In the music industry (or the entertainment industry as a whole) these days, it is a rare thing indeed to hear artists speaking out about anything of merit.

It would be difficult to imagine the likes of Justin Bieber, Katie Perry, Adele, any of the bastard offspring of the Simon Cowell circus of horrors, or Madonna or even Bono drawing attention to anything that criticises the actions of the established order – but thankfully, there are those in the industry who have done just that, and there are also those who believe that some have paid the ultimate price for doing just that.

It could be argued that the untimely death of Michael Jackson for instance, came as a direct result of him speaking out about the dark underbelly of the music industry and the stranglehold placed upon the artists by those who totally control every aspect of their lives.

The MEGADETH frontman Dave Mustaine, has for a number of years made his feelings known on a number of topics deemed ‘politically sensitive’, his response in 2012 to the question of whether or not he would support legislation to make gay marriage legal for instance, was: “I’m Christian, the answer to that would be No.”  A response, which no doubt, would not have made him popular among left-wing politicians and powerful pressure groups and lobbyists in both the United States and Europe.

As far back as 1988, in a confrontational interview with Sounds journalist Roy Wilkinson, Mustaine spoke eloquently against illegal immigration, and stated plainly that he would “build a great wall along the Mexican border …. and not let anyone in…..”, if he was President of the United States.

Also in 1988, he caused a riot when Megadeth played in Northern Ireland following his dedication of a song to ‘The Cause’, which did not go down too well by all accounts.

In 2009, he said that he wrote the album ‘Endgame’ in order to educate both his fans and the public at large as to the march towards the New World Order and a Global government.

In August 2012, while on stage in Singapore talking to the audience, he openly accused President Obama of staging the mass shootings in Aurora, CO and the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting in order to implement gun control.

Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister had some memorable things to say about politicians: “They are all the same anyway. All politicians are bastards – every one of them. [It] doesn’t matter who you vote for you’ll always have a shitty government. All they are after is themselves and their pockets. They are all lying, cheating bastards.”

One of the more recent Rockers to have put their heads above the parapet and speak out is the KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach, who in July 2016, shared a statement online after ‘spending several days mourning the current state of the world and this country’.

I have republished Jesse’s statement in full below, with a link to the source, as it’s one of the best analysis’ out there at the present time, (from a musician anyway) and although I do not agree with every point he has raised, the fact is, that a statement like this from someone in the music industry is such a rarity, and is something that should, in my opinion …. be applauded.


KILLSWITCH ENGAGE vocalist Jesse Leach shares statement:

“I Can not stay silent anymore”

“Knowing full well the insurmountable ridicule and abuse I may receive from this post (by those polarized in one direction or the other) I can not stay silent anymore. I realize my thoughts, concerns and observations may mean nothing to you. If that is the case simply stop reading. For those reading on, thank you and back to your regular unscheduled program of social media to resume in a minute or two.

I can’t just take a “side” or allow a hashtag to define my grief (we all have our ways to mourn with respect). I have been contemplating and mourning the current state of the world and this country for days now. I still find it hard to find the words, but I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror tomorrow if I didn’t attempt to formulate my thoughts and speak my mind and heart.

I mourn the murder of any human! The fact that we as a people use death as a political platform or an agenda is despicable. The denying of deep rooted inequality is also equally despicable! How can we foster progress and actual equality when no one is willing to listen to each other? We must be willing to be considerate and walk in one another’s shoes to find understanding. I don’t see much of that sadly, just division and disregard for one another.

What a sad, troubled and shockingly ignorant state of affairs we are caught in these days. The division between us as a people grows daily due tragic events paired alongside calculated disinformation and false flag or “wagging the dog” (look up these terms if you are not familiar and then examine certain current events that change over time). There is much outside of our history books and news reports to learn from. These days we are swallowing blindly what they feed us. Instead of uniting to stand against a common enemy (the ones in power that manipulate justice and care not for the common people).

Instead we are divided against each other! While we bicker and fight over hashtags and who’s killing who, the clandestine dismantling of this country and the world economy continues unchecked.

Racism (among many other warped and conditioned hateful thinking) is alive and well people! It is being arrogantly displayed by many on both “sides” of the current issues. Yet we are distracted by social status, fantasy games and vanity glued to our phones like zombies. We swallow manufactured media as click bait conspiracies to occupy our minds. We have been warned for decades about these times from literature, to movies and songs. Yet here we are in the midst of yet another crucial downfall and all we are doing is infighting and pointing fingers at each other. When in fact the blame lies upon those in high “authority.” Those very few at the top who oversee the passing and amending of laws, the controlling of wealth and the distribution of power ARE the divisors and dictators of the system.

