Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former General Secretary of UNISON, died a few days ago. Although Bickerstaffe was a trade union leader during the Winter of Discontent he didn’t seem to attract the opprobrium that other trade union leaders of that era did. Indeed even the Daily Telegraph was nice about him in the obituary that they published the other day. I always knew that as a leader of a trade union with many members who worked in the NHS that Bickerstaffe would have concealed a great deal of crap, but it was only today that I realised just how much.
Following Bickerstaffe’s death the tributes flowed. The Indie described him as a ‘champion of the low paid’ and Dave Prentis, the current General Secretary of UNISON, stated that ‘thanks to his work the lives of countless people have been changed for the better’. Jeremy Corbyn called Bickerstaffe ‘a great friend’, mentioned that he had worked with Bickerstaffe in the 1970s at NUPE and that Bickerstaffe had ‘provided guidance to me as an MP’. Bickerstaffe had been General Secretary of NUPE before NUPE merged with COHSE and NALGO to form UNISON. The identities of the leaders of those unions which no longer exist whom Bickerstaffe would have known provide a clue to how Bickerstaffe became so influential – and why everyone maintained that this hard-nosed union leader was ‘lovable’. Blair famously joked at the Labour Party conference in 2004 that no-one ever booed Rodney Bickerstaffe – we shall soon see why they didn’t.
Bickerstaffe was born in the East End to an unmarried nurse who had been abandoned by Bickerstaffe’s biological father. When Bickerstaffe was about two, he and his mother returned to his mother’s family in Doncaster to live, which was where he grew up. Bickerstaffe’s mother was an enthusiastic trade unionist as were other members of his family.
In 1966 Bickerstaffe became an organiser for NUPE in Yorkshire and subsequently the divisional officer of the northern division of NUPE. NUPE (the Nation Union of Public Employees) contained numerous people who worked in local government. So many of those council officials and others who kept quiet about – and indeed even facilitated – the organised sexual abuse of children in Yorkshire and in other paedophile hotspots will have been members of NUPE. Bickerstaffe subsequently became the national officer for membership in local government, universities and the water industry and in 1981 became General Secretary of NUPE. Paedophiles’ friends across the UK working in local government unite…
In July 1993 NUPE, COHSE and NALGO merged to form UNISON and Bickerstaffe became the Associate General Secretary. In Nov 1995 he was elected General Secretary and took office in Feb 1996.
At one point Bickerstaffe became President of the TUC.
NALGO – the National Association of Local Government Officers – was mentioned in the Waterhouse Report. Some of the staff who abused children in care in north Wales were members of NALGO and a few of them were even NALGO reps. Some of those who were convicted of abuse in Court had deals with their employers negotiated for them by NALGO. If this was happening in north Wales it will have been happening elsewhere. Presumably with NUPE as well. There was of course a paedophile ring operating in Islington children’s homes when Jeremy Corbyn et al ran Islington Council. And we know that Jeremy was involved with NUPE and worked with Bickerstaffe in that capacity…
But it is with COHSE (Confederation of Health Service Employees) that things become really terrifying from my perspective. My post ‘Those Who Care Are Concerned’ explains how the forerunner of COHSE was the National Asylum Workers Union. COHSE represented some of the most brutal ‘nurses’ employed in the UK – who constantly flagged up the ‘danger’ presented by their patients in the event of pay claims. As ‘Those Who Care Are Concerned’ detailed, there is plenty of evidence that it was COHSE members who presented the danger – places like the North Wales Hospital Denbigh were staffed by COHSE members.
Well guess what I have discovered? That it was actually a ‘nurse’ from the North Wales Hospital, David Williams, who was General Secretary of COHSE between 1983-87.
