I am the President of the London Shrewsbury Defence Committee and I will be writing up on the Politics section of the website. I am chairman of Westminster Branch of UCATT. Trade Union liaison officer for Islington North Labour Party, Secretary of Islington Trades Union Council, active involvement in the London committee for Justice 4 Shrewsbury pickets campaign, member of Labour Representation Committee, and contribute occasionally in Labour Briefing.
Hi Friends, Comrades and midnight Ramblers……..
It has been said that there must have been something in the water,throughout Wales throughout 1990’s to produce some great Rock bands such as Catatania, Steriophonics, and the Manic Street Preachers. At a time when the welsh mining industry was being destroyed by a Tory Government hell bent on ripping the soul out of working class communities …..Years on, Cerys Mathews lead vocalist from Catatonia went on to be vice president of Shelter Cymru,campaign to save Radio BBC6 music from being scraped and recite some beautiful celtic Poetry. Steriophonics went onto bigger and greater venues and festivals…..The Manic Street Preachers continue to raise their game, just when you thought they were going to unplug their guitars for the very last show……a 3 hour show at 02 Arena 18 months ago, ….they return for another album and a new single ,and tour in September. This song, is true to say their most commercial sounding yet. It is a far cry from the noisy racket we all remember them by.They may have mellowed, but their politics are as firm as ever and as always a song of protest.
There are not many rock bands that put their politics where their hearts are……who have written songs about the welfare state, the spanishcivil war, a homage to Paul Robeson , performed in Cuba and meet Castro,that use lyrics from NyeBevanfor inspiration and take the words written on a entrance of Newport Library “ALLKnowledgeis Power”……to turn that quotation in the opening lyrics on A Design for life…. “Libraries gave us power”…..and actually get involved in promoting Libraries,and campaigning against there closure….
This link below is the Manics new (soon to be released track) Show me the wonder…..a real 1970s nostalgia trip,a time when community and solidarity stood for a sense of purpose, set in a miners social club, with NUM lodge banner on display.The Manics are from Blackwood,former mining village in the valleys of south Wales. They have never forgotten thier roots which were as the lyrics proclaim “A sense of belonging,…A sense of Inspiration”
The politics of music,is a song for inspiration
Mick Gilgunn (personal capacity)
May 1979-April 2013
We must make the connection from the past of Thatcherism to the present attack on our welfare State and NHS by the Con- Dem Government,its a history that has its roots that run deep in keeping people where they think we belong,…….its time for an alternative Agenda, we have a world to win! Support Mayday
The book of Thatcher
Like the stormy Oklahoma dust bowl in John Steinbeck’s classic book about the depression of the 1930s America “the Grapes of wrath”, Thatcher came into our lives.Like the dust bowl that destroyed crops, Towns and livelihoods in its wake ,where once there had been green pastures and rivers that freely flowed….Thatcher during her time lodging at number 10 was in many ways like that stormy dust bowl,……… She made her maiden declaration to the people,giving false hope of the promised land. As she announced her proclamation of the prayer of St Francis Of Assisi……We discovered that the grapes of plenty grew bitter and were rotten to the core……and the journey on the Highway to the promised land,Like that to sunny California, was a miserable nightmare,with a surplus of jobless,….The boss class cut down wages, or closed shop altogether,……police were used to pattern strikers in a field on a sunny day in Yorkshire and in the back streets of Wapping…..as she announced that unemployment was a price worth paying for….There was no promise land in the land of Thatcherism………But like Tom Joad, the hero in the book we remained defiant,and resistant, the cry of ” stand down Margaret” and ” Maggie out” on every song and protest….The people galvanised against her and her Government as we must do now against the class warfare that Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne continue that Tory process of attacking our public services, welfare state and NHS. As Nye Bevan once said the Tories are worse than vermin.Thatcher certainly lived up to that Trade mark.
Tony Benn once said that you have to write your own history or someone else will come and write it for you……No more so than the coverage after Thatchers death , the BBC, ITNnews, sky, and the daily Tory rags and Telegraph broadsheets,Maggie truly walked on water……So much so that her funeral as Churchill did before her was held with all the Patriot militaryhonours fit for the Empire. she still remains regardless of the ministry of propaganda,the Prime minister who gave the orders of the sinking of the Belgranoduring the Falklands war,as the ship was sailing away from the island, and inviting General Pinochet to tea,congratulating him for bringing “Democracy?” to Chile, regardless of his military coup and the execution of thousands in the Santiagostadium……the Prime Minister to which Nelson Mandela was no more than a terrorist while her Government proppedup the ApartheidRegime,…….and leaving 10 men dead in the H Block in the six counties of Ireland while on hunger strike,including BobbySands MP,who had a mandate of 30,000 votes, instead of bridging a peace process……It was as Paisley would shout……..No surrender!…….Not only was the Iron lady not for turning,she was not for listening to others that she did not agree with………..She was cruel ,and ruled the roost with out compassionand for any notion of consensus politics.she was popular with all who wanted to divide the working class. Her declaration of war was on local Authorities,especially the GLCwhich had a counter manifesto to hers,with Liverpool and Lambeth councils that refused to cut services, she was at war with the unions,from steel workers,miners and lavished the Wapping dispute,and within the communities she served us the poll tax,which was her final come down from her throne at Britannia.She was after all,a Shakespearean tragedy .
