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Blacklisting, protest, 'domestic extremism' and the London Olympics

Finally the Metropolitan Police have come clean and admitted their role in the blacklisting of construction workers. While a number of companies had already owned up to their involvement with The Consulting Association, which kept a list of union members for the purposes of preventing them getting work on construction sites, even paying compensation to over 700 blacklisted workers, the police had refused to acknowledge their role in passing on information about union members to companies and The Consulting Association.

The existence of the blacklist, which included the names of over 3,500 workers, was revealed in a raid carried out by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which discovered the details of these workers in an investigation in 2009, although allegations of blacklisting had been made for decades. Workers and lawyers had been convinced blacklisting was an established practice back in the 1960s. The breakthrough came at an employment tribunal in 2008 when Alan Wainwright, a former manager in the construction industry, gave evidence that blacklisting was a widespread practice. The difficulty of proving blacklisting was suddenly overcome leading to the raid on The Consulting Association.

The arrival of the Olympics provided a considerable impetus to the already existing campaign against blacklisting. As the highest profile construction site in the country the Olympic Park attracted attention like no other. In 2009 the Olympics became a focus for protests after it was found in the raid on The Consulting Association that one of the key contractors on the Olympic site, Laing O’Rourke, had been involved with the blacklisting group. Then when, in February 2011, Frank Morris, who was working as an electrician at the Media Centre, was sacked by a sub-contractor after he defended a whistleblower, who had already been fired, there were renewed protests and demands for action and investigation. This led to further revelations about the contacts between Olympics contractors like Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska and The Consulting Association. Despite the knowledge that these Olympics contractors had been named in documents found by the Information Commissioner the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) failed to take any action apart from asking contractors if they were involved in blacklisting. Unsurprisingly the contractors denied any involvement.

However, given its place in the public eye, the ODA did not escape so easily. The House of Commons Select Committee on Scottish Affairs started an investigation and in 2013 the ODA was lambasted for its failure to respond to evidence that blacklisting was happening on the Olympic Park. The Chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee declared the 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent' after hearing evidence which contradicted the declarations of the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, who had told the Committee: “The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise."

Despite the steady drip of revelations and investigations it took the Met until February 2013 launch its own ‘investigation’ into police involvement. The interesting question is why the police even needed to have an investigation. They should have known what their own officers were up to. The man who ran The Consulting Associations, Ian Kerr, had himself been a Special Branch police officer, and the Met would have known it was this section of the police which was most likely to have been involved in this kind of dirty operation. As a former Special Branch officer he would have retained valuable contacts in the force.

The Met’s shyness at looking into its own activities was followed by a reluctance to release the report which took an astonishing three years to complete. Then instead of releasing the results of this investigation which, it is now revealed, found the allegations ‘proven’, the report was sent to the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Hogan-Howe, precisely because of its sensitivity. Hogan-Howe, true to form, then failed to pass on the result. The police sat on the report for a further two years all of which demonstrates that the process always had more to do with concealment and evasion than with taking action. Even then the police failed to say anything of substance about what they had found. Indeed the Met’s statement was bland beyond belief:

"The report concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation that the police or Special Branches supplied information is 'proven'. Material revealed a potentially improper flow of information from Special Branch to external organisations, which ultimately appeared on the blacklist."


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a bridge too far

Today finally sees the re-opening of Lea Bridge Station, closed for the last 31 years. Trumpeted parenthetically last week in a tweet from the Standard's Ross Lydall as following a "£5m Olympic windfall".


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Olympics Stadium Agreement between London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham

Below is a link for a copy of the agreement between the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham regarding the London Olympic stadium referred to as the E20 Stadium, which was released following the Freedom of Information campaign by a coalition of fourteen supporters' associations.


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The Aftermath - of the London2012 stadium

After putting up heroic resistance in the public interest the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) finally gave in and published the details of the contract with West Ham for the London Olympics stadium after being ordered to do so by the Information Tribunal. However, a search of the LLDC website for the contract produces 'no result' and does not provide any trace of the document and nor is it mentioned under 'News' or 'Press Releases'. The full agreement can be found here. Interestingly the details of the contract had not been pursued by any public authority or by GLA Assembly Members, by the European Union or even by rival football clubs like Tottenham Hotspur or Leyton Orient but by Supporters groups from fourteen different clubs. Apparently Boris Johnson had said he would be happy for the contract to be published. If so it is hard to understand why he didn't push for this to happen, as the LLDC is very much his baby, rather than allow it to spend over £21,000 fighting the case.

The BBC outlined the details. The final cost of the stadium is £701million with the cost of conversion £272million, up from the original estimate of £160million. West Ham's contribution to this refit was £15million. [As an indication of how bad this deal is it has to be recalled that West Ham's previous owner Eggert Magnusson offered £100million to take over the Olympic stadium! He was prepared to guarantee an athletics legacy as well] It will pay £2.5million rent per year with a scale of charges depending on the club's footballing success or failure. However, it will not pay for a variety of services like security, undersoil heating, floodlighting, cleaning which are worth up to another £2.5million.