David Williams was born in 1926 and ‘trained’ at the North Wales Hospital in the mid-twentieth century. So David worked there whilst Gwynne the lobotomist was inflicting serious disability – and no doubt in some cases death – on awkward customers and he worked alongside those ‘nurses’ who physically, sexually and financially abused patients, who watched and assisted Dr Dafydd Alun Jones whilst he did this as well, who stood by silently as people were unlawfully imprisoned, who witnessed innocent people being framed for serious offences and who knew that a sizeable chunk of their patient population were people who had been victims of a paedophile ring that had been in operation in the region for many years. As a Denbigh nurse of that vintage David Williams will not have been a nice man. David may well have ‘trained’ alongside an older nurse who worked at Denbigh when I was there in the winter of 1986/87 who cheerfully explained to me that before the patients were forcibly drugged into oblivion, the only way of dealing with them was to ‘make them more frightened of you than they were of their hallucinations’. Except Denbigh being what it was, not all of those patients will have been having hallucinations – they will have simply insisted on talking about what had happened to them and it was the job of Bob et al to shut them up.
COHSE did not only sign up the abusive Angels in Denbigh as members – ambulance men were also members of COHSE as well. So the former north Wales ambulance man who was married to someone I knew in Gwynedd about 15 years ago could well have been a member – and even if he wasn’t, his colleagues will have been. The ambulance man in question was a violent wife-beater and also abused his wife’s daughter from her previous marriage – a young woman with mental health problems – on the grounds that he hated psychiatric patients. In fact he hated psychiatric patients so much that when he was called upon to take a man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia to Ysbyty Gwynedd because he was having breathing difficulties the ambulance man shouted and swore at him all the way to the hospital. After the man had recovered, the ambulance man told his stepson that if he ever had breathing difficulties again he’d refuse to take the man concerned to hospital. Even more worryingly, before this abusive git married the lady whom I knew well, he had been married before – his first wife had been admitted to the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. The ambulance man who really hated nutters collected her when she was discharged. She was found drowned on the Denbigh moors a few hours later, having ‘committed suicide’. The violent ambulance man had been the last person to see her alive. His story was that she ‘went mad’ on the way home, escaped from the car and ‘ran away’. Unbelievably this load of tripe was taken at face value and there was no investigation into the death. Well she was a Denbigh patient, they were often found dead after killing themselves in extraordinary ways. Sometimes on the premises of the North Wales Hospital.
The ambulance men in north Wales were also called upon to transport patients to Denbigh. Including those like me who had been unlawfully arrested and then imprisoned there. I have previously mentioned that nearly all patients were taken to Denbigh in the middle of the night under cover of darkness (as I was). The ambulance men didn’t ever wonder what was going on then.
The good old days!
There is a lovely photo online of David Williams with Nye Bevan at a COHSE conference in 1953.
Although David Williams trained at the knee of Gwynne the lobotomist in Denbigh whilst it was at its glorious brutal best, churning out the Angels who were to spend the next forty years facilitating the paedophile ring in north Wales, David moved onto pastures new. In 1955 he began working for COHSE full time as a regional officer – in Yorkshire! So he joined old Bickerstaffe in Savile-country then. In 1962 Williams joined COHSE Head Office as national officer, then became senior national officer and was then appointed Assistant General Secretary. In 1983 he became General Secretary…
David Williams Chaired the Whitley Council in 1977. The Whitley Council decided upon pay levels for staff in the NHS and it was truly loathed. It was the Whitley Council which was responsible for keeping pay in the NHS so low – nurses managed to escape the clutches of the Whitley Council eventually which was why their pay became so much better in the late 80s compared to the pay of other NHS staff who were not doctors. It was the excesses of the Whitley Council which led to the empty laboratories in NHS hospitals in the 80s and 90s. Fancy being a histopathologist in the NHS? Well you’ll have needed postgrad qualifications but the dear old Whitley Council dictated that you would be paid £6k pa.
David Williams was active in the Labour Party and served on the Labour Party’s NEC 1981-83. In 1983 he was elected to the General Council of the TUC. After he retired as General Secretary of COHSE in 1987 Williams became an occasional advisor to WHO (World Health Organisation).
A COHSE website mentioned that David Williams was ‘still campaigning for the NHS in 2016’.