From Ridley Conspiracy to Poll Tax
The myth peddled out in the propaganda since and before her death is that Arthur Scargill single handily took the miners OUT on strike in 1984 and was responsible for the demolishing of the coal industry and the decline of manufacturing in Britain……….it is the history of ladybird books that they peddle such distortion from truth………Thatcherism was a theory that in its embryo was manifested in the Nicholas Ridley report, hatched out in 1975, was a conspiracy to attack the unions and built coal stocks, break the link with rail,and use strike breaking lorries and militarise the police…Sir Keith Joseph attack on education attacked the principle of comprehensive education, The No turning back group, captured in rolling back the state, a fight with the unions from the Industrial relations act 1971 under Heath and the failings of the then British establishment to undermine the working class, the steel strike and miners strike, to the privatisation of utilities in Gas and Electrics and Telecoms, and water (and why we are know paying the price in increase of bills from a consortium of national utilities in private companies )………The selling of council housing under the right to buy without even profits from that scheme being put back onto a council house building programme that would regenerate jobs in the building industry whilst providing homes for people.Thatchers flagship regeneration was the London Docklands development,that dismissed the local peoples docklands charter and built the cooperate Lego land of Cannery wharf……and to the west of London her flagship council of Westminster sold of Homes and graveyards to and housed short life tenants in asbestos Tower blocks…………This was The human face of Margret Thatcher ,The Government that she and John Major served…..The Government of Property developers and speculators on the stock exchange,and the selling off as one of her very own predecessor and old grandees Harold McMillan once accused her of “selling off our family silver”
“There is no such thing as Society”
Thatcher-ism and the Eton Rifles now under Cameron have made it clear to us all that they do not believe in a cohesive society. We have a complete opposite agenda to their selfish greed. WE believe in a society built on a collective of opportunities assessable to all in education ,housing and health.A sense of community and universal welfare state.That Trade Unions represent workers for better living standards,protection in employment and health and safety at work,and collectively a better society.A clean and safer world,free from war and poverty.This is insignificant to Cameron as it was under Thatcherism as they believe in the principles of privatisation and profit, a society based on stepping on one another. .Infact they will do anything to stop workers organising and they use such language to clarify their Manifesto. Strivers and shirkers,as private sector workers aganist public sector workers and divide us with migrant workers…….`theirs as in Thatcherisim was… is the same old storey ,a continuation of history That Marx put it simply as “Class Struggle”.
The Thatcher Legacy
Thatchers legacy is that the knife and fork we eat from Tonight would have more than likely had the Trade mark years ago “made in Sheffield.”………Its more likely to be manufactured anywhere else in the world but Britain today……Thatcherite Britain,regardless of the establishment revisionism that is now being told destroyed the manufacturing landscape,and ripped the soul out of our Industrial heartlands without putting anything of substance in its place.Ironically for some Towns and cities such as Sheffield,its largest employer today is public services,a city that has revitalised it self from its Steel industry heyday now under attack by the Cameron Government…….We need to turn this tide around, it is after all the same stormy dust bowl Now being created as it was under Thatcherism in the 1980’s.
We do not mourn her loss …………….Lets get organised….. and let the music keep your spirits high. Come out and support Mayday (see attached) ……….Another world is possible,
Bob Marley 10 Margaret Hilda Thatcher 0
Mick Gilgunn (personal statement)
Secretary , Islington Trades Union Council
Letter to the Morning Star Re: Vic Turner (From Islington Trades Union Council)
Islington Trades Union Council would like to pay tribute to Vic Turner, one of the legendary Pentonville
Dockers who died before the New Year and whose funeral is this week. However before I pay tribute to
Vic, we should recall some background history to those momentous events in Trade Union history that
was outlined in an excellent tribute in the morning Star (3rd January), by Roger Sutton headlined
“true working class hero” and Graham Stevenson’s article to the background to the events of the 1972
London Dock strike. The imprisonment of five leading dockers during an upsurge in rank n file activity that
could have seen a General strike had they not been released from prison make interesting reading. Not
least the background to the Industrial Relations Act, and the revelations years later under secret documents
of police agents and “phones taped and bugged” during the dispute about containerisation show to us what
lengths the state will play to undermine working class and Trade Union solidarity.The similarities of the
arrest a year later of the Shrewsbury 24 building workers after the national UCATT and T&GWU building
strike also in 1972, and whose documents leading to their arrest have not been released by the home
office for apparent “Security reasons” and the current blacklist of building workers particularly at Crossrail
are a reminder why we should celebrate the life of Vic Turner as an inspiration in working class struggle,
both past and present. Vic was our special guest along with the then assistant secretary of The TUC,
Francis O Grady to the unveiling of our Trades Council banner some five years ago which has an image
of the release of the Dockers with the caption “arise ye workers”. We were so delighted to have Vic come
down and speak about his experience; it was a huge honour to have such a hero of the Trade Union
movement address the Trades Council. Vic was also a guest speaker at London’s welsh centre a few years
ago for the campaign for Justice for the Shrewsbury pickets, and spoke about the rank n file activity of the
1970s. It has been to great credit for over the years to the spirit of the Dock strike and the Pentonville five
have been kept alive by Cities of London & Westminster trades Council who have shown film footage,
invited guest speakers most prominently Vic Turner himself who in July last year spoke at a successful
40th Anniversary event. Some years ago I recall one such anniversary where Vic, the east Londoner
held his Union card up high and said “this is what it is all about”…..no lecture to the converted, Vic spoke
from the heart,about solidarity, a sense of community, sticking together with dignity and pride. Vic Turner
man of the people, amongst the people, with the people. The inspiration he gave to many will inspire a new
generation in the struggles ahead.
