Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cyril Smith: Fight For Rochdale's Right to Get Cancer

Even with Team Hennigan's rose-tinted spectacles it must be hard to see Sir Cyril Smith in a good light. The Rochdale Observer have now joined the party, with a few pithy comments from observant readers. No toleration of anonymous Lib Dem trolls there. And a new Cyril Smith interview. There's no fool like an old fool.

I don't have a link just now but last night's North West Tonight found him suggesting that the workers could always leave and get a job elsewhere if they were not happy with the risky life he preserved for them. Acting as some kind of Father Christmas for the kids' Christmas parties at the factory. But the white dust falling thick on the ground was not snow.

Presumably the same goes for local residents, then and now? Missed the slave wages, terrible conditions and shilling a week compo. But did get the killer diseases blown in on the breeze. They could always go and move somewhere less blighted by the blue, brown and white dusts that have made Rochdale famous? Is that it Cyril?

Comments still ebb and flow here on LOL and also over at Rochdale Online where it is interesting to compare the first statement of Save Spodden Valley's Jason Addy here with a less Lib Dem friendly version at the Observer. The Manchester Evening News hasn't posted anything about Cyril since around the time of his birthday, though the grapevine suggests that journalists HAVE filed new copy.

With Team Hennigan manically trying to bat everything back into the dim and distant past and suggest that Cyril should have immunity from comment now he's an old man and "retired from politics" there are some very interesting questions for the last four or so years when the Lib Dems have been largely in charge at the Borough. Trying to have it both ways. As usual.

Signs are that the Spodden Valley site is being dug up and materials moved off site. People didn't have to work there to die from Cyril's favourite industrial employer's ruthless activities. Is there a danger that deadly dust is again being disturbed and that history could start repeating itself?

Are Rochdale's shoddy Lib Dem Council ensuring that health and safety is paramount? That workers are properly protected? That those firms - in a troubled, cost-cutting development industry - that provide method statements are actually doing the work to those standards? Not subcontracting it to cheap cowboy flytippers with tales of bravado? That local residents and everyone down wind are being properly protected from disturbed dust? That financial penalties for holding unused land and buildings do not lead to unsafe demolitions in the area?

With Cyril Smith still very much politically active - appearing on leaflets, recommending candidates, sending junk mail to residents - Rochdale Lib Dems have a talisman. Without him they look more and more like a busted flush.

Even accounting for Cyril the new man Paul Rowen, MP and globetrotter, must surely be the worst MP the proud town of Rochdale has ever had? Just recently Rowen spoke at a book launch for Dr Geoffrey Tweedale's "Defending the Indefensible" as covered by Rochdale Online thusly:

"Geoff’s book and his research together with the ground breaking documentary by Yorkshire Television released 28 years ago reminds us of the deceit and deception practiced that hid the effects of exposure to asbestos."

Can there be any getting away from the facts that Sir Cyril Smith, the ball-grabbing spanker of Emma Street, and the man who first got Rowen involved in politics as a fresh-faced young "canny lad" of seventeen was party to that deception?

The man who Paul said of in his maiden speech in the House of Commons:

"I owe him a lot. He is the reason that I got involved in politics in 1972 when, as a 17-year-old, I took part in his famous by-election. This year, almost approaching the age of 77, he came out of retirement and fought for me. He has been a fighter all his life. The town owes him much."

That's right Paul. Rochdale owes Sir Cyril. He said in parliament that the makers of the Yorkshire TV programme were factually wrong and elsewhere that he'd see to it that they were sued. They were right. And they were not sued.

Rochdale owes Sir Cyril not only for his famous boy-groping antics and his paradoxically horrific "hang-em-and-flog-em" attitude to sex offenders. But also for fighting to make Rochdale something of an epicentre for asbestos cancer.

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