So David Williams is probably still alive. In which case I think that he ought to be asked if he can shed any light on the Cleveland Child Abuse Scandal. I mentioned in previous posts (such as ‘The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Connection’) that the Cleveland Child Abuse Scandal blew up and muddied the waters where abuse of children in care was concerned just after Alison Taylor, Mary Wynch and I started writing to Ministers, MPs and others about the abuses in the children’s services and mental health services in north Wales. I have been wondering if someone sparked off the chaos in Cleveland deliberately, for fear that the North Wales Paedophile Ring and it’s connection to the Westminster Paedophile Ring was in danger of becoming public knowledge. I have mentioned that Dr Neil Davies and Professor Bob Woods who were working in the north Wales mental health services had previously worked in Newcastle. But I didn’t know about dear old David Williams and his national position on a powerful NHS trade union until today…
David Williams was General Secretary of COHSE right at the time that Alison, Mary and me were piping up. He continued to have great influence after he stood down in 1987 – and he will have been very well-networked. What if he was yet another person who had seen the distress flare sent up by his old mates in north Wales?
Come on then David, if you’re still alive and kicking, cough…
COHSE sponsored a number of MPs including Dale Campbell-Savours, Michael Meacher, Mo Mowlam, Allan Rogers, Bill Molloy, Dennis Canavan and Joan Walley. Angela Eagle worked for COHSE in the mid-80s – when David Williams was General Secretary! Anything to declare Angela? What with you being such a sensitive flower and getting offended over the alleged sexism of Owen Smith a few months ago, I would have thought that you really ought to be denouncing the patient-battering child-abusing bastards whom you used to work for. Or is it yet another case of I Know Nuzzing?
Former north Wales COHSE National Executive Committee Members certainly seem to do OK for themselves. In 1987 the National Exec Committee Member from Gwynedd was a Glyn Graham. He now seems to run a business based in Nottingham which provides medical and First Aid ‘training’, as well as security guards no less. Between 1982-90, John Vidal was a National Exec Committee Member from Gwynedd. There is a John Vidal who works as the Guardian’s environmental editor who previously worked for the North Wales Weekly News. I wonder if it is the same person.
Bickerstaffe, who succeeded the git that was David Williams as the General Secretary for the union that represented a bunch of lying criminals, retired from UNISON in 2001. He then became President of the National Pensioners Convention – Bickerstaffe took over from his close friend the trade unionist Jack Jones – and fought for improved health services for pensioners. Well Rodney, one reason why vulnerable people such as pensioners are neglected so badly by the NHS is because abusive staff are never sacked as a result of always receiving full backing from their unions. But you’d know all about that. In 2005 Bickerstaffe ‘focused on his international commitments’ – he Chaired the Global Network and was President of War On Want. Bickerstaffe also Chaired the Ken Gill Memorial Fund.
Ken Gill was General Secretary of MSF (Manufacturing, Science, Finance)between 1988-92. MSF had many members who worked in the NHS.
It was the MSF rep who was instrumental in hounding me out of my job at St George’s Hospital Medical School in 1991 and he knew what had happened to me at the hands of the paedophiles’ friends in north Wales. MSF seemed to wield a lot of influence in that institution and the rep whom I had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of, a man called David Hole, seemed to use his position to gather sensitive information on staff and even medical students in order to use against them. He also collected a great deal of shit on the wrongdoing of the Top Doctors – he didn’t dare use it directly against them in public but I suspect that he fed it back to other more senior people in MSF who will have used it for their own ends. One thing that it won’t have been used for is to protect patients from the madmen that populated that place. Hole was also active in the SDP in the Wandsworth area.
Like UNISON, MSF had been formed from the merger of other trade unions, namely TASS (the Technical, Administration and Supervisory Section) and ASTMS (the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staff). Before becoming General Secretary of MSF, Ken Gill had been the General Secretary of TASS.
