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Review of No Retreat by Dave Hann and Steve Tisley

Subtitled ‘The Secret War Between Britain’s Anti-Fascists and the Far Right’ this book details the militant, working-class response to fascism from the late-1970s until the mid-1990s. Starting with ‘the Squad’ – an active element of the Socialist Workers’ Party/Anti-Nazi League at the turn of the eighties – and continuing through the glory years of Anti-Fascist Action, it details a level of violence that will traumatise any armchair aficionado of the Battle of Stalingrad. As one of the authors Dave Hann comments:

‘This was war, and it was vicious, bloody and dangerous’.

The characters portrayed here are those at the very bottom of society: the unemployed, the low-paid, the football hooligan and the street thug. What united them was the desire to defeat fascism by all means necessary. Different disguises of the far-right, whether National Front, British Movement or British National Party, were engaged and routed, and loses to the left over a long period of time were few and far between.

It is, as the title suggests, a secret history, and fits comfortably alongside Morris Berkman’s The 43 Group which deals with the fierce Jewish response to Mosley’s immediate post-war revival.

In many ways though Hann and Tisley’s story is still being written as many of the combatants mentioned have successfully transferred themselves to the political arena.

No Retreat is published by Milo Books and is available now, but it’s strictly not for the faint hearted.

 

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Robert Tressell’s Missing Money

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a rather unique English novel.

Written by the working man Robert Noonan under the pen name of Tressell before the First World War, it depicts the lives of a group of painters and decorators in the employment of Rushton & Co.

At the heart of the book is the socialist craftsman Frank Owen and it’s the lunch break political discussions which are most remembered by those that have read it.

Coming from a time when the Empire was at its height, it’s impossible to find in the book the Edwardian grandeur that history dictates to us.

The society depicted is rotten from the top to the bottom.

Distressing to read at times, the claustrophobic environment of the fictional Mugsborough leaves the characters trapped in alcoholism, bad health or debt.

All of which is linked to the ultra-exploitative economic system that the book rails against.

The interesting aspect of the book is the sheer pessimistic frustration – if not despair – of the socialist characters: the working-class they look to for hope are too ignorant for their own salvation.

It stands against rampant romanticism and naïve idealism that can be found in socialist historical culture.

What makes it a classic is not that it’s an example of a novel par excellence, because, if anything, it is badly written – characters with a lack of depth; a confused role for the narrative voice, and a deficient storyline structure are some of the faults.

But well over 100 editions have been printed and one million copies sold since it was first published in 1914.

In a story of the oppressed and the oppressor, everybody can recognise the vicious immorality of the boss Rushton and the foreman Hunter from their own workplace experiences.

It’s popularity over the decades testifies to its worth as different generations of readers found empathy with Owen’s plight and his political views – it speaks to people’s condition.

The political content has a resonance even in 2005 with the first debate amongst Owen and his workmates being immigration.

During the summer a bombshell was dropped: all royalties from the book has gone to Martin Seeker, a director of the Seeker & Warburg who bought the original publishing house The Richards Press in 1937.

After he passed away this financial legacy was passed on to his descendants with a particular granddaughter singled out as a key beneficiary.

Robert Noonan’s daughter, who was responsible for preserving the manuscript after he passed away in a workhouse in 1911, received £25 in return for signing away her rights.

She used the money to emigrate to Canada. A further £25 was paid as a goodwill gesture some six years later.

The fate of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is particularly galling as probably one of English literatures most famous blasts against exploitation has in turn been squeezed by the wealthy for every penny it has earned.

It was the last surviving relative of Robert Noonan, Reg Johnson, who first discovered the extent of the pillage.

Now 78, he was married to Noonan’s granddaughter and is keeper of many original documents connected to the author and his work.

Reg is unable to comment on the issue because of current legal proceedings but is keen to stress that his own interest is not due to a desire for personal remuneration.

The legal history of the document is very murky. It is impossible to even put a figure on the number of actual books sold, let alone the unpublicised dealings of Martin Seeker.

The key moment when the copyright could have been challenged was when the original Grant Richards license expired in 1964. Seeker them quietly renewed the copyright.

In all likelihood he just saw an opportunity to increase his hold on the book and grabbed it without fear of being opposed.

Kathleen Noonan, the authors daughter, originally passed on the manuscript three years after her fathers death to the journalist Jessie Pope.

It is Pope who is widely credited with editing it down to the abridged edition that existed until historian Fred Ball pieced back together the original document in the 1950s.

Although the cutting of novels in such a fashion was extremely common then, Jessie Pope’s Fabian Society membership does suggest the abridged edition was an exercise in liberal tinkering as much of the fire of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was removed.

Historian Fred Ball was instrumental in working with Lawrence & Wishart to bring out the unabridged version in 1955.

Trevor Hopper works with the Robert Tressell Centre in East Sussex in organizing an annual commemoration in Hastings, a town that much of the fictional Mugsborough was based on.

