Posts Tagged ‘Newcastle’

128. Wednesday December 12th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

I’ve spent the last couple of days in Croydon as a guest of Steve, an SWP comrade. he has been great, helping me to raise yet more funds for the kitchen. The best was this evening when I spoke to a large group of shop stewards at a factory in East Croydon. They weren’t an easy audience and asked a lot of hard questions, especially about the death of a Welsh taxi driver taking a scab to work. My answer to that was that if we had been allowed to picket then men wouldn’t have been forced into such desperate actions away from the pit. My only regret is that the scab survived! I received good applause and a promise of support for the kitchen.

Kath rang tonight to apologise for her cold reception of last week and asked me to return to spend Christmas as a family. I said yes and am going back on Friday. I have to go back anyway for my court appearance and I’m expecting to stay at Paul McGarrs place in Newcastle and visit home during the day. We’ll see how it goes.


122. Friday November 23rd, 1984.

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I heard from my solicitor in Newcastle this morning that my trial in Edinburgh has been set for February 7th, no bail conditions. Civilised people, the Scots. Me mam always calls them Scotchies.

Gary rang and told me only 7 scabs have gone into Westoe this morning because they’d been visited and shown the error of their ways! Good! Mind you, the NCB have offered another bribe of £175 plus back pay to any miner who returns to work before next Friday. The bastards are getting really desperate now, but their 30 pieces of silver will only succeed with a tiny minority.

The majority of us will treat it with the contempt it deserves, especially as it comes straight after the tories deducting a further £1 from the pittance a miner’s family is supposed to live on, about £14 a week, all normal bills expected to be paid. Debt! Single miners get nothing, not even picket pay for me just now, a charity case living off handouts from supporters.

I met some ambulance drivers in Kenton and was given £20 in cash, and the promise of regular sums to be sent to the kitchen. If all this money from London is written down on the sheet at Westoe it should really give them heart to see the range of their support.

I can speak to Jen and Sasha on the phone, but Kath refuses to speak to me. Bloody hell! I just don’t think I deserve this.

100. Tuesday October 2nd, 1984.

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2009 at 10:59 am

Kinnock’s speech today to the Labour Conference was a bloody disgrace!! Yet again he bleated on about his hatred of violence and said the law must be obeyed. He should have been at Westoe last week, or Easington so he can see where the violence is really coming from! The bastard is just trying to curry favour with the middle classes so Labour can get elected. If he is on the side of the working classes then I’m a Dutchman. Anyone who believes that a Labour Government under Kinnock and Hattersley will be vastly different from Thatcher’s Junta is living in cloud cuckoo land!

The NCB has threatened to close Wearmouth if men are not allowed in to do ‘vital safety work’. To their credit the union officials have refused unless the scabs are stopped. Let’s see who cracks first.

Also today I went to the Media Workshops in Newcastle where some lads from South Shields, Richie Whitfield and Phil Turner, are setting up an exhibition that links together a local miners strike in 1832, the General Strike of 1926, and the present dispute. They want to show how little has changed in the way the ruling class operate. It’s an interesting fact that in 1832 William Jobling, a striking miner, was the last person ever to be publicly gibbetted for allegedly murdering a local magistrate. It was a blatant attempt to break that strike organised by the newly formed union in the Durham coalfield, an attempt to scare men back to work. All that has changed today is that we can’t be hanged, yet, but Leon Brittan’s threat of ‘life sentences’ for miners amounts to the same thing. Like the men in 1832, we won’t be scared off.

33. Saturday April 28th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2009 at 10:10 am

For some strange reason today was designated May Day in Newcastle and a march and rally had been organised to mark the event. The SWP were out in force selling Socialist Worker and handing out hundreds of ‘Victory to the Miners’ placards, especially to the miners present though a lot of them ripped off the SWP logo at the top which I found petty and ungrateful. I had brought along a plastic bucket covered in ‘Coal Not Dole’ stickers to collect for the Westoe Miners Wives Support Group. Ian Wilburn had brought up a van full of women to collect as well, and to attend the rally.

As we stood talking we were approached by a Northumberland NUM official who asked me what I intended doing with the bucket. His tone gave me a few ideas but I contented myself with telling him the truth. To my amazement he said I was not allowed to collect on behalf of the miners. Here we go again I thought. I told him I was a striking miner and he demanded to know where I was from. I could have shown him my letter of authorisation from the Lodge but his belligerent tone really got my back up so I told him to mind his own business, and anyway, how did I know HE was a miner? This plainly shocked him because like a lot of union officials they have an inflated sense of their own importance. He told me who he was in an offended tone whilst a group of tough looking Northumberland miners gathered around him. A very angry exchange of words took place, culminating in him threatening to have me arrested if I made any attempt to collect. That did shock me and I asked him why he was so against me collecting. He said, ‘The Northumberland miners do not go begging or accept charity’. I pointed out that I was not one of his men and that it wasn’t begging but asking fellow workers to support us in our fight. I added that he’d better get used to it because it could be a long strike and we would need all the help we could get if we were to beat Thatcher and her boot boys. He just repeated his threat and said he had been fighting for his members since before I was born and there was nothing I could tell him about strikes. With that him and his henchmen stormed off to take their places at the front of the march. Anne Kendrick said he might be able to have me arrested but he wouldn’t dare do it to them so they decided to do the collecting.