We have been conditionally dumbed down, divided and controlled. This is “Idiocracy” in full effect, but the vast majority can’t see it! We have been indoctrinated and brain washed so cleverly, patiently and precisely that the vast majority are completely unaware of the state of emergency. We lash out against one another in fear and anger. Anyone trying to make a change and speak out is violently and or verbally struck down by an opposing view. It’s ether that or threatened, ridiculed or simply… silenced in death.

How many more of “US” will die before we realize the truth has been disguised?

How long do we allow those in control to manipulate us, humiliate us, steal from us and kill us like pawns in their game of power? There has got to be a better way. There has got to be a radical change. Sadly I fear the worst as it seems most are too far gone, trapped in the “matrix” as it were.

The only thing I can offer is my personal action. My lyrics in my music, my choices, the companies I support or boycott with money. The effort I will put forth to be understanding, compassionate and yes, loving when I have the strength. My faith is, that there is enough good with us all to begin to heal and help one another (even in small simple ways).
For those of you who believe in God I urge you to pray. For those of you who gather in protest and activism do so in peace. For those of you in uniform show honor and control. For those of you who have compassion and charity to give, give it in abundance. We are facing troubling times and I feel it will only get worse before it improves. In the meantime pause and think before you speak or act and ask yourself “am I a part of the problem or a part of the solution.” You can control and change the way you think and act.

Think about this, if only for a moment.

I am just a man trying to find understanding and do the best that I can to help in anyway. I will continue to strive to write lyrics and songs for ALL of us. I will strive to be an instrument of light and hope in this world of darkness (albeit a flawed, sarcastic, head case of an instrument)….but It’s all I have and all I can offer at present.

I am heartbroken for us all but I won’t give up on trying to make this world a better place one little tiny effort after another.

Be good to one another.

With respect and sincerity

Peace, love, wisdom, strength and light to all!”


On this day in 1979, 21-year-old punk legend and Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious – passed away following an alleged heroin overdose in New York.

 Has it really been 37 years?

“I got this feeling I’m gonna die before I get old. I don’t know why. I just have this feeling” – Sid Vicious

The Birth Certificate of Simon John Ritchie, May 10th 1957, Lewisham Hospital, Lewisham, London


Anne Ritchie & Infant Sid


Schoolboy Sid

A Teenage Sid in flares and David Bowie T-Shirt – 1972


Sid in London




Sid on Stage


The Sun February 3rd 1979


February 2nd 1979

Images Courtesy of ‘The Sid Vicious Family Album’ – Ann Beverley/Virgin Books 1980


Thirty five years ago today, Malcolm Owen, the lead singer of the Ruts died from a Heroin Overdose – He was 26 years old.

The Ruts as a band never got the recognition they richly deserved, being overshadowed by contemporaries like the Clash for example, but for many of us – they were easily the most exciting, angry and musically gifted band of the post-punk era, and had Malcolm not died prematurely, who knows what they could have gone on to achieve.

 So for Malcolm, and indeed for guitarist Paul Fox, who passed away in 2007 ….



WEST ONE (Shine On Me)….

“Lights are burning red and white,Lost on an island in the night,Rescue me or here I’ll stay,A traffic island castaway,Lost in a bar,Inside it’s only me who’s straight.

Out in the dark and on my own (shine on me),I’m stranded here with no way home (shine on me).

Glasses smash full of champagne,It trickles down the drain,A treat for sewer rats,You’re like a rat when you get high,People falling on the floor,Or running out the door?

Lights in the night burning red and white,Shine on me so I can see,Out in the cold out on my own,Shine on me so I can see, shine on me.

Out in the dark and on my own,I’m stranded here with no way home ( shine on me),Lost in the dark, standing here alone (shine on me),Out in the night, where traffic wardens roam (shine on me),On an island where you abandoned me (shine on me, shine on me),Lights are burning,Bright so I can see.

(shine on me, shine on me)Lights in the night, burning red and white,

(shine on me, shine on me, shine on me).

“Words/Music: OWEN/FOX/RUFFY August 1980

The tenth in a series of real-life Outlaw Heroes

President José Mujica of Uruguay, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla who spent 14 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, visited the United States in 2014 to meet with President Obama and speak at a variety of venues. 