The BBC claims the stadium will be a multi-use venue. It is hard to see the point of this statement. It is a 'multi-use' venue because of the enormous amount of money spent on converting it to accommodate athletics and football! However, if a two month window for, in all probability, one major athletics event a year qualifies it as a multi-use venue then this is a strange understanding of multi-use. The fact that music events will also be hosted is hardly unusual for stadiums of this type, many football clubs host such events without this kind of expenditure.

However, in this article the BBC fails to mention the £40million loaned by Newham to West Ham as part of the deal although back in 2011 it reported on concerns in Newham and among some Newham councillors that the deal had little to offer the community and highlighted the control exercised by Newham's Mayor, Robin Wales, who is able to use political patronage to silence opposition in a borough without any non-Labour councillors. The BBC reported:

One serving councillor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "A significant number of councillors have reservations.
"There are massive doubts over supposed community benefits."
The councillor continued: "Why are we arranging a loan for a private company? West Ham should go to a bank like everybody else.
Councillors are afraid to speak out. This rings alarm bells.
Anita Shields, Independent auditor
"The financial football model is hardly blessed by success."
But not one serving politician will go on the record.
The councillor said: "The problem is the mayoral system.
"People are frightened to go against the mayor. They are frightened of a lack of patronage.
"He's had almost the same executive since 2000 - on £40,000 each. People want a bit of the action."


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Barbaric Sport - a Global Plague by Marc Perelman

Barbaric Sport by Marc PerelmanBarbaric Sport by Marc Perelman


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Videos from No Eviction for Olympics protest - Tokyo 2020

Two videos from No Eviction for Olympics protest against the eviction of homeless people for Tokyo2020. On January 27th 2016 the contstrucion company tried to seal off Meiji Park, Tokyo, where homeless people have been living, in some cases for years, and where the Olympic stadium is to be constructed. The company, JSC, also tried to cut off water for the homeless people. A protest by the homeless and their supporters succeeded in preventing this. The matter is being heard in court.


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Brazil's Dance with the Devil - The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy by Dave Zirin

Brazil's Dance with the Devil by Dave ZirinBrazil's Dance with the Devil by Dave ZirinWritten by Dave Zirin, sports editor of the US newspaper The Nation, published by Haymarket Brazil's Dance with the Devil is a high octane read through the infatuation of Brazil's political elite with mega-events. Written before the 2014 World Cup it is highly relevant to the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. There is plenty of background on the politics of the bid and how it fits into the Lula era. However, its key focus is on the impact on the poorest communities, the favelas. As a sports journalist of unusual stripe Dave Zirin takes a look at significant sports personalities, notably the footballers Socrates and Pele, and how they represent different forces in Brazilian sport and society. Given the political importance of sport and its alleged disconnection from politics it is fascinating to read about Socrates' political classes at Corinthians. Zirin also provides a brief history of recent Olympics and highlights how the Games are about much more than sport, they provide an opportunity to redesign the city, minus the poor.


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Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park

An Emergency Statement Regarding the Japan Sports Council's Shutdown of Meiji Park on January 27th

01/28/2016

January 28th, 2016

Kazumi Ohigashi, Senior Director of the Japan Sport Council


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Skiers and Associated Press just can't understand the problem with cutting down forests!

It's embarrassing to see how poor mainstream media has been in reporting or rather in failing to report the destruction of forests for the latest Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang2018 and Beijing2022. In the case of Beijing2022 not even one article seems to have been written on the subject. The alarm had been raised on Chinese social media and was followed up by Terry Townshend, a British birder living in Beijing writing on his own birding blog. But apart from a specialist paper like Nature Western media paid no attention to the possible damage to the forest on the site even though there was considerable and sensible discusion about the merits of the Beijing bid. In the case of Pyeongchang2018 there doesn't seem to have been any coverage until the Guardian got round to writing a very good article, but almost a year after the forest had been cut down! In January 2013 Games Monitor featured the work of a South Korean environmmental group, The Good Friends to Nature, who warned of the threat to Mount Gariwang and publicised further warnings and actions, including a one man protest in Seoul by a Korean Environmentalist, through to its destruction in the autumn of 2014.

Now as the first test runs are held at Mount Gariwang the Associated Press has leapt into action with a syndicated article representing the position of the skiers who make out that they are puzzled by the controversy surrounding the mountain and the cutting down of an important part of the forest. The organisers insist the restoration plans are still in play despite the ridicule heaped on them by environmentalists as both our article and the Guardian's article make clear. In the Guardian Green Korea is reported as saying:

“The organising committee will perhaps argue that they will replant around 300 trees, but all of them apart from those 181 bigger trees belong to small species under two metres in height. It is difficult to imagine that they plan to replant trees that represent the ecological properties of Mount Gariwang. We think their attitude is patronising.”


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