{} The Sheffield Dales. The Sheffield Universities. Sheffield Politics, Protest, Policing.
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In this column, the Sheffield Dales.
In the column to the right, The Sheffield Universities, including fire risks and many other objections to the Protest Camp at Sheffield University. All the material on the 'Protest Camp' is provided on another page in a single column, (together with a short list of links) which can be viewed on a small screen if necessary.
In the column on the far right, Politics, Protest, Policing.

Scrolling down the page will give a quick view of the very varied images here.
Introduction to the Sheffield Dalesmainly text, is after the images sections below (which also include text, but not very much in many cases.)

The Sheffield Dales: fields, ponds, woodland, stone, cottages, industry
Sheffield Dales: autumn colours
Sheffield Dales: wheat and barley
Sheffield Dales: hawthorn in May
Sheffield Dales: swifts and swift nesting boxes, a new design
Sheffield Dales: wildflowers
Sheffield Dales: snow
Introduction to the Sheffield Dales

The Yorkshire Dales are very well known, so too the Derbyshire Dales, at least to people who know that part of  Derbyshire, but the idea of the Sheffield Dales is a new one. I give my reasons for proposing 'The Sheffield Dales' in the introduction. The comment in this column is appreciative, unlike most of the comment in the columns to the right, but the criticism is confined to some of  the people and groups I discuss, not all. All is not well in Sheffield, but the problems discussed are common to large areas of the country, to a greater or lesser extent.

Please see also my pages on two Midlands counties, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

The Sheffield Dales: fields, ponds, woodland,  stone, cottages, industry

Above, the intense beauty of the Hind Wheel millpond, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield. Below, the road which runs along the river valley towards the millpond, a long avenue of lime trees, about 700 in all. The road begins not far from the Hillsborough Football Stadium.

About a third of Sheffield lies within the Peak District National Park. The millstone grit boundary markers are very distinctive and a reminder of important aspects of work and industry in the peak district. They had many uses, in grinding corn, for crushing wood to make wood pulp used in paper making, in the Sheffield area as well as other areas for manufacturing tools with sharp edges. Small millstones are still used in the cutlery industry. They are also a reminder of the urderlying geology. Millstone grit is a coarse sandstone from the Carboniferous era. Sheffield lies within the Dark Peak part of the Peak District, where these rocks are to be found. The Peak District also includes the White Peak, where the rock is very different, limestone.

Above, the Peak District National Park and its boundaries.

Next two images, Sheffield Winter Garden, the largest urban glasshouse in Europe, first in its city centre setting, then an interior view. Followed by some views to industrial Sheffield's industrial past - an aspect of Sheffield of massive importance, like Sheffield's industrial present, despite radically changed circumstances.

 

Above, views of the River Don Engine: a steam engine built in 1904 for rolling steel armour plate, now in Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield. The engine could go into reverse from full speed in two seconds.  It was last used commercially to roll out reactor shield plates for nuclear power plants. It's demonstrated at the museum - a thrilling sight and sound.

Recommended: a short BBC film on the River Don Engine, showing it in action.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJqUgusvhBE&ab_channel=markansell85

Below, making Sheffield steel - the drama of steel.

Some views of Stanage Edge, one of the rocky outcrops near the border with Derbyshire and shared with Derbyshire and with a large number of climbing routes. Sheffield is a very important climbing centre.

 

 

 

Below, bouldering at Stanage Edge. Bouldering: a form of free climbing (without use of ropes) on small rock formations.

 

Below, dam at Old Wheel Farm, Loxley Valley
In this valley, water powered medieval corn mills and the wheels used for manufacturing agricultural implements and cutlery. Later, there was heavier industry, including factories which made furnace bricks for steel works. In 1864, this area was devastated when a much bigger dam, the Dale Dyke Dam, collapsed. An estimated 3 million cubic metres of water swept down the Loxley Valley, through Loxley Village and on to Malin Bridge and Hillsborough, where the River Loxley flows into the River Don. The water flowed down the Don into the centre of Sheffield. More than 240 peple were killed.

Autumn colours in the Sheffield Dales









Above, aerial view of Bradfield







Sheffield Dales wheat and barley













 The first three images: barley growing in the Loxley Valley, Sheffield, in the area I call the 'Sheffield Dales,' an area of valleys between low hills.

The fourth and fifth images: barley growing in a large field adjoining the road from Worrall to Bradfield in late July. The wheat is some way from full ripening in general: this is an upland field. The tree in the fifth image is a sycamore, to me an unprepossessing tree in general but valued by so many country people, past and present. Amongst its advantages, its resistance to wind, its value to wildlife, the value of its wood for some purposes - and, despite the size it grows to, the frequent allure of its clear-cut outline, as in this image.

The sixth and seventh images: barley grown and harvested in flatlands, far from Sheffield.

The eighth image, some of the machinery in the Worsbrough Mill, South Yorkshire. The mill is well worth a visit - in fact, more than one visit.

I appreciate the flatlands of South Yorkshire as well as the dales (but the land is not so much flat as undulating) as well as the valleys, hills, mountains and flatlands of other parts of the country, and other countries - the hills and mountains of Cumbria, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the flatlands of Lincolnshire and Essex, and all the other areas which have significance for me, not forgetting Northamptonshire, Rutland and so many others.

Often, things which are useful or indispensable aren't beautiful and things which are beautiful aren't useful or indispensable. In the case of wheat and barley growing, beauty and use are combined, and technology doesn't lessen in the least the beauty. Using modern technology, the only adequate technology if large populations are to be fed, at harvest time, fields of wheat and barley are combined - the wheat and barley are harvested using combine harvesters, astounding examples of human ingenuity and resourcefulness.

A Youtube video which has an intense and vivid depiction of a field of barley, a young woman in the midst of the barley, and which gives the words of an unforgettable and compelling song, about human emotions. The title of the video is Sting Fields of Gold Lyrics and the address is

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM4nWq6mU9k&list=RDAM4nWq6mU9k&start_radio=1

Although brewers and beer drinkers are in absolutely no danger of overlooking the huge importance of barley in brewing (and wheat for brewing wheat beer), I think that the aesthetics of barley and barley fields and wheat and wheat fields are often overlooked.

For me, a field of ripe barley or wheat is one of the most magnificent sights of the countryside. There are farms very near here and farm after farm after that. Nearly all of them are sheep farms. The image at the beginning of this section shows an exception, a field of ripe barley I came across in the Loxley Valley, Sheffield. This valley and other areas were devastated during the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 after the Dale Dyke Dam gave way. An estimated 3 million cubic metres  of water swept down the Loxley Valley and through Loxley Village. The flood continued south from the River Loxley to  the River Don,  towards central Sheffield. More than 240 people were killed.

Within the boundaries of South Yorkshire are many farms where wheat and barley are grown. Photographs of these fields will be regarded by many people as very plain, but to look at a field of ripe wheat or barley can be, if not the experience of a lifetime, one of those experiences which are absorbing and rewarding - but far more than that.

I favour the planting of wildflowers at the margins of wheat and barley flowers, but the wildflowers are an enhancement of something which is already magnificent. Obviously, the planting of wildflowers is just as much an intervention as the planting of wheat or barley.

I own a scythe, which I used when I first took on my allotments, I still have an interest in the rhythm of scything, the world of scything, but no interest in using a scythe now in my allotments. If modern machines are often intrusive, practicalities and realities are often even more intrusive. My allotments now are much more intensively used - this isn't intensive gardening, let alone intensive farming, but simply gardening which makes the best use of this scare resource, the land I have available. Individuals may choose to harvest barley or wheat in their small-scale growing but obviously, this is no way to grow cereal crops for baking or brewing.

Small scale growing of barley and wheat, the only kind of growing which is feasible when a scythe is used, is aesthetically limited, to me. A large field of barley or wheat is what I call an 'expanse,' something which has 'scale.' 'Scale' is offered by large, very large vistas, such as the sea, seen, perhaps, from a cliff in Devon or Cornwall or Pembrokeshire or Yorkshire. A pool can offer intense experiences, but not the intense experience of scale.

Some of the belt drives in a combine harvester:

These may not seem to have much in the way of aesthetic appeal, or any aesthetic appeal at all, apart from the aesthetic appeal offered by geometrical forms - which can be substantial, offered by so many  Renaissance buildings and many works of contemporary architecture. Intricacy can be the basis of aesthetic appeal, intricacy of machine parts as well as intricacy of a wood carving. The belt drives and pulleys here do offer something like effective contrast, the contrast between linear and rounded. But I wouldn't want to make any claims that this is remarkable in any way for its aesthetic appeal.

Once the barley and the wheat have been harvested, the field can't have quite the same impact, although the wonderful colouring remains for a long time. The wonderful colouring remains for longer in the form of straw bales. I've used straw bales  for many years, for a variety of applications - and for their looks.

Traditional thatch has a strong appeal. It has a strong appeal for me. But the colour of traditional thatch, rained on, exposed to the elements, is distant from the colour of the straw which was used.

Straw bales give a way of capturing the the golden barley or the golden wheat, of having it there in one of my two allotments. Unlike thatch the roofing material, the straw bales I've used in my allotments have been protected. The straw bales which used to form one of the walls of the greenhouse extension were protected by the overhanging roof. Other straw bales were stored under the curved polycarbonate roofs of some small structures near the pond. The fading of the barley is very slow in these conditions and the straw bales can easily be replaced when their gold has gone.

There are images of the straw bales I've used in many places in the gardening and design sections of the site, for example on this page

www.linkagenet.com/phd/phdnew.htm

and on the Home Page of the site.

Sheffield Dales hawthorn in May

Sheffield Dales: swifts and nesting boxes, a new design

Above, not Sheffield swifts but swifts of the same species, Apus apus

The third column of my page

PHD, Paul Hurt Design

gives detailed information about the first swift nesting box I designed which is very easily constructed and very easily installed. It includes a short video showing how quickly and easily it can be installed.  It's installed outside a window, from inside the house, avoiding the need to work at a height on a ladder. This is a photograph of the nesting box after installation.

It has two entrance holes and two internal compartments, for two growing swift families.

The base is of wood, with two entrance holes. The upper part is of plastic. The two are held together with tapes. The box can accommodate two swift parents and their young. A partition is inserted to separate the two swfit families before installation.  There are tapes and chains to hang it outside the window. It has many advantages over existing nesting boxes for many purposes. The page includes this,

I don't live in an idyllic village but in a suburb of Sheffield, not far from the Hillsborough football stadium. Swifts are birds of town and city suburbs rather than  villages. If, hypothetically, I were offered the chance to live in a beautiful and idyllic village without swifts rather than here, I wouldn't. I'd  rather live in an ordinary suburb with swifts than a beautiful and idyllic village without swifts. Without the sight of the swifts, the summer skies would seem empty. Without the sound of the swifts, the summer skies would seem silent. But the summer skies last year were silent for very long periods. In the swift season, there were far fewer swifts than there used to be, and the trend began some years ago.

Now, I've worked on a new design and constructed two nesting boxes of the design. They are much heavier than the earlier box, much heavier.

Below, the two boxes.

Both boxes are open at the back, which presses against the window when the boxes have been installed. This allows a view into each box, so that if, with luck, swifts use the box, events can be observed from inside the room: entry and exit of swifts, nest-building, egg laying, hatching, feeding the young.There are problems to do with possible disturbance but I think that the problems can be solved. A solid back can be inserted, to give a box of established design.

The heavier swift box in the foreground is higher and wider than the box in the background but not as long. Screws are used in the construction of the box in the foreground.  The orange and red tapes give additional security, holding the box together even if some of the screws were to fail. There are independent systems for securing the box to the supports inside the room. These supports aren't shown here. The main system relies upon the chains shown here.

The box in the background is shown with the oen back of the box facing forwards, so that the inside of the box can be glimpsed. This uses screws too but the security tapes aren't shown here. This box has substantial metal brackets in place, which can be used to hang the box over a window fitting. This is a twin box, able to accommodate two sets of parents and their young. A partition is inserted into the box to separate the two families.

Below, the wider double nesting box installed successfully on the window for a short time, without the tapes which give added security to the structure. The box was tried out before it was quite finished. The entrance holes had not yet been cut in the base.

Below, two views of the single nesting box, installed for the season. I attached metal brackets, which fit over a window frame but the box is also secured by a system of chains attached to two separate anchorages, with strong cam buckle tapes providing yet another layer of safety.

Below, the nesting box isn't varnished or treated in any other way but the oak from which it's constructed resists water well. However, the box is protected from rain and other precipitation in a very simple way, simply by opening the upper part of the window. The water runs down the sloping pane of glass and falls to the ground without contacting the swift box.

Perhaps potential users of the system would resist this method or would have windows which can't be used to protect the box in this way, but I'm happy to keep the window open for long periods. I've an alternative covering for weather protection of the roof, very light. very cheap and simple to install, but simply opening the window suits me.

The box has the advantage over other wooden boxes in that it can be removed at the end of the swift season, an operation which only takes a minute or two, until the time comes later in the year when it can be used as a roosting box. Almost certainly, it will be used somewhere else for this purpose, most obviously in a garden or back yard.

Below, view into the box from inside the room, the open side resting against the window. As is intended, the interior is dark but has been made lighter for the purpose of display here.

A notable feature of both boxes is that when the swift season is over, the boxes can be used for a different purpose, as a roosting box. When winter comes, birds can shelter in the boxes, which are well insulated, protecting the birds from hypothermia. Structures taking the form of rods for perching are inserted into the boxes. The holes which are of a size suitable for swifts can be replaced with other inserts with different sized holes, suitable for a range of birds, allowing some species to enter but keeping out others.

This is a flexible and versatile design, then, capable of helping a variety of birds.


Sheffield Dales: wildflowers

These are images of wildflowers to be found in just one very small part of the Sheffield Dales, the land I rent. All of them are British natives. Most  were encourage to take up residence by me. The plants are named (Botanical binomial nomenclature) on the Home Page of the site, with other plants not included here.
















Sheffield Dales snow

My house is in the 'Sheffield Dales.' Shown here, view  through the window of my main workshop.
Another view through the window.
View from upper window of part of the small back garden (previously, backyard.) These views are of scenes which would be unremarkable in countries which have low temperatures and heavy snowfall in winter. Here, scenes like this are rare and worth recording, I think. There used to be much more snow a long time ago. My page

https://www.linkagenet.com/phd/cello-violin-viola-proms.htm

has sections on my activities as a cross-country skier in the second and third columns of the page.





Introduction to the Sheffield Dales

Most of the images in this column are  not given a name and a location, for various reasons. Most of the photographs on this page (and many other pages) were taken by me. Other photographs are credited - for example, the first photograph in this column is from the Geographia project and has a copyright stamp. One of my reasons for not giving captions in many cases is to respect the privacy of the owners or tenants of individual properties.

The material on this page is a frank, far from comprehensive look at the city of Sheffield. 

Sheffield has beauty, character, individuality, blandness, massive strengths and vey significant weaknesses and, of course, a great deal that's somewhere in between. It's a very different place from Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster and the rest of South Yorkshire. I've a strong interest in the whole county of South Yorkshire. The distinctive but varied attitudes to be found in the different parts of South Yorkshire are changed out of all recognition or lost completely in many parts of Sheffield.  The distinctive Sheffield accent and dialect (I speak with a Sheffield accent, to a large extent in Sheffield dialect, ior one form of Sheffield accent and dialect) vanish in large parts of Sheffield. Then there are the counties bordering South Yorkshire. In my case, Derbyshire is not far away. I've a strong interest in Derbyshire as well, but there's no part of the country without interest for me, although I identify strongly with South Yorkshire. There are pages on the site on Derbyshire and Staffordshire

The landscape and buildings of the Yorkshire Dales are admired by very many people, and many people feel - as I do - that  the buildings have a rightness in this landscape, that they aren't in the least jarring, an intrusion in this landscape. There are many areas where it would be impossible to make the same claim, that the buildings are a fitting part of the landscape. Not all the buildings in the Yorkshire Dales are equally at home in the landscape. The buildings which fit into the landscape particularly well are examples of vernacular architecture, a strong interest of mine, together with other forms of architecture. These particular buildings are generally made of stone, and often the roofs, like the walls, are of stone - stone slates. The vernacular architecture of England is very varied in its styles, techniques and materials. The materials include building stones as different as Cotswold limestones and granite, Welsh and Cumbrian slate, roofing of tiles and thatch - and so much more, a wonderful achievement. The vernacular buildings of this country spring from the underlying geology, or reflect the lack of suitable building stone, so often overcoming the lack with miracles of skilled construction, as with so many of the vernacular buildings of Suffolk, amongst many other counties.

The characteristic vernacular architecture of the North Pennines is widely recognized and admired but the vernacular architecture of the South Pennines deserves wider recognition. Sheffield, has buildings with strong linkages with buildings of the Yorkshire Dales but buildings which are distinctive. In such settlements as Bradfield and Dungworth, in the farmhouses and other farm buildings not part of any settlement, the buildings blend with the landscape and enhance the landscape and stand out from the landscape. The varying landscape of the 'Sheffield Dales' is different from much of the Yorkshire Dales, often well wooded, as in the area beyond Bradfield, towards the Derbyshire border. The trees, particularly the beech trees, are stunning in autumn.

This area, the area of the Loxley and Rivelin valleys and other valleys of Sheffield and the hills which emerge from the valleys, is an area which I think  deserves wider recognition not just for its natural beauty, the quality of the vernacular architecture but the industrial achievement to be found in it and the relics of industry. For the Rivelin Valley, an outstanding contribution to the appreciation of the valley is 'Walking the Rivelin: A pocket guide to the industrial heritage and natural history of the Rivelin Valley' (Arc Publishing.) I've walked along the Rivelin Valley countless times, often the full length of the Rivelin trail, almost, and then back to my starting point.

 I intend to add to the images of vernacular buildings in this section. If it happens that the owner or occupier of a building shown on this page would prefer the building not to be shown, for any reason, I'll remove the image. An email to me requesting this to be done won't appear in the public domain. All emails to me remain private, unless the sender gives me permission to publish.

The Rivelin and the Loxley are rivers that can be reached very quickly from here, but I include in the 'Sheffield Dales' a large area - the other rivers of Sheffield, the hills above them, the land they drain, everything within the Sheffield City boundary, in fact. Only a part of the Sheffield Dales area could be called picturesque, pretty, beautiful, but I regard places which are plain, unattractive, ugly as well worth - I won't use the overused word 'celebrating' - but well worth including in the Yorkshire Dales if they have significance of one kind or another - or could have.

The River Don, of course, has very great significance as a centre of industry along some of its length.  The River Don engine, now housed in the Kelham Island Industrial Museum, by the River Don, is shown above.

For me, the Sheffield Dales area has versions. My version of the Sheffield Dales follows from my interests. It includes landscape and vernacular architecture. The landscape includes gardens, farms (sheep farms, dairy farms and arable farms), orchards, woods, wetlands, the rivers themselves, of course, the plant and animal life to be found in them, but also rocks. The rocky outcrops, such as Stanage Edge, are certainly an interest of mine. The landscape includes breweries. I've no interest in dining out, in cafes, restaurants and coffee bars but I do have a strong interest in brewing - and in cider making and wine making, in growing apples and vines, in food and cooking.

An interest I still have, but an activity which I haven't been able to practise for a long time, for more than one reason, but the mildness of recent winters is one of them, is cross-country skiing and particularly downhill cross country skiing. I skied in the Derbyshire hills, particularly in the area near Edale, and in the hills just beyond Stannington. I've also skied at Chamonix in the Alps. (I took the train to Chamonix and when I arrived found a campsite and pitched my tent in the snow.)

The experience of skiing at Chamonix was exhilarating, thrilling, since the slopes are obviously so much longer than anywhere in South Yorkshire or Derbyshire but the experience was  less moving, less important to me than the experience of skiing near Stannington, a suburb of the city near to me. On one occasion, I saw  a mountain hare with its white winter fur,  moving and important to me, like the experience of skiing on a frozen pond in the Rivelin Valley, after night had fallen. In 'The Prelude,' Wordsworth writes of skating on the frozen Esthwaite Water. ('Book First,' lines 425 - 463.) 'It was a time of rapture ... ' (line 430.) I felt privileged in the same way.

Year after year, for a very long time, I've been to see the autumn trees in the part of the 'Sheffield Dales' near here. The autumn foliage of the beech trees has given me much, much more than the experience of seeing the Grand Canyon, Arizona, a very long time ago. The foliage is more muted in some years, but visitors from outside Sheffield would surely find that it's worth their while to travel  to see the splendour of the beech trees in the Bradfield area, as well as other parts of the 'Sheffield Dales,' if they live in a part of the country where there are no beech trees or few of them.  In autumn, the green of the beech trees becomes a shade of brown - but this is too drab a description to do justice to their grandeur. They are not mute but magnificent.

As for visits to the 'Sheffield Dales' and hypothetical tourism in the 'Sheffield Dales,' an increase in visits and tourism would be welcomed by many people and not welcomed at all by others. In this part of the Yorkshire Dales, many businesses would benefit but many people living in the area would regret any loss of quietness, tranquility, the chance to enjoy solitude. Some parts of this area are already busy and sometimes crowded, but very many parts are far from busy and far from crowded. Anyone tired of the Lake District congestion and the relative congestion of parts of the Derbyshire Peak District might well find the 'Sheffield Dales' to their liking.

To give just one example, if the hamlet of Storrs  ever became a magnet for visitors, crowded and congested at some times of year, then it would be completely understandable for residents of Storrs  to resent that. For this reason, it would be understandable if residents of Storrs, or most of the residents, opposed this project, if it ever came anywhere near fruition, and similarly for many other places. I've been visiting Storrs regularly - the vernacular architecture is a particular reason for visiting, but there are others - and I too would regret the loss of quietness. There are photographs of some of the landscape and buildings of the area above.

I don't think Bradfield, a much busier place, has been ruined by its visitors, though. In quiet areas, some bustling and busy places may be a welcome contrast. Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales is perhaps another, more sizeable example of such a place.

One significant advantage of the 'Sheffield Dales' for visitors, visitors from Sheffield and visitors from far away, is that, as with the Yorkshire Dales,  the landscape and the buildings can look just as good in poor weather as in good weather. They can be enjoyed in warm or hot weather, obviously, but  overcast conditions, even wet and windy conditions, can accentuate the appeal rather than lessen it. This is an advantage which Yorkshire has but which many other areas of the country don't have, or not to nearly the same extent. The Cotswolds come to mind.

My version leaves out many, many things that would be present in the other people's versions of the Sheffield Dales - if the Sheffield Dales, the  project, ever became an interest of people other than myself. This page is one page among many on the site, of course. There are opinions of mine on some pages which wouldn't be shared by people who share my enthusiasm for the places discussed in this section. There are many, many demands on my time.

 Ideally, the project would need to be taken on by other people, if they decided that it could be developed and promoted - but not promoted by bureaucratic methods, or the methods of the people whose interest in marketing is much greater than their interest in places of tranquility, places which are significant, but not significant because they are viewed simply as significant marketing opportunities. I have great respect and admiration for the achievements of commerce and business - often, these are massive achievements.

Sheffield has enormous variety, capable of satisfying many interests. Geographical and topographical variety  is well expressed in the Wikipedia article 'Geography of Sheffield.'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Sheffield

'Sheffield is the most geographically diverse city in England. Lying in the eastern foothills of the Pennines,  the city nestles in a natural amphitheatre created by several hills and the confluence of five rivers: Don, Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Porter.  As such, much of the city is built on hillsides, with views into the city centre or out to the countryside ...

[I view the hillsides as well as the river valleys adjacent to the rivers as intrinsic parts of the Sheffield Dales.]

'Sheffield has more trees per person than any city in Europe, outnumbering people 4 to 1. It has over 170 woodlands covering 28.27 km2 (6985 acres), 78 public parks covering 18.30 km2 (4522 acres) and 10 public gardens. Added to the 134.66 km2 (33,275 acres) of national park and 10.87 km2 (2686 acres) of water this means that 61% of the 362.38 km2 that the city encompasses is greenspace. 

'Sheffield also has more types of habitat  than any city in the UK. As well as urban, parkland and woodland it has agricultural and arable land, moors, meadows and freshwater based habitats. Large parts of the city are designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest including several urban areas.'

As I see it, the Sheffield Dales project also allows for extension, as well as a certain modesty, which isn't incompatible with justifiable pride. There should be no excessive claims.

I live in a border area. The Derbyshire border isn't far away, and the boundary of the Peak District National Park is even nearer. Some of the Peak District National Park is within the city boundaries. For a very long time, the landscape and villages of the Derbyshire Peak District have been very familiar, and I've visited them far more often than most places in Yorkshire.

But I have a strong interest in the regions of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. An appreciation of Sheffield's industrial might shouldn't exclude an interest in the industrial might of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast and other areas.

Interest in the fascinating history of water power on the River Rivelin can go with an interest in the fascinating history of water power in other places. Interest in the canals of Sheffield can go with an interest in the canals of other places. Sheffield has nothing to compare with the aqueduct which carries the canal over a river valley at Marple, Cheshire. The rivers of Sheffield are narrow, including the Don, and obviously the Don can't match the Severn for breadth or beauty. The Severn has industrial significance too over some of its length. Ironbridge is the best-known example, deservedly.

But the Sheffield Dales have so much to offer people with an interest in industrial history - I'm certainly one of them. There are important industrial history sites set in the countryside, such as the sites of the Rivelin Valley, and important urban sites in the Don Valley and other places. Many Sheffielders already know this but many people outside the area would do well to find out more about the attractions and the fascination of the area.

We are very fortunate in having groups which care for the landscape and buildings so well. A prime example is the Rivelin Valley Conservation Group. Their Website is at

https://rivelinvalley.org.uk/

What I call the 'Sheffield Dales' is, of course, part of the Metropolitan County of South Yorkshire. There were losses and gains when the historic county of Yorkshire was divided - I'm referring to general advantages and disadvantages, not gains and losses of land. I think that the reorganization worked in the case of South Yorkshire. The changes aren't necessarily permanent. In the case of Cumbria, the administrative county of Cumbria will be abolished and replaced with two new unitary authorities. One is Westmorland and Furness, the other is Cumberland.