Ken Livingstone helped form a branch of the ASTMS when he worked at the Chester Beatty Cancer Research laboratories. Ken worked at the Chester Beatty between 1962-70. His duties involved looking after the animals that were being kept for experimentation. Did Ken form the ASTMS branch to blow the whistle on unnecessary animal experimentation or to improve the lives of lab animals? Of course not, Ken formed the branch in opposition to plans to make some of the staff redundant. But then Ken was a leading light on Lambeth Borough Council and the GLC when children in the care of those organisations were being abused by paedophiles both in care settings in London and when they were sent to ‘placements’ in north Wales. Ken never said a thing about it – although he did sign the Early Day Motion to oppose the closure of Garth Angharad near Dolgellau, a ‘hospital for mentally abnormal criminals’ which in reality was yet another prison where the victims of the north Wales paedophile ring were banged up without trial (see post ‘More On Those Who Signed That Early Day Motion’).
ASTMS itself had previously gobbled up a number of other trade unions, including the Medical Practitioners Union, a Top Doctors union which was in opposition to the BMA.
All these unions had a lot of NHS members and they will have known about malpractice in the NHS. None of them spoke about it. The Medical Practitioners Union didn’t like the BMA, but the fight to which the Medical Practitioners Union was committed was expanding state healthcare. People adopting that position usually find it very difficult to admit the scale of wrongdoing and abuse that has permeated the NHS for decades. The reps of these very powerful unions were often in other influential positions involving decisions over other less powerful people. For example Sheila McKechnie, the Health and Safety Director of ASTMS, became Chief Exec of Shelter. Ken Gill was a member of the CRE 1981-87.
In 2000 MSF merged with AEEU to form AMICUS. in 2007 AMICUS and the TGWU merged to form UNITE. Is this why we never hear anything from Len McCluskey about patient harm in the NHS?
I have explained before on this blog how many of the people who knew about the sexual abuse of children by ‘VIPs’ and the concealment of it by psychiatry have threatened and blackmailed each other in order to gain personal advancement. No political party has ever been able to bring their opponents down or grass them up over this matter because so many people from across the political spectrum were involved. The obituaries of the union leaders like Bickerstaffe and Ken Gill are dripping with references to ‘comrades’ and how they were ‘committed socialists’ or ‘committed communists’. The reality was that they were fighting only for their own ‘comrades’, not for the people whom were being very badly abused (sometimes leading to their deaths) by their ‘comrades’ who were actually paid to care for the people whom they were abusing. The comrades weren’t even that loyal to each other when the chips were down. Ken Clarke described how when there was a protracted strike in the NHS in 1982 by members of NUPE and COHSE, the Tories divided COHSE by offering the members who were nurses higher pay offer than their comrades. It worked – the Fallen Angels accepted the offer and the strike was broken. Presumably the Angels then returned to their duties mistreating the mentally ill and keeping schtum that a high proportion of their patients had been sexually molested whilst in the care of the state.
One thing that all Bickerstaffe’s obituaries mentioned was how marvellous he was to have fought against vested interests in all the unions for the introduction of the minimum wage (the unions didn’t want the minimum wage introduced because they feared that it would bring down the pay of their more highly paid members). No-one actually explained how Bickerstaffe managed to get so many people who had been united in their opposition to a minimum wage to support it. I think that I can guess. Bickerstaffe knew about some terrible things that had been going on – involving some people in high places. Things that a lot of other people knew were going on but who had kept silent. If any of it had ever emerged into the public domain a lot of people from all walks of life would have gone to prison. NUPE, NALGO and COHSE merged to form UNISON in 1993 – Bickerstaffe is credited with organising that merger and he emerged from it as Associate General Secretary. In 1993, North Wales Police had held investigations into the allegations of child abuse in north Wales, accusations of police corruption and collusion had been made, the Jillings investigation had been ordered and a number of former residents from north Wales children’s homes had appeared in the media talking about having been abused whilst they were in care – and witnesses were being found dead. In Nov 1995 when Bickerstaffe was elected General Secretary of UNISON, the North Wales Hospital had just closed, Dafydd had ‘retired’ but walked away with the contract to provide ‘substance abuse services’ for north Wales and people were demanding a Public Inquiry into organised child abuse and the possible existence of a paedophile ring in north Wales. It was in 1995 that Mary Wynch was spat out, ruined, by the Home Office and was never heard of again.