He told Obama that Americans should smoke less and learn more languages. 


He lectured a roomful of businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce about the benefits of redistributing wealth and raising workers’ salaries. He told students at American University that there are no “just wars.” 

Whatever the audience, he spoke extemporaneously and with such brutal honesty that it was hard not to love the guy.

He lives simply and rejects the perks of the presidency. Mujica has refused to live at the Presidential Palace or have a motorcade. He lives in a one-bedroom house on his wife’s farm and drives a 1987 Volkswagen. “There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress,” said Mujica, referring to his time in prison. He donates over 90% of his $12,000/month salary to charity so he makes the same as the average citizen in Uruguay. When called “the poorest president in the world,” Mujica says he is not poor. “A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. I don’t live in poverty, I live in simplicity. There’s very little that I need to live.”

He supported the nation’s groundbreaking legalisation of marijuana. “In no part of the world has repression of drug consumption brought results. It’s time to try something different,” Mujica said. So in 2014, Uruguay became the first country in the world to regulate the legal production, sale, and consumption of marijuana. The law allows individuals to grow a certain amount each year and the government controls the price of marijuana sold at pharmacies. The law requires consumers, sellers, and distributors to be licensed by the government. Uruguay’s experience aims to take the market away from the ruthless drug traffickers and treat drug addiction as a public health issue. Their experiment will have reverberations worldwide.

In August 2013, Mujica signed the bill making Uruguay the second nation in Latin America (after Argentina) to legalise gay marriage. He said that legalizing gay marriage is simply recognizing reality. “Not to legalise it would be unnecessary torture for some people,” he said. In recent years, Uruguay has also moved to allow adoption by gay couples and openly gay people to serve in the armed forces.

He’s not afraid to confront corporate abuses, as evidenced by the epic struggle his government is waging against the American tobacco giant Philip Morris. A former smoker, Mujica says that tobacco is a killer that needs to be brought under control. But Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for $25 million at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes because of the country’s tough smoking laws that prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces and require warning labels, including graphic images of the health effects. Uruguay is the first Latin American country and the fifth nation worldwide to implement a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Philip Morris, the largest cigarette manufacturer in the United States, has huge global business interests (and a well-paid army of lawyers). Uruguay’s battle against the tobacco Goliath will also have global repercussions.

He supported the legalisation of abortion in Uruguay (his predecessor had vetoed the bill). The law is very limited, compared to laws in the US and Europe. It allows abortions within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy and requires women to meet with a panel of doctors and social workers on the risks and possible effects of an abortion. But this law is the most liberal abortion law in socially conservative, Catholic Latin America and is clearly a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive rights.

He’s an environmentalist trying to limit needless consumption. At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, he criticized the model of development pushed by affluent societies. “We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means – by being prudent – the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction,” he said. He also recently rejected a joint energy project with Brazil that would have provided his country with cheap coal energy because of his concern for the environment.

He has focused on redistributing his nation’s wealth, claiming that his administration has reduced poverty from 37% to 11%. “Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” he told businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no mystery–the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.” His government’s redistributive policies include setting prices for essential commodities such as milk and providing free computers and education for every child.

He has offered to take detainees cleared for release from Guantanamo. Mujica has called the detention center at Guantanamo Bay a “disgrace” and insisted that Uruguay take responsibility to help close the facility. The proposal is unpopular in Uruguay, but Mujica, who was a political prisoner for 14 years, said he is “doing this for humanity.”

He is opposed to war and militarism. “The world spends $2 billion a minute on military spending,” he exclaimed in horror to the students at American University. “I used to think there were just, noble wars, but I don’t think that anymore,” said the former armed guerrilla. “Now I think the only solution is negotiations. The worst negotiation is better than the best war, and the only way to insure peace is to cultivate tolerance.”

He has an adorable three-legged dog, Manuela. Manuela lost a foot when Mujica accidentally ran over it with a tractor. Since then, Mujica and Manuela have been almost inseparable.
Mujica’s influence goes far beyond that of the leader of a tiny country of only 3 million people. In a world hungry for alternatives, the innovations that he and his colleagues are championing have put Uruguay on the map as one of the world’s most exciting experiments in creative, progressive governance.

“I’m Gonna Keep Fightin’ for What I Believe Is Right”

Twelve years ago today, December 22nd 2002, I took a phone call that told me that Joe Strummer had passed away. 

