Trevor Griffiths at Ford-Maguire shindig (29 Jan)

Dear friends,

In the 1880s the radicals in Leeds used to gather in Angel pub off Briggate to toast Tom Paine’s memory on his birthday, the 29 January. For several years the Ford-Maguire Society has tried to copy this event without much success.

However this year we have booked Fairuz’s Lebanese restaurant for the 29th January from 6 pm.  There will be a buffet with a wide variety of tasty Lebanese dishes including several vegan dishes plus a meat  dish.  The cost will be £15.

Trevor Griffiths the well known playwright and script writer has agreed to be our guest of honour. Trevor has written a brilliant and successful play about Tom Paine which was performed at the Globe Theater.

At the end of the meal we will toast Tom Paine. And perhaps some of us will go one to the Angel for further toasts.

Please please  could you email Garth [] or Shaun [] (particularly between the 6-21 January when Garth will be out Leeds) if you are coming. We need to do this for the numbers for the buffet .

This promises to be a great evening.

See you there.

Garth Frankland and Shaun Cohen

Ford-Maguire Society

0797 1933 512


Fairuz Restuarant

Merrion Street

Leeds LS2 8JU

England (Fairfax House)

Spain’s Podemos – A New Way of Doing Politics? (26 Nov)



Pablo Iglesias greets followers at Podemos national convention


The next Taking Soundings event is on Wednesday 26th November 2014 at 6pm
Antonio Martínez-Arboleda on Podemos: A New Way of Politics?

One of the most intriguing political phenomena this year has been the sudden rise on the Spanish political scene of Podemos, a radical political party based on the indignado 15M movement. Podemos did well in the European elections in May 2015 and after only existing for seven months is now the most popular party in Spain! Can this last?

One of the interesting facets of Podemos is the emphasis it has put on participation via social media. Its recent Citizens’ Assembly had 8000 people attending in person, and 150,000 online.

Does Podemos offer a new model for the European left? Is it just a populist flash-in-the-pan based on a charismatic celebrity intellectual (see photo of Pablo Iglesias above)? We really want to know much more about Podemos, what it stands for and where it is going.

Antonio’s talk and discussion is at 6pm on Wednesday 26th November 2014 at Leeds Beckett University city centre campus: Broadcasting Place, A building, Room G10, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9EN (opposite the Fenton Pub).

Antonio is Principal Teaching Fellow in Spanish at the University of Leeds.

An important analysis of Podemos by Luke Stobart in Left Flank can be read here 

Contact Matthew Caygill at for more details about this event.

Please follow the Leeds Taking Soundings Facebook at

Find the Leeds Taking soundings blog at:

The politics of ‘race’ and gender – the photos

We’re not much good at writing reports – – we promised one from the Podemos meeting and it didn’t come. So no promises this time. But since photos tell stories, sometimes even including some words, here are a few from my iPhone at the well-attended meeting chaired by Emily Marshall (Cultural Studies, Leeds Beckett Uni), and addressed by Shirley Tate (Sociology, Leeds Uni) and Robin Bunce (History, Cambridge Uni). Details of the event can be found here 

IMG_1228 IMG_1230 IMG_1232 IMG_1233 IMG_1235 IMG_1237 IMG_1238

Reclaim Modernity – launch on 11 Nov (in London, natch)

We received this from Compass and we thought you might want to check it out . . .

Political life can often feel pretty bleak for all the reasons you know and feel so well. And then something pops up and rekindles the flame of hope.This new Compass publication, Reclaim Modernity, by Mark Fisher and Jeremy Gilbert ignites a towering inferno of hope. It does so by calmly and clearly explaining that we are in a unique moment of history. The way the world is developing can be in tune with our values. We don’t have to fear modernity, or capitulate to it. It doesn’t have to be the acceleration of everything that’s bad about the present. It could actually be better.

Reclaim Modernity helps us understand why the bureaucratic state always had its limits and the free market was never going to be the antidote. Instead, we have to help co-create a democratic state. It may not be immediately obvious how to do that – but it’s the only way things will work for most of us, most of the time.

It is the best bit of big thinking anyone has published for some time. I can’t implore you enough to download here.

Reading it will lift the dark clouds.

Better still come and hear Mark and Jeremy, Hilary Wainwright, Neal Lawson and Angela McRobbie talk about it at the launch event with Red Pepper on Tuesday 11th November in the House of Commons. Click here to secure your place.

My best,

Zoe Williams

Independent Working Class Education (1st Nov)


Independent Working Class Education

Leeds Day School

10am – 4pm, Saturday 1 November

Swarthmore Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square,

Leeds LS3 1AD

To book: email



10.00 Welcome + presentation of the draft IWCE manifesto

10.30 Panel on public provision: WEA and university adult education – Jol Miskin, Dick Taylor

11.15 Radical theatre and cultural empowerment – Ron Rose and Mick Martin

12.00 Panel: Independent educational initiatives – Reinhard Huss (Café Economique),

Ed Carlisle (Leeds Summat), Brian Flynn (Enough Waiting), Alasdair Beal (Café Scientifique)

12.45 Lunch break (food available in the Swarthmore cafe)

1.30 IWCE when researching and discovering Nineteenth Century Liverpool –

Dave Douglass

2.15 Enlightened publics: popular education movements in Europe – Tom Steele

3.00 Migration and adult education – John Grayson

3.45 IWCE manifesto feedback

4.00 close Cost: £5 (for room hire) Pay On Day. Food available.