No doubt Bickerstaffe found it relatively easy to convince everyone that accepting a minimum wage in return for keeping victims of state abuse themselves in prison or in the mental hospitals in which the union members worked was quite a good deal.
Arthur Scargill wrote a tribute to Rodney Bickerstaffe just a few days ago on the Socialist Labour Party’s website, entitled ‘Working Class Leader’. A leader who sadly represented a section of the ‘working class’ who were kicking some very vulnerable people at the very bottom of the heap in the teeth constantly. People died at the hands of the North Wales Paedophile Ring Arthur. They DIED.
I saw Arthur Scargill speak in Bangor about five years ago. I was absolutely gobsmacked because I recognised the man who seemed to be playing a central role in Arthur’s visit to Bangor, who was setting up the speaker system, making sure Arthur had everything he needed etc. Then I found out that the man concerned had fairly recently married the woman who was sharing the platform with Arthur – she had been a Socialist Labour candidate in the previous General Election. The reason that I was so gobsmacked was that the man married to Arthur’s comrade had fathered a previous family and had abused his own children. His adult son went on to sexually assault a number of young boys and his daughter violently assaulted and injured her own children. The abuse was reported to Gwynedd Social Services by the new partner of his former wife – no action was taken by Gwynedd Social Services but the man who reported the abuse and the woman whom he later married were threatened. Some months after this the father of one of the babies who had been injured by their mother (ie. Arthur’s comrade’s daughter) was run over and killed by a lorry – after he had gained custody of the baby when the baby’s mother abandoned her. There was no investigation into his death. Full details of this whole sorry saga and the names of the Top Doctors, Councillor and police officer who concealed the web of abuse that Arthur’s mate and his family perpetuated can be read in my post ‘It’s All About Protecting Children’.
Michael Mansfield, one of the many radical lawyers who ignored the activities of the north Wales mental health services when they were brought to his attention, established the Socialist Labour Party with Arthur Scargill. They were good mates at the time.
A couple of days ago someone sent me an old newspaper cutting about Ted Heath. The cutting reported that Heath had paid a visit to Leeds Royal Infirmary where he had been ‘barracked’ by 50 ancillary workers demonstrating. A man called Jimmy Savile who worked as a voluntary porter at the LRI was among the demonstrators. Savile was dressed as a doctor and offered to act as Heath’s personal physician. Heath had replied that he hoped that would never be necessary. I presume that the events that the cutting referred to were taking place at some point when Heath was Prime Minister, 1970-74.
Savile will have known members of the unions discussed in this post. In 1970 Savile wasn’t yet managing high security hospitals or dining with Prime Ministers – he was just considered an idiot who worked for the BBC who farted around pretending to be a porter in Leeds. Whilst dressed as a doctor. We know from Edwina Currie’s admission that Savile was given the job of managing Broadmoor after he reassured Currie et al that he had so much dirt on the POA (Prison Officers Association) that he would blackmail them into submission. I wonder if Savile used his time portering at Leeds to gather dirt from members of COHSE etc? By that time David Williams who knew all about the north Wales paedophile ring had been working in Yorkshire for COHSE for years. Savile and his gangster friends virtually ran Yorkshire – which was also Bickerstaffe’s home turf.
Whilst Ted Heath was PM, Bryn Estyn, the children’s home near Wrexham where the most excessive abuse of boys took place, was managed directly by the Home Office. Sir Peter Morrison, the Tory MP for Chester, abused boys from Bryn Estyn and the boys themselves alleged that many other high profile people did as well. The use of Bryn Estyn as a child brothel allegedly went back years.
I wonder if old Savile found out about that from the likes of Williams and Bickerstaffe and used it to blackmail – or ingratiate himself to – the Tories during Heath’s time as PM? COHSE and the other NHS unions were notoriously hard left in the Seventies – Savile ended up as a close mate of Thatcher’s and a fully paid up Tory. Of course, if the rumours about Heath himself and under-aged boys were true and Savile had found out about that, Savile would certainly be in a position to wield a great deal of power – as would those lovable union leaders if they knew about it.
Comrades, working for the greater good of the citizens!