Below, a map of South Yorkshire, which I'm privileged to call my home county.

 

Below, the position of South Yorkshire in the map  of England.

It would be possible to extend the 'Sheffield Dales' and form the 'South Yorkshire Dales,' the places drained by  the rivers of South Yorkshire.  The vernacular architecture of South Yorkshire is very interesting, far richer than many people would think. South Yorkshire does include one building with a particular claim to national importance, Wentworth Woodhouse. This is the Baroque West Front of Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The Palladian East front, shown below, is in marked contrast.
























 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scrolling down the page will give a quick view of the very varied images in this column. This material on the camp is also available in a narrow  page  which for the time being will be the main page for updates. The 'narrow page' can be  easily viewed on the small screen of a portable device, unlike this page, which uses Large Page Design - it's wide as well as long.

From my page Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine and other organizations:

'Unflattering caricatures and cartoons can be used to represent people.  Pro-Palestinian protesters can be shown in unflattering ways. They hate being shown in simple photographs, if the photographer happens to be opposed to their views. Again and again, they panic or become aggressive. Taking photographs of pro-Palestinian protesters showing them in a state of panic or responding aggressively when they realize they're being photographed is perfectly legitimate, a lawful activity, freely permitted. They like to suppress legitimate, lawful activities when it suits their purposes. But my purposes are very different, my way of thinking is very different, as they will have noticed.

'In a world where people take photographs very, very often with their phones (I'm not one of them - I use photography far less often, in a far more restricted way, always with a camera, not a phone) then their ban on photographs of themselves is ridiculous - rather, their attempted ban is ridiculous. If they think they can defend it they should go ahead and give their reasons.'

The material in this column is in layers, added as events developed. The resulting structure is a little complex in places and will require some reorganization and general revision, but I'm sure it's clear enough. The other material on this page gives some context for the particular issues discussed in this column.

In this column, The Sheffield Universities, including severe fire risks at the Protest Camp at Sheffield University and other objections to the Camp. 4 June: Sheffield University  announced that the protesters have been asked to leave. If they refuse to leave, then it's certain that the camp will be closed. The camp will go no matter what.

Decamping the encampment: stages in the recovery, illustrated with photographs. 

All the photographs below were taken despite the campers' ban on photography, despite the intimidation, obstructive behaviour and aggression of some of them and the posturing of so many more.

The encampment hasn't been decamped yet but it will be, for certain - the campers will leave, one way or another, without agreement to a single one of their demands.

In this section, text and photographs from 4 June onwards - the day after Sheffield University informed the protesters that they should dismantle the encampment. The university should have taken this action a long time ago.

Some of the photographs show the timidity of protesters, their sensitivity to being photographed or filmed. Above, a single protester who realizes that he is being filmed. Below, he covers his face, followed by a photograph of a group of campers,   with a sign 'NO Photos' on the right. When they realized that they were being filmed, they scattered and fled the scene. If there hadn't been the 'NO Photos' sign, I wouldn't have published this photograph. I've included it just to make a point - that I see absolutely no reason to follow yet another demand of these protesters. The sign has no force in law.

The photographs are published for a variety of reasons, not all of them given in detail on this page. There have been incidents which have been disturbing, Attempts have been made by students and some non-student protesters to deny a clear-cut legal right to take photographs, to film in a public place and even to walk in a particular direction in a particular place.  In  some cases, the behaviour has been intimidating, threatening, actively obstructive. This, the public place of a university, has become  in general a hostile place.

On two occasions, I've been able to have courteous, wide-ranging, quite lengthy discussions about aspects of Israeli-Palestinian relations - only to find, when I mentioned that I'd like to take some photographs now, that the tone has altered in an instant. One of the two people said that I can't possibly take photographs, the other actively obstructed me, and the obstruction went on and on. I found that the free and open discussion, which took place in a very quiet place well away from the main area of the encampment,  had been simply a tactic on their part to prevent me from taking photographs.

I've spent a great deal of time at the encampment simply observing. I haven't so far recorded nearly enough of the everyday activities of the students there. In fact, they are all students, or if they're not all students, there are no staff there, despite any propaganda claims to the contrary. Their activities don't seem strenuous at all. They spend a very great deal of time socializing.  The claims to be building an unstoppable, revolutionary force for change are wish-fulfilment and illusion. It's impossible to satisfy their insatiable appetite for making demands. Their demands are grossly unrealistic, products of a fantasy world. Their campaigning methods are  crude, blundering, incompetent.

I'm sure that I'm justified in recording in text and image their activities, but even so, I'll consider all requests for removal of images. I won't give way to demands to remove  images. Further information on the page About this site.

Sheffield University
Camp Bulletin 6/5/2024:

We will remain camping until our demands are met

Concise History of the 2024 Encampment:

Going ... going ... not quite gone ... gone ... failed but not forgotten

Not forgotten on this site at least. The content here - and future content - will stay (but be revised, when time allows.)

Below, photograph taken on the same date, showing that tents are still much too close together and too close to buildings.

For the first time, I filmed not in the Concourse where the encampment is situated - for the time being -  but from the pavement next to the busy public road above the Concourse. After not much more than 5 minutes of filming, I left to return to my parked van but by this time, a student from the encampment had appeared. He was tall, very tall, and was wearing a voluminous high visibility yellow coat, but most of his face was uncovered. I recognized him from previous visits to the encampment. 

I walked downhill and he walked next to me, agitated, angry and aggressive. This was a reaction on his part which was disturbing.  I had been filming a public space from another public space, a pavement next to a busy main road, a fully legal activity, like the taking of photographs or filming in the Concourse below, the public area where the tents are. 

I realized that this was something that needed action on my part. I'd no intention of allowing him to walk next to me until I reached the place where my van was parked. What I did was to walk suddenly to the left, quickly crossing the broad road towards the Chemistry building. He didn't follow me and seemed to be turning back. Instead, he decided to continue following me, but on the other side of the road. I took out my mobile phone so that I could phone for assistance if need be. He did turn back at last. I'd  assume that there would be some sort of reaction at the encampment when he got back but wasn't there to see it. CCTV may well have a record of any later developments.

This was the fifth time that students or other pro-Palestinian protesters have actively tried to stop me taking photographs or filming. On one of those occasions, I was attacked, in the others, an individual has obstructed me by standing very close, stopping me from walking where I wanted to go.

The demand that I shouldn't exercise my legal right to take photographs or to film, the demand that I shouldn't be able to walk where I want, are demands I'll resist.

These are just a few freedoms and of course there are many more. A Royal Navy page on the commemorations of D-day includes these  comments:

The need 'to instil in the generation we have now how much was sacrificed for our freedoms.'

The King spoke of the need to 'always remember, cherish and honour those who served that day and live up to the freedoms which they died for.' [I'm not myself a Royalist.]

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said, 'They set an example to us all and we should not take for granted in our times what it took to achieve in their pasts.'

From the page

https://news.sky.com/story/these-d-day-commemorations-felt-different-13149133

on the veterans:

' ... they want us never to forget the freedoms that they fought for.

Visit of 6 June: photographs and update on decamping and recovery

Inside one of the  flammable tents,  flammable flags. I didn't have to go into the tent to take the picture.

 

Another interior, with assorted flammable materials on the table, with more flammable flags.

The update comes from the naive, fatuous 'magazine,' 'Now Then.' An extract from a naive and fatuous article by Maryam Jameela of June 6.

https://nowthenmagazine.com/articles/university-of-sheffield-threatens-to-remove-palestine-encampment-as-students-dig-in

'When asked if the university had indeed asked students to leave the encampment, a spokesperson from UoS [University of Sheffield]told Now Then:

Protesters have been reminded that they do not have the University’s permission for an encampment and that they are trespassing, so have been asked to leave safely and peacefully.

The encampment exists to protest the university’s ties to the arms trade that is facilitating the genocide in Palestine, to express solidarity with Palestinians, including students, and to allow free expression from students about their own university’s complicity as they see it.

Having visited the encampment a number of times, I’ve seen first hand how students are building a community where they can learn together, eat together, hold events for children, and make posters all in an effort to build solidarity around Palestine. Is the university’s problem with such activities that it doesn’t involve the commodification of education? That students are applying the critical thinking skills the university is supposed to hone?

It is entirely remarkable that the university considers the students to be trespassing on their own campus. How else would the university have them express their beliefs on Palestine? In a less noticeable way, perhaps?'

The claim that students are applying 'critical thinking skills' is stupendous, stupendously naive, based on illusion and delusion.

I've tried to get students to use some 'critical thinking skills.' I've not got anywhere. To give just one example, I've asked some of them  to comment on the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Gaza and punished by imprisonment for up to ten years. I pointed out that in Israel, homosexuality is fully legal. Gay Pride events take place and the ones in Tel Aviv are massive events. In Iran, of course, homosexuality is subject to the death penalty.

Now Then specializes in naive articles. This is an extract from one which shows their utopian / dystopian tendencies, their absolute failure to recognize realities: nothing less than the abolition of borders. Actual borders aren't named, but the ridiculous minds at Now Then obviously see no great difficulty in abolishing the border between Britain and France and the border between Russia and Poland or the border between the United States and Mexico.

The author of the article is the same Maryam Jameela who wrote the article on the encampment. The extract:

Give Over is a border abolition project that is looking for pitches for publication in Now Then Magazine.

Give Over is a project that uses border abolition as a way to reframe media reporting of refugees and immigration more broadly. We use workshops, archival work, and re-visioned journalism to challenge white supremacist and racist attitudes to movement. We want to push people from a point of "refugees welcome" to a point of understanding the violence required in order to maintain borders.

Give Over is primarily based in Sheffield, but we’re keen to hear from anyone who has a viewpoint on abolition of borders. We’re interested in working with journalists who understand that mainstream journalism is often a tool of propaganda designed to manufacture consent for colonial, racist, and dehumanising immigration policies. We’d like to hear from people interested in writing about:

  • Reflections on lived experiences of borders

  • Explorations of abolition of borders as a vision for a more just future ... '

I sent an email to Now Then outlining some objections to the camp and I did receive a reply. It includes this:

Thanks for your email. We try to read every email we get but we're not able to respond to everything. The small Now Then team all works part-time - and none of us work on Fridays - so we will get back to you when we can, if we are able.'

Signed,

Philippa, Maryam, Sam and Sam

So Maryam Jameela is one of 'the team.'

The email gave the surprising information that Now Then endorses and takes part in something called a 'Festival of Debate' in Sheffield. Any change of a debate on Encampment Issues? Any chance of publishing an article: 'The Encampment: For and Against?' I'd be happy to write a section 'Against' and they could publish a section 'For.' I wouldn't mind if the 'For' section was much longer than the 'Against' section.

Does Now Then believe in honest and open debate or are pretending to support debate but in fact doing what they can to stifle debate, to suppress debate?

It would be possible - easy - to organize a debate at the encampment, where encampment students could demonstrate their 'critical thinking skills.'

 

Sheffield University
Camp Bulletin 6/5/2024:

We will remain camping until our demands are met

Concise History of the 2024 Encampment:

Going ... going ... not quite gone ... gone ... failed

See also  my page on Israel,  which includes, in the second column, a section on gross misuse of the word 'genocide' and material on killing of civilians in war. And, also the section below Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel. I'll mention here an issue not raised in any other place on this page but mentioned in my page on Israel: animal cruelty in Gaza. Be sure to watch this video on the subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9r57zlbLmk

The animals were exported from Australia and the video was released by the animal welfare organization 'Animals Australia.'

Above, a neat row of tents, with a large number of other tents behind them, at the student encampment. Photograph taken 27.05.2024. The (negligent) organizers: Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine. The two photographs showing sheets of cardboard, hands and feet are explained below. Photographs taken 29.05.2024.

Above, photograph taken 26.05.2024. Just visible on the right, the wall of a university building. The distance between the row of tents and the building is much less than the safe distance of 6 metres.

Above, photograph taken 27.05.2024. The tent nearest the building is much too close for safety. Some of the tents which are further away from the building are much too close for safety.

Safety issues, including issues to do with fire safety, are a strong interest of mine. Two of the three Patents Pending I have in the United States include applications which are concerned with fire safety, intended to promote fire safety, although the multiple benefits are mainly environmental. The Home Page of the site gives, in the first column, links to these pages on innovations which are Patent Pending.

Fire and Rescue services make it clear that tents should be a minimum of 6 metres apart, so that a fire in one tent doesn’t spread to other tents.  All over the encampment, tents are packed closely or in a large number of cases, touching. A fire in one of the tents would probably consume the tent (and any people in the tent) within a minute and the fire would spread very rapidly to other tents in the row and the ones behind. The Student Union building would be in danger. Quantities of flammable material in and near to many tents in the camp would feed the flames.

I informed the university and found the response naive, disturbing. An email sent to me includes this: ‘ … additional extinguishers have been positioned in nearby buildings for use by Security or Students' Union staff in the event of a fire within the encampment.' In almost all cases, reaching a fire before it gets out of control would be impossible, due to inevitable delays and extreme congestion in the area.

This is after I'd pointed out the fire risks, after the Sheffield University authorities had assured me that improvements had been made. As it happens, I took a photograph of this area before I reported the fire risks to Sheffield University and this is the photograph, included in the 'pre-improvement' photographs below:

There were fewer tents in this area before the so-called 'improvements' than after, the degree of overcrowding was less - but tents extend up to the building, putting the building at risk in the event of fire which has started far away from this area.  After the 'improvements,' the fire risk was greater, not less.

I called at the encampment on 29 May, intending to film there so that I could update the record but I wasn't able to film. Three students held two large pieces of cardboard in front of me, but their action wasn't the reason why it wouldn't have been a good idea to film the area. I'm sure that the students were misguided to take this action but they were very pleasant people and it was a pleasure to talk to them -  but not on the subject of Israel and Palestine.

The reason why I didn't film and decided that I couldn't realistically film was the presence of a very different kind of person, who stood very near to me but higher up, on the concrete seating nearby, without saying anything. His face couldn't be seen. Only the eyes were visible, the rest was swathed in cloth, a Keffiyeh. To me, he was a sinister looking and aggressive presence, common enough in fanatical protests but someone who is surely harmful to the reputation of Sheffield University.

Only the eyes of the masked man on the right in the photograph below are visible. The anonymous presence in the Concourse was similarly masked, only the eyes visible. At least the masked student in the Concourse (iif he was a student) wasn't carrying a weapon. The protestors who weren't masked - but afraid of being photographed - must have noticed his presence. What did they think? What were they thinking if they didn't think it was anything to worry about? Too many of them can't be bothered, about a very wide range of subjects that should bother them.

 People like this, incidents like this, have the potential to deter applicants to the university, deter grant-givers. So much in this environment could deter applicants and deter grant-givers - graffiti are now out of control, covering very large areas. Amongst the graffiti I saw - and recorded and published on this page - are that well-known statement of hate, 'From the river to the sea ... '

His silent presence obviously amounted to an attempt to intimidate me. I could have filmed and defended myself if he'd tried aggressive action to stop me filming - I would definitely have defended myself in case of attack- but I decided that it wouldn't be worth the risk of complications and repercussions in the event of a serious incident.

 It's essential to oppose such people, not to let them get away with it, enemies, surely, of values which society should protect at all costs, which  individuals should do everything in their power to protect, which universities should do everything they can to protect.  But resistance to fanaticism should be as effective as possible and a direct confrontation with one particular individual is often not the most effective way.

I've informed the university about the various incidents, the repeated attempts to stop me taking photographs and filming but I've got nowhere. No action has been taken. The photographs and filming have given me a great deal of evidence, and not just about the fire risk in the encampment. On this occasion, I wasn't able to gain more evidence in the form of photographs and film and I don't intend to come back to the site until Sheffield University takes action to allow me to exercise my lawful right to photograph and film, and my lawful right to walk where I want in this public place - a right denied by a student and non-student who obstructed me. The details are below.  It isn't only staff and students whose rights and interests have to be protected. Visitors such as myself have to be able to carry out reasonable activities safely. 

Meanwhile, an area which had no tents at all before the 'improvements' now has a large tent-group which constitutes a new and substantial fire hazard, the area below the concrete supports, some distance from the open air section which contains most of the tents. A photograph showing part of  this area below the concrete supports:

This camp, like other pro-Palestinian camps in the country, is vulnerable. The UCU (University College Union) wrote 'with regards to the safety of the students in the University of Leeds encampment ... escalating threats of violence and disturbance late at night ... ' and students threatened with weapons, including a knife.'

UCU have had no idea about the serious dangers of fire at encampments. The danger of arson attacks can't be excluded. The outcome of an arson attack would very likely be massive, given the indifference to fire safety in the Sheffield encampment at least - and probably at most or all of the other encampments.

In this column, I give other objections to the encampment as well, very varied and wide-ranging ones.

The material is in two sections: After the email: photographs and comment, with a copy of an email from the university to me which claimed all kinds of improvements in a setup which I'd pointed out was a massive fire risk. My reply to the email. The photographs, taken 27 May 2024, show that the dangers haven't been eliminated but that in some respects they are worse. 

My view: the  tents have to be taken down. The encampment has to go. The organizers, Campus Coalition for Palestine, have shown no awareness of fire safety issues, effectively no interest in the safety of students, staff and visitors to the site. This section contains a copy of the email from the university to me and my reply to the email.

The organizers have no interest in a whole range of other issues, including security issues. Amongst their demands: a demand that the University should withdraw from any participation in manufacture and supply of armaments. This is hideous ignorance, which if achieved - but it will never be achieved - would withdraw support from Ukraine, leave the United Kingdom unprotected against the threat from Putin's Russia and other threats. The threat of invasion from Nazi Germany wasn't overcome by posturing but by use of armaments. Nazism in Europe and beyond was defeated by using armaments.

 Before the email: photographs and comment. The situation before the so-called 'improvements.'  Most of the detailed argument and evidence against the encampment is in this much longer section.

The organizers regard this not as a student encampment but as a staff-student encampment. I only know of one staff supporter, Dr Lisa Stampnitzky of the Department of Politics and International Relations. I'd claim that she's much more than a supporter - an active propagandist, but not an active or effective propagandist. I've now spent many hours at the encampment, amongst other activities simply observing. I've never seen her there once. I've also seen practically no interest on the part of students or any others in the encampment. I've observed many, many  people walking past but if they do look at the encampment and its publicity materials, they do so only momentarily. In all the hours spent there, I've seen only one member of the public walk up and ask questions. I did see one person, perhaps a member of staff, in conversation with the students there, apparently about matters unrelated to the protest. The only students I've personally witnessed engaging in conversation are people who are themselves students and supporters of the encampment.

'Palestine Camp' Bulletin Issue 1 (6 May, 2024) includes this claim, ' ... we are building power ... we are part of a national and international student movement, sweeping the country and the globe.'

These claims are based on illusion and delusion. The camp has had, is having, will have no impact at all, except for a harmful impact.  It will do nothing to resolve the intractable problems of this part of the Middle East. It gives implicit or active support to Hamas and other terroristic organizations, Iran and other terroristic powers. It's based on grossly inadequate analyses, grossly unfair comparisons, complete failure to take into account detailed and fair-minded analyses of such issues as genocide, the killing of non-combatants in war. It reduces the massive and wide-ranging problems of the world to this single issue, in general ignoring other concerns, including concerns which have direct relevance to these issues.

A wide range of far-left parties are actively supporting the student (supposedly staff-student) encampments. They include the Revolutionary Communist Party, which has 'thrown itself into the struggle, fighting to escalate the movement and to bring down the imperialists.' They include 'Socialist Alternative,' which  'is mobilizing in solidarity and committed to building this movement.' And, also, The Socialist Workers Party, which describes itself as 'a revolutionary socialist party '

'Preparing for power' is the title of a book which outlines the pathetic politics of the Revolutionary Communist Power. Of course, the party never had the least chance of gaining political power by democratic means. None of these tiny parties has had the least chance of gaining power by electoral means. Generally, these parties have avoided taking part in  elections,  sustaining their fantasies by the propaganda they believe in but propaganda which has no chance of convincing the mass of people.

They are in a political wilderness but not, of course, the only players in the political space. They have opponents, including the populist right and the extreme right. The neo-Nazis  share some of the views of many pro-Palestinian protesters on Israel and the elimination of Israel.

See also, on other pages, comment on 
Cambridge University and Royal Holloway
Harvard University

After the email

Photographs taken 4 June

Photographs after the improvements
Copy of the email
Reply to the email

Before the email

Ignorance of fire dangers
Dr Lisa Stampnitzky and Sheffield Camping- Campus Coalition for Palestine, SU
SU Department of Politics and International Relations: reasons to avoid
The Concourse Camp: the case against, including fire danger
My involvement in fire safety work
Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel. Includes discussion of civilian casualties in time of war and the gross unfairness of accusations of genocide in connection with Israel
What do the student protesters at the camp want? What are their demands?
UCU (University and College Union)
Professor Umberto Albarella,  SU
Dr A Takriti,  SU
Some Sheffield University Signatories:
Dr J. Nyman, Dr L. Stanley, Dr J. Tidy et al.

Other people, other issues

Professor Matthew Flinders,  SU
Sheffield University: architecture
Sheffield University: achievement
Sheffield Hallam University: the Vision
Professor A. Macaskill, SHU
Sheffield Hallam University: architecture

SU: Sheffield University SHU: Sheffield Hallam

Photographs taken 4 June, 2014 after the announcement that the university would take action to end the encampment

The photographs show the timidity of protesters, their sensitivity to being photographed or filmed. First, a single protester who realizes that he is being filmed, looks very concerned and covers his face. Then a group of protesters with a sign 'NO Photos' on the right. When they realized that they were being filmed, they scattered and fled the scene. If there hadn't been the 'NO Photos' sign, I wouldn't have published this photograph. I've included it just to make a point - that I see absolutely no reason to follow yet another demand of these protesters. The sign has no force in law.

I've spent a great deal of time at the encampment simply observing. I haven't so far recorded nearly enough of the everyday activities of the students there. In fact, they are all students, or if they're not all students, there are no staff there, despite any propaganda claims to the contrary. Their activities don't seem strenuous at all. They spend a very great deal of time socializing.  The claims to be building an unstoppable, revolutionary force for change are wish-fulfilment and illusion. It's impossible to satisfy their insatiable appetite for making demands. Their demands are grossly unrealistic, products of a fantasy world. Their campaigning methods are  crude, blundering, incompetent.

The photographs are published for a variety of reasons, not all described in detail on this page. There have been incidents which have been disturbing, Attempts have been made by students and some non-student protesters to deny a clear-cut legal right to take photographs, to film in a public place and even to walk in a particular direction in a particular place.  In  some cases, the behaviour has been intimidating, threatening, actively obstructive. This, the public place of a university, has become  in general a hostile place.

On two occasions, I've been able to have courteous, wide-ranging, quite lengthy discussions about aspects of Israeli-Palestinian relations - only to find, when I mentioned that I'd like to take some photographs now, that the tone has altered in an instant. One of the two people said that I can't possibly take photographs, the other actively obstructed me, and the obstruction went on and on. I found that the free and open discussion, which took place in a very quiet place well away from the main area of the encampment,  had been simply a tactic on their part to prevent me from taking photographs.

I've spent a great deal of time at the encampment simply observing. I haven't so far recorded nearly enough of the everyday activities of the students there. In fact, they are all students, or if they're not all students, there are no staff there, despite any propaganda claims to the contrary. Their activities don't seem strenuous at all. They spend a very great deal of time socializing.  The claims to be building an unstoppable, revolutionary force for change are wish-fulfilment and illusion. It's impossible to satisfy their insatiable appetite for making demands. Their demands are grossly unrealistic, products of a fantasy world. Their campaigning methods are  crude, blundering, incompetent.

I'm sure that I'm justified in recording in text and image their activities, but even so, I'll consider all requests for removal of images. I won't give way to demands to remove  images. Further information on the page About this site.

Below, photograph also taken on 4 June, showing that tents are still much too close together and too close to buildings.

For the first time, I filmed not in the Concourse where the encampment is situated - for the time being -  but from the pavement next to the busy public road above the Concourse. After not much more than 5 minutes of filming, I left to return to my parked van but by this time, a student from the encampment had appeared. He was tall, very tall, and was wearing a voluminous high visibility yellow coat, but most of his face was uncovered. I recognized him from previous visits to the encampment. 

I walked downhill and he walked next to me, agitated, angry and aggressive. This was a reaction on his part which was unnecessary and disturbing.  I had been filming a public space from another public space, a fully legal activity. I realized that this was something that needed action on my part. I'd no intention of allowing him to walk next to me until I reached the place where my van was parked. What I did was to walk suddenly to the left, quickly crossing the broad road towards the Chemistry building. He didn't follow me and seemed to be turning back. Instead, he decided to continue following me, but on the other side of the road. I took out my mobile phone so that I could phone for assistance if need be. He did turn back at last. I'd  assume that there would be some sort of reaction at the encampment when he got back but wasn't there to see it. CCTV may well have a record of any later developments.

This was the fifth time that students or other pro-Palestinian protesters have actively tried to stop me taking photographs or filming. On one of those occasions, I was attacked, in the others, an individual has obstructed me by standing very close, stopping me from walking where I wanted to go.

The demand that I shouldn't exercise my legal right to take photographs or to film, the demand that I shouldn't be able to walk where I want, are demands I'll resist.

Yesterday, the protester was walking much too close to me but not obstructing me. The risks of a serious incident are appreciable in such situations as this, as I  see it. It would be very easy for a protester to punch me in the face and the consequences could be serious for me, and serious for the protester, who would probably face police action.  Sheffield University has allowed the situation to go on for far too long.

Visit of 6 June: photographs and update on the eviction of the campers

Inside one of the  flammable tents, with flammable flags. . I didn't have to go into the tent to take the picture.

 

Another interior, with assorted flammable materials on the table, with more flammable flags.

The update comes from the naive, fatuous 'magazine,' 'Now Then.' An extract from a naive and fatuous article by Maryam Jameela of June 6.

https://nowthenmagazine.com/articles/university-of-sheffield-threatens-to-remove-palestine-encampment-as-students-dig-in

When asked if the university had indeed asked students to leave the encampment, a spokesperson from UoS [University of Sheffield]told Now Then:

Protesters have been reminded that they do not have the University’s permission for an encampment and that they are trespassing, so have been asked to leave safely and peacefully.