He’s less affected by recent news:

‘To me the only surprise is that it was published in the first place. He was a completely unknown author when he died. It was only really by luck that the original 250,000 word manuscript ever came into the hands of somebody willing to publish it.’

HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch, have put all payments on hold and state: ‘This is a very complex situation involving correspondence and contracts going back over 30 years. We are keen to get to the bottom of it to ensure that the money is paid to the right source.’

There is no indication that the matter will be resolved soon.

At least those with internet access can now view the 1,700 pages as they were originally wrote by the author.

Christine Coates, Librarian of the TUC Collections at the Metropolitan University, said of its attraction in their on-line catalogue:

“This is a book which changes lives and has had a profound effect on tens of thousands of workers since it was first published in 1914.

“I never fail to be surprised at the power of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the story of a group of painters in a small town on the south coast of England at the beginning of the twentieth century, to evoke immediate sympathy and support from readers around the world.”

Cleary, Martin Seeker and his family have never deserved a penny of the books money, and hopefully, once legal and moral justice has been achieved, an educational trust will be founded to promote the novel to a new generation of readers.

Follow DoFollow for More Visitors to Your Blog

Every blogger has been there. You spend ages creating a blog – setting it up, designing it, thinking about the content, writing articles, and then after a month or two you realise that you merely have an audience of one: yourself.

No matter what they write about every blogger aims to have a meaningful discussion with other internet users. Most bloggers start enthusiastically and with good intentions, but surrender disillusioned a few months down the line, their blogging days over not long after they started.

It’s not wonder that many bloggers give up any hope of attracting readers. Technorati have nearly 100 million blogs in their index and they calculate that a new one is started every second! With this much choice readers either tend to stick with what they know or your blog gets lost in the white noise of millions of posts flying around the World Wide Web.

Your aim, as a new blogger, is to find readers and encourage them to keep coming back. All modern blogging platforms these days are equipped with RSS feeds which enable readers to remember your site in their browser or RSS reader, but one method of encouraging comments at the bottom of your published articles and bringing yourself to the attention of new readers is by leaving off the nofollow attribute. (If you want professional help in creating a fantastic looking blog then please visit Bethnal Green Web Design)

In 2005 Google introduced a little bit of new code to be used in a html link, it was to read rel=”nofollow”. Google was worried about how spammers were building up artificial links in order to influence their position in the search engine ranking positions(SERPs). For Google, the number and quality of incoming links to a website is an important sign that a website is popular and so deserves better ranking positions in their index.

So Google introduced the nofollow microformat. Simplified, it puts a stop sign on a link: it tells the Google bot not to count the link when working out the SERPs. Yahoo and Microsoft followed where Google went and all the blogging platforms such as WordPress implemented it into their code.

Well what’s wrong with stopping spam, I hear your wonder? There’s nothing wrong with stopping spam but the introduction of nofollow didn’t stop the evil spammers as they just carried on regardless. Unfortunately a lot of the little guys across the net were hit badly by nofollow, so much so that many of them took out the piece code and went what has become known as “dofollow”.

A lot of the little blogs and websites out there are reliant on those comment links being open so as to build up their incoming link count, and so fellow bloggers found their contributors being less engaged and writing less.

So in order to encourage them back they proudly announced that they were now dofollow and a dofollow community sprang up. Offering a little link love gives other users an incentive to post regularly.

If you have regular quality posts from a variety of readers then not only is it a good moral boost for a hard-working writer, but it also gives the impression to a new visitor that the blog is healthy and popular. And we all know that first impressions count for a lot.

So lets follow dofollow by removing that pesky nofollow attribute from our blogs.

The most popular blogging platform out there is WordPress. Removing nofollow from this service is easy: Just download and install the Dofollow plugin here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sem-dofollow/

And that is it. Now start to tell others that you are dofollow by adding your site to DoFollow 001 – a directory full of fellow dofollow websites and blogs.

Read also the blog at DoFollow 001 as it will give you lots of tips and advice on how to advertise your site and what other addons you can use for WordPress.

I’ll go through the details on how to alter Blogger and other content management systems in the future as well tips on how to deal with spam.

Advice to Using “Dofollow” Blogs, Forums and Social Bookmarking Sites

First things first, admit it. You are a no good spamming scumbag. Yeah, you know: You. Are. A. No. Good. Spamming. Scumbag. You want to go on other people’s websites and post up drivel just so you can get some link back to your finance or forex MFA site.

Okay, that’s fine – at least you admit it.

But seriously. Sites which are linked to from here consciously leave off the nofollow microformat. This doesn’t mean that they would tolerate spam anymore than any other type of site.

I’ll run through some points with you so that you can engage with these sites in a upfront, ethical manner, and so that you do not waste your time. Because if you are clueless when it comes commenting then the webmaster or author will simply delete your comment before it is even published.