He was just fifty years old and had died suddenly of a rare heart condition while at home with his family in Broomfield, Somerset.

I lost something that day, Joe had been a constant companion in my life since the late 1970’s when I first heard ‘White Riot’ played in anger, I became a fan and have remained so ever since. I played every 7″ Single and Album I could afford to buy, to destruction – often having to replace some that had become so worn and scratched, that the arm on my ageing Record Player used to dance about on the surface skipping between the tracks. I knew every word to every song on every record and cassette I owned, and voraciously absorbed the passionate and heavily political messages contained in the lyrics.

This was Thatcher’s Britain, I was in Care and was as rebellious as any other teenage lad, but while most kids my age were sniffing glue and pretending to be robots with their idiotic dancing, Joe’s music spoke my language and had narrated my life thus far. 

I became interested in and deeply involved in politician activites, usually of the more radical and militant kind, as complacency was not in my vocabulary even then. 

I read ferociously , I educated myself, disappearing for weeks inside the works of Marx and Engels (may God forgive me), and becoming ever more aware of the world around me.

This continued after leaving care, I began to travel around the country, settling in London for a decade, and grabbing life by the scruff of the neck and shaking the life out of it. 


I saw Joe and the Clash perform many, many times during those days, and I had the privilege of meeting him on three occasions. Twice while standing at the bar of the Marquee Club, and once when we briefly chatted as he was walking down Tottenham Court Road with his dog attached to the ubiquitous piece of string that served as a lead.

He always had time for people did Joe, always ready to give himself over while putting the world to rights over a drink or a spiff. He showed young people there were alternatives to the complacency, opportunism, greed and political apathy that dominated the culture of Britain. He was the face of rebellion, his resistance shone through in both his politics and his music and remains an enduring legacy to this day.

One song in particular, ‘Clampdown,’ affected me deeply. The song is a stark account of living and working in a capitalist society. It presents the contradictions that are made to make us believe that if only we work hard, don’t complain, and don’t rock the boat, we can get ahead. Look out for number one.

The song expressed the anxieties of working-class youth only fit for menial jobs, to become part of the state’s repressive apparatus, or to join one of the many extreme right-wing and ultra violent groups.

“You grow up and you calm down
You’re working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You’re working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
You made your first kill now”

So, many, many thanks for the music and the memories Joe, and for giving this angry, aimlessly drifting young man the inspiration to find himself.

Rest In Perfect Peace Joe.

“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn’t have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realised that you either became a power or you were crushed”

*Originally published on the Outlaw – December 22nd 2012*

The ninth in a series of real-life Outlaw heroes

‘Peerless’ Jim Driscoll (1880-1925) is still regarded as the finest proponent of the classical, upright boxing style, and a fighter who is almost always included in lists of the greatest fighters of all time.

He was also one of the very best never to have won a world title.

The youngest of four children, he was born into poverty in the Newton district of Cardiff, South Wales, to Irish parents, his father being killed by a train before Jim reached his first birthday.

As a youngster, Driscoll contributed to the family finances by working as a ‘Printers Devil’ at the Western Mail newspaper, which was where it is believed he first became interested in boxing, often sparring with the other apprentices, using newspapers wrapped around their fists as gloves.

Most weekends and evenings, he supplemented his earnings by taking on all comers in the Boxing Booths around South Wales, which were run by Jack Scarrott.

At 17, he was earning a sovereign a week from boxing.


Driscoll was simply breathtaking.

He was such naturally gifted fighter, that Scarott came up with the idea of tying Jim’s hands behind his back and offering a gold sovereign to anyone, who could climb into the ring with him and land a single punch on his nose within one minute.

Nobody managed to win the money.

Although records were rarely kept, it has been estimated that he had fought more than 600 Booth bouts, against men of all weights and abilities, before he turned professional in 1901.

By 1906 he had lost just once as a professional, and his attractive style had made him a firm favourite with boxing’s money men at the National Sporting Club in London.

It was there, that he fought for his first major title, the British featherweight crown, and the Welshman won it easily following a 15-round points verdict over the champion Joe Bowker.

He completely dominated the featherweight division at domestic level, and in 1908 he returned to the NSC and added the Commonwealth featherweight title when he defeated New Zealander Charlie Griffin.

 In November 1908, he sailed for America, where he was prepared to take on all comers, but although his reputation preceded him, when he was met in New York by the boxing press and public, they were visibly shocked by his frail appearance in the flesh.