The encampment exists to protest the university’s ties to the arms trade that is facilitating the genocide in Palestine, to express solidarity with Palestinians, including students, and to allow free expression from students about their own university’s complicity as they see it.

Having visited the encampment a number of times, I’ve seen first hand how students are building a community where they can learn together, eat together, hold events for children, and make posters all in an effort to build solidarity around Palestine. Is the university’s problem with such activities that it doesn’t involve the commodification of education? That students are applying the critical thinking skills the university is supposed to hone?

It is entirely remarkable that the university considers the students to be trespassing on their own campus. How else would the university have them express their beliefs on Palestine? In a less noticeable way, perhaps?

Photographs after the 'improvements,'  taken 27 May, 2024 in the Concourse, Sheffield University. The student encampment.

After the 'improvements,' much more graffiti. Tents still packed closely together, touching or only slightly separated in most cases, ignoring the advice that tents should be separated by a minimum of 6 metres at least so that a fire in one tent doesn't quickly consume the whole tent area - with the people in them. After the improvements, still masses of flammable material which would fuel the fire. After the improvements, still no change in the attitude of the camp protesters. I made it clear that the law allowed me to take photographs. The photographs I'd taken documented the extreme fire risks. When I've started taking photographs, students have been infuriated, or in a state of panic, tried to stop me, obstructed me. This is an area where the law doesn't apply, they would like to think.

Above and below, graffiti on concrete supports. Graffiti above: 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.' From 'Palestine Camp, Bulletin - Issue 1, 6 May 2024:1 'We want to cover every surface we can with chalk and banners demanding liberation.' Producing surfaces which are ugly, very common in areas of high crime.

Above, this area before the coming of the Propaganda Camp. From 'Sheffield,' by the architectural historians Ruth Harman and John Minnis, (Pevsner Architectural Guides:)

'Moving ... to the S side of Western Bank, one can cross by means of Arup Associates' underpass the Concourse of 1968-9, a highly successful unification of the two halves of the Western Bank campus. The separate carriageways of the road are supported on four-branched piers, gaining just sufficient height to enable a generous and informal pedestrian space to be created.

Now, the pedestrian space is a scene of dereliction, smothered with graffiti, scruffy and off-putting, but not to the camp-protesters, who imagine that graffiti in this place will have an impact on places very far away, in the Middle East.

Below, photographs showing the open air section of the camp, again, taken 27 May 2024.

Extract from the email sent to me by a senior member of the University

Dear Mr Hurt,

 

Thank you for your emails to the Vice-Chancellor and other colleagues. The Vice-Chancellor has asked me to respond on his behalf. 

 

As a university, we are committed to protecting and promoting freedom of speech and association within the law and fostering an environment that encourages the free exchange of ideas. This includes our students' right to carry out lawful and peaceful protest. 

The current protest on campus has so far been largely peaceful, however we continue to remind the protestors of our expected standards of behaviour for any protest activity. 

 

Our top priority is maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our entire university community. 

We are closely monitoring the current situation on campus. CCTV of the area is being regularly monitored and extra patrols from security staff are being undertaken.

We have been regularly checking in with the protestors to ensure their own safety and wellbeing and that they are following guidance to protect the safety and wellbeing of others.

We have provided the protestors with guidance on fire safety and asked them to ensure tents are positioned away from other tents and adjacent buildings.

 

We have stressed the importance of not blocking fire exits or having any ignition sources or naked flames in or around the tents. As an added precaution, we have also provided aerosol fire extinguishers that are multi-purpose and safe to use on any type of fire.

 

As an operational measure, additional extinguishers have been positioned in nearby buildings for use by Security or Students' Union staff in the event of a fire within the encampment.

 

I hope this message reassures you that we are closely monitoring this situation and that we are prioritising safety and wellbeing on campus.

Reply to the email sent to me: extract

... I have now had the time to study your email in more detail, including the very sparse treatment of fire safety,

I am astonished that such a superficial document was ever allowed to be sent. The measures which you have put in place, heavily reliant upon the good will of the protesting students, are completely deficient. To give just one example, in my principal email on fire safety, I stressed the speed with which fire could take hold -  the destruction of a tent in a mere 60 seconds, perhaps. In that time, adjacent tents would have caught fire  and could well be destroyed -  together with their occupants -  in another 60 seconds. Yet you write, in your email, 'As an operational measure, additional extinguishers have been positioned in nearby buildings for use by Security or Students' Union staff in the event of a fire within the encampment.' In the time it would take for Security or Students' Union staff to reach the area with their fire extinguishers, it would be far too late. The damage would have been done, the lives would have been lost. You have failed to consider the welfare of security staff, expected, it seems to dash out with fire extinguishers in an attempt to extinguish a fire which is already much too big to be put out by such means - possibly risking injury or worse in the process. You haven't thought things through at all. 

The distances between tents is one of the most important of all considerations, yet you are vague on this matter. I gave 6 metres between tents as a very commonly recommended minimum.  The advice you have given to the protestors: they have been asked 'to ensure tents are positioned away from other tents and adjacent buildings.' You have not the least idea, obviously, about the importance of avoiding vague and subjective phrasing in giving advice on safety matters. Advice phrased in this way is far more easily disregarded than when the advice is precise and authoritative. 

You may have stressed the importance of not having any ignition sources or naked flames in or around the tents but good safety advice never places undue reliance upon the perfectibility of human nature. People who in normal circumstances are reasonably safety conscious may fail in some circumstances. Safety regulations should incorporate multiple safeguards. So, the rules concerning minimum distances between tents limit the damage if in one tent, an individual does behave recklessly and makes use of naked flames. At least the fire is unlikely to spread to other tents. 

The approach to fire safety at Sheffield University, at least in the case of this issue, falls well below minimum standards  - taking care not to generalize, to separate the negligent people from the people who bear no responsibility. It isn't 'Sheffield University' which is culpable in this matter but, I think, people at a high level of seniority.'

...

Before the email

Ignorance of fire dangers

The images above show that the tents at the  Pro-Palestinian Camp in Sheffield University Concourse, near the Student Union building, are very closely spaced. For larger images of the tents packed together, conditions in the Camp Site and some of the people, please click here. Very often,  the tents are touching or almost touching. The recommendation, made again and again by Fire and Rescue Services and camping organizations, is this:

Tents should be at least 6 metres apart, to avoid the spread of fire.

At this camp, a grossly excessive number of tents have been packed into the available space.

A tent can be consumed by fire in 60 seconds and at this camp, fire would spread from tent to tent with dramatic speed. Tents are waterproof, not flameproof.  Flammable materials abound in the large tents which would feed the fire and there are no fire extinguishers. Fire regulations have been ignored at this camp. This camp isn't a 'Safe Space' but a dangerous one.

'Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine,' the organizers, and Sheffield University have been risking disaster. In the event of fire, the closeness of the tents would not only have accelerated the spread of fire but limited the ability of tent occupants to get out of the tent and get out of the area. The occupants would have got in each others' way, very likely increasing the fatality rate and the injury rate - a scene which could involve students trapped in an inferno in the middle of the night.

There would have been very severe legal consequences, very severe general consequences, the University suffering catastrophic harm, its reputation suffering catastrophic harm.

Some users of the camping area have actively tried to prevent me from taking photographs, by means which include active obstruction, blocking my path.  I've pointed out that the law allows me to take photographs - and to go where I want in this public space -  and I've gone ahead and taken photographs, to document  conditions at the site.

Dr Lisa Stampnitzky and Sheffield Camping-Campus Coalition for Palestine

Dr Stampnitzky is an academic in the Department of Politics and International Relations, a department which has very serious flaws, as I see it. More on this in the section below, Sheffield University Department of Politics and International Relations: reasons to avoid.   The people who should consider doing the avoiding are prospective students, people who are considering an application to the department for undergraduate and graduate degrees - I take the view that an application would be very mistaken - and, also, a variety of grant-awarding bodies, who could and should consider other, far more worthy recipients for their cash.

Dr Stampnitzky is an advocate for the 'encampment' which was set up on May 1, 2024 near to the University Union building and other Sheffield University buildings. She  advocates grossly unrealistic, unachievable, deluded objectives of the kind also promoted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and similar organizations.

At the time of writing (14 May, 2024) the encampment is still there. It is defunct in one sense, an obvious failure. In the periods I've observed the comings and goings in the area I've seen virtually no interest in the encampment. I've seen a single visitor who seemed to know some of the students taking part in the project and another visitor who presumably talked to them about the aims and objectives of the project. Nobody else at all.

But in this two week period, the encampment has been a deeply disturbing presence. Walking towards the encampment on one side, there can be seen a crude painting of bloodstained hands.

Just visible is the slogan, 'Stop Israeli killing,' more clearly shown in this poster:

Jewish students should have the same right as other students to make use of the Union building but Dr Stampnitzky seems to have other ideas. Palestinian Solidarity Campaign protests go on for relatively short periods and have been disastrous in their effects - and ineffectual, achieving nothing. This and similar encampments have stayed put for a long period and have been disastrous in their effects - and, like the shorter protests, have been ineffectual, achieving nothing. The slogan, 'Ceasefire NOW' typifies the complete disregard for realities, no more achievable than 'World Peace NOW' would be.

The university authorities have allowed the situation to go on and on. There are consequences - this has done the reputation of Sheffield University no good at all, but I see the need to make the necessary distinctions. There's a scrawled slogan accusing the AMRC, the Sheffield University Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre of contributing to the killing of Palestinians because of its work on aircraft components. AMRC is superb, deeply impressive, with enormous and wide ranging benefits, including benefits for their apprentices. The benefits to security are enormous too. Putin's aggression in Ukraine has concentrated many, many minds. Peace is precarious, to live in peace requires enormous effort, time and money. Without advanced armaments, democracies go under and lose their freedom.

As I show below, there are academics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, who imagine that defence against aggression has no need of armaments. My view is that for this reason alone, this is not a department which can be taken seriously. 

I first visited the encampment just after 7a.m. on a Sunday morning, 12 May. These are some of the photographs I took. There were many, many tents there but just three students. One or two students may have slept one or two nights in one or two tents but I think it's very unlikely that it amounted to more than this.  I very much doubt that Dr Stampnitzky has spent a night in one of the tents.

A fuller account will be needed to do justice to this misinformed and deluded lecturer. I include in this section a brief summary of 'the case for Israel' which appears in my page on Israel. It provides argument and evidence which she and the people taking part in this encampment could consider. The possibility that they will make a case for their own views, use counter-arguments and counter-evidence against arguments and evidence which are contrary to views - the possibility is non-existent, of course.

Below, tents in the Councourse area. The area is meant to be for multiple use but now a large part is for the exclusive use of a a single faction. The area has a very impressive lighting system, which also makes the area safe at night, but now the area is surely less secure at night. It's cluttered, all parts can't be viewed easily, and the tents will present potential hiding places. The area has deteriorated. There are now scrawled slogans on walls and other surfaces, there are crude political graffiti - crude in their execution, crude in the political thinking which underlies them.

Below, Camp Graffiti. From the leaflet 'Palestine Camp:' We want to ... cover every surface we can with chalk and banners'


On my second visit, on Monday 13 May, I stayed at the site for almost two hours. Most of the time was spent in scrutiny and observation. Changes had been made since my earlier visit. Very untidy areas had been tidied up and the difference was very noticeable. At the time of the earlier visit, there were just three participating students but on the second visit there were many more. I would think that a determined attempt had been made to show that this was a well-staffed operation. The lack of inquirers and visitors to the encampment was, though, very obvious.

I was given a double sided information sheet (or propaganda sheet), 'Palestine Camp,' Bulletin - Issue 1: 06/05/24. It may be that Issue 1 was the one and only issue. There's a prominent call which, gives later lack of obvious interest, reeks of desperation:

Students and staff: join the camp!

The propaganda sheet makes this claim:

'We are part of a national and international student movement, sweeping the country and the globe. Sixteen British universities are in revolt; by next week there will be twenty-five.'

'We want to be visible so more people can join us. We want to show the uni that from here we can only get stronger. We are guided by our compassion and love.'

One striking and significant fact.  In all the time I've spent at the camp so far, I've only seen one member of the public, or anyone else, such as staff or student, come up to one or more students and enquire. There are plenty of passers by but they don't appear to take any interest in the displays. If they do look, it's only momentarily. On the evidence I have, it seems clear that they're failing to have an impact. They have absolutely no chance of achieving the naive and ridiculous objectives mentioned in their leaflet, 'Palestine Camp.' There's not a trace of ever-increasing power and impact, of an unstoppable force. Claims to the contrary are just words, empty verbiage.

I asked students who belonged to the encampment for their views on the horrific events of October7, the Hamas attack on Israel, I asked for their views on the treatment of homosexuals in Gaza, where homosexuality is subject to punishment for up to ten years, I asked for their views on Iran, the supporter of Hamas. I mentioned sentences of stoning to death for adultery in Iran. I mentioned a wide range of abuses - and got nowhere. They were indifferent -  - 'Can't be bothered.'

The propaganda sheet also makes this claim:

'This university is covered in blood. It has received over £72 million from arms companies since 2012. Staff at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) have won awards for their work developing the F-35 fighter jet, used by the Israeli army in their genocidal murder of tens of thousands of Palestinians. [I discuss the issue of genocide at length in my page on Israel and the issue of the killing of civilians in war is discussed in the short summary of issues below.] We are demanding the university cuts ties with arms companies, joins in with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) of Israel, and shows accountability by meeting staff and students at our camp.'

The 'demands' of SCCP include  this: 'We hold the University of Sheffield accountable for their complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people.'

This is followed by this amazing (amazingly stupid) claim. It really does deserve some emphasis:

'We will remain camping indefinitely until our demands are met.'

Are they quite sure of that? This confident statement is doomed to disappointment.

'This university belongs to all of us, not our parasitic student management. If we come together in strength and solidarity there is no demand we cannot win.'

When complying with demands entails very severe consequences, when the demands are demands for impossible objectives, when the people who are making the demands have far less power, then it's the people making the demands who lose.

To issue the demand, 'Stop the assault on Gaza' will have no more effect on events in the real world than any other plea in time of war which is powerless to make the demand effective.

'We demand an immediate ceasefire ... ' What? An immediate ceasefire? NOW? This minute? Surely, out of the question. Or do these people regard themselves as miracle workers? 'NOW' is often used instead of 'now' because it's wrongly supposed that the use of capital letters gives even greater urgency and makes achievement more likely.

After my second visit to the encampment, I began to rethink a policy which I've made clear to students there on both my visits. I said that one of my reasons for visiting was to take photographs for documentary purposes. The law allows the taking of photographs in these circumstances. The law allows the taking of photographs of children, of police officers and of the faces of students but I have self-imposed limitations. I don't take photographs in any of those cases. I didn't take photographs of any of the students taking part.

Now, I see the need to modify the rules I've set for myself. From now on, I'll take photographs of students taking part and I'll take film footage too. This applies to any future visits I make to the encampment and once the encampment is no more, as will probably happen fairly soon, I'll take photographs and take film footage of students taking part in any future pro-Palestinian events which may take place at the university, when I'm able to attend. If Dr Stampnitzky ever visits the encampment when I'm there, I'll waste no time at all in taking a photograph for use on this page.

I'll be sending an email to Dr Stampnitzky to draw her attention to this change of policy on my part. There's presumably a chain of command in their operation, some means of bringing information to the attention of the students and academic staff taking part. (But what academic staff? I know of only Dr Stampnitzky. If there are any other academics involved in helping out, inspiring the students, helping with the practical work, I'd be glad to have some names. I would hope that these academics would have the courage of their convictions and not need to keep their support secret - but I think a degree of secrecy is far more likely than a confident statement that they fully support the objectives and methods of the encampment.

Dr Stampnitzky, 'staff representative on SCCP and Politics Lecturer:'

'I am proud to see our students taking a stand and joining this worldwide movement against the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Our university needs to confirm its commitment to be an ethical institution and divest itself of ties to the development of weapons used to perpetrate atrocities.'

In fact, she has encouraged students to enter a complex and hazardous field, without, it seems, any awareness of the risks, which are potentially considerable. (There are other disadvantages, such as the simple wasting of time, expending time and effort on initiative which are surely doomed to failure.)

Universities have no statutory duty of care for their students. In recent years, the discussion has been centred on a very, very important aspect, the mental health of students, but there are obviously wider implications. Academics who provide care for their students which meets the basic legal requirements but no more should be ashamed, I believe.

In the case of the encampment, do the words and actions of Dr Stampnitzky satisfy basic levels of care? Do they fail other tests? My own view is that she has acted recklessly, with insufficient thought given to the consequences of her words and actions. This academic, and the students taking part in the encampment, should realize that there are possible consequences, including unintended consequences.

It's clear that Dr Stampnitzky, like the unknown author or authors of what I call 'the propaganda sheet,' have a view of armaments as evil, or harmful to an extreme degree - of course, they choose to neglect Palestinian and Iranian use of armaments, such as the rockets and drones which have rained down on Israel at intervals.

My extensive page Academics against Armaments  discusses the subject. Since the page was published, there have been developments which make clear what should have been completely clear before that: armaments are ambiguous, they can be used to destroy liberties and to restore liberties, for outright repression and for liberation from oppression. Examples include the aggressive use of armaments by the Nazis and the liberation of countries from Nazi rule, which would have been impossible without the use of armaments. And, also, of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resistance to Russian invasion, again, impossible without the use of armaments.

The aircraft whose construction is furthered by the work of AMRC are for constructive ends. Without access to armaments, Israel obviously cannot defend itself and cannot defeat potential invaders of this whole area, including terrorist invaders.

Not only is Dr Stampnitzky unable to see the force of these arguments, the same applies to some other academics in the Department of Politics and International Relations. One example, Dr Joanna Tidy, who signed the grotesque document mentioned in my page 'Academics against Armaments.'

Sheffield University  Department of Politics and International Relations, including reasons to avoid

This is a very recent section. It will be revised and extended.

A selection of 'reasons to avoid' is given in the section above. This section will contain additional material, and there will need to be a great deal of material to do even partial justice to the competing claims of such a large number of people. I would risk this generalization. In the specific case of the encampment, deeply disturbing, as I see it, for a variety of reasons, the staff making up the department seem to have been unable or unwilling to offer any specific advice or  information on the matter. They seem to have been completely willing to take a laissez-fair attitude, amounting, to all intents and purposes, to indifference. If there has been active concern, it has been well concealed.

All sorts of reasons can be given for the importance of academic study in this field but if the study has seemingly no importance at the practical level, if no insights are offered, no helpful suggestions are made, let alone wide-ranging attempts to solve a problem, then outsiders are entitled to draw certain conclusions. In this case, the theories supported by empirical evidence (or unsupported by empirical evidence) have been lacking. This is a department which seems to have failed, and failed comprehensively. There are people in this department who fail to see the basics, who imagine that abolishing armaments is a feasible and realistic objective, who imagine that without armaments, Ukraine can maintain its freedom. This is a grotesque department - not wholly, but in part - a very worrying part. There are many, many ordinary Sheffield people, with no academic achievements, who can easily detect the stupidity of these views.

I'll need to spend much more time on an examination of individual academics in the department to find out more, to distinguish between people who are playing academic games - frivolous academic games - and people of substance. Provisionally, I maintain that it would be a mistake for intending undergraduate or postgraduate students to apply to join the department and that this department isn't one of the deserving recipients of grants. I don't give any further information about possible grants here

In the meantime, the department, and the university, will no doubt carry on making claims which may or may not be supported by the evidence. My provisional view is that much of the evidence is manufactured and isn't in the least compelling. My view is that it's easy to make grandiose claims and far harder to substantiate the claims. It's easy to make claims about 'world class' research but the actual achievement is a very different matter - this may well be parochial, minor or non-existent.

A massive disadvantage of academic specialization. Academics decide not to comment because the issue is outside their academic speciality. Or academics comment - and do much more than comment - on an issue outside their academic speciality without devoting nearly enough work on aspects which are relevant, important, vital. Experts, or supposed experts, in one restricted field who are content to be dilettantes in matters outside their field. An example, academics who comment on Israeli-Palestinian relations without serious study of military history, aspects which are of crucial importance: including the unavoidable killing of civilians. Academics who use the term 'genocide' in a completely unscrupulous way, without any regard to the complex history of the word and the complex uses of the word. Not all academics are complex, sensitive people (people who are sensitive to other people or people who are sensitive to language. Academics can be pathetic, very flawed individuals - despite the attempts of their departments and their universities to promote a distorted view.

So many claims made by departments and universities are fully justified, on the other hand. The achievements may well be exemplary - but it is rarely the case that massive achievements in some respects are unaccompanied by comparative failings and others. There's absolutely no reason why the outstanding achievement of a department of Chemistry should always be accompanied by serious failings in a department of, let's say, Politics or English Literature.

I take the view that already, even without further argument and evidence, there's a case to answer.

This is a list of current academics in the department: professors, lecturers and some others. My initial reaction is frankly this, I have to say. This seems to be a bloated department. The more staff, the greater the achievement, the more impressive the department? It's possible for big departments to be very restricted in actual achievement. I intend to publish profiles of a selection of the people listed here.

Some of the names in this list include this, in paretheses: [SIGNER]  This is a reference to the signing of a document discussed at length in my page Academics Against Armaments.  The individual concerned signed the document. This is an extract from the page:

The academics who signed the document against the 'Defence and Security Equipment' event, described as the 'Arms Fair,' have shown shocking ignorance.  Liberal democracies which make no provision for defence and security will be defeated by totalitarian or semi-totalitarian regimes which will pay absolutely no attention to the naive and superficial views of the signatories. The Defence and Security Equipment event was making available advanced weapons which reduce the chance of killing or injuring unintended targets.

Precision strikes conducted by Ukrainian forces using high-tech weapons supplied by democracies are undermining Russia's ability to fight and Moscow is turning to outdated arms as its stocks of more modern armaments become exhausted. The inspiring resistance of Ukraine to unprovoked aggression - only effective because it makes use of advanced armaments, not the ridiculous rhetoric of the signers, is one of a very large number of other counter-examples which comprehensively demolish the false claims of the signers. I provide other examples on this page.

Any pretence that the signers had the advantage of expert knowledge is undermined by the evidence of the profiles here - I intend to add more - as well as other evidence. The signers acted as ideologists, not fair-minded academics. They have surely damaged their own reputations and potentially the reputations of the University departments where they work -  the ones who do work in University departments. The document supplied with the list of signatories made claims that were obviously false as regards their backgrounds.

Professor Charlotte Burns, Head of Department

Dr Sarah Ababneh
Dr Amya Agarwal
Dr George Asiamah
Professor Ian Bache
Professor Andrew Baker
Dr Ross Bellaby
Ms Jessica Benson-Egglenton
Dr Matthew L. Bishop
Professor Ruth Blakeley
Rt Hon. Professor the Lord Daid Blunkett
Dr Jayne Carrick
Dr Barish Celik
Professor Alasdair Cochrane
Dr Luis De La Calle
Dr Juan M. Diaz Arevalo
Professor Kate Dommett
Professor Rosaleen Duffy
Dr David Duriesmith
Dr Lewis Eves
Dr Joanna Flavell
Professor Matthew Flinders
Professor Andrew Gamble
Dr Jonthan K. Gamu
Mrs Katy Gordon
Dr Jennifer Greenburg
Dr Edward Hall
Professor Andrew Hindmoor
Professor John M. Hobson
Dr Amandine Hostein
Professor Michael Jacobs
Dr Thomas R. Johnson
Miss Lowenna Jones
Dr Amna Kaleem
Dr Zeynep Kaya
Ms Kelli Kennedy
Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford
Dr Natalie Langford
Dr Malte Michael Laub
Dr Stephanie Luke
Dr Xavier Hathieu
Professor Felicity Matthews
Dr Annapurna Menon
Dr Patricia Nabuco Martuscelli
Dr Jonna Nyman  [SIGNER]
Dr Owen Parker
Professior Charles Pattie
Dr Daniel Pitt
Dr Megan Price
Dr Athanassios Roussias
Professor Simon Rushton
Dr Matt Sleat
Dr Lisa Stampnitzky
Dr Liam Stanley  [SIGNER]
Dr Gregory Stiles
Dr Nicky Stubbs
Dr Joanna Tidy [SIGNER]
Dr Patrick Tom
Dr Helen Louise Turton
Dr Luke Ulas
Dr Joseph Ward
Dr James Weinberg
Dr Richard Williams
Dr Matthew Wood
Dr Kieran Wright
Dr Erman OrsanYetis
Dr Junyan Zhu

The Concourse Camp: the case against, including fire danger

From the site of 'HLM Architects,' 'Case Study, the Concourse.'

https://hlmarchitects.com/projects/the-concourse/

The objectives set out in the brief have been addressed through the design development of the scheme:

  • A design that is uncluttered and provides a flexible space, for a variety of users and functions that occur through the University’s academic year

  • Create an important civic space within the campus where people want to stay and socialise, that will provide an animated space during the day and at night

  • Create spaces that respond to user’s requirements – social, learning and quiet activities

  • Compliant and have a relationship with the Masterplan public realm

  • A design that respond [sic]  to the buildings and functions around the Concourse

  • A lighting scheme that promotes use of the space, through the feeling of safety and security, whilst providing a dynamic night time streetscape

  • A scheme that focused on sustainability of materials

The Concourse is uncluttered no longer. The degree of clutter varies. When left over food and many other things are left on tables, when objects are piled up on the floor, the clutter is very noticeable.

A large part of the area is now unavailable for social use - except for the socializing of the Campus campers and people who come to the site to see them - twice this week, I've seen in the area the member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, certainly not a student, a person who took part in the chaotic attempt to take away my camera, someone who on three occasions has prevented me from walking freely. He prevented me from walking freely in the Concourse but of course, students, staff and members of the public like myself are prevented from making fuller use of the Concourse because the tents and the clutter make that impossible.

 The area is no longer an 'important civic space' for a wide range of activities. A large part of the area is now unavailable for other activities, such as quiet activities.

