What a difference a day makes! I can hardly believe what has happened today and it has restored my faith in the strike and my fellow pickets. My phone hardly stopped ringing this afternoon with my friends calling to tell me what happened, even though the Lodge Chairman had asked them not to because he wanted to ring me himself. He finally rang me at 5.15pm and I really enjoyed his discomfort as he informed me of the decision that had been made.
What happened was that Gary Marshall spoke to all the pickets in the new soup kitchen at Harton Miners Welfare when they returned from the morning picket. He told them that the food they were eating, and had been eating for weeks, had been paid for in part by money he and I had been collecting. He asked if anyone could cite a single case of dishonesty against me, and then went on to detail my personal committment to the strike. He told them about what the Lodge Committee had done to me and finished by urging everyone to get down to the union meeting in the Armstrong Hall to speak in my defence. He said I was being witch hunted for being a member of the SWP.
The pickets all got into their cars and left in convoy, stopping traffic, honking their horns and generally making a noise as they drove down Stanhope Road. They stormed into the Armstrong Hall and shocked the officials on the platform. When they found that the minutes had already been read they demanded they be read again. A vote was taken, won, and the minutes were re – read. When the minute concerning me was read out Gary jumped up and proposed that all charges against me be dropped and this was quickly seconded, but before a vote could be taken a heated debate developed with the end result being that the proposal to say that I wouldn’t have to appear in front of the Durham Executive but that I was still banned from collecting funds and given a warning as to my future conduct. This was passed almost unanimously and caused visible displeasure to the platform. The bastards were seething! They were even more mad when a proposal was passed to give £3,000 to the Women’s Support Group. The platform protested strongly but were easily defeated by the wishes of the majority. This was a great victory for the pickets because for the first time they could see that THEY made the decisions, the rank and file and not the so – called leaders on the platform.
I felt so elated about what had happened that I went along to our newly formed South Tyneside SWP held in the North Eastern pub in South Shields. We have split from Newcastle because that branch was becoming too big and and people were able to hide from being actively involved. We are very optimistic about the future, especially Phil Turner, who only a few months ago was the only member in town. Now there are five more members, all Westoe miners and hopefully more will join us in the future. The meeting was excellent because everyone was buzzing from the events of today, especially Gary, and we all feel a lot more confident that the ideas of the SWP really do work in practice.
Kath is pissed off again because I think she was hoping to see more of me.However, she is also relieved the charges against me have been dropped. A good day!