13 October 2009

A Place Far From The Madding Crowd No Longer


If you wanted to get away from it all on the 11th of October, it looks as if you picked the wrong day.

Yet more trampling on the Kinder plateau (pictured above) took place on that date, and building up of nonsensical myths about the place by people who you'd think would know better.

Myth One: Some trespassing that took place in 1932 is the reason we can all go into the national park if we want to.
In fact, the land has been bought from its owner. The national trust used our money - entirely legitimately - for the purchase.

Myth Two: People were jailed for trespassing.

Another false statement. Violence and riotious assembly were the reasons for the criminal charges.

Trespassing on private property is not a crime now and it was not a crime then. The many people who simply trespassed in an attempt to make a point were not even arrested, never mind charged with anything.

Myth Three: The town of New Mills was the pivotal place in relation to the trespass.

In fact Hayfield is where the 1932 people met, then later that day a few of them were arrested. Most of them came from the districts of nearby Manchester, such as Gorton. Another group came over to visit the plateau from the Sheffield side.

The slight relationship with New Mills came about by accident. Hayfield did not have a big enough lock-up, so the police had to go from Hayfield to the next town, randomly simply the nearest place with the necessary facilities.

In later years, New Mills came to have an influential politician with friends high up in the Labour government under Blair and Brown: the late Martin Doughty.

Martin Doughty - a tireless self-promoter especially where 'public' money might be there to be spent - almost single-handedly managed to build up the chance and slight association between his home town and the events of 1932 into the grandiose and false myth that it has become.

Transparency's favourite story from these events relates to the trial, which took place in Derby. The judge was told that one of the accused had a book by Lenin on him. "Isn't that the Russian gentleman?" he replied.

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