Security on the site is severely compromised. Instead of clear sight-lines, a space which can easily be viewed to prevent and detect security risks, we have a space which is  now obstructive in large part, making impossible the clear views which were once provided, providing now multiple opportunities for concealment, at night as well as in the day. Anyone who wants to occupy an empty tent at night would be able to do just that without any difficulty. People walking through the area at night are potentially at risk.

CCTV is essential to maximize the safety and security of users of the area but now, a large area can't be viewed adequately and a substantial area can't be viewed at all.

An additional hazard: there will be food waste in the area now. Not all of it will be cleared promptly. Some may be left for quite a time. This food waste may well attract urban rats.

Fire precautions in the camping area seem to be not so much inadequate as non-existent. Fire safety should be just as good as at a commercial camp site. An example of fire precautions at a commercial site:

' ... clear space between pitches [each tent is within a pitch] should be at least three metres and no pitch ... should be more than 90 metres from a fire point. At each fire point there should be two 10-litre water extinguishers (complying with British Standard 5423) and there should be a method of raising the alarm. There should also be a notice explaining the steps to take in the event of a fire: raise the alarm, evacuate the area, call the fire brigade, suppress the fire using the provided equipment.'

My view is that Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine,' and Sheffield University, have been risking disaster. A student trapped inside a tent inferno in the middle of the night, the flames spreading swiftly to neighbouring tents - which are spaced very, very closely in the concourse, in ignorance of the risks,  the whole campsite quickly burning - how would they recover from this catastrophe?

Aesthetically, the area has suffered. I've seen crude graffiti, not the work of vandals but of  believers in the cause. 'Palestine Camp,' Bulletin - Issue 1, published by the Campus Campers, includes this, 'We want to ... cover every surface we can with chalk and banners demanding liberation.' This objective is explicitly stated, forming a strategy 'for how to build power and target the university.'

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign and similar organizations take the view that when they protest, rights and freedoms guaranteed by law are no longer to be observed if they think they are in  conflict with their 'demands.' I have found this to be the case in various places, at various times. My freedom of action has been restricted. Campaigners have prevented me from walking in one direction or in any direction but the way back, in an attempt to prevent me from exercising  a similar freedom, the freedom to take photographs or film footage of protesters.

Until recently, the interference was only temporary. At the Sheffield encampment, the interference has been far more lasting. The encampment has lasted far longer than any of the previous protests. 

In the encampment site, the same tactics were used by two different people, one a student, the other not a student: standing very close to me, in my path, preventing me from walking forwards. If I've moved to the side, these people have moved to the side, so that I continued to be blocked. This area is a public highway and wilfully stopping free movement is, to me, a case of obstruction, which has legal penalties if the person is found guilty of the offence.

The Concourse is a public highway. In law, obstruction does not have to take the form of obstruction to the whole width of the highway. The wilful prevention of movement in one part of the highway constitutes obstruction as well.

There is absolutely no reason why Sheffield University should provide facilities for a very vocal, very demanding minority with an insatiable appetite for making demands, people who take one particular view of a single set of issues. The issues are very important ones but there are very different views of the issues - I think that these are far more likely to be accompanied by argument and evidence. There is surely no reason why Sheffield University should disadvantage other users of the Concourse.

The Campus Campers have many, many other ways of promoting their views and publicizing their views. Sheffield University is under no obligation whatsoever to give them these facilities for promoting their cause. To grant  these people these facilities and privileges is surely very misguided, in fact, deeply unfair.

My view is that the Camp has been damaging and the longer it continues, the more damage it will cause. The best outcome by far would be for the Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine to take the decision to close the camp and to dismantle it. If not, my view is that Sheffield University should take action to close the camp,  which would probably need preliminary legal action.

If both Sheffield Campus Coalition and Sheffield University decide not to take this step, my view is that circumstances and future developments will eventually lead to the closure of the camp for certain, in the longer term, but that Sheffield Campus Coalition and Sheffield University will be left with impaired reputations. My view is that Sheffield Campus Coalition has no reputation worthy of the name but that Sheffield University is in a very different category, flawed, deeply flawed in some respects, but with immense strengths which very much outweigh the weaknesses.

I offer in this page and in other places argument and evidence. Since universities are commonly supposed to be places where argument and evidence and reasoned debate flourish (a very mistaken view so often) then I think it wouldn't come amiss if the university could offer argument and evidence in these matters instead of remaining largely silent. The slogan shouters and intelligentsia who offer support to Gaza (largely uncritical support) could make the attempt to offer argument and evidence too. I'm a single individual and both the university and Sheffield Campus Coalition have strength of numbers as an advantage, but I think that strength of numbers can be accompanied by weakness in other respects.

My involvement in fire safety work

Amongst the wide-ranging fields in which I work or to which I contribute is the field of fire safety. I'd claim that the reason why I detected fire risks at the student encampment site which had not been noticed by others is because of my involvement in fire safety. I have a patent pending in the United States which has wide-ranging environmental benefits but also very significant benefits in fire safety. This is a radically new system which amongst many other possibilities  allows window glazing to be moved away from the window area in a few seconds in the event of fire, giving a completely open window space. This will allow fire and rescue services to evacuate people inside the burning building far more easily. It will allow people inside the burning building to escape from the building far more easily. The page
www.linkagenet.com/phd/new-window-door-system.htm   gives further information about the invention.

Very recently, I received legal documents from the firm of United States patent agents and attorneys which I use. The documentation was for me to check, to make any necessary changes, and then approve. The firm will then send the documents to the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) for filing. Once filed, the invention would then be granted patent pending status, bringing the total number of my patents pending in the United States to three.

This invention too has very wide-ranging environmental benefits but also substantial benefits in fire safety. It allows water falling on the roof - a roof of new design - to be collected and stored and in the event of fire released through a sprinkler system or through larger apertures. I think in international terms. The invention has substantial advantages when implemented in war zones. It makes it possible for incendiary devices and burning debris falling on the roof to be extinguished, although not in the case of large-scale intrusions.  
www.linkagenet.com/phd/new-roofing-walling-system.htm  gives further information about this invention. The existing account on the page of my site will be supplemented with a more detailed, more technical account once the invention has been filed at the USPTO.

Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel

For a fuller discussion of the issues, including the rules of war, treatment of non-combatants and genocide, please see my page on Israel.

Human values, humane values can sometimes only be safeguarded by harsh action, including harsh military action. This was the case during the Second World War, a conflict which was obviously more wide ranging by far. But the savagery displayed in the recent terrorist attack on Israel was as bad as any of the atrocities which took place during the Second World War. Allied forces defeated genocidal Nazi Germany not by displays of naive, utopian, superficial thinking but by tactical and strategic thinking which resulted in hard military action, including the use of bombardment.

 After D-day, villages, towns and cities in France, Belgium and the Netherlands were liberated by British and other allied forces. Very often, they were liberated by military action which included bombing and artillery fire and very often with civilian casualties. For example, Caen in Normandy was liberated only after being heavily bombed. About 80% of the town was devastated and 3000 civilians were killed.

Above, A Handley Page Halifax bomber  flying over Caen, one of 467 aircraft taking part in a  ddaylight raid to assist the Normandy land battle. The aircraft were originally intended to bomb German strongpoints north of Caen, but there were Allied troops near to the targets, so the bombing area was moved nearer to the city, causing massive damage to the northern suburbs.

Around 60,000 French civilians had been killed by allied bombing by the time France was liberated. To use only ground forces was out of the question. Nazi occupied Europe could never have been liberated in this way. Anyone who claims that allied forces were 'no better than Nazis' for frequent killing of civilians is failing to take into account Nazi killings of civilians, which belonged to a different order of reality - reprisal executions, the mass executions of the Einsatzgruppen and, of course, the Holocaust, the worst set of war crimes in human history.

In extreme circumstances, to overcome fanatical opposition, the armed forces of democratic states often have no alternative but to use extreme force – but not ‘extremist force,’ the methods used by fanatics. To use slight force would be to guarantee defeat. Although technological advances have vastly increased the precision of bombing, these cannot overcome all difficulties, for example those arising in very densely populated neighbourhoods such as Gaza.

A stark fact: the families of all the terrorists killed or injured in these horrific attacks in Israel will receive large cash payments from the Palestinian Authority, which calls them ‘Martyr payments.’ The families of Palestinian terrorists killed or injured whilst committing previous acts of terrorism already receive these payments, a reward for spreading death and destruction. ‘Martyr payments’ are also made to the families of terrorists imprisoned by Israel for politically motivated violence, often lethal violence.

Basem Naim, Head of Political and International Relations for Hamas, claimed in an interview not long after the attacks on Israeli civilians that none of the people taken hostage at the time by the terrorists (obviously, he never used the word ‘terrorists’) are civilians! According to this tainted source of information, the child hostages are not civilians and neither are the children killed! This is a claim that deserves to be treated with contempt and revulsion.

He also claimed that it was an absolute necessity to attack Israel. The alternative, he said, would be ‘to die silently by malnutrition.’ Later in the interview, he claimed a Palestinian malnutrition rate of 55% He intended to present a deeply distressing picture of starving Palestinians, deprived of food by the Israelis, but he surely knew that the Palestinian malnutrition problem is obesity, not starvation. There have been a number of studies. A study of 2019 found that among adults 18 years and older, 64% of males and 69.5% of females in the Palestinian territories were overweight. Hamas has a record of using distortion, exaggeration, selectivity, general falsification, often taking grotesque forms - tactics which appeal to credulous people.

Badly needed: a deeper and wider understanding of the Palestinian society which gives such widespread support to Hamas. A clear sighted, fair-minded and comprehensive view of Palestinian society should amongst other things take into account information such as  findings of the Pew Research Center. A few examples: stoning to death for adultery may not be practised in the Palestinian territories but 84% of Palestinians support the punishment. The conviction that a woman must always obey her husband is widely held, with 87% support in the Palestinian territories.

Homosexuality is illegal in Gaza, although not in the West Bank. Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Israel, of course. The Gay scene in Israel is a very flourishing one. The Tel Aviv Gay Pride event is one of the largest in the world. As for Iran, the supporter of Hamas, this is a country in the grip of a horrific regime. Homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and political dissidence are amongst the many offences which can be punished with the death penalty.

A society which is liberal, tolerant and open has to have a whole range of other strengths. Essential: alertness to forces that can damage it very severely, perhaps irreparably. A society has to be willing and able to defend itself or risk being damaged or destroyed by ruthless outside forces - with the exception of states which rely upon other states for their defence, generally mistakenly, but not in the case of very small states such as San Marino.

If, hypothetically, Palestinians were granted a state, is it likely that their relations with their neighbour Israel would be harmonious? If, hypothetically, Israel were ever to be wiped out, the new state would be very vulnerable. Its survival could never be guaranteed. It could easily be invaded by a powerful and ruthless adversary that would like to take its territory. As it is, superior Israeli military power guarantees the security of the Palestinian territories, just as the neutral Republic of Ireland was protected against German invasion by the military power of Britain and its allies during the Second World War. The protection against potential aggressors provided by Israel's superior power is a massive advantage for the Palestinians.

The practical problems  confronting Hamas were avoidable but Hamas chose not to avoid them. In fact, the problems can only be solved if Hamas is eliminated. Democratic states and organizations should do nothing which helps to save Hamas, directly or indirectly. There are many, many countries in the world facing acute problems to do with basic needs. It’s impossible to give effective help to all of them. The basic economic problem is the problem of scarcity: unlimited wants and finite resources.

Why should Gaza be regarded as not just a deserving cause but a deserving cause which should have absolute priority? Israel and Ukraine deserve the support of the free world, not so Hamas-controlled Gaza. The international community's contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza should only be offered under the most stringent conditions..

Hamas is a basket case and has ruined Gaza, with the support of far too many Palestinians. But in general, they don't deserve a regime as bad as Hamas. The 'they' is a generalization, of course, There are deserving and undeserving Palestinians. 

If, with the aid of the horrific Iranian regime (which sentenced 51 people to be stoned to death for adultery in 2022), Palestinians in Gaza had been able to amass a formidable force of multirole combat aircraft, then there can't be the least doubt that they would have done everything in their power to use them for the destruction of Israeli hospitals, homes and schools, as well as Israeli Defence Force positions, without the least concern for 'International Law.'. They have been able, with the aid of the horrific Iranian regime, to equip themselves with rockets and they have used them to attack Israeli civilians on many occasions in previous years and now on a much bigger scale.

The damage from Israeli counter-attacks against Gaza after these previous rocket attacks should have taught Hamas this simple lesson. If you don't want war damage in Gaza and want to protect civilians in Gaza, stop firing rockets and stop breaking ceasefires. But Hamas are very slow learners.

If it wanted to, Iran, a big country, could aid the Palestinians not just by providing them with supplies but by offering them some Iranian territory for a new Palestinian homeland. Would the Palestinians be glad to go there, to live in a place free of Israeli influence? I doubt it. If the barbarity of Hamas (and the Iranian regime) is obvious to anyone with any sense, the stupidity of Hamas (and the Iranian regime) should be obvious to anyone with any sense too.

Supplementary: mistakes in war

Above, the bombing of the Bezuidenhout

Above, after the bombing

Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli forces by mistake. To claim that these killings are evidence of malign intent, that this is proof that the Israelis are heartless killers, is wide of the mark. Yet again, it's grossly inadequate knowledge of the realities of war which lead to the making of such claims as these.

Recommended, a reading of the Wikipedia article on 'friendly fire,' a different kind of mistake, leading to the killing of soldiers on the same side as the forces which mistakenly did the killing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_friendly
_fire_incidents

An instance of civilian loss of life (and injury) which was mistakenly carried out by allied forces during the Second World War, the Bombing of the Bezuidenhout. Again, the Wikipedia article can be recommended.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_the
_Bezuidenhout

An extract:

The bombing of the Bezuidenhout (Dutch: bombardement op het Bezuidenhout) took place on 3 March 1945, when the Royal Air Force  mistakenly bombed the Bezuidenhout   neighbourhood in the Dutch city of The Hague  resulting in the death of 532 citizens.

...

The British bombers were intended to bomb the Haagse Bos  ("Forest of the Hague") district where the Germans  had installed V-2  launching facilities that had been used to attack English cities. However, the pilots were issued with the wrong coordinates (vertical and horizontal interchanged)so the navigational instruments of the bombers had been set incorrectly, and combined with low fog and clouds which obscured their vision, the bombs were instead dropped on the Bezuidenhout residential neighbourhood. Eventually, a wind force  of 9 instead of the expected 5 added to the catastrophe.All bombs missed the rocket installations in the 2.4 km (1.5 mi) x 0.8 km (0.50 mi) forest target (Haagse Bos) by 1.2 km (1,300 yd) ... and hit the Bezuidenhout  neighbourhood instead.

What do the student protesters at the camp want? What are their demands?

Extracts from 'Palestine Camp,' Bulletin - Issue 1: 06/05/24. I obtained a copy from the Protesters. My comments are in square brackets [ ... ]

'We will remain camping indefinitely until our demands are met.' [Their demands will never be met. They'll abandon their camp, unless they choose to stay there  after graduation, for decades.] 

'If we come together in strength and solidarity there is no demand we cannot win.' [As a matter of strict fact, not true.]

[And what are those demands which must be met and which they are confident they can win?]

'We are demanding the university cuts ties with arms companies.' [that is, the arms companies which also supply Ukraine with the materials needed to defend
its freedom, the materials needed for this country to defends its status as a free democracy. This demand, like the others,  pays not the slightest attention to realities.]

'As students and staff at this institution, it is our moral imperative to fight for the severing of all ties to arms companies.'

[Transpose the protest to a hypothetical camp just before the start of the Second World War and during the Second World War. Depriving the armed forces of arms would have quickly led to Nazi occupation of this country. The protesters' claim to this moral imperative is defective in so many ways.]

' ... genocide of Palestinians' has significantly intensified since last October'
{a date which is very significant, of course, for a reason not made clear by the
Bulletin, as it marked the incursion of Hamas into Israel and the intensification of Israeli action to defend Israel against further atrocities. The claim amounts to a horrific evasion.] 
'We want to ... cover every surface we can with chalk and banners demanding liberation.'

[This and other claims and demands are a form of monomania, disregarding a very wide range of responsibilities in the single-minded, distorting focus on one single cause, amounting, in my view, to fanaticism.] 

https://www.sheffieldpsc.org.uk/?p=4183

'Students at the University of Sheffield have today (1 May 2024) begun a mass encampment in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in protest against allegations of their university’s complicity in Israeli apartheid and the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. The day started with planned walk-outs of lectures and teaching activities, followed by a demonstration. As the demonstration neared its end, students could be seen setting up tents and gazebos outside university buildings.'

'The protests are led by the Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine (SCCP), a coalition of staff, students, and alumni from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.'

'A student spokesperson for SCCP said: ‘The university can house decolonial lecturers in their theatres whilst simultaneously profiting off settler-colonial projects. But now the fig leaf has fallen, revealing the University of Sheffield not as an academic institution, but rather as a brazen hub for weapons manufacturers.'

'The claim that the University of Sheffield isn't an academic institution amounts to gross stupidity, reductionist stupidity, assessing an institution purely on the basis of one factor and one factor only - its level of adherence to their own ideology. There's absolutely no recognition of the university as a centre of research in physical and biological science, engineering, the teaching of the skills and knowledge necessary for practising dentistry, medicine, law.'  

The university - or a restricted group within the university with the power to enforce their will - have decided to let the students have their own way and to carry on camping despite the accumulation of evidence that the camp is harmful - but the concessions (concessions amount to implicit support) are never enough. The camp students, even more so the people taking part in Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign protests - the two overlap to an extent - are insatiable. They demand that their demands be met, and if not, there'll be trouble.] 


'The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a massive university owned and run complex in the east of Sheffield. Here, doctoral researchers and engineering students work on projects which enhance the manufacturing capacities of BAE systems - a company for which arms account for 97% of total sales. There are also research partnerships with the other arms companies listed. The AMRC is the death star on our doorstep.'

[My page on arms manufacture and the stupidity of many academics who oppose all aspects of the arms trade is at
www.linkagenet.com/themes/academics-against-armaments.htm

My praise for AMRC is
here, on this page. An extract

'Sheffield University's AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) is a major presence at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, with a record of sustained and enormously impressive achievement.

Its work on the F-35 fighter plane, shamelessly criticized by so many pro-Palestinian campaigners, represents work at a very high level of intellectual achievement, carried out using a very wide range of complex techniques. Its benefits are wide ranging and include advantages for the apprentices who learn and work there and crucial advantages for democracies of the free world, which need, amongst other things, advanced aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II jet. Neglect of high technology would lead swiftly to defeat at the hands of Putin's Russia, but there are many other adversaries to be deterred. To take no account of these realities is to do without effective protection. The claim made by protestors and opponents of AMRC to a higher ethical status is completely without merit.']

UCU (University and College Union)

https://www.leedsucu.org.uk/three-union-letter-regarding-safety-of-students-in-encampment/

Three union letter regarding safety of students in  encampment

Dear Vice-Chancellor and University Secretary

We are writing with urgency with regards to the safety of the students in the University of Leeds encampment.

 As you may be aware ... over the past nights the students have faced escalating threats of violence and disturbance late at night. This culminated last night in one of the group harassing the students threatening them with weapons, including a knife.

...

 We cannot over-emphasise the urgency or danger of this situation. We ask you to immediately:

 – Ensure that the students have sufficient support from security and that security are focused on ensuring the safety of the students

– Advise what measures have been put in place – what advice given – to ensure the safety and wellbeing of colleagues in Security at this stressful time. Including providing a ‘place / person’ they can talk to in confidence, if the nature of this work is causing more than the usual stresses for individuals

– Meet the students’ demands as soon as possible in order to avoid further escalation [the demands are grossly unrealistic, as I explain in detail on this page.]

...

 Please advise us as to the steps you have taken to ensure the safety of our students and ensure our duty of care to them is fulfilled. [My view is that universities should do far more for the care and welfare of students but the document is mistaken - universities have no legal duty of care.]

 We look forward to hearing from you,

UCU, UNISON and Unite

I've contacted Leeds University UCU to bring to their attention the dangers of the Sheffield University student encampment, in particular, the danger of fire. 

All branches of UCU need to be aware of the issues. If they take seriously the safety and welfare of university staff and students then this is an issue they can't possibly ignore.

I've documented the dangers in various ways, including photographic evidence. Protesters have actively tried to stop me taking photographs at the encampment and in other places. One tactic used has been obstruction - standing so close to me that I can't walk forwards or to the side. The only direction I can move in is to walk backwards. I've been attacked and my camera has been damaged. I've pointed out to protesters that the law allows me to take photographs. Use of phones to take pictures is absolutely commonplace, of course. The protesters are protesting in a public space. They have no power to stop the taking of photographs and filming in this space, including the Concourse where this student encampment can be found - for the time being. The law also allows me to move freely in this public space.

Does UCU support the rule of law or not in these circumstances? Leeds UCU has suggested a solution to the problems at the Leeds encampment - accepting the demands of the protesters. The demands include disengagement from university contributions to the manufacture and supply of armaments. This would entail no longer supporting the struggle of Ukraine to preserve its freedom and independence, a struggle which is impossible without the use of armaments. To refuse to take any part in manufacture and supply of armaments is a refusal which will never take place, because it amounts to an evasion of realities, a refusal to recognize realities.

It would also involve refusal to recognize contracts already in place, refusal to recognize the laws regulating contracts -  instead, obedience to people who would much rather chant slogans than offer argument and evidence. Sitting around talking to each other in an encampment is much easier, much more congenial than making an honest attempt to answer objections.

If universities took the advice to accept all the demands of the protestors - but it will never happen - then this would be a catastrophic failure to recognize the importance of argument and evidence, but I'd put it much more strongly - it would be a surrender to attempted mob rule, and attempted mob rule takes many, many forms, including  far-right, neo-Nazi attempted mob rule.

As a matter of strict fact - horrendous fact - neo-Nazis would find common cause with Hamas supporters, supporters of the barbaric Iranian regime, so many of the protesters at these camps. Not all the protesters at these camps would want to see Israel annihilated, Israelis exterminated, but I think it's very likely that a substantial number wouldn't mind in the least.

UCU members - if you value the reputation of the University College Union as a responsible organization, one that can be taken seriously - do something to oppose the stupid and reckless pronouncements often issued in your name.

Umberto Albarella, Professor of Zooarchaeology, Sheffield University

Above, Professor Albarella of Sheffield Green Party making the clenched fist salute whilst taking the knee - not in this case in homage to 'Black Lives Matter,' probably. Homage to anarchist comrades? Homage to Sheffield Green Party? Solidarity with Sheffield Green Party comrades?  For naive and confused reasons not fully formed, reasons he can't be bothered with, since the show is what counts for him, not any form of reasoning? I'm sure he takes much more care in his academic work, which seems to be of high quality. It includes the study of animal bones.

For further comment on this rather peculiar personage, just read on. But don't let reading about him take up much of your time. I don't think he would be worth it. In my experience, there's no shortage of peculiar people who are members of the Green Party. Some of them are 'funny peculiar,' comical rather than disturbing,  but there's no shortage of fanatics. I'd say that councillor Alexi Dimond, mentioned in the column to the right is a prime example. His fanaticism is tempered with cluelessness but I regard him as a very  harmful influence in Sheffield politics. My page on Israel includes, in the third column of the page,  material on genocide and civilian casualties in war. It should make clear the abysmal ignorance of the man.

A selection of Professor Albarella's writing, none of it in extended form - just slogan after slogan after slogan - none of it providing argument and evidence, none of his grotesque generalizations allowing exceptions, appears on his page

https://www.sotwe.com/UAlbarella?lang=tr

After 'We will ALWAYS support freedom of movement [freedom of movement includes freedom for ISIS supporters and terrorists to enter this country, does it?]  there's a picture of a white poppy and the familiar slogan 'STOP THE GENOCIDE), a list: 'archaeologist, green-anarchist, pacifist ... ' and then this: 'national borders are a crime against humanity.' In his deluded state he might believe it's actually possible for the countries of the world to abolish their borders and allow freedom of movement but in practice, as a matter of strict fact, these things are no more possible than allowing anyone who wants to become a student at Sheffield University to become a student at Sheffield University. Such considerations as gross overcrowding in lecture theatres and gross overcrowding in student accommodation are relevant.


I would hope that the Department of Archaelogy  encourages - requires - undergraduate and graduate students to have a respect for evidence, the responsible use of evidence, the avoidance of wild generalization, the use of responsible language, to be ready to have views challenged - but only, it seems, in the field of archaeology. Are these virtues to be disregarded when it comes to the wider world, the supremely important world which includes ethical choice, ethical dilemmas, the avoidance of war, the conduct of war?

 I can't, of course. demand that he enters into debate, I can't demand that he should defend his views on Israel, on war, those wider issues.

On the Sheffield Green Party page

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/sgp-officer-elections-job-descriptions-candidate-statements/umberto-albarella/

there's a picture of Professor Albarella making the clenched fist salute. The image at the top of this column is a smaller version, modified so as not to infringe copyright. The red block conceals his face. Some of the people shown on the Home Page of the site are blocked out - Professor Albarella is one of them.  A dictionary definition of 'blockhead' is 'stupid person.' He's stupid but much more than that - harmful, I'd contend.

The clenched fist salute represents some political ideologies, including communism and anarchism, and supposedly expresses strength and resistance.

Making a tough guy gesture is one thing, showing that he's tough is quite another. I think it's likely, overwhelmingly likely, that he'll prefer not to make a fuss over the criticisms here, that he'll complacently choose the path of least resistance, that his ideology isn't robust but fragile and weak. In the picture, he's posing. My view is that when he meets real  resistance to his idiotic views, he gives up, or simply shouts more slogans.

An academic in the field of archaeology who flagrantly disregards evidence or distorts evidence which concerns the wider matters montioned  (my view of things in the case of Professor Albarella) is someone who doesn't enhance the reputation of archaeology as a subject which prospective undergraduates can choose or a subject which deserves to be part of the curriculum of Sheffield University. 

Sheffield University intends to remove archaeology from the curriculum. He uses the slogan 'cultural vandalism.' There are arguments against archaeology as part of this university's curriculum. Any arguments for archaeology aren't helped in the least by the hideous ignorance of this man.

I take into account the fact that the academics in the Department of Archaeology will have very varied views, including views very unlike the  ones held by Professor Albarella.

