Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Paul David Hockaday 18.11.63 - 22.07.17

Dear Colleagues,

On Saturday 22nd July my closest friend Paul Hockaday passed away.

The nature of his death, and sudden departure is a devastating blow to me, my family and Paul's wide circle of friends and associates.

I just wanted to get a quick post into my blog, just to record Paul's passing, and will return soon to record his life more properly.

In the meantime to get a sense of Paul's life, but in particular how, as a community development and youth worker, he enriched the lives of those he worked with directly and indirectly across North Wales, please click on these links:

In Solidarity

Ian Manborde

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

When the race to the bottom becomes the race to the robots

Dear Colleagues,

Just read a fascinating article in today's FT which covers in detail an emerging picture of new technologies impinging upon the established 'race to the bottom' (R2B) phenomena in accounting for how the global industrial shift, under-written by finance capital, is ever on the hunt for the next cheaper, less regulated global region from which to spin a key cog in the global supply chain.

The article, Stitched up the Robots, makes clear that the R2B phenomena is being disrupted by the rise of the robots (to use the phrase of Martin Ford's popular book:, and may, over time, unsettle this profound feature of the globalisation phenomenon.

The FT article is here:

Please read the article and post thoughts/comments in reply.

In Solidarity


Tuesday, 18 July 2017


Dear Colleagues,

Another short post sent whilst in the midst of writing-up my thesis (and today hold-up at the British Library) and to plug a new book. I have been reading and re-reading a lot of the output of Andrew on labour geography (here's his profile: and for those unsure of what it meant by labour geography, Herod states:

The notion of “spatial praxis” is firmly on the intellectual agenda in human geography. The making of the economic and social landscape in particular ways is now recognized as being fundamental to the articulation of political power (cf. Harvey, 1982; Soja, 1989; Lefebvre, 1991). In this paper I argue, however, that whilst they recognize landscapes are socially constructed, many economic geographers and theorizers of the geography of the capitalist space-economy — both mainstream and Marxist — have tended either to ignore the role of workers in making the economic geography of capitalism or have frequently conceived of them in a passive manner. Although during the past two decades economic geographers have generated a considerable literature which seeks to understand how capital attempts to make the geography of capitalism in particular ways to facilitate accumulation and the reproduction of capitalist social relations, there has been much less work which examines and attempts to theorize explicitly how workers actively shape economic landscapes and uneven development. Labor’s role in making the economic geography of capitalism has been rendered largely invisible by the analyses both of traditional mainstream neoclassical economic geographers and also, ironically, by many Marxists, for both approaches primarily present economic geographies devoid of workers as active geographical agents. Second, and following from above, I wish to return agency to workers in the literature on the development of economic geographies. This means conceptualizing labor not merely in terms of “factors” of location or the exchange value of “abstract labor” but to treat working class people as sentient social beings who both intentionally and unintentionally produce economic geographies through their actions — all the while recognizing that they are constrained (as is capital) in these actions.

If interested you can read the entire article here:

Herod's focus on labour geography is an important feature of characterising a new labour internationalism and alongside issues of worker and activist agency, has been critical to my thesis.

It is in the context of agency and Herod's focus on "working class people as sentient social beings" that Herod has approached his new book, which will be published in October by Wiley:

The blurb for the new book reads:

Labor is the source of all wealth. Without workers, the world's natural resources cannot be transformed into finished goods and services cannot be delivered. Labor, though, is a uniquely important resource for the very simple reason that working people have sentience. Whilst a business might seek to employ workers in much the same way as it does any other resource, unlike these other resources labor is capable of altering its own conditions of existence and so of challenging how it is used by others. In this book, Andrew Herod offers an original and wide-ranging analysis of labor as a multi-faceted and truly global resource. Opening with a rich overview of the migration streams and demographic trends that have shaped the planetary distribution of labor, he goes on to explore how globalization and the growth of precarious work are impacting working people's lives. A wide range of examples is examined to illustrate the ongoing struggles faced by workers worldwide – from forced labor and child labor in West Africa's cocoa and southeast Asia's shrimping industries to the labor practices affecting so-called 'knowledge workers'. Herod concludes by surveying some of the ways in which working people are taking action to improve their lives, including forming trade unions and other labor organizations, occupying factories in places like Argentina and Greece, and establishing anti-sweatshop campaigns. This book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the state of labor in today's global economy.

Looks like a fascinating book and at £14.99 for the paperback, relatively cheap to purchase - and much, much cheaper than similar texts on the plight of the global working class.

If you do get your hands on a copy please post your thoughts in response to this post.

In Solidarity


Monday, 10 July 2017

Getting on with Writing a Doctoral Thesis

Dear Colleagues,

Just a brief post to fill in the space since I last posted, and to comment briefly on the challenging, urgent process on writing a thesis ready for submission at the end of September.

I am sure the above comic strip speaks to the experience of writing for most students at any stage of learning, and possibly for anyone trying to put pen to paper. I must say though that, at the outset of starting to write-up my thesis, I hadn't realised how much of a problem it would be to (a) just simply get ideas and thoughts out of my head and (b) make them appear logical, intelligent and coherent on screen/paper.

I've spent a huge amount of time writing stuff that I then deleted, but then, as I have often told students myself, it is critically important to just get on with the act of writing, in order that that physical process is pushing the cognitive.

What I have found particularly valuable to do a little of whilst writing - and given that I am focusing on activist education - is to have be engaged in this, no matter whether on a voluntary or observer basis, as this has allowed me to 'see' what I am writing in a 'coalface' setting.

My other tips for others trying to write something like a thesis is:

(a) Always be clear about your research questions/goals.
(b) Stick to these and avoid (as I really struggled to do in my early days of writing) diversions into that which you enjoy writing about and/or know something about.
(c) Agree on notional word counts to help maintain output and keep and eye on whether your writing is focused enough.
(d) Keep reading what you are writing so that you come back to 'a' above on a periodic basis. It is so easy to forget what you are supposed to be concentrating on, especially when you have a long piece of work to research/write.

OK then, with this blog posted, I can now relax for a few more weeks, til I am back again :)

In Solidarity