In Uncategorized on April 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Keith Smoult and me returned to Parsons this morning and ended up having a blazing row with a union official. We returned as we’d been requested to , and reported to the union office. An official there told us to come back next week because today was the Centenary of the company being formed and the place was crawling with dignitaries. We had a bit of fraternal argument with the man and told him we had no intention of actually standing on Parsons site but wanted to collect outside the main gate. He was insistent that we leave so we agreed but were really pissed off about the waste of our time and money. We left him with some leaflets and a letter appealing for funds.
As we headed for the Metro station we met two SWP members, Bob Delbridge and Ian? who had buckets and copies of the paper ready for the collection. They were also pissed off when we told them what had happened because they’d also made a special effort to come along. After a short discussion we decided to start a bucket collection outside of the gates.
We were doing well until a suit and tie official turned up and started calling us liars and communists, accusing us of not being miners at all but collecting for the SWP! He really wound me up and I angrily showed him my letter of authorisation and tried to explain why we’d started collecting. He yelled at me and threatened to get the police so we reluctantly decided to cut our losses and leave. We had collected £14.65. Here was yet another example of how some union officials are rubbish and care more about their bosses than their members!
In Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 at 10:34 pm
I almost got arrested in Eldon Square Shopping Centre in Newcastle this morning. I was doing a bucket collection outside Virgin Records when I had a heated argument with a bunch of Tory students I’d previously encountered at Newcastle Poly. Minutes after they left a policeman turned up and threatenened to arrest me if I didn’t move on immediately. He wasn’t nasty about it and said he was from a mining family himself and had a brother on strike, but the law is the law and must be enforced. I didn’t argue too much but I can’t see what crime I was committing.
In Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 at 9:44 am
I visited Parsons this morning with Bob Murdoch, an SWP member who works there. He introduced me to the shop steward who told us that the secretary wasn’t there but to come back on Wednesday to do a bucket collection and also to bring some literature which they could put up on the union notice board to explain what the strike is about.
Bob gave me £25 to spend on picketing so the trip wasn’t entirely wasted. Travel expenses are a bit of a burden so I asked the Treasurer if they could help so they gave me £1! I have been getting lifts off John McIvor but strangely his car was written off when it was parked outside of a bank and was smashed into by a car driven by an off duty policeman! Coincidence?
In Uncategorized on April 13, 2009 at 11:14 am
I met up with Yunus Baksh, an SWP comrade, in Newcastle this morning. He is a really committed activist who I’ve seen a lot of over the past few weeks. He does have one fault, he’s a Hull City fan, but I suppose someone has to be! Anyway, I finally did it and joined the SWP, though I’m not sure Friday 13th was the right day to do it!
The SWP have invited my family and myself down to the Derbyshire Miners Holiday Camp in Skegness for the Easter weekend. Kath isn’t very keen because she says it will be too political and she has no interest in politics, but the fact she supports me and hates Thatcher makes her political whether she likes it or not. Anyway, I’ve managed to persuade her that it will be a nice break and there will be plenty to keep her and the girls occupied away from politics and no one will try to put any pressure on her. The fact that it’s a free holiday means we won’t be out of pocket because the party is paying. She only earns £47 a week from her job, and though we are better off than a lot of striking miners, it aint a fortune so I refuse to feel guilty. I’m sick of feeling guilty.
In Uncategorized on April 12, 2009 at 11:49 am
I spent a wasted day going around Newcastle with Geoff Price though I can’t blame him. It’s been spending the day with him that has finally made me decide to join the SWP. He has obviously been aware of my interest in the SWP and has tried everything he knows to turn me against them. He calls them a bunch of middle class students who are only committed until they finish college then they will suddenly become middle class again. I think this is a really insulting and narrow point of view. There are thousands of working class kids who are in colleges and universities who are well aware of the evils of capitalism and want to change it. Militant are all hot air and don’t appear to understand the slogan, ‘unity is strength’. Neither do NACODS who yesterday narrowly voted to join the strike, but not by the two thirds majority required so they stay at work. If they came out the strike would be won! Why can’t they see that?
In Uncategorized on April 10, 2009 at 8:37 pm
Spent a boring morning at the Westoe picket line. I only went down for something to do and to remind myself we are on strike.