Dr A. Takriti, historian, censor, slogan-shouter

Film of Shimon Peres speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University. At 4:00 Abdel Razzaq Takriti begins to shout slogans and is removed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbT2Z4dh-KA

This noisy and chaotic episode, described below, dates from his time at Wadham College, Oxford, when he was a doctoral student. 

Dr Abdel Takriti  is now a lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield. Although elimination of all bias in the teaching of history is obviously impossible, the avoidance of gross ideological bias and outright propaganda in the teaching of history isn't an impossible objective. If Wikipedia can make strenuous efforts to be fair-minded, no less should be expected of a department of history in a British university. He  teaches, or did teach, a module  'Palestine and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Whether his teaching of the topic is partisan, or propagandist I've no way of knowing. I'm receptive to any evidence.

  One principle he was certainly  attacking, a principle under relentless attack now, not least in so many universities, and a principle which it's essential to defend, is the enlightenment principle of freedom of speech, expressed memorably in the credo 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' (often attributed to Voltaire, but in fact the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her  book 'The Friends of Voltaire' of 1906. She summarized Voltaire's attitude towards Helvétius, not the words of Voltaire.)

A report on Dr Takriti, in action. I find it very disturbing. It was published by the pro-Palestinian site 'Electronic Intifada' (20 November, 2008.)

  'Text messages came from student protestors who had managed to get inside the lecture hall. They let the their  fellow demonstrators outside know that their chanting could be heard inside over the voice of Israeli President Shimon Peres. There was clapping and stamping of feet and placards banged on the railings to make as much noise as possible, along with the constant “Free, free Palestine” which did not stop for a moment of the hour-long lecture.

Silent women in black, shouting students, small babies in prams, university lecturers and a local elected official were just some of the crowd gathered to voice their protest against an Oxford college’s decision to honor Peres on Tuesday, 18 November as he gave the inaugural lecture in a series to be named after him. Some handed out leaflets and many were carrying signs, one of which read “Globalization of Apartheid,” a pun on the title of the lecture, “Globalization of Peace.”

'After the Master of Balliol College, Dr. Andrew Graham, refused to cancel the series  the Oxford University Student Palestine Society in conjunction with the city’s branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called for the people of Oxford to protest outside the hall as students interrupted the lecture inside.

'Halfway through the lecture, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a Palestinian graduate student at Oxford’s Wadham College, Oxford was ejected from the hall. “Shimon Peres was making a particularly offensive remark claiming that ‘you [Palestinians] could have had a state if it wasn’t for your own mistakes’ and that Israelis fought for their state,” he told this writer, who was also participating in the protest. He then stated “We don’t need your permission to exist” and got support from other students for it. Takriti explained: “So I stood up and walked towards [Peres], saying, ‘how dare you say this at a time when you are besieging 1.5 million people in Gaza? 1.5 million people are starving to death! Shimon Peres, you’re a war criminal. You are responsible for the massacre of hundreds of people in Qana [southern Lebanon]. You’re responsible for an apartheid state. Shame on you.’ so I was dragged out.” '

Some comments, with background information. First of all, Shimon Peres was a 'dove' not a 'hawk,' or at least became a dove early in his career - but Israeli 'hawks,' like the 'doves,' deserve to be listened to without any attempts to shout the speaker down if they come to speak at a British university.

Some extracts from 'Israel: A History,' by Martin Gilbert on Shimon Peres. The estimate of other historians may be different, possibly very different, but Abdel Takriti's description is a travesty. Perhaps he would like to give a much fuller, carefully considered estimate of Shimon Peres, with evidence. If he still regards him as a war criminal, what does he think about the use of rockets by Hamas against Israeli civilians: a war crime or not?

Martin Gilbert writes,

'Turning to Shimon Peres, Leah Rabin urged him 'to lead the people of Israel to peace', and to do so 'in the spirit of Kitzhak [Rabin]' who had spoken in these terms:

'I want this government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.'

'Shimon Peres continued with the peace process. The Oslo Accords had been his creation: he now had the full authority as Prime Minister to pursue their timetable.'

' ... on February 25 [1996] a suicide bomber, entering a bus in Jerusalem, killed twenty-five people, most of them Israeli soldiers. A Muslim Arab, Wael Kawasmeh, who was waiting for a bus, was also killed. That same day a suicide bomber in Ashkelon blew himself up at a bus stop. One Israeli was killed, twenty-year old Hofit Ayash, who had recently chosen a wedding gown for her marriage in four months' time.

'Arafat's adviser, Ahmed Tibi, condemned the bus bombs. 'The circle of violence must be broken and stopped,' he said. 'There is no place for revenge attacks.' But on March 13, thirteen more Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber in the heart of Jerusalem on the same bus route, No. 18, as the previous bomb. One of those killed, nineteen-year-old Chaim Amedi, had unintentionally missed the bus that had been destroyed in the last attack. Another of those killed, thirty-eight-year-old George Yonan, was a Christian Arab who had been deaf from birth.

'On the following day a suicide bomber struck in Tel Aviv, in a crowded shopping street in the centre of the city, killing eighteen. These were enormous explosions that ripped the buses apart, mutilating many of the dead beyond recognition. The mood inside Israel was of near despair. It seemed impossible that the peace process could go on while such terrorist killings, on a far larger scale than before, went on.

'Immediately after the March 3 bus bomb, Peres had warned Arafat that the future of the peace process 'hangs in the balance' unless the Palestinian Authority took immediate action against Hamas. Israel could not be the only party to the agreements to keep its commitments. 'It cannot be unilateral.' ...

'The continuation of the Oslo Accords was under great strain. The Government of Israel, first under Rabin and then under Peres, repeatedly declared that it would not allow terror to derail the peace process, and negotiations with the Palestinians continued on the many issues relating to Palestinian autonomy and Israeli withdrawal ...

'Peres, the architect of Oslo, was himself under enormous public pressure to react  to the killings. But he declined to suspend the timetable of the Oslo Accords. Instead, in agreement with the Palestinians, he postponed the redeployment on Hebron, and called an election. In doing so, and thus inviting the Israeli public to express its opinion through the ballot box, he hoped to win and endorsement for continuing the peace negotiations. These included negotiations with Syria, to which Peres, like Rabin before him, was prepared to return most, and even all, of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace between the two countries.'
...

'The election was held on May 29 ... Labour emerged with the largest number of seats in the Knesset: 34 seats as against Likud's 32. But in the separate vote for Prime Minister the former leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, won, by the narrowest of margins ...
...

'Following his defeat in the 1996 election, Shimon Peres [described as a 'war criminal' by the demonstrators in Oxford who tried to stop him speaking, including the would-be censor Abdel Takriti] had refused to give up his vision. 'We shall continue to dream together,' he wrote, 'of a Middle East of light and hope.' In pursuit of that dream, he continued to advance the cause of economic cross-border activities, and to 'tutor' his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in what could be achieved for the region through mutually acceptable agreements with all its neighbours.'

In a speech in the Knesset on October 7, Shimon Peres said,

'I want to say what real peace is in my experience. True peace is the way of agony. I remember what my comrades and I have gone through over the past year, seeing that man, the great military leader and the courageous statesman Yitzhak Rabin murdered before my eyes.' [He was assassinated by a Jew, not a Palestinian.]
...

'And afterwards I saw - I, a man who pursues peace - the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I know what it is to leave one's office and be told that a bus has exploded. You also showed it on television. Thank you. I went there and I saw the blood and the flesh and the murder and the killing, and I saw the people screaming at me: 'You are guilty'.'

Some Sheffield University Signatories:
Dr J. Nyman, Dr L. Stanley, Dr J. Tidy et al.

On my page Academics against Armaments  I criticize academics who signed a naive letter. More academics from Sheffield University signed the letter than from any other university, apart from King's College, London. These were the Sheffield University Signers:

The signatories to the profoundly disturbing - more exactly, shallowly disturbing 'Academics Against the Arms Fair: An Open Letter,' published September 18, 2017, that is, well before the Russian aggression against Ukraine,  these Sheffield University academics. By signing this naive letter, these academics haven't enhanced the reputation of Sheffield University in the least, as a place where there's an  appreciation of realities to do with defence.

The academics:

Adam Ferhani
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/adam-ferhani

Jonna Nyman
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/jonna-nyman.

Owen Parker
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/owen-parker


Melanie Richter-Mont
petit (a member of Sheffield University at the time of signing, now at Sussex University.)
https://profiles.sussex.ac.uk/p349663-melanie-richter-montpetit

Jonathan Silver
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/urban-institute/who-we-are/jonathan-silver

Liam Stanley
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/liam-stanley

Joanna Tidy
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/joanna-tidy 

Professor Matthew Flinders, Sheffield University Department of Politics and International Relations

Professor Flinders is the author of 'Defending Politics: Why Democracy Matters in the 21st Century.' The book is on my bookshelves. I intend to discuss the book in this section.

I've a strong belief in the importance of supporting book publication, including, of course, the publications of academics. If I've reason to believe that a publication is very flawed for one reason or another, or if the book is out of print, then I'll buy a second hand copy. Otherwise, I'll buy it new. The author won't benefit financially to more than a negligible extent, but at least I've supported a branch of business which is far more than simply a branch of business but a necessity. From what I know of the book, its aims and the case it presents are ones I can endorse wholeheartedly. I'm sure there will be some reservations,  but I'll wait and see.

The only material here - for the time being - is critical. I include it because I think this is a very important issue too - encouraging universities to avoid bloated, vacuous claims made in order to attract students.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amOXSRga0nM
'

Meet our academic staff from the Department of Politics and International Relations.

There's standard stuff, the expectation of a 'fun' time in the department may well be far from the reality. The reality does include, of course, the pressures of assessment, the pressure of examinations but more importantly, the study of Politics, like the study of Military History, but not to the same extent, can never be viewed in a purely hedonistic way. Some of the subject is necessarily far from comforting, does nothing to confirm over-optimistic views of people and societies.

Professor Flinders says,

 'What makes Sheffield a special Department of Politics? Well, there are lots of things and I would just reduce them down to one thing. [This isn't strictly true or true in a much looser sense - there's more than one thing.] I think it's got a really good culture or vibe, it's a very inclusive, dynamic, engaging and optimistic department to be part of whether you're an undergraduate or postgraduate, member of staff, member of support staff, a member of alumni, there's a lot going on and it's very exciting and it's just a fun place to be. So there you go -  I go with the vibe and I think we've got a pretty good one.'

This is a set of empty claims, a generic piece with no individuality at all. Innumerable other departments of politics and international relations could make the claims but if they have any sense, wouldn't. Leave out the first sentence here, omit the mention of undergraduates, postgraduates and alumni and this piece could be used for a different purpose, to attract new staff to companies and organizations with no connection with education. By making a few changes, using some capital letters for emphasis, a different font, perhaps, and some exclamation marks, it could be used by a department which is part of a fizzy drinks company:

What makes Fizz-U-like a SPECIAL company?

Well, there are LOTS of things and I'd reduce them down to one thing - it's got a really good culture or VIBE, it's a very inclusive, dynamic, engaging and optimistic department to be part of, whether you're a skilled bottle-filling machine operator, a member of our warehouse team or a manager, there's a lot going on and it's VERY exciting and it's just a FUN place to be!!!

So there you go - I go with the vibe and I think we've got a pretty good one!

Sheffield University modern architecture

This is 'The Diamond,' the Sheffield University building which houses engineering specialities. My own MP, Paul Blomfield, claimed that the building would be  'the jewel in the crown not only for the University itself, but also for the city.'  It's detractors, and I'm one of many, think otherwise. I've reason to think that Paul Blomfield is mistaken about many things and reason to think that Paul Blomfield is mistaken about this building.

From a page on 'the ugliest University buildings in the UK

 
https://studenthut.com/articles/ugliest-university-buildings-uk

Any Sheffield students laughing at Hallam's inclusion [for the Sheffield Hallam University Student Union building] can stop now. This red brick uni boasts one of the country's strangest modern buildings in The Diamond. The £81m monster hosts Sheffield's engineering department and was nominated for the 2016 Carbuncle cup, the prestigious prize for the worst new building in the country.

The Diamond wasn't thought as bad as the building which did win the award for worst new building in the country in 2016. 'Twelve Architects,' the architects who designed the Diamond, came away with nothing on this occasion. They weren't 'award-winning' architects.

The page

https://www.dezeen.com/2016/09/01/carbuncle-cup-2016-worst-building-uk-architecture/

has more on the matter. The reference to 'carbuncle' in the name of the award refers to a comment made by Charles, then Prince of Wales, an opponent of some modernist styles, who described the proposed extension of the National Gallery in London as 'a monstrous carbuncle of a much-loved and elegant friend.' His phrasing was surely faulty, but I won't explain why I think this here.

I think that the corner view shown in the image above isn't the best side of the building - any view of the building reveals its flaws, I think - but this corner view is significant. It gave an opportunity for a bold use of chevrons, an opportunity which could have led to an outstanding example of modern architecture.

Chevron, a dictionary definition: 'chevron  a figure, pattern, or object having the shape of a V or an inverted V,  worn on the sleeve by noncommissioned officers including police officers, as an indication of rank, service etc.
A towering, soaring succession of chevrons at the corner - only a few, not so many as to appear cluttered - would have given a focal point, would have formed a welcome contrast with the facades of the building, which aren't completely unsuccessful -  the projecting diamond shapes, made of anodised aluminium, give three dimensional interest to the building, or would do, if the diamond shapes hadn't been chosen incompetently.

As it is, only traces of a bold arrangement of chevrons are visible. The chevrons are broken up, partly submerged by an incoherent mass of detail smeared over the corner.

The facades too are ruined by an incoherent mass of detail, an excessive number of small diamonds. By some remarkable oversight, this time to do with materials not the organization of shapes, the exterior glass cladding resembles nothing so much as plastic, and not plastic of the best quality.

This is another carbuncle in the crown of Sheffield University Modern Architecture, the Students' Union building.

This looks like the aftermath of an earthquake - admittedly, an earthquake with only a modest ranking on the Richter scale. On any aesthetic ranking, it rates very, very low.

The colour clash, the refusal of brown to integrate with the dominant colour of the building, is one obvious flaw, as I see it. In the case of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the tilt is due to soft ground which could not properly support the weight of the structure. Since then, the tilt worsened but remedial work between 1993 and 2001 reduced it.

The tilt all too obvious in two of the components in the Students' Union Building isn't due to soft ground or a Sheffield earthquake but was a deliberate act of the architect or architects, deliberate instability with no aesthetic advantages.  It's surely a defective design. Would remedial work improve the aesthetics? It would, but is out of the question.

Does Sheffield University have a School of Architecture? It does. Do the academics who teach and do research there have a grasp of aesthetics as well as the practical bits of this demanding field? I hope they do.

Below: Jessop West, here showing its best face, I think, or rather face, with a building that has a significant history but not an illustrious history, the old  Henderson's Relish factory. I never had the least interest in the product.   Here, at least it provides contrast.

The slim rectangles are interconnected quite successfully, I think, but the colours of the plastic materials draw attention to themselves and it's impossible to find the colours in any way pleasing, anything but arbitrary. Surely the architects realized that this was a mess in the making? Evidently they didn't. I've no knowledge of the thought processes and feelings of architects, particularly when the building is finished and they can see the finished result. Do they ever feel embarrassment, shame, even?

A face view gives a very different impression from this corner view - a view of off-putting blandness combined with pale-but-putrid colour. Who decides to go ahead with such schemes? Did the School of Architecture have any say?

But the building above is a delight to the eyes compared with this nearby monstrosity, a feeble,  strangulated, unredeemable plastic pile of clashing colours. The architect was Sauerbruch Hutton, now based in Berlin. Couldn't Sheffield University have used a local architect? Surely a first year Sheffield University architecture student could have done just as good a job - at least for the externals? I'm quite prepared to believe that the interior is markedly superior to the exterior. It could hardly be worse.

This is a view of the famous arts tower. It has the merit of converting a uniform grid of uniform rectangles into a grid of a slightly more exciting kind - a uniform grid of almost converging pieces of glass (not forgetting the supports). The use of the definite article perhaps allows the design a distinctiveness it hardly deserves: 'The Arts Tower.' In fact, this is one glass tower amongst many.

The modern buildings of Sheffield University are largely dross but  this is a much more successful building, the Information Commons, with its distinctive, expanses of copper sheeting.

The contrasts of form between the four taller structures on the left and the lower, much broader structure on the right, are very successful. The contrast between the regularity of the openings in the four taller structures and the pleasing variation of size and placement of the openings in the structure to the right seems to me very successful. Those enthralling expanses of light green give a satisfying unity to the whole.

Above, construction of yet more student accommodation. Universities have become bloated. Universities employ far too many people - but not in such faculties as science, engineering, law and medicine who in a rational world should be almost unemployable, at least in the university system. I write from long immersion in the dull, deadening, lifeless writings emanating from so many of these places. Plagiarism is not just discouraged but subject to sanctions where students are concerned, rightly so, but these academics are big, big copiers, adding nothing to the half-baked theories and theoreticians so many of them follow - and so many students lap it up, knowing nothing better. So many students are perfectly happy to be assessed by these academic automatons. Vast numbers of students require accommodation - and it had better be stylish accommodation, to meet the needs of many of their number. All this is with the recognition that this is the part, not the whole.

More on architecture and the university:

https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/insult-to-injury-as-sheffield-university-cans-exploitative-design-contest


30 March, 2012 

Procurement reform campaigners have blasted the University of Sheffield for abandoning its £25 million ‘Pearl’ music centre contest and wasting up to £1 million of bidders’ resources


From a Sheffield University statement on the matter:

We recognise that this is disappointing for those architecture firms that have submitted bids. However, we will keep interested architecture firms informed about future opportunities with the university.’

In response, Project Compass director Russell Curtis said: ‘This tender process raised some serious concerns from the outset, with interested architects expected to prepare sketch proposals for free for a building seemingly without a brief. The late cancellation of the project just adds insult to injury. If the best that the university can guarantee is that they “endeavour to only advertise opportunities where there is a strong likelihood of proceeding” then they really should take a long, hard look at how they go about it.’

‘Such a laissez-faire approach really does demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of how much time and effort goes into responding to these things. The university claimed they had around 150 expressions of interest, which could well have resulted in over a million pounds’ worth of wasted work.’

Commenting on the lack of a detailed brief, Curtis said: ‘Questions raised during the tender process do nothing to dispel the impression of an inept and exploitative exercise. There’s no sign of even a rudimentary feasibility study to establish the suitability of the site for a project of this scale, nor to set out a basic accommodation schedule on which to base the concept proposals.

‘We sincerely hope that Sheffield University undertakes fundamental reform of its practices before embarking upon the procurement of any future projects.’

One bidder – who preferred to remain anonymous – commented: ‘It’s quite symptomatic of what is going on at the moment with clients who do not have any sense of the burden of wasted time and cost they place on the architectural profession when they have either not organised the project or the selection process adequately or are not realistic about their aspirations. It seems to me no other profession has to go through the hurdles architects are being asked to jump over at the moment when the competition is very intense.’

The bidder continued: ‘A large number of frameworks produce no work and, even when an architect gets on one, they have to go through a selection process again. For even small projects, submissions are either very extensive and unnecessary or compounded by 15-plus architects being approached for the work. I don’t think contractors accept being on a list any bigger than four or five, so why do architects have to be put through this?

‘In reality the site they picked would have been very difficult to make work for the concert hall they wanted, so I think this may have contributed to why they are not going ahead with it.’

Sheffield University: achievement, including Nobel Laureates and AMRC

This is hardly more than a mention, a slight and perfunctory contribution  to a record of achievement which is extraordinary and which deserves a much, much fuller acount. I mention only a few aspects of Sheffield University's achievement.

There are eight  Nobel laureates  with Sheffield University connections. Six of these are alumni or were long-term staff of the  University.  These laureates are contributors to the development of penicillin, the discovery of the citric acid cycle, the investigation of high-speed chemical reactions, discoveries concerning eukaryotic DNA, the discovery of fullerene (an allotrope of carbon) and the development of molecular machines.

Below, diagram showing the citric acid cycle (tricarboxylic acid cycle)

Below, Buckminsterene C60 molecule, discovered by Sir Harold Walter Kroto - Harry Kroto.

Harry Kroto studied Chemistry at Sheffield University. He applied to study at Sheffield because his Chemistry teacher believed that the university had the best Chemistry department in the United Kingdom. If the university had been associated with no other Nobel laureate, it would have reason for great pride and satisfaction.  I attended a lecture given by Harry Kroto, a complete delight from beginning to end, informal, very informal, but with intellectual substance which was deeply impressive. I don't, of course, claim that lectures have to be informal, delightful or entertaining in the least. Lectures on the Battle of Stalingrad should not be informal, delightful or entertaining. I do take the view that good lectures should have some of the attributes of good buildings. They should not be flimsy. They should have substance, solidity, even. Many or most lectures will necessarily be everyday presentations rather than events which cause astonishment.

He was an opponent of religion. I share his view. He claimed to have three 'religions,' Amnesty Internationalism, atheism, and humour. At the time he spoke, his endorsement of Amnesty International was reasonable. I was a member of Amnesty International for about twenty years, a very active member, for most of that time the death penalty co-ordinator but working on a wide range of human rights abuses. Now, I oppose Amnesty International, for many reasons which I can't give here. It's become a source of misleading and misguided illusions and delusions - its hostility to Israel is just one manifestation - and I take the view that to donate to Amnesty International is very misguided. At the time when I was a member, there was evidence that this organization didn't deserve its reputation. More exactly, it combined genuine achievement, substantial achievement, with abysmal failings, a combination which can be common in large organizations.

The university owns and manages the Kroto Innovation Centre for small and medium enterprises. Amongst its notable activities is the Siemens Wind Power Research Centre and research into nanoscience. The university also has to its credit the Kroto Research Institute, which advances environmental and engineering research, yet another very impressive centre.

Below, Firth Court, Sheffield University

Firth Court, a dignified and pleasing Edwardian building, is the main administrative centre of the university but is much more than that. It also houses the Departments of Molecular Biology, Biotechnology and Biomedical Science, and includes lecture theatres and research laboratories. It houses the  nuclear magnetic resonance facility.

Sheffield University's involvement with industry, manufacturing and engineering continues the immensely important history of Sheffield industry, manufacturing and engineering, with, obviously, massive differences, reflecting advances in knowledge and technique.

The university has partnerships with over 125 companies, which include BAE Systems, Siemens, Boeing, Rolls Royce and Airbus at the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Sheffield University's AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) is a major presence at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, with a record of sustained and enormously impressive achievement.

Its work on the F-35 fighter plane, shamelessly criticized by so many pro-Palestinian campaigners, represents work at a very high level of intellectual achievement, carried out using a very wide range of complex techniques. Its benefits are wide ranging and include advantages for the apprentices who learn and work there and crucial advantages for democracies of the free world, which need, amongst other things, advanced aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II jet. Neglect of high technology would lead swiftly to defeat at the hands of Putin's Russia, but there are many other adversaries to be deterred. To take no account of these realities is to do without effective protection. The claim made by protestors and opponents of AMRC to a higher ethical status is completely without merit.

Below, F-35 landing on the aircraft carrier HMS Elizabeth

Below, F-35 of the United States Air Force

 

Below, AMRC building, Rotherham



Above, the very attractive Mappin Building, 'set in the St George's Complex (named after the St George's Church building, also owned by the University), and houses much of the Faculty of Engineering. Departments based there are Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Structural Engineering, Electronic and Electrical Engineering and the division Aerospace Engineering. The building also houses St George's IT centre, an open-access computer centre available to all university students during office hours. To the rear of the building is the Sir Robert Hadfield Building, home to two other departments: Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. The smaller Amy Johnson Building houses Automatic Control and Systems Engineering.'

This is a very interesting and important area.

Attribution: Wikipedia

And a very interesting and important building, the Hicks Building, housing.   Physics and Astronomy, the Chemistry and Physics Workshop and the School of Mathematics and Statistics, which includes the departments of Probability and StatisticsApplied Mathematics and Pure Mathematics. 

Sheffield Hallam University: the Vision

From the Sheffield Hallam University page

 
https://www.shu.ac.uk/about-us

Our vision is to be the world's leading applied university; showing what a university genuinely focused on transforming lives can achieve.

This is a remarkable claim, not just an inflated claim but one which shows a complete failure to recognize realities. A massive number of other universities could make the same visionary claim, with just as much - or just as little - chance of becoming 'the world's leading applied university.' Sheffield Hallam University has made an elementary, ridiculous mistake.  Putting words together to make a claim is  one thing - almost effortless. It belongs to a  world very different from the world of effort, disappointment, chance, the concrete world we live in, which can be an incomparably harsher place.

Universities are large, complex organizations. Like much smaller, simpler organizations, the degree of success which would be needed to attain the unattainable objective of being the world's best would have to be success which is very wide ranging. In the real world, even very successful institutions of any size typically have areas of weakness, outstanding achievement in some areas together with  less impressive achievement in others. And how is success to be measured? In largely subjective terms? Surely not. In terms of number of research publications, taking no account of quality, or taking quality into account? Quality is surely relevant. Considerations like this are only the starting point. The objections multiply as soon as thought is given to the potential difficulties.

There are no difficulties in arriving at this conclusion, though, no need to consider many, many pieces of evidence before arriving at this conclusion: Sheffield Hallam University will never be considered the world's best applied university. No applied university will ever be considered the world's best. It would not even be possible for an applied university to have one department considered the world's best, such as mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering is a vast and complex discipline and even if there were to be general agreement that one university was the best in one or a number of fields, it's unlikely that it would be the best in most fields or all fields.

The claim that 'Sheffield Hallam University transforms lives' - in the wording of the actual claim, 'showing what a university genuinely focused on transforming lives can achieve' is just as stupid. 'Transforming lives' is a very big claim, much more so than any claim to 'improve' lives. But 'transforming lives' sounds much more impressive than 'improving lives,' until the claim is subjected to fair-minded examination. When that is done, the ridiculousness of the claim is apparent, surely.