We marched proudly through the streets of Newcastle cheered on by the shoppers. The rally was held in Leazes Park and we arrived there in brilliant sunshine and found a place to sit and listen to the speeches and to count the money the lasses had collected.

The speeches were full of the usual rhetoric from a poor selection of speakers, and it was only when Denis Murphy, the President of the Northumberland miners, got up to speak did I pay any attention. First of all he claimed that Thomas Hepburn was a Northumberland miner when in fact he was a Durham miner and founded one of the first ever unions in 1832. Then he claimed his men were the best in the coalfields and had been solidly behind the strike since day one. Wrong again because we had to picket the buggers out at Ellington. I don’t mean to sound petty but facts are facts.

The biggest shock came when Tom Sawyer of NUPE came onto the platform and presented Murphy with a cheque for £20,000! For a union who ‘doesn’t accept charity’ this struck me as the height of hypocrisy and I couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I rushed to the front of the platform and shouted, ‘I thought the Northumberland miners didn’t accept charity?’ Anne Kendrick joined in the attack, much to the concern of some officials who came running over to us and begged us to stop in the name of solidarity. We shut up and returned to our group because we’d made our point. However, I was still furious at the hypocrisy of that bloody official threatening to have me arrested for collecting coins whilst they eagerly accepted a cheque for twenty grand! bastards!

As the speeches ended we began to leave but a furious woman started shouting at me, accusing me of trying to use the women for my own political ends! When I learned she was Geoff Price’s wife the attack made more sense but was still laughable. Militant indeed.

Before I left the park I saw a stand run by the Newcastle Gay and Lesbian Group that made tin badges to order with a little machine they had. They offered to make me badges for a cut price 10p each if I would sign a petition supporting them. I would have signed it anyway but had 20 badges made that said,’Westoe Miners – Zulu Pickets’. I intend selling them for 20p each, with the profit going into the ‘pie fund’. They told me they’ll make more at the same price but I’ll see how these go first.

I made my way down to Jarrow where Neil Kinnock was unveiling a plaque on the Metro station to commemorate the famous Jarrow Marchers. When I arrived I met up with comrades from the SWP and we watched Kinnock pose for pictures with three old men who were amongst the last survivors of the march before making a short speech and unveiling the plaque. He then set off with his entourage to march through Jarrow to a community centre where he was due to speak. We were disgusted to see one of the old men was left standing on the platform, alone, with no one taking any notice of him, poor sod, so a couple of comrades went to get him a taxi whilst we ran to carch up with the march. The old man had served his purpose and then been abandoned. So much for socialism eh?

We caught up and positioned ourselves right behind Kinnock and the other so called dignitaries, proudly carrying our ‘Victory to the Miners’ placards. I have quite a loud voice, some would call it a big mouth, and I used it to good effect, shouting at Kinnock to get off the fence and support the miners, repeating it until he disappeared inside the sanctuary of the community centre. Our Lodge banner and officials were directly behind and the look on their faces told me exactly what they felt about my performance. Still, I expect they got their chance to suck up to Kinnock inside whilst I went home to sleep soundly in my bed.

32. Friday April 27th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2009 at 11:01 am

We did the ‘pie run’ to Tow Law this morning but the whole thing is a bit dispiriting because of the passivity of the picket.

This evening I was invited by the Gateshead Trades Council to attend a May Day dance at the Guildhall in Newcastle.

It’s now 2.30am and I’ve just finished counting the collection that was taken. There is £156 altogether, including a cheque for £50 from a man who would only say his family had all been miners and that he could easily afford it. I asked him to make the cheque out to the Lodge, not wanting it made out to myself for obvious reasons. The rest of the money will go into the ‘pie fund’, which is exactly what I’d appealed for when I made a short speech in the interval. The audience was great and it gave me a personal boost to speak again in public.

  I had a great night out, getting on particularly well with an SWP member called Mick Armstrong. He drove me home through fog so thick you could cut it with a knife. I hope he got home OK.

24. Tuesday April 17th, 1984.

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.

21. Thursday April 12th, 1984.

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?

20. Wednesday April 11th, 1984.

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.