips now is are you going to go out there again and go through the motions and lay down for the opposition?

If that’s what you feel like I suggest you go and hand in a transfer request after the game… or are you going to go out there with the desire to prove to yourselves and the fans that you deserve to be at this club?

Do you have it in you to go out there, against the odds, to prove a point, to pick up the result against Derby County, end this run and turn this season around? Only you have the answer to that…


Josh Reynolds, a lifelong Forest fan

Hucknalls own Josh Reynolds on Nottingham Forests slump in form.

Snow Gritting & Bin Collections – Hucknall

Happy New Year! Although it may not be for some as I pick up this morning’s edition of the Hucknall & Bulwell Dispatch (2nd Jan) to be met by the headline ‘WHAT A FARCE – snow gritting (Notts County Council)

It also didn’t take me long to discover the story contains the usual bleating from the Sutton North ward (nothing to do with Hucknall or Bulwell) Liberal Democrat, Ashfield District Councillor Jason Zadrozny.

Maybe next week Jason can enlighten us all on how much his beloved coalition government have reduced local authority’s budgets through funding cuts. Or maybe he can tell us about how Labour ran local authorities have been targeted by the sharp end of the coalition axe which is totally disproportionate compared to Tory / Liberal led authorities around the country.

The poorest areas of England have endured council cuts under the coalition worth 16 times as much per household as the richest areas. To put that into perspective Hart district council in Hampshire, the least deprived local authority, is losing £28 per household, while in Liverpool District B, the most deprived area, the figure is £807.

If that isn’t an example of class war then I don’t know what is.

Ashfield is ranked 63rd as the most deprived district out of a total of 326 local authorities. I know that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have not spared Ashfield in their crazed pursuit of austerity to pay for a crisis corrupt bankers caused, not the good people of Hucknall.

You may be wondering what the above has to do with snow gritting (Notts County Council), bin collection, council tax and so forth.

It’s simple, the more the Tory led coalition financially strangle the life out of local authorities like Ashfield the more likelihood this will have a detrimental impact on services such as the ones I have stated.

People in Hucknall & the wider Ashfield District have a choice to make in May 2015 – Vote Tory, Liberal or UKIP for more austerity and more cuts to services or vote Labour and join me in fighting against austerity and more cuts to services.

It does not have to be this way.

Keir Morrison

Snow Gritting & Bin Collections – Hucknall

Ed Miliband visits Hucknall for ‘Peoples Question Time’

Yesterday the leader of the opposition Ed Miliband visited Hucknall to hold the first ‘Peoples Question Time’ – The Hammer understands, these events will be rolled out across the country to achieve Labours pledge of holding 4 million conversations with the electorate between now and the general election in May.

The audience was made up of Hucknall community leaders, the police and ‘undecided voters’ as well as some Labour Party cheer leaders. There were also local and national press on hand to cover every aspect of the event.

Leonie Mathers Sherwood Labour Parliamentary candidate led out Ed Miliband before the audience and introduced Ed whilst stating that Labour ‘want to do politics in a different way’, a line which would be repeated throughout the event by Ed Miliband.

Appearing in a calm, reassuring manner Ed Miliband expressed that ‘there were no planted questions’ and that whilst he welcomed tough questions, people also may not like his answer or necessarily agree with his views.

Following this Ed outlined the disastrous position the country is in and where we are in terms of the campaigning timescales and the general election. He also touched on important issues such as the NHS, Zero Hour Contracts, Education, Immigration and the EU.

To give you an overview and a flavour of the sort of questions that were asked of the Labour leader included:-

  • NHS
  • Housing
  • Public Services
  • Nationalisation of Rail / Utilities
  • Austerity
  • Taxation
  • Employment & Working Conditions (Pay)

In summary it was clear from the audience that the people of Hucknall are crying out for a left wing alternative to Neo Liberalism and more austerity. The questions asked were very good questions ranging from ‘why doesn’t Labour support nationalisation?’ to ‘when is Labour going to return back to a Socialist party and its core roots?’, which was asked by a man on behalf of his son, who explained he would be voting Green unless Labour ditched Neo Liberalism.

Ed Milibands’ performance overall was good but would his presentation have been good enough to convince the ‘undecided’ voters? Is the Labour Party too concerned about occupying the centre ground and implementing spending cuts for Hucknall people to be inspired to put the X in the box for Labour?

What the Hammer does know is that the alternative of a Tory majority or the very real possibility of a Tory / UKIP coalition would be catastrophic for the people of Hucknall and the working class as a whole.

Ed Miliband visits Hucknall for ‘Peoples Question Time’

The Immigration Debate and Hucknall

It’s time for Hucknall to unite as a community and stop blaming immigrants for government failures.

Over the past few months I’ve listened to a number of different people in the community give their views on immigration – an issue that is felt strongly by Hucknall residents.

This issue has now been brought into the national spotlight and has had an impact on how the political landscape currently lies in the UK.

Whilst recognising that people remain concerned and anxious about immigration, for whatever reason, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts.

According to a quick Wikipedia search the population of Hucknall was 29,704 (14,572) (49%) male, 15,132 (51% female). Total households 12,427 (Census 2001, Nottinghamshire County Council). White (94%) Asian (3%) Afro-Caribbean (1%)

Granted, these figures were taken from a census in 2001 so we could envisage these figures being slightly higher, but Hucknall, traditionally, has always been a white working class, ex coal mining town with a low percentage of people living here coming from an ethnic minority background.

So this dispels the myth that The Sun and Daily Mail peddle on a daily basis that ‘we’re being swamped by immigrants’

On the other side of the argument is that ‘immigrants don’t go to work and all they do is sponge off benefits’ OR ‘immigrants are coming over here and taking our jobs’ -these statements contradict each other and is yet another classic example of the right wing establishment press distorting the real issues around immigration.

Dennis Skinner MP for Bolsover gave a superb contribution in Westminster the other week stating he had a ‘United Nations heart transplant’ from a Nigerian consultant, a Latvian registrar and an Indian surgeon.  If it weren’t for migrant workers, I’m pretty sure our world class health system – the NHS – would collapse.

Let’s put this debate into context, whenever there’s a recession or struggle people always have a scapegoat.  History tells us that before Muslims and Eastern Europeans we blamed the Jews, then the Africans, then the Irish, it was simply demonising one minority after another for no particular reason what so ever.

People are angry because pay is so low, job security is none existent, they cannot afford a mortgage, they can’t afford to keep the house warm, they can’t afford to go on holidays and the number of apprenticeships and job opportunities for our young people are few and far between.

These problems aren’t caused by immigrants, these problems have been caused by successive governments of all colours, failing to address employment, the housing crisis, education and so on.

If you want somebody to blame it’s the corrupt bankers and capitalists at the top of the establishment that gambled OUR money to crash the economy in 2008 – and we bailed them out with more of OUR money and now we’re paying for it for the third time over in the form of austerity cuts.

This government and other political parties are scapegoating and demonising immigrants as a smokescreen to their economic and political failures not to mention the dangerous fascist ideology that underpins their whole mantra.

I ask of Hucknall people to take the above into consideration before believing the right wing media hype and demonization of immigrants.

As a town we can unite as a strong community where we can all learn, work and socialise together, especially this time of the year where we will have superb community events such as the Christmas carnival held in the town centre.

I’d just like to finish by wishing you and your families a Happy New Year 2015.

The Immigration Debate and Hucknall