Again, the claim is almost effortless, just a matter of arranging a few words. The achievement is a completely different matter. There are universities with a conservative evangelical or Roman Catholic or other Christian basis which make the same claims - the claim to transform lives. Again and again, the same dismal realities intrude. They have achieved nothing of the sort. Again and again, they have sent out into the world lacklustre, backward dogmatists, on the evidence I have. Sheffield Hallam University is immeasurably superior to such universities, but it would be better to avoid completely their kind of self-publicity.

Professor A. Macaskill

This  material on Professor Macaskill of Sheffield Hallam University is also published on my page South Yorkshire Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Police and Crime Panel, the Independent Ethics Panel: documenting.  Professor Macaskill is Chair of the Independent Ethics Panel.

 I only comment on one publication of Professor Macaskill and the comment is very brief - but my provisional judgement is that, on the evidence of this piece at least, Professor Macaskill isn't a writer who goes beyond platitudes - academic platitudes and platitudes of the more general kind. I'd have to examine much more of her writing to see if this tentative judgement is confirmed.

https://shura.shu.ac.uk/127/1/

MACASKILL, A. (2005). Defining forgiveness: Christian clergy and general population perspectives. Journal of personality, 73 (5), 1237-1267.

The present research contributes to the search for conceptual clarity by exploring the definitions and parameters of forgiveness employed by Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy in England and then comparing these to data collected from a general population sample. Clergy provide moral and spiritual leadership within their communities and deal with issues of both Divine and human forgiveness on a regular basis, so a logical starting point is to explore the conceptions of forgiveness that they themselves hold.

'Definitions and parameters' is a pretentious phrase which is surely inserted for show, or the result of the process of 'reflex thought.' 'Reflex muscle action is familiar enough, the process initiated by a stimulus. No conscious processes are involved. Reflex action which produces such phrases bypasses thought almost as completely.

A much more prominent example of 'reflex action' from the article. Some thought was needed to come up with the phrase, but not very much:

 'Clergy provide moral and spiritual leadership within their communities and deal with issues of both Divine and human forgiveness on a regular basis ... '
Routine semi-mathematical equipment suitable for the manipulation of statistical data is visible on the page but what is lacking is any relevant concrete evidence.   These are pious phrases. To have included concrete evidence would have been to mix genres, to insert material which would almost certainly not have been to the liking of the editor or editors and the readership.

Clergy don't provide moral and spiritual l(M and S) leadership within their communities. They only provide a form of M and S leadership within their churches, and not everyone in their churches will have respect for them or pay any attention to their pious phrases.

Recommended to Professor Macaskill -
Factsheet: Abuse and the Church of England

on my page

https://www.linkagenet.com/themes/police-crime-independent-ethics-panels.htm

She received a copy of the Factsheet, with other material, so if she's read it, she will have a better understanding of the massive - insuperable - difficulties of automatically assuming that people she assumes are 'moral and spiritual leaders' are anything of the kind.

Her unargued assumption that there is such a thing as 'Divine forgiveness' (the capital letter in 'Divine' is provided by the Professor) is surely an aberration in a journal not published by some Conservative Evangelical or Roman Catholic publishing outfit.

All this has implications, not so much  for the progress of my complaint against the Police and Crime Commissioner - The Independent Ethics Panel will not be holding the Police and Crime Commissioner to account, that is not their role - but for the role of the Independent Ethics Panel. The only further comment I will make for the time being is that the title, the 'Independent Ethics Panel' is yet another instance of the distinction outlined above, the distinction between claim and reality. To give a name to the panel which includes the word 'independent' doesn't guarantee in the least a panel which is genuinely independent. I'll be including  evidence that the panel has nothing like the independence needed to do its work adequately.

Sheffield Hallam University: modern architecture

The Sheffield Hallam University Students' Union building shown above is far more impressive - and it's clad in Sheffield steel. Its history isn't so impressive. It was originally built to house the Centre for Popular Music and the centre failed. There's a very good article on the building. I don't care for the name of the site where the article appears but the article is a very good piece of work:

https://www.creativetourist.com/venue/hallam-union/

A disadvantage of the  building, perhaps, is that it's plain.  Plainness is a recurring problem with modernist buildings but isn't to be solved by copying the decorative details of the architecture of the past. Its radial symmetry is compensation.

Another disadvantage, to me at least, is that the feature on the roof looks like a spout and the bulk of the structure looks like a very large stainless steel device for boiling water. If it suggested something from the chemical industry it wouldn't be so much of a disadvantage but to me, it has domestic associations, as if it were something in a giant's kitchen. Perhaps all this is fanciful, but associations can be hard to ignore. I still like the building very much. For people in the area, for people who use it, this is, I would think, a building that people can get fond of. It's big, but not on an inhuman scale: a calm and gentle giant, not in the least an alienating building.

 

In this column, Politics, Protest, Policing -
only a few issues, but important ones

Sheffield protest and the policing of protest, with evidence from some Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign protests
Futility and pretending: The Tadhamon Singers and Sibylle Batten
Sheffield Green Party and slogan-shouting

Annie O' Gara and Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Sheffield protest and the policing of protest

Sheffield Green Party Councillor and Sloganeer Alexi Dimond leading the slogan-shouting at a protest outside Sheffield Town Hall.

My extensive page South Yorkshire Advocacy for Israel gives argument and evidence. This is another view - a view from a different source, not a view in contradiction with my own. A quotation from the (left of centre) publication 'New Statesman:'

https://www.newstatesman.com/comment/2023/10/
hamas-attack-was-driven-brutal-ideology-munira-mirza

'The Hamas attack was driven by a brutal ideology

'The atrocities committed against Israeli civilians have roots in the same fanaticism activists face in Iran.

'The videos Hamas posted on social media, showing them gloating about defiling women’s bodies and taking children hostage made clear this wave of violence was not a desperate “act of self-defence” or “breaking free from prison” as some sympathisers have tried to portray it. If anything, these horrors might make those who have been critical of Israel’s policing of its borders think again, now the world can see exactly what the Israelis have been trying to keep out.


'Palestinian militant groups have been lavishly funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran with sums in excess of $100m annually.

'Those who seek to excuse or “contextualise” the rapes, kidnappings, public humiliations and executions of Israelis by citing Palestinian suffering must answer this question: why do the paymasters of Hamas in Tehran habitually commit the same crimes against their own female population? Iranian women who offend against Islamist dogma are beaten, separated from their children, imprisoned and raped by brainwashed thugs, some of whom have been involved in training Hamas.'

Protest and the policing of protest

A protest outside Waitrose, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield and its implications for other pro-Palestinian protests. A protest outside Sheffield City Hall. Free expression v. slogan-shouting.

Above, pro-Palestinian protester outside the entrance to Sheffield City Hall.  Photograph taken before the masses marched to occupy this area, in front of Sheffield City Hall, for one of their demonstrations.  Later, they were repeating the words of one of the agitators / lead protesters. He wanted them to repeat after him 'From the river to the sea ... ' and they obliged.

This demonstration outside Sheffield City Hall took place a week after a smaller protest, which had taken  place in the large car park of Waitrose supermarket on 16 March, 2024 in the late morning and early afternoon.

In essentials, it followed the standard format: shouting slogans and making demands. The use of the parking area is subject to regulations, of course, designed to prevent abuse of the facility. The organizers of the protest were surely not given permission by Waitrose to shout slogans and make demands - the particular demand in this case was the demand that Waitrose should  stop selling dates from Israel.

The anti-Waitrose event  took place outside Waitrose on the late morning and early afternoon of 16 March, 2024. I went to Waitrose to do some shopping. I was unaware that a protest would be held on the day. I saw a large group of protesters and, not far away, a single individual holding a flag. This flag incorporated the Union Jack and the Israeli flag. I decided to join him in opposing the protest, but of course we were heavily outnumbered: the numbers were merely doubled, from one to two. There were many, many protesters in the other camp and they were making a big noise. The man leading the slogan shouting had the benefit of a microphone and an amplification system.

The booming sound of the repeated slogans went on and on and on. A few times, a very few times, I went from our position to the massed protesters so that I could make some points which they had a chance of actually hearing. A policeman asked me, courteously, to stay on our side, some distance from the protesters, to maintain a clear gap between protesters and counter-protesters. This was a good idea, a very good idea. As time went on, more and more protesters moved to our side but the protest ended soon after. I tried to engage some of the people who left their side in discussion of the issues. I knew it was futile to expect them to do that, and I was right. I was accused of 'intimidating'  the people I spoke to quietly, I was called a 'Nazi' and I was accused of having 'no education.' But the protest ended soon after

The  really loud racket of the pro-Palestinian protesters was intimidating.

The man who led the slogan shouting at this event led the event at the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign protest I attended last year. The protesters marched to the venue, Devonshire Green and as they entered Devonshire Green, I found that one of them, a woman with a megaphone, was shouting again and again, 'From the river to the sea ... ' This is the well-known call for the expulsion of Israelis from a large area and, to many, or some of the people who use it, a call for the  destruction of Israel.

I don't criticize South Yorkshire Police's management of this protest. As so often, they were faced with a very difficult problem. I talked with one of the police officers for quite some time. Below, I give my view of South Yorkshire Police, a very favourable one, except for a tendency shared by all police forces now to give too much prominence to 'woke' issues.  

South Yorkshire Police has a very wide range of obligations, such as the obligation to protect victims of domestic abuse, to deter theft and prosecute in cases of theft, an in cases of vandalism, animal cruelty and many, many other issues. The members of South Yorkshire Police who attended this protest, who will be called upon to attend future protest, are people who can't help South Yorkshire people who do need their help, who can't use the time to deter or arrest South Yorkshire criminals. The blame for this state of affairs rests with the organizers of these and similar events, not with the police. These organizers have organized a grossly excessive number of protests. Lack of awareness of realities, the complexity of reality, the competing demands on the time and finances of the police forces and other public bodies, amounts to irresponsible single-issue fanaticism in many cases.

As for animal welfare - and a range of other issues - Waitrose has a far better record than many other retailers. The accusation was made by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign that Waitrose was acting immorally by selling Israeli dates. This is their version of reality, a reality which recognizes no issues as very important apart from the all-important  issues (to them) which give their members such a sense of self-importance.

I took video footage at a protest held by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign outside Sheffield City Hall in Barker's Pool on Saturday 23 March. I explained to protesters that the law allowed me to take photographs of their event and protesters taking part in the event, as well as to film, and that in law they had no power to stop me. As I almost always find when I bring this to the attention of pro-Palestinian protesters, they objected very strongly and made it clear that to them, this was completely out of the question. To them, the law was irrelevant and the rule of law  was irrelevant.

To view and listen to the film footage, please click on this link -

 P1110004.MP4

The footage is very short because one of the protesters grabbed hold of my camera by the lens before I could record any more.  The audio recording provided shows this protester, or perhaps another protester in the group, shouting out 'You can't take my picture.' This is repeated. I can be heard shouting, 'Get off my camera.' I repeated that, but the word 'camera' can't be heard this time. I managed to get the protester to release his hold on the camera but found the camera had been damaged and had stopped recording. Later, I did manage to get the camera working again.

This is what's shown just before the video footage ends. The incident took place near to the Sheffield War Memorial in Barker's Pool. Our  freedoms have been  achieved and protected overy the years at enormous cost, including a massive cost in human lives, but they are under threat.  Everything possible must be done to protect them. Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign has to be prevented from deciding what should and shouldn't be allowed in this public space or any other public space. They have to be shown that they can't decide what laws they want to be observed and what laws they want to be blocked. They make demand after demand and the demands they make are not just grossly unrealistic but harmful. They want to be allowed to go on shouting slogans whilst attempting to censor people who are determined to oppose them.

More detailed information, including background information:

One of the people shown in the video footage, but only his lower part, is the individual in this next photograph.  it also shows, in the distance, holding a Palestinian flag, the person who grabbed hold of my camera. I have another photograph, not provided here, which shows his face. I don't accuse these people of any offence, in the legal sense. To confirm that requires production of evidence is a legal context, with a legal decision.



The person shown here made a determined attempt to intimidate me. He walked up to me and stood with his face within a few inches of my face. It was probably an attempt to neutralize me, to stop me taking pictures. I couldn't take pictures with this person directly in front of me. I told him forcefully to keep his distance, to move away but he stayed there. I said that I wanted to report the camera-grabbing incident to the police. A member of the public, not a protester, had recommended that I walk to Sheffield Town Hall, where he thought I'd have a better chance of finding a member of the police. I didn't see any member of South Yorkshire Police at Barker's Pool in the time I was there. When I began to walk away, to go to the Town Hall. this individual followed me, keeping almost as close. I decided to stay and eventually, he did move away. 

Obviously, it's a possibility that I could have been punched in the face, assaulted, left with injuries.  My intention is to carry on documenting these protests, taking photographs at these protests and filming these protests. I've contacted South Yorkshire Police and made it clear that the incidents have implications, including implications for the policing of protest. Barker's Pool isn't a 'No Go Zone,' a place where criticism of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign is banned for the duration of a protest. The laws of the land, including laws which permit photography and filming in public places, can't be undermined by SPSC. I take the view that strong action will need to be taken to ensure that they don't have things all their own way.  

I reported these matters to South Yorkshire Police after I left the area and got back home. Since then, a representative of South Yorkshire Police has made a search of recordings of Closed Circuit Television Camera footage in Barker's Pool but has failed to find any relevant footage. I'm not surprised by this - the surveillance offered by CCTV in these cases is often far from comprehensive, according to what I've read.

The reality is that these pro-Palestinian protest had absolutely no chance of influencing events in the Middle East. To believe otherwise was surely a gross illusion.

Pro-Palestinian compaigners are trying to impose their version of reality upon South Yorkshire - they assume that the most important issue facing South Yorkshire is the conflict in Israel / the Palestinian territories. South Yorkshire Police is under absolutely no obligation to further the personal ends of these protesters, which I'd call self-indulgent.

In my experience, these people are completely unable to defend their views, with argument and evidence. Freedom of expression isn't to be confused with freedom to shout simplistic slogans. Banning and blocking and blatant censorship should be avoided, freedom of expression should be supported - but, as so often, reality has to be recognized. Shouting the slogan 'from the river to the sea' can't be regarded as a precious right, to be safeguarded at all costs, just as  shouting slogans claiming that Hitler was right, that the extermination of the Jews was right.

The protesters make demands. They aren't entitled to demand that the police give disproportionate time and money to attending their demonstrations. Police forces have to enforce laws and have a further responsibility, a much wider responsibility: to uphold the rule of law in a liberal democracy. Protesters who ignore or break laws intended to safeguard essential rights have to be contained, if necessary with effective sanctions. The police, like many other public bodies, have to prevent a descent into mob rule. They have to prevent the most violent groups, including terrorist groups, from taking control, from seizing power, from ever exercising power.

Non-violent harassment of MP's, Councillors and others has to be discouraged and if necessary contained too. Pro-Palestinian groups in this country aren't, in general, violent or terroristic, but pro-Palestinian individuals already intimidate local and national policitians and others and pro-Palestinian individuals and groups have a strong tendency to be apologists for terroristic groups such as Hamas and terroristic states such as Iran. Their influence is very, very harmful.

 If a society were to be reorganized in accordance with extremist  views, the society would be badly damaged. The threat is widely recognized but so far, attempts to avoid their damaging effects or minimize their damaging effects haven't been nearly as effective as they could be.

In the worst historical example of all, Germany allowed itself to be subverted by the Nazi movement, which started small and became immensely powerful. The failure was the failure of many German institutions and the failure of the mass of people, who for one reason or another allowed all this to happen, collectively. It's cause for gratitude that there were very significant exceptions.

South Yorkshire people are people with a very wide range of problems and concerns - including the Jewish people who may shop at Waitrose and who are entitled to do their shopping without an assault of noise. Noise of the worst sort includes noise calling for the expulsion of Jews, the extermination of Jews. The noise at this demonstration wasn't of the same order but it was, I think, ugly, debased, not compatible with better values. One of the people taking part  tried to intimidate me, and got nowhere. He stood in front of me  far too close for comfort, with hardly any gap between the two of use. I asked him politely to move further away, but he refused. Eventually, he did move away.

My dealings with South Yorkshire Police (and other police forces) have been infrequent, very infrequent. When I have contacted them or been contacted by them, or simply spoken to police officers,  I've found them courteous, efficient - impressive, in fact, very impressive. I make it clear that the concerns discussed on this page and a few other pages relate to one set of issues only. They don't in the least constitute general criticism of the police. Far too many criticisms of police forces, including South Yorkshire Police, are generalized, deeply unfair criticisms, ignoring the vast benefits of the police forces and the overall record and achievements of the police.

Police forces, like the armed forces, have fundamental importance in any democratic society, protecting society against internal threats and external threats. The internal threats include the threat of terrorism and  the threat of anarchy, which would make any ordered democratic institutions impossible, such as the transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another.

But the police forces have a vast range of other benefits, to name only a few, deterring and imposing sanctions on vandalism, child abuse, domestic abuse, cruelty to animals ... the list is very long.

Police forces are massive operations, employing a very large number of staff. It would be impossible to ensure that all members of staff behave and carry out their duties in a way which could not be criticized.  The resources available to the police are limited, like the resources available to the armed forces. They are subject to the same restrictions as other organizations, the imperfections which are fundamental realities of life. Again and again, well-publicized failures and transgressions are used as evidence for claims that  the whole organization is 'rotten to the core' or beyond reform. Almost always, this amounts to flagrant exaggeration.

I do share the common view that police forces have surrendered far too much of their independence to support for 'woke' views. There are pages of the site which criticize 'woke' views and places in which I criticize some anti-woke' views, or some ridiculous views of people who have some reasonable views.

The Police Covenant

From the page

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/police-covenant

'The Police Covenant is a pledge to do more as a nation to help those who serve this country and specifically to recognise the bravery, commitment, and sacrifices of those who work or have worked in policing.'

Supplementary:

The Armed Forces Covenant

is a pledge with similarities.  More information on the page

https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/about-the-covenant/

Futility and pretending: The Tadhamon Singers and Sibylle Batten

The Tadhamon Singers are the choral branch of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), promoting the grotesque ideology of SPSC with supposed artistry. This is the choir in action, combining artistry with activism, supposedly, in a protest held inside Waitrose supermarket. Even if they had been wildly successful and persuaded some shoppers to boycott Israeli dates, it would have had absolutely no effect on the politics of the Middle East. This is the dismal Youtube record of the event:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MlXI4qf35o&t=19s

The Rev'd Sibylle Batten, very unwisely, invited them to sing at the Church she's paid to foster, St Aidan's, Sheffield. This is the dismal record of the event:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aHFtIvWiUM

The naive and simplistic views of the Church of England are fully in evidence in the naive and simplistic views of Sibylle Batten - to confine attention to her views on 'The Palestinian Issue.' Her view of Palestinians as innocent, exploited victims of the Israelis is contradicted by the evidence. My page on Israel will make this clear.

She's in a civic partnership. She supports Gay Rights. How does she reconcile these views with these dismal facts: that in Israel, homosexuality is not just legal, not just permitted but promoted by such large scale events as Tel Aviv Gay Pride. In contrast, homosexuality was illegal in Gaza and punishable with imprisonment for up to ten years.

Sheffield Green Party and Israeli-Palestinian relations

Above, Sheffield Green Party Councillor Alexi Dimond leading a chant at a protest outside Sheffield Town Hall:

(The report published on the Green Party site has the spelling  'Nethanyahu' and 'with charge you with ...' instead of 'we charge you with genocide:')

The text / video material published by Sheffield Green Party on the party's Website supports his contemptible, ludicrous, moronic, behaviour. No Sheffield councillor should sink this low, or any party represented on Sheffield City council.

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2023/10/20/
green-councillor-condemns-uk-complicity-in-israeli-war-crimes/   

At 6:28 in this Party video, he asks for the chant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?sv=LU5zJsBhWJA&t=334s&ab_channel

See also, below,   profile of councillor Dimond  and  the profiles of other  Sheffield Green Party councillors  as well as material, in the column to the right. on  the Nazi Einsatzgruppen, which killed c. 2 million people, and the Einsatzgruppen Trial,  where 'genocide' was used for the first time in law.

My future action as regards these issues will not be to make repeated appeals to Sheffield Councillors but to bring the material to more and more people and organizations, for the time being, mainly  Green Party people and organizations. Already, I've contacted a wide range of people and organizations outside Sheffield, mainly ones connected with the Green Party. Below, there's a section on Brighton and Hove Green Party and Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP as well as profiles of almost all the Sheffield Green Party councillors and a new section on Sheffield Green Party members, including Professor Umberto Allarella.

I intend to use the images above to publicize the issues, and to publicize them not just in Sheffield  - but the emphasis will continue to be on argument and evidence, with images in a supplementary role. I've contacted councillor Dimond and councillor Johnson, the speaker of Sheffield Green Party, to draw the images to their attention. I've asked them to contact me if they consider that my use of the images infringes copyright. If they do, the images will be removed but I'll take legal advice. I do have a basic knowledge of copyright law.  If the legal advice I receive supports my case, the images will be restored to their place on this page. If Sheffield Green Party is in the mood to take legal action at this stage - go ahead.

All the images used have been cropped. The images above are part-images. I've concealed the faces of the people shown by means of the red blocks. This is a further modification of the image which may well decrease the chances of a successful legal challenge to my use of the images - if, that is, Sheffield Green Party  ever began a legal challenge. I very much doubt it. The Home Page of this site includes some images which make use of blocks to conceal faces. It now occurs to me that in the case of councillor Dimond - I'm not making any claims about any other people with blocked faces in the images - a standard dictionary definition of 'blockhead' applies: 'blockhead: stupid person.'

I'm bringing these issues to do with the images above to the attention of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. At 6:00 in the video, he urges his listeners to donate to Sheffield PSC, where 'PSC' is 'Palestine Solidarity Campaign.' I'd strongly urge people not to donate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign under any circumstances. I view the organization as an organization of slogan-shouters, a weak and feeble organization - like Sheffield Green Party, unwilling to answer objections to their views, unable to defend their position against reasoned argument and evidence.

On this page, in this column, there's a document - not too long - which gives wide-ranging argument and evidence:

Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Green Party policy and 'action:' misguided, naive, useless

 Any chance of an answer?  Perhaps that might be too much like hard work. Slogan-shouting is so much easier.

My view is that people shouldn't donate to the Green Party under any circumstances either. There are many, many environmental organizations which don't come with  toxic ideological baggage, unlike the Green Party.  For further information on green issues, see my page Green Party and Green Orthodoxy which I intend to revise and extend.

The anti-Jewish pro-Palestinian mob which stormed the airport in Dagestan, Russia is a warning. A BBC report:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-67267339

Terrorist attacks in which terrorists mentioned Gaza as motivation in carrying out an attack would increase public revulsion for these methods.  Meanwhile, clueless people like Councillor Dimond should be firmly opposed. Can he defend himself against opposition to his views? He hasn't  tried to so far.

About Green Party calls for a ceasefire. Would it have been a good move or a sign of stupidity to call for a ceasefire every time the Nazis attacked and invaded a country - Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Greece and others?  The only effective way of dealing with the Nazi threat was to resist it by military action. As shown in the column to the right, allied military action was very costly in civilian lives. Allied military action to liberate France from the Nazis cost the lives of 60,000 French civilians.  This action couldn't possibly be described as 'genocide,' except by ideologists and people easily fooled.

The Green Party has been calling for a ceasefire -  for action  which has absolutely no chance of being implemented in present circumstances. Some people even call for a ceasefire NOW! What, this minute?

Israel takes the firm view that a ceasefire would amount to a surrender to Hamas and a surrender to terrorism.

Quotation from the Sheffield Green Party Web page cited above, reporting the 'speech' of councillor Dimond and published 20 October 2023:

'Yesterday, the Al Ahli hospital was bombed in the single most egregious act of barbarism so far in Israel's genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza ... Now our media is scrambling to cast doubt on who is responsible, a willing accomplice in covering up for war crimes ... '

Many mainstream news sources made the tentative claim that Israel was responsible for the blast and  have had to retract their clam.

The majority of independent researchers conclude that the damage caused is not consistent with an Israeli air strike but is consistent with a malfunctioning rocket fired from Gaza and landing in Gaza, an event that has happened on a very large number of occasions.

His failure  to take account of  evidence as it has  emerged, his automatic accusation that Israel was responsible - these and other failures of councillor Dimond are very widespread in the Green Party.

 Amongst the available evidence: the crater is small, about 1 m long, 75cm across and 30-40cm deep. The damage to the courtyard where the explosion occurred and the nearby hospital buildings is superficial rather than major. The number of deaths claimed was inflated, perhaps grossly inflated. The consensus of opinion is that the damage was caused by a malfunctioning rocket fired from Gaza by Hamas. A significant proportion of rockets fired to attack Israel have malfunctioned and have fallen on Gaza - perhaps as much as a tenth of  rockets.

From the Website of the Counter Extremism Project, November 1, 2023:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox
/FMfcgzGwHVMBGVtBqLSltKpNtJzTzkMQ

'Yemen's Houthis have waded into the Israel-Hamas war raging more than 1,000 miles from their seat of power in Sanaa, declaring on Tuesday they had fired drones and missiles at Israel in attacks that highlight the regional risks of the conflict. Part of an "Axis of Resistance" backed by Iran, the Houthis have rallied behind the Palestinians since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 ... '

Other material in  this column

Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Green Party policy and 'action:' misguided, naive, useless

Email sent to all Sheffield Councillors, with title: 'Sheffield Green Party's very disturbing reaction to the recent events in Israel.' The article of the previous section was included

Profiles of Sheffield Green Party Councillors: Introduction

List of Sheffield Green Party Councillors, with links to profiles

Angela Argenzio (profile)
Alexi Dimond (profile)
Marieanne Elliot
Maleiki Haybe
Brian Holmshaw (profile)
Douglas Johnson (profile)
Christine Gilligan Kubo (profile)
Bernard Little (profile)
Toby Mallinson (profile)
Ruth Mersereau (profile)
Henry Nottage (profile)
Martin Phipps (profile)
Maroof Raouf (profile)
Paul Turpin (profile)

Other Sheffield Green Partygoers
[more profiles will be added]

Professor Umberto Albarella, Zooarchaeologist, Sheffield University

National Section: Green Party people

Brighton and Hove Green Party: Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP

Content of email sent to all Sheffield Councillors (and others). Article in section above included as an attachment.