Secretary Islington Trades Union Council
I strongly believe in linking the Political, Industrial and International which is the keystone of the Labour and
progressive movements around the world.
John McDonnell MP speaking at a May Day event. John is one of our biggest supporters.
This is the 2009 annual Shrewsbury Event (write-up and line-up) held at The London Welsh Centre in Holborn
After the 1972 Building Workers’ National Strike 24 Trade Unionists were tried at Shrewsbury in a hostile act perpetrated by a Tory Government to criminalise picketing. A number of these men were given severe prison sentences. Best known of them were Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson, who became referred to as the “Shrewsbury 2.” Des died as a direct result of the treatment that was meted out to him during his lengthy incarceration.
Successive Governments both Tory and Labour, have remained unresponsive to the calls for these perverse judgements to be set aside, and for these men to be cleared. There is now a renewal of the campaign, even after all this time, and the death of some of those involved, to secure justice for these Trade Union Comrades.
The campaign is also calling for a Public Inquiry to expose the role of successive governments and the secret services in the events surrounding this important time in labour history.
Vic Turner, a leader of the Pentonville Five, the Dockers’ shop stewards jailed in 1972, has spoken of the need for trade unionists to back the call for justice for the Shrewsbury pickets.
Turner said there is a “direct parallel“between the Dockers’ struggle for jobs when employers used containerisation to
move cargo handling inland, away from organised ports, and the building workers who held a national strike in 1972
which culminated in 24 pickets standing trial and two, Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson, being imprisoned for three
and two years’ jail, respectively, on conspiracy charges.
While the Pentonville Five were freed when mass solidarity action built up, the UCATT and TGWU pickets became
isolated and were victimised by employers and the Tory government. Those still alive are demanding that the cases
“Both sections of workers were put under extreme pressure by employers,” Turner said this week.” We were under
threat. The Dockers and the building workers both made a stand. We all took, without knowledge of each other,
similar actions to determine our future. It is incumbent on anyone who has a class outlook to support the
Shrewsbury issue. That is why I am speaking there.”
The Shrewsbury campaign is calling for a public inquiry into the prosecutions and the release of government
documents from 1972 and 1973 that detail the involvement of the security services, including MI5, in the cases.
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has told Peter Kilfoyle, the Merseyside MP, that the government documents
cannot be released for “national security” reasons.
Speakers will include:
Terry Renshaw (Shrewsbury picket)
Vic Turner (Pentonville 5 leader)
Dave Smith (anti-blacklisting campaign)
Bob Crow (RMT General Secretary)
Gary Davies (Shrewsbury Defence Committee founder)
Tony O’Brien (Secretary – Construction Safety Campaign)
Jerry Swain (UCATT London South East Regional Secretary)
John McDonnell MP,
John Hendy QC,
Prof Mary Davis,
Chairman: Malcolm Davies (UCATT)
On behalf of Islington Trades union council, we would like to send the following solidarity message….
Solidarity greetings to the construction rank & file meeting and TUC delegates from Islington Trades Union Council.
These 8 large construction companies, whose building projects have a huge injection of public funding, are not
content with making huge profits off the backs of inflated PFI building projects and off shoring these profits in tax
havens, while the working class are told that their public services are to be cutback or privatised.
These same multi-national companies have not only blacklisted many workers for being safety reps, or active trade
unionists, but are attacking once again, their employees by showing contempt for the very skilled workers who
work in construction by attacking the electricians wages and skilled trade.
History is a great teacher. The origins of the London Trades Council, and the seeds of the TUC can be traced
back to the London Builders strike 1859……at a time when building firms showed contempt (like now)
for the builders who worked in the industry………..building workers became organised then……..as in the 1972
National Building strike…..once again we must organise ourselves…….and all trades ….and all unions must stand
together and fight these plans from de-skilling…..
Solidarity to the electricians. Let’s get organised and unionised…………!