Their initial reservations changed almost as soon as the Welshman stepped into the ring though, as he easily won seven of the nine fights he participated in, the remaining two, being ‘no contests’, which meant that only a knock-out would decide the winner.

The faultless displays he exhibited during his time in America, left even the notoriously critical US sporting press struggling to find words adequate to describe the sheer quality of his ring craft.

The famous newspaper columnist, Bat Masterton dubbed him ‘Peerless Jem’, a name which stuck with him throughout his career.

Abe Attell

Abe Attell

Abe Attell, world champion at the time, only agreed to meet Driscoll in the ring if it was a non title bout, which was agreed and they met on the 19th of February 1909 in New York.

Attell, 24, was from San Francisco, but had built a formidable reputation in America’s boxing heartland of New York.

Known as the ‘Little Hebrew’, or the ‘Little Champ’, Attell had first become world champion in 1903, had reclaimed the belt in 1904, and would reign as champion from 1906-12.

Despite the fact that Driscoll was suffering from pleurisy, Attell scarcely managed to lay a glove on him, and he won by a wide margin – although he was unable to knock Attell out and the fight ended in a ‘no decision’.

The champion was in serious trouble in the fourth, and the general consensus at the end was that Driscoll had won seven of the 10 rounds, with two scored even.

It was enough to see Driscoll recognised as world champion in Europe, but the no decision rule meant he never officially won the title. 

The Welshman’s manager, Charlie Harvey, knew that the American public were hungry for a rematch, but Driscoll boarded a ship for Britain the day after the Attell fight in order to perform his annual exhibition in a charity show for Nazareth House Orphanage, in Cardiff.

“I never break a promise,” was Driscoll’s simple reply to Harvey’s pleas for him to stay, and the fighter received a hero’s welcome when he returned home to Wales.

Driscoll was without a doubt, at the peak of his power in 1909, but even his natural abilities were starting to show the effects of his reluctance to train and his unhealthy, party-loving lifestyle.

He had two further wins in London in 1910, but illness affected the build-up to his US return, where he was matched against Pal Moore in Philadelphia and he lost the newspaper decision.

Jim Driscoll would never again fight in America, and returned to Wales, where he began to prepare for a much-anticipated fight with Lightweight Champion Freddie Welsh (Fredrick Hall Thomas) in Cardiff in December 1910.

The media attention was intense and the atmosphere in the packed American Roller Rink in Cardiff was electric, but the fight itself proved to be something of an anti-climax.

Driscoll’s classical English style did not mix well with Welsh’s American-style brawling, and following a bad tempered and dirty nine rounds, Driscoll was disqualified in the tenth round for a series of blatant head-butts.

Newspaper reporter James Butler said: “It was the only time I saw Jim Driscoll not in complete control of himself in the ring. So bitter was the hatred by the 10th round that the finest boxer this country has ever produced was rushing in red-eyed like a man gone berserk.”

A distraught Driscoll burst into tears following the fight, saying: “The referee allowed Freddie to butt me till I couldn’t stand it any longer. I thought I’d let him see that I was a better goat than he was.”

Returning to his favourite NSC venue in 1912, Driscoll claimed the European featherweight title with a comprehensive win over Jean Poesy.

Billy Wells, Pat O'Keefe, Johnny Basham, Jimmy Wilde and Jim Driscoll

Billy Wells, Pat O’Keefe, Johnny Basham, Jimmy Wilde and Jim Driscoll

Driscoll’s career was interrupted as he had enlisted in the army at the start of World War I, and following being ‘slightly gassed’ at the start of the second battle of Ypres, which affected his already bronchial chest, he ended up in the hospital at Arras, suffering from asthmatic attacks.

He was later drafted into an elite company comprising of physical training instructors under a Captain James Logan, along with other boxers, Johnny Basham, Jimmy Wilde, Bombadier Billy Wells, Dick Smith and Pat O’Keefe.

The six fighters fought exhibition bouts for the Army all over France and throughout Britain, where they worked pretty much non-stop.

He became very close to Johnny Basham, from Newport, Wales, who was also a Sergeant, and they were regularly summoned to calm upset in the ranks, as most of the ordinary soldiers were prepared to listen to the well liked and respected boxers, ahead of their superiors and the MPs who only had served to inflame the situation.

During this time, it was estimated that he fought over 12,000, three-minute exhibition rounds, taking on all comers of all weights, against both amateur and professional fighters.