Dear Councillor, [Name of councillor inserted]

I've included an attachment [the content provided in the section above] which gives a wide-ranging defence of Israel, including military realities, killing of civilians, comments on Palestinian civic society, and much more, but here, I'll mention some issues not mentioned in the attachment, such as the Israeli flag which flew over the town hall. But I'll begin with an issue, one among many which show, I think, that Sheffield Green Party (and the national Green Party) is uninformed, biased and naive - and to a grotesque extent.  This is criticism of the Green Party by someone who has been very active in environmental matters for a long period of time and still is. I'll give some evidence for that later. I'm sending a copy of this email to all Sheffield councillors.  

The work of a council is necessarily very wide ranging. Members of the public interested in a single issue may well overlook the fact that a council has to have a strong sense 
of its overall responsibilities, has to have the bigger picture in mind and in many cases can't give to one issue the care and consideration which the 'specialist' single issue supporter would like. The Green Party isn't concerned with a single issue, of course, but in practice, they neglect issues which should interest them. To give one example, the Sheffield steel industry. The Green Party is liable to think of steel producers as no more than contributors to pollution, with no recognition of the fact that without metal-working, human life would be at subsistence level, in fact reach starvation level again and again. The Sheffield steel industry, past and present, should be cause for intense pride, the achievement of working people with a very wide range of skills, enormous strengths. 

This is a Guardian video, originally a video produced by the animal welfare organization 'Animals Australia.' It shows 'abuse of Australian cattle exported to Gaza' and it's horrific.

Many, many people in Sheffield have a strong interest in animal welfare. I'm one of them. The Green Party produced a manifesto, 'Putting an end to animal cruelty and exploitation.'
The title is typical Green Party disregard for realities. If they think about it, it would be impossible to put an end to all animal cruelty and exploitation. Far more limited objectives are in order. Can Green Party campaigners  put a stop to gross cruelty to cattle in Gaza? How do the members of Sheffield Green Party react to the video? Does it have any relevance to their support for Gaza? I've been a vegetarian for a very, very long time but never a vegan. I think there are strong objections to veganism, such as the lack of vitamin B12 in plant products, but still, I favour catering for vegans when possible. Do members of Sheffield Green Party know that the Israeli Defence Forces give vouchers for vegan food and that members of the IDF don't have to wear leather boots if they prefer to avoid animal products, and are supplied with synthetic boots. I think that the IDF is probably unique amongst the military forces of the world in catering for people with these preferences. Are they aware that dissection of animals doesn't take place in Israeli schools and is optional in Israeli universities? Israeli society is far in advance of the majority of the countries of the world in its active support for animal welfare. Any chance of a comment from any members of Sheffield Green Party?

Do Sheffield Green Party members know whether homosexuality is legal or illegal in (1) Gaza (2) the Palestinian West Bank (3) Israel (4) Iran, the backer of Hamas? The answers: (1) Illegal in Gaza
and punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. (2) Legal (3) Legal. Openly gay men and women serve in the Israel Defence Force. Gay pride events take place in Israel. The Tel Aviv 
Gay Pride events are amongst the biggest in the world. (4) In Iran, homosexuality is subject to the death penalty, like many other offences, including adultery. In 2022, 51 people were sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery in Iran. Does this bother you at all, members of the Green Party? Which of your number make excuses for Hamas? Which of you make excuses for Iran, backer of Hamas? Are you willing to make public your views?

Sheffield Council deserves great credit for having the Israeli flag flying over the Town Hall - with obvious exceptions, such as certain members of the Green Party. I think of these members as naive, ridiculous, with some hideously distorted views, well-meaning people, perhaps, but far from harmless. The invasion of Ukraine has concentrated many minds, but not the minds of Green Party members, it seems. The Ukrainian armed forces have strongly resisted Russian aggression, of course.  A country with a Green Party government would make minimal provision for defence. The country would be easy prey for any totalitarian state (or powerful terrorist group), in which case there would be absolutely no chance of implementing Green Party policies. It's inconceivable that a country with Green Party leadership could ever have resisted Nazi aggression or played a part in liberating countries which had fallen under Nazi control. What do Green Party members think would happen if the police force were regarded as unimportant and denied adequate funding? Do Green Party members think it's safe to treat defence against external aggression as unimportant? 

I have a Website www.linkagenet.com which has an extensive page giving arguments and evidence in defence of Israel, www.linkagenet.com/themes/israel.htm The material in the attachment is just an extract from the page. (I don't expect people to look at pages of the Website so wherever possible, I provide the material in the email I send, or an attachment to the email.) The site has pages on animal welfare, human rights, applied ethics and many other issues, including 'green' issues ('green,' but not from the perspective of the Green Party.) The Home Page of the site includes many, many images and quite a number of these are about 'green' issues, such as conservation of resources, in particular water conservation and water collecting, composting, encouragement of wildlife and wild flowers, and much more. I've implemented innovatory methods on the land I rent and I've a patent pending in the United States for an innovation in environmental conservation on a large scale, in farms, including vineyards. I've implemented similar innovations on a (large) garden scale. 

The likes of Douglas Johnson and Alexi Dimond and other Green Party Councillors (and anyone else, of course) are free to criticize my views, present arguments and evidence of their own, if they so wish - and obviously, I'm free to make critical comments on their arguments and evidence. I've long experience of activism for various causes and contributed to a re-evaluation of campaigning methods in a national organization:  I take the view that some campaigning methods can be useless, self-defeating. 

Have Green Party Councillors got the courage of their convictions? Are they capable of defending their views or not?

I've included enough material in t
his email, including the attachment, to make a case, without the need to look at the Website. If you do look at it, be aware that many of the pages make use of 'Large Page Design.' These pages are wide as well as long. They need to be viewed on a screen which is larger than the screen of a phone.

Best Wishes,
Paul Hurt
Sheffield

Profiles of Sheffield Green Party Councillors: Introduction

Above, Sheffield Town Hall. A building and what goes on inside the building. are two very different things: superb architecture and good architecture are no guarantee that what goes on inside is worth much. Gothic cathedrals have been, and still are, the setting for superstition and harmful rubbish. Ugly buildings can be the setting for words and acts which are rare and wonderful. As for Sheffield Town Hall, here too, the architecture has no linkage with what goes on inside. The building is imposing. To call it beautiful would be mistaken, I think. What goes on inside - the deliberations and decisions of the councillors - is very, very varied. I couldn't begin to describe the mixture over the years -  the deeply impressive and the less impressive.

I intend to add profiles of many or most of the Green Party councillors listed in the next section. Some of the published profiles may well  be removed if and when the person is no longer a Green Party Councillor in Sheffield, as a result of defeat in a future election or, hypothetically, if the person resigns. 

Newly elected Green Party councillors in Sheffield will be listed below and profiles added in many or most  cases, allowing enough time for the new councillor to establish some sort of record as a councillor.

After sending the email quoted above, I received replies from councillors, including Sheffield Green Party councillors. I don't supply numbers or quote their replies. My policy on emails is outlined in the page About this site

Emails sent to me are treated as confidential - they won't be released into the public domain and won't be published on this site, except with the permission of the sender of the email.. The sender of the email is free, of course, to make public the comment or criticism. I'll publish the criticism of my views on this site if  the sender of the email requests it, although this would obviously require publication of the email.

Comments, including critical comments, are always welcome.

What I've written on any page of the site can be challenged - preferably with arguments and evidence.  I don't mind criticism in the least - preferably well-informed criticism. Criticism of me or this Website, whether private or public, doesn't disturb me.

Anyone who is the subject of a profile on a page of the site is welcome to submit comment, with or without a request to revise or withdraw the profile.  I never agree to demands to remove profiles or remove any other material on the site.

List of Sheffield Green Party Councillors, with profiles

Angela Argenzio

The party she belongs to is a party which contains rabid rabble-rousers such as councillor Dimond and councillor Raouf. An extract from the profile of Councillor Raouf:

What is happening in Palestine is far worse than what is taking place in Ukraine, yet I don’t see you crying tears for Palestine.

The people he was criticizing were Sheffield Councillors. Coun Raouf was critical of a rally where councillors of all parties held Ukrainian flags.

I can only assume that councillor Raouf can't be bothered to keep up to date with the extreme realities of the conflict in Ukraine. As for his illusions about the Palestinian territories, I can't recommend that he take a look at information in the rest of the page because I'm sure he can't be bothered to take a look. The comparison he makes in this brief statement is beneath contempt. I intend making use of this opinion of his in future publicizing of the issues.

In the profile of Green Party councillor Toby Mallinson below, I mention the fact that I was a member of Amnesty International for a long time and so was Toby Mallinson. Angela Argenzio was a member for a long time too and may still be a member, for all I know. Amnesty has changed very much since I was a member and my view of Amnesty has changed very much since then. I now regard it as a discredited organization in certain areas. This is someone I  knew  quite well.

Angela Argenzio is a naive, a very naive councillor who finds some difficulty in defending her naive views, I would think. There's nothing distinctive about this - all the Green Party councillors are just the same. I'm willing to be proved wrong in this respect, of course.

 If she finds nothing wrong, or hardly anything wrong, with the accusations  repeated ad nauseam on Green Party publications - this is a representative example

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2023/10/14/greens-support-the-justice-for-palestinians-demonstration/

- then she's complicit in the Green Party charade, to use for once a word quite often favoured by the Green Party, 'complicit.' The piece just cited uses it: 'They are complicit in these war crimes and must be held accountable.' 'They' refers to the 'Leadership of the Conservatives and the Labour Party.'  And how exactly does the Green Party intend to hold them accountable? This is just another example of Green Party playing at politics - posturing, pretend-politics.

The more I consider the evidence, the more reason I find to criticize in the stance of Angela Argentio. Angela Argenzio is after all a member of the Sheffield Green Party which published this inflammatory piece on a page of its Website

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2023/10/20/
green-councillor-condemns-uk-complicity-in-israeli-war-crimes/

'Green Councillor condemns UK complicity in Israeli war crimes.'

An extract:

'Alexi Dimond spoke at the rally to Stop Genocide in Gaza at Sheffield Town Hall.

'Yesterday, the Al Ahli hospital was bombed in the single most egregious act of barbarism so far in Israel’s genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza ... Now our media is scrambling to cast doubt on who is responsible, a willing accomplice in covering up for war crimes ...'

Unfortunately for Alex Dimond and Sheffield Green Party, the balance of evidence shows that the damage to the hospital was caused by a malfunctioning rocket fired from Gaza against Israel. The evidence includes the small size of the crater, the lack of shrapnel evidence to show Israeli involvement, the relatively superficial damage to the hospital buildings. The number of deaths claimed was inflated by Hamas, shamelessly so.

My profile of councillor Mersereau is about her decision not to vote for sections of a motion to do with antisemitism. Councillor Argenzio made the same decision. I wonder why?

If anyone joins the Green Party for the quiet life, if anyone gets elected as a Green Party councillor for the quiet life - promoting cycling, recycling, walking, organic growing, composting and the rest - they may find that they're mistaken. It's far more likely  that they will condone by ignoring the massive faults of the Green Party. A mass of discarded, fly-tipped rubbish is no more unpleasant than the screaming, screeching toxic beliefs of people like Alexi Dimond - and so many others - in the Green Party. This isn't to minimize the unpleasantness of discarded, fly-tipped rubbish. On this site, I recount my efforts to get an enormous amount of discarded, fly-tipped rubbish removed.

Alexi Dimond

Councillor Dimond's use of the word 'genocide' in the speech he gave outside Sheffield Town Hall amounted to gross misuse of the word. In the column to the right, in the section Some images, with comment there are images showing killings carried out by Nazi Einsatzgruppen, followed by this extract, which mentions the first use of the word 'genocide' in a legal context: the Einsatzgruppen Trial. The Green Party should be ashamed of giving publicity to the speech on its Website. The extract:

The Einsatzgruppen  were SS mobile death squads, operating behind the front line in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. From 1941 to 1945, they murdered around 2 million people; 1.3 million Jews,  up to 250,000 Romani,  and around 500,000 so-called "Partisans," people with disabilties, political commissars, Slavs,   homosexuals and others. The 24 defendants in this trial were all commanders of these Einsatzgruppen units and faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity ... The trial marked the first use of the term "genocide" in legal context. 

Other Green Party rabble-rousers - as well as many more genteel Green Party councillors and supporters misuse the word 'genocide' too, as well as the term 'war crimes.' The section Democracies and warfare: harsh realities, the killing of civilians  includes discussion of the issues.

A record of the speech delivered by Alexi Dimond to the people of Sheffield - or some of them - outside Sheffield Town Hall.

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2023/10/20/green-councillor-condemns-uk-complicity-in-israeli-war-crimhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKm79_PzTOY&ab_channel=SheffieldGreenParty

My criticism of the article and the speech is not here but in the profile of Christine Gilligan Kubo  - for the reason that I consider Alexi Dimond a fanatic and Christine Gilligan Kubo is a 'moderate' and I take the view that moderates in the Green Party should be doing far more to prevent fanatics from damaging the party even more. I also take the view that there are misguided moderates in the Sheffield Green Party and the National Green Party, and more than just a few.

I use the tactic recommended by Comrade Dimond - but not as a result of reading about it in the grotesque Green Party article.  I've used it for a long time. I ask specific questions and publicize the Green Party responses. Since they never give responses, all I can do is publicize their failure. There's more about this man's oratory in other profiles.

I can be sure that Alexi Dimond and Toby Mallinson have their own distinctive personalities but their comments on the flying of the Israeli flag over Sheffield Town Hall are indistinguishable in their ignorance. From the same article in 'The Star' newspaper mentioned, with a link, in the profile of Toby Mallinson:

Yesterday, Green councillor Alexi Dimond posted a picture of the Israel flag on X (formerly Twitter) with the comment: “Sheffield Council is flying the flag of an apartheid regime conducting a genocidal campaign against a captive civilian population ... The Council is supporting war crimes.'

A computer could do as well. Input - words and phrases such as 'apartheid,' 'genocidal,' 'war crimes,' used without any knowledge of its legitimate uses.

As with Toby Mallinson, I don't show the stupidity of Alexi Dimond's  views in the profile but by the argument and evidence provided at length in the rest of the page.

The two of them are basically slogan-shouters: Apartheid! Genocide! Genocidal! And the rest. He shows not the least understanding of the terrible implications of the word 'genocide.' I can be sure that he lacks the historical knowledge of genocide, against Jews and others, and that he lacks the military knowledge and ethical background to know what he's talking about when he throws out the words 'war crimes.'

I'm completely ready to have a debate with Alexi Dimond about genocide, apartheid, war crimes and other accusations he may come up with, on this site or any site he would like. I doubt very much if  the Green Party will make available a platform for a debate of this kind but I leave the decision to him. Of course, he's not ready to debate the issues and it isn't likely that he'll change soon. He prefers to address his ridiculous oratory to an audience of the converted with a sprinkling of bemused or bewildered passers by.


Marieanne Elliot

 

Maleiki Haybe

 

Brian Holmshaw

I take the view that Green Party Policy Pronouncements sound good - to Green Party activists and other supporters - but again and again collapse in the face of political and economic realities. The policy pronouncements haven't been thought through. An example: the page 'Public Administration and Government.' This emanates from the Green Party at national level, not from Sheffield Green Party.

To isolate just one strand of the argument presented, the model of concerned citizens given access to all the information they need to make informed decisions and given the power to make actual decisions. In practice, if the Green Power Party decides that it doesn't like the decisions and doesn't agree with the majority opinion of the local people, then it will disregard the decisions or do everything in its power to frustrate implementation.

I take this view: Nobody tells me what to think. In practice, the Green Party tells people what to think again and again, but the attempted control is heavily disguised, sometimes by verbiage, sometimes by a complete failure to explain and provide argument and evidence.

'Trans rights' matter a great deal to Green Party councillors, far less so to ordinary citizens. In fact, a large number of ordinary citizens would reject an order of priorities in which trans rights have a very high rating, would reject the notion that trans rights are very, very important, amongst the most important political priorities. 

Councillor Holmshaw believes that trans rights are matters of very high priority. It's doubtful if the majority of the people in the Ward he represents take the same view. He was one of the councillors who refused to accept Alison Teal as a Green Party parliamentary election candidate - one of the councillors who in effect denounced Alison Teal.

Another issue - offering sanctuary, offering migrants incentives to come to Sheffield. If the idea sounds noble and good, the realities are messy, intensely difficult and involve some very problematic decisions. To implement the policy in many cases will involve neglecting other issues. The electorate needs an honest appraisal, an honest account of the advantages and the disadvantages, but won't be receiving one if councillor Holmshaw has his way.

A direct question for councillor Holmshaw. Would he support the settling of a large number of refugees from Gaza in Sheffield? If so, could he give a rough idea of the numbers? 100? 500? 1,000? 5,000? 20,000? What would be the consequences for the housing stock of Sheffield? At each level of permitted settlement of migration, would it be realistic or unrealistic to attempt to take in these approximate numbers?

I'll quote now some statistics which have been very widely reported. I don't comment on them myself. I simply give the statistics. I'm sure that councillor holmshaw would interpret the statistics in a way which absolves the people convicted of crime of responsibility for the crime, perhaps by the claim that these people have been the subject of 'racism' or that the Danish police have been acting unfairly. In general, without reference to this particular issue, for every problematic issue there's a Green Party hypothesis which preserves the Green Party claim to a high degree of political and ethical purity. The Green Party is an exception to the realities of failure and bad decision making - the Green Party is the Party that can do no wrong (except for minor oversights.) Academic research on the relationship between immigration and crime has led to very varied conclusions. The evidence is mixed, with positive and negative correlations claimed.

Before I give the statistics, some personal information which is relevant.  I was an active member of the human rights organization Amnesty International for twenty years.

In 1992, Denmark gave 321 rejected Palestinian asylum seekers extraordinary residence permits. These permits were given directly by parliament by a special law. These people have been tracked since that time. Data from the 2019 follow-up:

    • 270 of the 321 who were given asylum were still residing in Denmark.
      Of the 321, 204 (64%) had received a serious fine or jail time for crime and 71 of them had been sentenced to imprisonment. A large proportion of them were receiving  welfare, in particular  the "early pension" (førtidspension) which is usually given to people with severe physical or mental issues  but also awarded to immigrants who have little chance of obtaining a job, for whatever reason.

Douglas Johnson

Douglas Johnson is the Speaker for the Sheffield Green Party. Poor party! Poor speaker, pitifully poor speaker!

But first, a limp, hopeless, not in the least resounding call from this caricature figure, recorded for posterity by 'The Yorkshire Post:'

'The Green Party has called for an immediate end to the violence in Israel and Palestine.'

I think of some animal rights demonstrations I took part in a very long time ago, the moronic chants which made me realize that this was no way to achieve the humane objectives:  'What do we want? Animal liberation! When do we want it? Now!' What, now? This minute? Animal liberation is an unrealizable objective, to secure improvements in animal welfare needs hard work, realism. Gains can be temporary gains. This is no field for naive people, except for naive people who want to be thought of as amounting to something, perhaps even people who would like to be taken seriously - this is yet another unrealizable objective.  An easy way for nonentities to be transformed is to shout - or have published in 'The Yorkshire Post' - ridiculous simple minded claims.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is deep seated and to imagine that it can be solvedy by a Green Party call for immediate action is unadulterated garbage-thinking, if it can be called thinking. This is someone with obviously no understanding of harsh realities - with not nearly enough understanding of life and its limits, the barriers to fulfilment.

Douglas Johnson is a reliable person, a very reliable person, someone you can depend on. He can be relied upon to endorse ringing slogans that sound good - to politically tone-deaf people. He can't be relied upon to produce argument and evidence for his views. That would be too much trouble. So, when he was asked, 'Do you agree with the finding of the Government's Sewell Report stating the UK is no longer institutionally racist? The box he ticked - but of course - was the box 'Strongly Disagree.'

Of course, he ignored all the contrary evidence.  But what does factual evidence matter to ideologists like him? The mass of legislation which exists to safeguard the interests of racial minorities, the warmth and understanding of ordinary people - not all ordinary people, of course. There are ones with views that could be called toxic. But I'd describe the views of Douglas Johnson on Israeli-Palestinian relations as toxic.

This response of D.J, was recorded on the site,

https://whoismycouncillor.co.uk/

Christine Gilligan Kubo

A political party (or branch of a political party) which values its reputation doesn't allow fanatics to ruin its reputation. Moderates in a political party (or branch of a political party) have a responsibility to take effective action to curb the excesses of fanatics and if necessary see that they don't control the party and cause serious damage to the party. Obviously, not all the moderates need to take action but there must be enough of them to ensure that the action is effective. Mainstream parties have leaders who can be replaced if they fail badly in this task. The Green Party has a different view of leadership. They view strong leaders with disfavour. Strong leaders can cause damage if they fail but strong leaders can take effective action in cases like this, whilst the decentralized Green Party has endemic weaknesses. If individual councillors  choose not  to take any action, in cases where firm action is a necessity, then they can get away with it.

Political parties have competitors, of course, just as businesses have competitors. The political parties which are the competitors of the Green Party can benefit from any Green Party failures.

In Sheffield Green Party, I'd claim that councillor Alexi Dimond is a fanatic who can inflict serious damage on the party and I'd say that Christine Gilligan Kubo is one of the moderates.

Moderation isn't enough. Moderates may have many strengths but if they're ineffectual in matters like these, they lack an essential strength. Moderates are often well-meaning, wishy-washy people who are often fluent speakers but poor when it comes to realistic action. I don't claim that councillor Kubo is well-meaning but wishy-washy.

Is Christine Gilligan Kubo aware that Alexi Dimond is playing with fire? Is she concerned, very concerned, that Alexi Dimond's words and actions can cause massive harm to the Green Party? The same questions could be asked of other 'moderates' in Sheffield Green Party.

I've taken copies of the evidence I make use of here, and other evidence.

On the evidence I have, the Green Party is very weak in matters of defence. It can't, it won't make an adequate attempt to defend itself. It won't make even a token effort to defend itself, when faced with argument and evidence. It complacently assumes that its stance is ethical, beyond criticism. 

I'd make a rough analogy with defence issues at the national level. A political party which wants to govern and has a realistic chance of winning an election may have all kinds of strengths but if its defence policies are weak, then the political party deserves not to win an election. The world is too dangerous a place to risk electing a party which is ineffectual in matters to do with defence. A country too weak to defend itself, a political party too weak to defend itself, unable or afraid to use argument and evidence.

Alexi Dimond's chant:

'Netanyahu, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide.
Biden, Biden, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide.
Rishi Sunak, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide.
Starmer, Starmer, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide.

To confine attention to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, to accuse the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition of genocide is gross misuse of a word which should never be misused, never used casually or thoughtlessly. A party which simply overlooked the inflammatory language of one of its councillors would be negligent enough. To actually publish the misuse of the word 'genocide' on its Website is worse still.  To accuse the other politicians of genocide is abject misuse of the word too. Killing of civilians in war is overwhelmingly common. Only some of the killing deserves to be called 'genocide.' I discuss the issues in the column to the right.

There are many, many issues arising from this grotesque display of stupidity on the part of Alexi Dimond but I'm also very concerned about the inaction and seeming cluelessness of the 'moderates' amongst the Green Party Councillors. When I revise these profiles, I'll include any developments in these areas, developments which may be very good, good, quite good, not so good, bad or shockingly bad.

Christine Gilligan Kubo may  find these matters uncongenial. I know that she has a great liking for a part of rural Sheffield which I know well, which I've visited very often and like very much. People may join the Green Party for reasons to do with wildlife, wild flowers, organic gardening and other reasons which are far removed from these unpleasant issues. But political parties have to address unpleasant issues more often than pleasant issues. Undue specialization is a liability in a party which has aspirations to exercise power. If a political power wants to be regarded as responsible and effective, it has to be far more broadly based than any of those fringe parties, single-issue parties.

I take the view that people who join the Green Party, stand for election as a Green Party councillor or a Green Party MP should be aware of  very serious matters like these. If the response is 'not interested,' then this isn't a party worth voting for.

Bernard Little

This snippet comes from a much larger image, shown on the Sheffield Green Party Website page

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2023/10/14/greens-support-the-justice-for-palestinians-demonstration/

My reason for including only a very small part of the complete image: to observe copyright restrictions. If the copyright holder believes that I'm infringing copyright - my view is that I'm not - then contact me and I won't argue the point but simply remove the small extract.

I discuss some of the content of the page in my profile of councillor Angela Argenzio, although my main criticism is reserved for councillor Alexi Dimond. In the main image, councillors Maleiki Haybe, Alexi Dimond and Bernard Little, on the right, are shown holding up a large banner during a demonstration / protest / attempt to boost their sense of self-esteem. I'd describe it as a 'vanity protest.'

The psychology of protesting / demonstrating is interesting. Obviously, there are valid protests / demonstrations, ones held to further a cause which deserves to be furthered. Among the criteria for deciding if  cause is valid and protests / demonstrations to support the cause are valid is this: the ability to support the cause by argument and evidence, as opposed to reliance upon stereotyped slogans.

People who take part in protests / demonstrations don't need to be able to defend their cause, or not in any detail whatsoever, but legitimate causes need to have some secure basis, and one not based on the need for wish-fulfilment.

Bernard Little can at least hold a banner but based on the evidence available to me, I've reason to think that Bernard Little could only present an incoherent defence of the cause. More likely, he wouldn't make the effort to offer a defence at all. He's not alone in the Green Party in that respect. There are many, many others like him.

To clear the matter up,  I think he ought to make the effort just once to show that he's not so clueless after all. I invite him, then, to send me an email putting the case for his view of Israeli-Palestinian relations, giving me permission to publish the email on this site - or, alternatively, get it published on a site of his choice. The case he presents shouldn't, of course, be copied wholesale from an existing source. He wouldn't want to be known as a plagiarist, would he? In fact, Green Party 'campaigning' in the field of Israeli-Palestinian relations (and in many other areas) amounts to mass plagiarism.