This evening I went to an SWP meeting in Newcastle. The speaker was a man called John Deason and his subject was,’The Miners Strike and the Struggle for Socialism’. It was an excellent meeting with lots of debate and sensible questions. I agreed with everyting I heard.Also present were Joe Humphries, Ian Wilburn, Keith Smoult and Dave Farham. Ian and Joe joined the party but I’m still not sure. What I do know is that what they are saying is a lot more constructive than what Militant are saying. I was given £120 and it was suggested that we keep it in reserve in case we ever need money the Lodge won’t supply. I’m regretting now handing over the reserves we had to the Lodge but there’s nothing can be done about that now.
I bumped into Geoff Price as I was going to the meeting and felt guilty because I didn’t tell him where I was going.Kath made me feel even more guilty when I got home , complaining that she seldom sees me these days and neither do the girls.
In Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm
Fifteen men were arrested this morning at the Deerness open cast site near Tow Law in Durham, including Bob Clay, the Labour MP for Sunderland North. I was told that he was arrested when trying to rescue a picket being savagely kicked by the riot police, or SPG as they are known. Hundreds of pickets marched to the police station where they were being held to protest. Mass pickets are now to be held there every day in an attempt to stop the scab lorries from moving coal because every nut moved is a threat to the strike. I want to go but have been told that because I am a good talker my fund raising is just as important. I’m not convinced but will continue for the time being.
In Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 at 9:05 am
This morning I was given a letter of authorisation from the Lodge which allows me to collect funds on their behalf. Apathy and lack of action has seen us end the unofficial strike committee and I have handed over all monies to the Treasurer. Nowt happened last week except daily visits to the Westoe picket, and nowt happened there either.
This afternoon I went on a tour of various workplaces in Newcastle with Geoff Price of Militant. He is also on the regional executive of the Labour Party and so carries a bit more clout than myself, a mere miner. We visited the Fire Brigade Union in Newcastle and received a good reception. Their Secretary told us that he wasn’t surprised at the Notts miners because during their national strike it was the Notts firemen who were very reluctant to take part and support everyone else. He also joked that the Notts men were carried around in buckets because they have no backbone! Anyway, he has promised to support us in any way he can, including asking his members to join our picket lines. Very encouraging.
Later we paid a visit to ‘The Duck’, which is Wearmouth’s strike centre. I was very impressed with their set up, which includes maps on the wall with every open cast site in the North East marked on it. Stan Pearce, their Lodge Delegate, gave me a letter which appeals to trade unionists for support and funds. I intend asking our officials for something similar because it’s better than the letter I got this morning.
In Uncategorized on April 3, 2009 at 8:33 am
I went up to Scotland this afternoon after a quiet morning on the Westoe picket line. Lads just chatted and speculated on where the strike is going.
I was invited to go to a miners benefit for Polmaise Colliery by an old friend of mine, Stuart Hepburn. He’s an actor and his theatre company,’Badinage’ were performing at Fallin Miners Welfare to raise funds for pickets. Apparently Scotland isn’t solid and they’re having a lot of problems at Bilston Glen. It was interesting chatting to the pickets and the play itself was very entertaining. Mind you, I did feel a bit guilty coming on my own but Kath was working so I didn’t have much choice. At least it was a change from the usual.
In Uncategorized on April 2, 2009 at 8:28 am
It was nice to have had some time off, especially as it gave me the chance to try and explain to Jen and Sasha exactly what is going on. I’m not sure they fully understand but at least they know why I keep disappearing.
I spent the morning going round the shipyards with Peter St.Clair, a ‘Militant’ supporter who knows most of the shop stewards. We did quite well, considering 3 of the yards have been privatised and the other one seemed against unions!We managed to collect £86.25p, and had lots of good arguments with the workers going in. Mind you I’m getting a bit pissed off with calls for a national ballot. We don’t need one because we voted with our feet, and the majority of miners are out on strike. We need to move forward.
This evening I attended a meeting in Newcastle which had Peter Taafe speaking. He’s one of their leaders but he doesn’t say that. Anyway, to me they all seem more concerned with getting Labour elected than supporting the strike, and I hated their method of raising money. A young lad stood at the front of the audience and began haranguing them for money to set up a daily paper. The guy started by asking for someone to donate £100 then worked his way down to a fiver. I was astonished when a lad stood up and donated his Giro cheque! However, being a natural sceptic it seemed stage managed. I was not impressed.
I was even less impressed afterwards when I spoke to Taafe and he was arguing for a bloody national ballot! Very revolutionary. I could have punched the smug git!