Eventually, his health broke under the strain, and a recurrence of his chronic bronchial troubles and an ulcerated stomach sent him back to Britain.

His toughest fight of all though, was the battle he fought with his health, which was rapidly failing, but he courageously returned to the ring for three further fights, relying on his still considerable skills to keep him out of trouble, before ending his career with the bravest of defeats to the younger and fitter Charles Ledoux in December 1919.

Ledoux played tribute to his beaten opponent following the fight, expressing his great regret over vanquishing a man who he respected and admired so much.

Driscoll Funeral

‘Peerless’ Jim Driscoll died of pneumonia on the 30th of January, 1925, at the age of 44, and as his funeral cortège wound it’s way towards Cathays Cemetary, more than 100,000 people stood silently along the route through the streets of Cardiff to pay their respects to a great man, and a fighter who arguably, was the greatest featherweight of them all.

South Wales has produced many great boxers over many years, but none was more respected and loved than Peerless Jim Driscoll, the Cardiff featherweight who gave up the chance of winning the world title, simply because he had made a promise to take part in a charity show for his local orphanage.


The eighth of a series of articles which recognises real-life Outlaw Heroes

Albert Cashier was born Jennie Irene Hodgers in 1843.

In 1862, Hodgers disguised herself as a man in order to enlist in the 95th Illinois Infantry Regiment using the name Albert Cashier.

The 95th was under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant and fought with distinction in over 40 battles.

Cashier somehow managed to remain undetected during this time as the other soldiers thought she was just small and preferred her own company.

Cashier was also captured in one battle, but then managed to escape back to the Union lines after overpowering a guard in the process.

She fought alongside her regiment throughout the war until it’s conclusion in 1865.

Following the war, Cashier continued to live as a man, also managing to convince those around her.

For the next forty years, Cashier worked as a church janitor, a cemetery worker and street lamplighter, she registered and voted as a man, and also claimed a war veterans pension.

In 1910, however, she was hit by a car and broke her leg, which resulted in a visit to the hospital.

The doctor who examined and treated her, discovered her secret but kindly agreed to keep quiet about it.

By 1911, Cashier had moved into a soldier’s retirement home, where sadly her mind began to deteriorate, and attendants at the home, while giving her a bath – discovered her long guarded hidden identity.

She was forced to wear a dress from that time on.

Cashier died in 1915 and was buried in her military uniform.

Her grave carried the words: “Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf.” – when she was finally traced back to Jennie Hodgers, a second tombstone was erected with both names on it.

The seventh in a series of articles which recognises real-life Outlaw Heroes

Dr Elsie Inglis was a Scottish doctor and suffragist.

In 1914, aged 49 and with 16 years of hospital experience, she offered her services to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), but was turned down because women were to be kept away from the front lines.

However, Inglis used this opportunity to set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service, which ran field hospitals and dressing stations in France, Serbia, Turkey and Russia.

They performed extraordinarily valuable work in some of the most difficult circumstances.

Interned in Serbia, Inglis returned home where she discovered she had cancer, but carried on her work, taking another unit to Russia.

She died the day after she returned to Britain in November 1917.

Inglis was fighting battles on more than one front during the war: she was fighting to save the lives threatened by wounds and disease, and to prove women doctors could do wartime medical work as well as men.

The sixth in a series of articles which recognises real-life Outlaw Heroes

Thomas Spence: The Poor Man’s Revolutionary

Thomas Spence (1750 – 1814) was an English Radical and advocate of the common ownership of land.

He was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, the son of a Scottish net and shoe maker.

He was one of the leading English revolutionaries of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

He was born into poverty and unfortunately died the same way, after long periods of imprisonment, in 1814.

The threatened enclosure of the Town Moor in Newcastle in 1771 appears to have been what sparked Spence’s interest in the land question and his own journey towards ultra-radicalism.

His scheme was not for land Nationalistion but for the establishment of self-contained parochial communities, in which rent paid to the parish (wherein the absolute ownership of the land was vested) should be the only tax of any kind.

His ideas and thinking on the subject were shaped by a variety of economic thinkers, including his friend Charles Hall.

At the centre of Spence’s work was his Plan, known as ‘Spence’s Plan’.