Toby Mallinson

 This is simply a start. Toby Mallinson will need quite a lengthy profile. He's someone I knew quite well. For about twenty years, I was a very active member of Sheffield Amnesty International and for most of that time, he was an active member too, as was Angela Argenzio, another Green Party councillor.. I've no knowledge of whether the two are still members of this discredited organization, which lost its way a long time ago. I intend to give the evidence in due course.

My view of Toby Mallinson is that he does a great deal of recycling. I'm not referring to the recycling of used materials, to save them from going to landfill, of course, but another form of recycling, very popular in the Green Party. I regard him as  a political innocent, a naive and ignorant recycler of commonplace illusions and delusions.

An article in 'The Star' newspaper gives the background to the Israeli Flag episode

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/politics/council/
sheffield-council-leader-calls-out-serious-danger-in-removal-of-town-hall-israel-flag-by-palestine-protesters-video-4368239

An extract from the article,

Coun Toby Mallinson (colleague of Alexi Dimond - his comment is given in his profile) also condemned the Israeli flag decision on X. He said,

'I condemn the appalling, criminal actions of Hamas killing hundreds of civilians, and the reprisals of the apartheid Israeli regime killing hundreds more. Decades of breaching international laws and the promotion of hatred by the regime have led to this catastrophe.

'I am ashamed that Sheffield is flying the flag of the regime. I am very concerned about the major damage being done to relations with Muslim and other communities in our city by this act.'

I don't show the complete and utter disregard of realities, the complete and utter disregard of fair-mindedness her by discussing his claims one by one. I do show his stupidity by discussion in the rest of the page. For example, the claim so often made in these circles, and made by Toby Mallinson, that Israel is an 'apartheid state.' This claim is the subject of the section The Goldstone report and 'apartheid Israel on this page.

Other material on this page amounts to a refutation of other claims he makes. He would benefit from a remedial course in history, including branches of military history, and a remedial course in stylistics (the style is the familar fraudulent, standardized agitation, in essentials plagiarism pure and simple). 

Ruth Mersereau

Councillor Mersereau was one of the councillors who abstained from voting for paragraphs of a 'Substantive Motion' at a Sheffield Council meeting.

https://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=19840

These were the paragraphs. I would have thought that they were uncontroversial. What reasoning - or obscure action on impulse - led councillor Mersereau to  abstain? I'm puzzled. Perhaps she can explain - or perhaps she'd prefer not to explain. In my own experience, the Green Party finds explanation uncongenial. It prefers evasion.

That this Council:

h)  recognises that, in 2005, the EU monitoring centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights) adopted the following working definition of antisemitism:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

 

 

 

 

(i) notes that the working definition has become the standard definition used around the world;

(j)  notes that this definition has been adopted by the European Parliament, the UK College of Policing, the US Dept of State, the US Senate and the 31 countries comprising the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance;

 

 

 

(k)  recognises that, in 2016, the British Government also formally adopted this working definition of antisemitism;

 

 

 

(l)  in view of recent controversy over the precise definition of antisemitism, this city with its proud history of religious tolerance and the first UK City of Sanctuary proclaims its support for the published international definition of antisemitism; and

 

 

 

(m)  directs Sheffield City Council to formally adopt the official and international recognised working definition of antisemitism for this city.

Henry Nottage

,

Henry Nottage runs a cycle business in Sheffield. I respect him for that. Running a business is demanding. Running a business can give people a healthy sense of realities. Businesses run by naive, unrealistic people tend to go under. But it's possible for people who are very realistic in the running of the business to be naive and unrealistic in other matters, such as matters to do with international relations. International relations in which Israel, Hamas and Iran come to mind. I provide evidence for supporting Israel and condemning Hamas and Iran. The Green Party, including Sheffield Green Party, isn't a big believer in providing evidence or in providing context. In the case of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the context includes studies of civilian casualties in operations of war waged by the armed forces of democracies. I provide a summary of some of the evidence in the column to the right.

In this profile, I refer to a page of this site where I comment on the importance of small businesses and  argue that small businesses should be supported wherever possible. I practise what I recommend. But in the page on small business and big business, I point out that there can be difficulties.

I'm not a cyclist now but I used to be one, a very long time ago - in London. Below, I mention an incident which affected me whilst cycling in London. There are difficulties in promoting cycling. The Green Party isn't honest about these difficulties.  I see the need to take account of disadvantages as well as advantages. Very often, a course of action is promoted without taking account of the disadvantages. I call this 'alignment,' the pretence that all the advantages lie with the course of action being promoted. The Green Party uses this tactic again and again.

In the case of cycling, it's obviously true that cycling has vastly less impact upon the environment than driving. The industrial processes needed to manufacture bikes cause pollution but cycling causes no pollution. Does this mean that everyone who can realistically cycle rather than drive should buy a bike, if they don't have one already, and cycle rather than drive? There are difficulties here.

If arguments for and arguments against cycling are presented in two columns, for and against, the issue of safety would have to be entered in the column 'against.' First, some data from the UK government, followed by a personal experience of mine. An extract from the site,


https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-pedal-cyclist-factsheet-2021/reported-road-casualties-in-great-britain-pedal-cycle-factsheet-2021

Pedal cyclists are one of the vulnerable user groups. They are not protected by a vehicle body in the same way car users are, and tend to be harder for drivers to see on the road. They are, therefore, particularly susceptible to injuries.

It should be noted that it has been long known that a considerable percentage of non-fatal casualties are not reported to the police. Non-fatal casualties for pedal cyclists are amongst the most likely to be under-reported in road casualty data since cyclists have no obligation to inform the police of collisions. This should be borne in mind when analysing and interpreting the data.

Between 2004 and 2021:

  • fatalities decreased from 134 to 111 (-17%)

  • serious injuries (adjusted) rose by 27%

  • pedal cycle traffic grew by 62%

Averaged over the period 2016 to 2021:

  • an average of 2 pedal cyclists died and 84 were seriously injured (adjusted) per week in reported road casualties.

An accident on a road I know very well, Rivelin Valley Road, Sheffield, a very scenic road. At the end of September 2023 a cyclist was hit by a car and died on the 22 October.

Another accident, another person: a former BBC presenter, Dan Walker, was knocked off his bike and injured  at a roundabout in Sheffield where there have been 40 bike accidents in three years. The accident happened in February, 2023.

In my twenties, a very long time ago, I lived in London for a period of over four years. I bought a bike in Sheffield and used it in London. I was involved in an accident which could very easily have been fatal but which caused me no injury at all. It did make me aware of the dangers of cycling.

I was riding on a wide road, with wide lanes, at a time when there was hardly any traffic. A car overtook me and for some reason the car came so close to me that in a moment, I was knocked off the bike and was lying on my back on the road, completely uninjured. If a car, van, lorry or bus had been following, the chances of being killed would have been high. I got to my feet and found that the driver had stopped. He was very agitated. I didn't get angry with him.  I went on my way and he went on his.

I didn't report the incident to the police. This is one of those many, many cycling accidents which go unreported. I can well believe that there are many, many cycling injuries which never appear in the official statistics. Cycling is much more dangerous than it would seem from reading the statistics. I'm very safety conscious. I've devised a very simple means of protecting users against some dangers involved in working with sheet metal. I  take the view that young children should be protected from riding a bike on busy roads - protected by allowing them to ride only when they're older. I take the view that adults should consider the dangers very seriously before transporting young children on bikes which they are riding.

Not long afterwards, my bike was stolen. I did inform the police about the theft and a policeman came to see me. He was very helpful but of course couldn't do anything to help me to get my bike back. I'm glad that I never did get it back. I was forty years old before I learned to drive and bought a vehicle. Until then, I was a pedestrian and a user of public transport. The white van I drive now is absolutely essential for my work in construction, for the transportation of bulky materials, for instance. I haven't used it for driving long distances for a long time.

 For so many modern activities, big business is essential. If someone takes the bus to work or cycles to work rather than driving to work, the buses, the cycles, the lorries which deliver organic vegetables and other organic products to specialist shops have been constructed with steel. The conversion of iron ore to steel by advanced modern methods can't be achieved using small scale methods. Much larger economic entities are needed - big business, in fact. Modern economies, the ones which provide Green Party councillors and the people who vote for them with the necessities of life and the other things they need, and provide them so reliably and efficiently, need large-scale methods.

Big businesses are essential, and can co-exist with very small enterprises, but small enterprises have necessary limitations. The country could never be fed by a system of small plots, including allotments. Economies of scale are essential. The bread needed by the many millions of people in the country could never be produced from small plots where the wheat is harvested with a hand tool. Massive combine harvesters are necessary.

It's necessary to put no unnecessary obstacles in the way of people who want to start a  small business. I have a great interest in independent business and support them whenever I possibly can. I've a page Big business and small businesses  where I make the case for small businesses. I also point out some difficulties.

Henry Nottage is a Sheffield councillor but like all the Green Party councillors he seems to have little or no awareness of the importance to Sheffield of the steel industry.  The determination of the Sheffield Green Party to support steel making in the  'Steel City' is nowhere apparent. As with the other Green Party councillors, his view seems to be a limited one.

He's one of the Green Party councillors who could have a reputation for moderation. He's one of the Green Party councillors who aren't extremists, fanatics, of the councillor Dimond kind. But the non-extremist, non-fanatical Green Party councillors seem to have done nothing to oppose the  fanatics. In private, they may have made it clear that they don't share these fanatical views but they've done nothing to make a difference. All those Green Party claims to be making a 'real difference to communities' but Green Party councillors of the more moderate kind seem to be incapable of making even the slightest difference when it comes to curbing the extremism of Green Party councillors.  Some of the profiles on the page will make it completely clear what I'm referring to.

The failure of these moderates has severe repercussions.  

Martin Phipps

The Green Party's Alison Teal has fallen foul of Gender Ideology enforcers such as Martin Phipps, Alexi Dimond, Brian Holmshaw and Angela Argenzio. I'm referring in particular to the 'Trans' issuep

Alison Teal has made a case. She has claimed that 'gender ideology'  has a “frightening impact” on children and has called it  “regressive”. She was heavily criticised after making use of  an article which repeatedly referred to the comedian Eddie Izzard as a ‘man’ and a ‘he’ and opposed his use of women’s toilets. She went so far as to condemn the placing of male sex offenders in women's prisons.

It isn't that often that I agree with a Green Party figure, but in this case I side with Alison Teal.

The indignation, the horror of the would be enforcers would be fitting in the case of Iranian cruelties but not at all in this case.

I hope to extend this profile of the lacklustre Martin Phipps. I hope to extend all the profiles - over an extended period - but this is barren work, work lacking in all pleasure.

Maroof Raouf

This will be the shortest profile of all, a short quotation from councillor Raouf, a short comment, with a not so short link giving the source of the information.

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/politics/ukraine-russia-sheffield-politician-claims-some-councillors-more-eager-to-support-ukrainian-children-because-of-blue-eyes-and-blonde-hair-as-opposed-to-those-in-yemen-and-syria-3596399

Councillor Raouf, quoted in this article in the newspaper:

What is happening in Palestine is far worse than what is taking place in Ukraine, yet I don’t see you crying tears for Palestine.

The people he was criticizing were Sheffield Councillors. From the article: Coun Raouf was critical of the rally where councillors of all parties held Ukrainian flags.

I can only assume that councillor Raouf can't be bothered to keep up to date with the extreme realities of the conflict in Ukraine. As for his illusions about the Palestinian territories, I can't recommend that he take a look at information in the rest of the page because I'm sure he can't be bothered to take a look. The comparison he makes in this brief statement is beneath contempt. I intend making use of this opinion of his in future publicizing of the issues.

Paul Turpin

Councillor Paul Turpin has his own page on the Sheffield Green Party Website. An extract:

We can make a big difference to people’s lives right here in Gleadless Valley, and across the city.

I see change coming from the ground up rather than the top down. By changing the way we do things here, we can change things in the city, in the country, in the world. That’s real Green politics.

Naive, simple-minded views often sound much more attractive than realistic views, views which take account of the constraints of action, the frustrations of action. To achieve changes, there's generally the need to take determined, sustained action, often with no quick results at all, often with no results in the long term, there's the need to make informed action, action based on evidence, action which takes into account realities which can't be changed by the people who want to make change happen. If change is achieved, it may produce the intended benefits but sometimes with great disadvantages, and the change may be only temporary.

Councillor Turpin's claims make it sound quite easy - even change in regions far distant from the Gleadless Valley in Sheffield. His claims are largely empty ones, expressing empty hope rather than anything likely to be of benefit to many people in Gleadless. Act local, transform this nation and nations in Europe, Asia Australasia, North and South America? He's living in a world of illusion. I don't claim that he's living in a world of total illusion, of course.  What he calls 'real Green politics' is full of misconceptions and falsifications.

In his article, Councillor Turpin  makes this claim, this criticism, the claim that Sheffield council has 'a relentless desire to accommodate big business at the expense of Sheffielders.'

But Sheffield, like so many other places, needs big business. Big business can generate useless or almost useless products but it also generates a very wide range of useful products. If big business which manufactures and makes available useful products moves to a town or city it can provide employment for large numbers of people. If Sheffield fails to attract big business due to the undue influence of views like the views of councillor Turpin, then Sheffielders will be disadvantaged, including, it may well be, people in the ward represented by this councillor.

I'll give just one example to show some particular obstacles, unrecognized by Green Party paid-up believers. Councillor Turpin may or may not have an interest in growing things but the lesson can be applied to other areas and other issues. It shows the gulf between Green Party theory and action in the real world.

Anyone who gardens or farms will inevitably face the problem of weeds. When food crops are grown, weeds can reduce the yield so that it becomes next to nothing. If the weeds competing with food crops reduce the yield of many food crops over very large areas, then people would go short of food and eventually starved, if no action is taken to control the weeds effectively.

I face the weed problem in the land I rent, of course. In the decades that I've been cultivating the land, I've hardly ever used the weedkiller glyphosate but I've had to put in much more work and to spend far more time on weed control than I would have if I'd used glyphosate more often.

For a long time, I used organic methods, but now I use non-organic methods as well when necessary.

I have a powerful flame weeder, which kills the top growth of weeds but leaves their roots undamaged. It's not an effective solution to bring weed infested land into cultivation.

The organic method (as advocated by the organization Garden Organic, the successor to the Henry Doubleday Research Institute, the organic organization which I used to belong to) recommends digging out the roots of weeds. This is not just impractical but impossible. A person determined to use this method to eliminate weeds would need to neglect all other responsibilities and  use all available spare time and still not succeed.

There are weeds which are comparatively harmless, although controlling them can still take up so much time. There are weeds with stubborn roots such as ground elder, creeping buttercup and couch grass which really do need a weedkiller which kills the roots and eliminates the weeds in very little time. The best known example in glyphosate. There are problems involved in using glyphosate, but they are largely exaggerated. Its toxicity is low. In a survey of the hazards of everyday life, the hazards of gardening and farming, the hazards of glyphosate are almost non-existent.

Very near to the land I rent, just across the road, in fact, there was a mass of Japanese knot-weed. Sheffield Council didn't send workers out equipped with trowels and spades to dig out the roots of the plant, prepared to spend months - years - in a futile attempt to control the weed using organic methods. It's impossible to control it in this way. The knotweed was sprayed with glyphosate and the problem wasn't solved. The knotweed hasn't come back.

Weed-control fabric can be laid down (and weighted down, to lessen the chance of wind moving it or damaging it) and this is acceptable according to organic standards. There's an element of hypocrisy here. Weed -control is a sythetic material derived from oil.

I regard his views - but not all his views - as damaging, He's failed to consider the disadvantages of his views. They're an example of the 'real Green politics' which is based on unreal thinking.

The national Green Party and Israel

Brighton and Hove Green Party: Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP and Siân Berry, selected as the Party's candidate for the Brighton and Hove constituency.

Above, Siân Berry

Please see also my extensive page on Green Orthodoxy.

To be added to this section: material on Siân Berry, to be extended to include comment on the progress of her campaign to be elected the successor of Caroline Lucas as MP - and to include some setbacks during her campaign.   To be added, material on many other issues, including some further information about human rights abuses in Iran and some implications of  the current Israil-Hamas conflict for human rights in the region. I was the death penalty coordinator for Sheffield Amnesty International for twenty years but worked on almost the full spectrum of abuses. I give information about the death penalty in Iran on this page. I point out that Israel has used the death penalty only once My anti-death penalty page gives varied material.

I asked the Sheffield Amnesty Group to raise motions at two Annual General Meetings of Amnesty International. All the motions were carried overwhelmingly. They were to do with human rights abuses in China, anti-personnel mines and campaigning techniques used by Amnesty. I took the view that many of the campaigning techniques used by Amnesty were demonstrably ineffective. The letters, now emails, sent by Amnesty members to Iran requesting that Iran should implement an immediate moratorium on executions, before eventual abolition, never had a chance of achieving the objective. The letters were received in private, the emails are received in private, and the individual contacted would do absolutely nothing. Similarly for other repressive regimes and for a very wide range of other objectives.

I left Amnesty International. I think that the campaigning carried out by Caroline Lucas to oppose abuses in Iran are creditable but are examples of campaigning which could be more useful, less ineffectual. In the current Israeli-Hamas conflict, to give any support to Hamas, to oppose Israeli action against Hamas, will lead to consolidation of the power of Iran, will disadvantage Israel whilst giving potential advantages to Israel. Protests against Iran in this country will have no effect on Iran or only a slight, temporary effect. Military action in the region has the potential to damage Iran, perhaps to increase disaffection with the regime in Iran.

I intend to extend this section with more material on Caroline Lucas and to include material on Siân Berry.

First of all, a link to a horrific video on cruelty to farm animals in Gaza, followed by information on the contributions of Caroline Lucas MP to animal welfare. Green Party people - including Caroline Lucas MP -  would do well to consider some implications of this gross cruelty to animals in Gaza. I intend to add material to show the implications, as I see them.  I don't know of a more devastating video on farm animal welfare anywhere.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/
013/dec/12/cattle-abuse-gaza-video

I've worked for farm animal welfare for a very long time. I contacted all the Sheffield Councillors to ask them to put an end to the council's support for factory farming, for example battery chicken eggs, by using humane suppliers.

Extract from the page

https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/23-09-2009-green-party-leader-to-head-up-influential-animal-welfare-group.html

Caroline Lucas has been named as the new President of the European Parliament's cross-party Animal Welfare Intergroup.

The Green Party leader is well known for her longstanding efforts to achieve better protection for animals, having played a key role in the creation of legislation to ban the sale of cat and dog fur in the EU, and in the recent ban on the import of seal products.

She has also campaigned against the continued use of animals in travelling circuses and the EU-subsidised practice of bullfighting.

My page on animal welfare campaigning includes information about a demonstration I took part in - a non-abrasive demonstration - to secure the rehoming of Annie, an arthritic circus elephant, filmed being savagely beaten by a circus employee. There's a link to a video record of some of the horrible beatings. The series of demonstrations was successful. Annie was freed and rehomed.

My view is this: to assume that anyone interested in animal welfare should support the Green Party and vote for the Green Party would be a mistake, and a bad mistake, is in the case of environmental issues.

People in the Green Party might be astonished to find that people in other parties have a concern, often an intense concern, for animal welfare and environmental issues. When, a long time ago, I contacted all the Sheffield councillors to ask them to change the council's purchasing policy and to stop buying intensively farmed products, such as battery chicken eggs, the only reply in support came from the one and only conservative councillor at the time.

I'm one of these working class Sheffielders who regard the Green Party as impractical, clueless, showing no signs of common sense in so many of their pronouncements, a party to be avoided, certainly not a party which deserves a vote.

This Website shows that I've worked very hard on environmental matters, practically, by means of environmental projects, to give just one example, the 'New Growing System' which is designed to reduce dependence on mains water, to collect and store water from natural precipitation, and to achieve other environmental goals, including lessening the burdens on form workers.

The current Google ranking for my site for the search term
farms gardens water collecting composting is
1 / 27,000,000

 www.linkagenet.com/themes/arrest.htm  gives information about my campaigning for farm animals, circus animals, fur animals and other issues to do with animal welfare.

www.linkagenet.com/themes/bullfighting.htm a very extensive page gives information about my anti-bullfighting campaigning. The current Google ranking for my site for the search term
bullfighting argument action against is
3 / 1,230,000

The current Google ranking for the search term ethical depth is
3 / 164,000,000


https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/23-09-2009-green-party-leader-to-head-up-influential-animal-welfare-group.html

Caroline Lucas has been named as the new President of the European Parliament's cross-party Animal Welfare Intergroup.

The Green Party leader is well known for her longstanding efforts to achieve better protection for animals, having played a key role in the creation of legislation to ban the sale of cat and dog fur in the EU, and in the recent ban on the import of seal products.

She has also campaigned against the continued use of animals in travelling circuses and the EU-subsidised practice of bullfighting.

Caroline Lucas on 'Violence in Israel and Palestine'

https://www.carolinelucas.com/latest/violence-in-israel-and-palestine

'Like many of you, I have been horrified by the brutal and deadly attacks on Israeli civilians, as well as by the numbers of people injured. I condemn Hamas for their acts of unimaginable terror, including the taking of hostages.'

This is excellent.

' ... the violence must stop.'

And how, exactly? Will the violence be stopped by making recommendations that couldn't possibly have any effect? By completely unrealistic requests? Nothing on the page will have any effect whatsoever. The page is designed to showcase Caroline Lucas as enlightened, caring, ethical public figure. It has nothing to do with solving the problem.

Similarly the page on 'Peace and Defence:'

https://www.carolinelucas.com/issues/peace-defence

'I'VE TAKEN A CLEAR AND CONSISTENT STAND FOR PEACE.

Including

  • Finding alternatives to military intervention'

Caroline Lucas's recommendations, if they were ever implemented, would lead swiftly to invasion by Putin's forces and a country under Russian occupation would lose its freedom and independence, with absolutely no prospect of achieving Green Party goals, targets and wishful thinking. If Putin lost power, it's likely that his successor in the Kremlin would want to take advantage of a country without the means to protect itself against invasion.

The page is ridiculously misguided. It pays no attention to realities at all.

A very different matter. Perhaps Caroline Lucasl could do more to ensure that her Web Page is  updated more often.

https://www.carolinelucas.com/contact

In line with government guidance, during the Coronavirus crisis I am working from home, as are my parliamentary and constituency staff. Please do not visit the constituency office as it’s closed.

I would think that Caroline Lucas hasn't been working from home for a long time and I very much doubt that the constituency office is still closed.

Annie O' Gara and Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign

 

 

This is Annie O' Gara, an ex-English teacher, a leading member of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a contributor to a variety of ideological tracts over the years, here shown addressing a small crowd by the steps of Sheffield Town Hall to mark the successful handing over of a petition with  7,500 names. The image is used temporarily. It should be possible to replace it with a photograph of Annie O' Gara to illustrate this section taken with my camera. There should be opportunities to do this at future Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign protests attended by Annie O" Gara.

 The image here is taken from the Youtube video

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=annie+o%27+gara+petition+sheffield

I don't often add to the comments sections of Youtube videos or any other comments sections but I made an exception here. I didn't write a piece for the occasion but simply pasted a pre-existing comment.

The face of Annie O' Gara (and the face of the only listener / spectator) is blocked out for a reason. The emphasis in this site is on argument and evidence and other forms of text but there are many images. I don't have a photograph of Annie O' Gara but I intend to make good the deficiency and when I've taken a photograph, I can remove the image above and replace it with the photograph. I observe copyright restrictions. I don't use Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign images to illustrate my writing on this site, because they hold the copyright. In this case, I've altered the image taken from the Youtube video and altered it. Alterations can make the use of an image in copyright permissible. I'll contact Ms O' Garda and request a decision. If she replies and asks for the image to be removed, I may well remove it, after carrying out further research.

Annie O' Gara doesn't like her photograph taken, or not for this kind of document but she has to realize that she's a public figure, of a very minor kind, of course. She can't spend so much time 'campaigning' and impose a prohibition on publicity. Local councillors, local and national politicians expect to have their work publicized and often the publicity will be accompanied with photographs or film footage. If the opportunity arises, I'll take film footage of her as well as photographs.

I've rarely taken film footage or photographs. When I have, I've deleted almost all of it. I insist that any photographs or film footage I use shouldn't be of miserable quality - and my emphasis will continue to be on argument and evidence, with images in a subsidiary role.

If she finds all  this very burdensome, she should consider finding some other avenue for her talents.

Above, views of an individual, name unknown - for the time being - who claimed to be the 'Chief Steward' at an event organized by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. It was held at Devonshire Green, Sheffield. The event was vile. The protesters marched through Sheffield from a distant assembly area. I was at the Green when they arrived. Their arrival was very disturbing. A woman with a megaphone was shouting out again and again and again, 'From the River to the Sea,' the call for the extinction of Israel. When I left, after speaking to a selection of protesters, including this steward, I walked through the centre of the Sheffield. In a quiet side-street, a car sped past with an open window. A child next to the window was shouting out, again and again, 'From the River to the Sea.'

I got nowhere with any of the protesters I talked to but I'd no illusions. I wasn't there to change hearts and minds, by putting forward reasoned arguments, with evidence, although I did mention a few things. One of the reasons why I attended, but not the most important reason, was to take some photographs to illustrate this page and other pages, in particular the Home Page of the site, and to acquire video footage as well,

These were people taking place in a public event, in a public place. The law allows me to take photographs and to film. The demonstrators didn't like that at all. They weren't interested in what the law allows and doesn't allow. They made it completely clear that they wouldn't allow it, but I disregarded their ignorant protestations. I  took photographs and I took short film footage. I've taken photographs at a previous event and didn't use it. I'm discriminating in my use of photographs. They have to be good enough to use, as photographs. I won't use them if they seem mediocre photographs.

 The only person with no objection to being photographed or filmed was the Chief Steward shown above. I have used two photographs, but only because the photographs seem well worth including for their value as photographs, not because of any views on photographs. I didn't need the Chief Steward's permission to take the photographs.

I had quite a long conversation with one man who said that he was gay. I'd told him - but he may well have known this already - that homosexuality  is illegal in Gaza and punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years. He made it clear that he had absolutely no interest in this fact. It was unimportant to him. He made it clear that he was against Israel. He became very angry when I made it clear that I was taking photographs at the event. I told him firmly that I could take whatever photographs I wanted to.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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