Directions: see

If you are coming by train, catch the City Bus from the station to Park Lane College. Get off at the Clarendon Wing stop inWoodhouse Square. Swarthmore Centre is round the corner. There’s free parking in the car park of Joseph’s Well, Hanover Walk, an office building just next door to the centre.

Entertainment for Saturday evening, 7.30 pm:

England, Arise! – a play about conscientious objectors in 1914, by Bent Architect at the Leeds Carriageworks Theatre.


For booking and directions see For details of the production see .



Plan C’s forthcoming events

Here’s a more detailed version of the upcoming events at Leeds Plan C (more details on Plan C at the end of this posting):

On Monday October 20th 7pm, The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ

Leeds Plan C host the book launch of “Futures”, the debut novel by John Barker.

The launch will feature a discussion between the author and Alice Nutter on the role that political fiction can play in political change.

John Barker was born in London in 1948. In 1969, along with six others he ripped up his Cambridge University finals papers as part of a campaign against education as a system of exclusion. In 1972 he was convicted with three others of conspiring to cause explosions in what was called the Angry Brigade trial. He served a ten-year prison sentence. He worked as a dustman and welder before being implicated in a conspiracy to import cannabis in 1986. In 1990 he was finally arrested and served a five-year sentence. Since then he has worked constantly as writer and book indexer.

Alice Nutter is a scriptwriter for TV and theatre; she was previously in the pop band Chumbawamba.

On Tuesday 28th October 7.30pm – The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ

Ten Minute Tubthump: Can the arts help change the world?

What role can culture play in changing the world for the better? Should the arts be a key arena for political struggle? Whose culture gets funded and whose doesn’t? Leeds Plan C host a short provocative talk by Rod Dixon, Director of Red Ladder Theatre company followed by informal discussion, drinks and general plotting and planning on how we can actually change this world.

Red Ladder Theatre Company was founded in 1968 and is one of Britain’s leading national touring companies. It not onlycreates theatre about and around human struggle but also brings it to communities normally bypassed by the arts. In 2014 it suffered a 100% cut in its funding from the Arts Council. Coincidentally at the same time Opera North received an increase in their Arts Council funding to £31,150,000, which is 30.5% of all the arts funding in Yorkshire, more than “all the organisations in Sheffield, York, Bradford, Hull, Kirklees, Doncaster and Barnsley combined”

On Saturday November 8th – Leeds University Union, University of Leeds

The A, B, & C of Crisis

A workshop organised by Leeds Plan C at the Leeds Summat event


On Sunday November 9th 2pm – Wharf Chambers Wharf Street, Leeds

Plan Cinema – Office Space

The first in a series of three films about work. Mike Judge’s classic film about the indignities of office work and modern management. Three company workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their greedy boss.


On Sunday December 7th 3.30pm – Wharf Chambers Wharf Street, Leeds

Plan Cinema – The Boss of it All

The second in a series of three films about work. Lar’s Von Trier nails the slipperiness of modern power structures. For years, the owner of a company has pretended that the real boss lives in America and communicates with the staff only by e-mail. That way, all the unpopular decisions can be attributed to the absentee manager, while all the popular ones to him directly. This all comes unstuck when a prospective buyer demands to meet the boss of it all.

On Sunday January 11th 2015 – Plan Cinema – Coming for a Visit (Wharf Chambers)

For up-to-date information, check the Plan C  Facebook page website which is usually kept up to date:

Plan C’s website, which has a lot more information, is here




We need to talk about work (30 Sept)

Plan C Meeting

7.30 pm, Tuesday Sept 30th The Rose Bowl – Leeds Beckett University, Room CC RB223

Public Meeting: We Need to Talk about Work

A discussion of present day work, benefits regimes, sanctions, and how all this relates to the TUC’s march organised for October 18th with the slogan “Britain Deserves a Pay Rise”.


After the Scottish referendum: why it can’t be business as usual (1st October)

So the Scots decided to stay in the UK, but the huge turnout, and the massive number who seemed to be voting against the Tory- dominated Westminster machine, and for the possibility of creating a more fair and equal society in Scotland, have shaken up the British political scene. The October Taking Soundings meeting provides an opportunity for us to discuss the nature of this shake-up and the fall-out from the Scottish campaigns. Adam Fusco will be speaking on the consequences of the Scottish referendum.

Adam is a PhD candidate in Political Theory at the University of York. His work is on the theory of self-determination and its applications for political devolution, constitutionalism and electoral reform.
A recent article on this topic by Adam can be downloaded here
The meeting will be held on  Wednesday 1st October 2014 in room AG10 in Broadcasting Place, Leeds Beckett (formerly Metropolitan) University, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9EN at 6pm. (This is the building directly opposite the Fenton Pub on Woodhouse Lane.)
Please join us. Like all TS events, it is free, but a collection will be taken.

The Open Tribe – extract from Sue Gross’ new book

‘This wonderful book is true to the conversations that inspired it. Sue Goss takes us with her on an exhilarating journey as she explores a politics of generosity and openness. In doing so, she underlines the importance of curiosity and listening to democratic citizenship.’
                                                      Baronness Ruth Lister

We all have something that drives us to be political, but we will be held back if we are not open to connections with others, and what drives them. Hence the idea of the open tribe. Sue Goss’s insightful book takes us into the future of a politics that might actually work.’                                  Neal Lawson

This book asks whether or not it is possible to combine the values of solidarity and belonging with curiosity and openness towards difference. Is it possible to create an ‘Open Tribe’?  You can read an extract of the book for free on Lawrence and Wishart’s website here