His Plan had a number of features, including:

“The end of aristocracy and landlords;
All land should be publicly owned by ‘democratic parishes’, which should be largely self-governing;
Rents of land in parishes to be shared equally amongst parishioners;
Universal suffrage (including female suffrage) at both parish level and through a system of deputies elected by parishes to a national senate;
A ‘social guarantee’ extended to provide income for those unable to work;
The ‘rights of infants’ to be free from abuse and poverty”.

Spence’s Plan was first published in his penny pamphlet ‘Property in Land Every One’s Right’ in 1775.

It was re-issued as ‘The Real Rights of Man’ in later editions. It was also reissued by, amongst others, Henry Hyndman under the title ‘The Nationalization of the Land’ in 1795 and 1882.

Spence may have been the first Englishman to speak of ‘The rights of man’.

The following recollection, composed in the third person, was written by Spence while he was in prison in London in 1794 on a charge of High Treason.

Spence was, he wrote:

“The first, who as far as he knows, made use of the phrase “RIGHTS OF MAN”, which was on the following remarkable occasion: A man who had been a farmer, and also a miner, and who had been ill-used by his landlords, dug a cave for himself by the seaside, at Marsdon Rocks, between Shields and Sunderland, about the year 1780, and the singularity of such a habitation, exciting the curiosity of many to pay him a visit; our author was one of that number. Exulting in the idea of a human being, who had bravely emancipated himself from the iron fangs of aristocracy, to live free from impost, he wrote extempore with chaulk above the fire place of this free man, the following lines:
Ye landlords vile, whose man’s peace mar,
Come levy rents here if you can;
Your stewards and lawyers I defy,
And live with all the RIGHTS OF MAN”

Spence left Newcastle for London in 1787.

He kept a small book-stall in High Holborn.

In 1794 he spent seven months in Newgate Gaol on a charge of High Treason, and in 1801, was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment for seditious libel.

He died in London on the 8th of September 1814.

His many admirers formed a “Society of Spencean Philanthropists,” of which some account is given in Harriet Martineau’s ‘England During the Thirty Years’ Peace.’

The African Caribbean activists William Davidson and Robert Wedderburn were drawn to this political group. The Society of Spencean Philanthropists (including Arthur Thistlewood) were involved in The Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820.

Spence explored his political and social concepts in a series of books about the fictional Utopian state of Spensonia.


Spence was a self-taught radical with a deep regard for education as a means to liberation. He pioneered a phonetic script and pronunciation system designed to allow people to learn reading and pronunciation at the same time. He believed that if the correct pronunciation was visible in the spelling, everyone would pronounce English correctly, and the class distinctions carried by language would cease.

This he believed, would bring a time of equality, peace and plenty.

He published the first English dictionary with pronunciations (1775) and made phonetic versions of many of his pamphlets.

Spence’s angry defense of the rights of children has lost little of its potency even today, and when his ‘The Rights of Infants’ was published in 1796 it was viewed by many as being way ahead of its time.


The fifth in a series of articles which recognises real-life Outlaw Heroes

Brian Haw: Veteran Peace Campaigner

Brian Haw (Jan 7th 1949 – June 18th 2011), came to the attention of the public as an anti-war protester in 2001, by choosing to live in a tent outside the Palace of Westminster in London for almost ten years, in all weathers, during a personal campaign that only came to an end due to his illness and subsequent death.

At the time of his death, he was being treated in Berlin for lung cancer.

His many supporters blamed the establishment for his death, some of whom stated he had been “relentlessly persecuted by the authorities which eventually took its toll on his health”.

But there was not one person, however, who could fail to be impressed by his dogged persistence, regardless of whether they believed his protest was seen as a help or a hindrance.

Despite his outstanding commitment, he never once sought public recognition, preferring to concentrate his efforts on individual protest rather than widening his campaign.

His message, more often than not delivered through a megaphone, was passionate, emotional and uncompromising, as was witnessed on the two occasions when he clashed with Filmmaker Bill Maloney, who foolishly tried to talk down to him after attempting to get him to speak on camera.

“Brian is a very angry man. Brian thinks he’s the only person doing something good on this planet, but he’s not” were the somewhat disrespectful words spoken by Maloney following his second encounter with the veteran campaigner in 2010.

Brian Haw reinforced his own message to the world, in his own inimitable way, which was by highlighting the simple fact – that many, many children were being unnecessarily and cruelly injured and murdered in illegal wars and forced occupations.

He said: “I’ve been witnessing against the genocide our murderous greedy country has been inflicting against the most helpless. We’re killing each other – dropping bombs on our children.”