Incoming links count for a lot, perhaps in the region of 70% of an SEO campaign. There’s no doubt that Google has tightened up the SERP game in recent years. They only want an internet with purely organic links

Firstly, content is king. Most of the websites posted up on a forum like Digital Point are complete crap. Aim to be original and offer something unique to the niche that you are a part of. If you can’t write, pay somebody else to do it; if you’re not familiar with your subject but only the potential cash rewards, then move on – only work on a subject that you are interested in; if you don’t have enough experience in life, come back to the game in five years time.

Secondly, design. Quality design does matter – first impressions count. No matter how well qualified on your subject, or how great a writer your are, a badly designed website will not perform as well as an accomplished and visually pleasing site.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but that’s general how things work on the internet.

Linking from and to relevant content is important these days. The days when any and every link mattered are gone.

So find your niche, and stick to it.

But you need to learn the etiquette of the task at hand and for this it is worth reading the guidelines laid down by webmasters of “dofollow” sites.

Computer Chit Chat:

All comments are welcome, but you must use a real name. No keywords or company names will be accepted. Only comments of value will be accepted, all others will not be approved. One link per comment max will be considered. Comments linking to commercial sites, porn sites or not family friendly sites will be deleted. If you have a commercial link and want a link to your site from mine then review my advertising page and contact me to discuss and negotiate a price.

Sebastien Page explains how he deals with comments to his blog:

The moral of this story is that if you have a blog, you will always expose yourself to spamming. I get a lot of spam every day (especially on the iPhone Download Blog – which by the way reached over 8,000 people yesterday!) and if it is too flagrant that it is spam (like “I love your blog, thank you so much”), I simply delete the comment and mark it as spam. If the comment is somewhat genuine and the URL is the one of a personal blog, I approve it. If the comment is somewhat genuine and shows the URL of a foreign currency exchange type-of-website, I just edit the comment and remove the link. Doing this, I don’t give the SEO juice to the spammer but I keep the community feel of my blog alive. Because that’s what blogging is all about: telling what you think and also being able to hear what others are thinking.

Make sure you read the comment policy first. Sometimes it can found on the submission form, on other sites it is on a separate page.
Clement Nyirenda lays down his guidelines:

I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave a legitimate comment here on my site. That’s why I installed the “NoFollow Free” plugin on this blog. I am of the view that if I do good to others, they will also do the same to me in one way or the other. However, as you all know, there is a growing number of people on the Internet who try to leave spammy or empty comments on “NoFollow Free” blogs purely for the link value and not to contribute to the discussion. I would like to inform all commenters that I reserve the right to delete a link from a comment or to delete a comment all together if I feel it’s necessary. Also, if you leave keywords instead of your name in the name field, your comment will be deleted automatically. If I end up deleting the link from a comment that was well-intended, I apologize in advance, but I’m sure you’ll understand and you’ll be back to contribute again!

David Leonhardt writes why he rejects or accepts comments. It’s worth reading the whole post but the last paragraph is of particular value and is good advice for any website.

On another note, if you do come here to comment because you know the link is good for SEO, please do me the courtesy of either linking back to my site or at least social bookmarking the post. When you social bookmark the post, you are also helping yourself, because it increases the authority of the page that is linking back to your site. And it is sooooo easy to social bookmark each post. See the icons across the bottom of this post? Just click those icons at the bottom of any post and you can bookmark at dozens of popular sites.

Lastly, don’t forget all your digital needs in east London can be met at Hackney web design or better still pay a visit to Statford for all your design and development needs.

To finish off, if you are serious about link building then read the recent interview with Eric Ward. You’ll find valuable information here what ever level experience you have:

http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/eric-ward-link-building-masterclass

Review of Hateland by Bernard O’Mahoney

Starting in the 90s with Colin Ward’s ‘Steaming In’ and Irvine Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’, a great volume of working class literature has been published.

It is mostly autobiographical material dealing with music, politics, football hooliganism and crime.

The quality of these books varies great – just because somebody has an interesting story to tell, doesn’t manner they have the ability to convey it through the written word.

Also, the reader has to be aware of how the storyteller can embellish the tale beyond the facts of the event

A son of Irish immigrants, O’Mahoney and his three brothers were subjected to continuous violent abuse by their father.

These formulative years wrecked, he spent the next 30 years inflicting violence and misery on all who crossed his path – sometimes with good reason, mostly just casually.

In south London in the early 80s, he slid into far right activity, which even at one point leads him to South Africa in an attempt to enlist in the Apartheid army.

Familiarly, he tells how his English fascist comrades rhetoric didn’t match their physical prowess, and how they would run from a confrontation unless the numbers were massively stacked in their favour.

After spending periods in prison, he at last seeks to resolve his own brutalised childhood, which as well leads him to realise just what a bunch of losers and misfits
they are.

He states, ‘I thank God that my experiences have changed some of my abhorrent views. All I can do is look back on my past, learn from my mistakes and try to become a better person.’
Then, at this point of resolution towards the end, along comes a completely unexpected twist that leaves the reader winded.

It can be a frustrating read, as O’Mahoney often ignores his own experience and only slowly reaches the obvious conclusion, but it is written with enough punch and suitably reflective and questioning to make Hateland quite a classic in its own genre.

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