Lost mural is found

Detail of Saltley Gate mural showing Arthur Scargill, at that time a rank and file member of the NUM, addressing the strikers and supporters in including 30,000 Birmingham workers who stopped work on 10th February 1972.

It’s just two years before the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate in 2022. South and City College, Birmingham in Digbeth, long a centre for trades union studies, are hosting us for the 48th anniversary on 11th February. Banner Theatre will be leading the celebrations with excerpts from their acclaimed repertoire around working peoples’ achievements, including the Battle of Saltley Gate. An unknown rank and file NUM member in ’72, Arthur Scargill, will be back in Birmingham to speak at this event. He will be joined by Paul Mackney, a former General Secretary of NATFHE, closely involved in the commissioning of a mural on Saltley Gate at this college when President of Birmingham Trades Union Council and Doug Nicholls, President of the Federation of Trades Unions from 2007-9 and elected its General Secretary in 2012.

A group of us visited the College in advance to make arrangements for the meeting: Ian Scott, President of Birmingham Trades Council, Graham Stevenson, a former national organiser for the TGWU and son-in-law of the late Frank Watters, a key player at Saltley Gate, Bhagwant Singh and myself from the Socialist Labour Party. We were met by a member of staff, new to the College. We met in the place where the event would take place. Our first question was “where is the mural?” “What mural?” came the response.

At that moment a college lecturer arrived. “Yes I can show you the mural. It’s in the classroom I use for teaching about trades union history” he told us. 

The College has undergone modernisation and is a thriving organisation. However the mural had been moved from the original site. We joined our hosts on a trip up two floors, and yes there it was, or at least most of it. Our hope is to get the mural on display in its entirety, preferably in Birmingham which in 2022 will be hosting the Commonwealth Games. 

There never was a better time to revisit Saltley in 1972 when failure to achieve solidarity for working people in struggle has allowed political opportunists to masquerade as their champions at the 2019 General Election. The very authors of austerity and opponents of trades union power were allowed to take over by a disunited leadership in the labour movement, a significant number of whom were distracted by the privileges and opportunities for personal advancement offered to them by powerful interests particularly in Brussels and Westminster.

The 48th Anniversary of Saltley Gate meeting takes place at South and City College Birmingham Annexe, High Street, Deritend, Digbeth, B5 5SU on Tuesday, 11th February from 6.00pm to 9.00pm

There will be exhibition stalls at the meeting at Digbeth representing unions and other organisations fighting for equality and justice, including the IWA in Birmingham who have led on demonstrations in Birmingham and London in support of rights of Moslems in India, and the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 

The Labour Leadership’s Betrayal. Leave Now. No Deal.

Corbyn’s call for a national government is a Betrayal reminiscent of Ramsay MacDonald’s Betrayal in 1931, A NO DEAL is a Socialist Deal because it sets Britain free from a European Union which has a constitution committed to Capitalism and an economic and political system which embodies a Customs Union (the EU’s Union) a Single Market (the EU’s Single Market), the Free Movement of Capital( look at who owns Britain’s Rail, Steel, Electricity, Gas,and large sections of our NHS) and Free Movement of Workers (look at facts- Britain has a falling birth rate yet free movement has seen Britains population has rocketed from 59 million to 67 million!) 

The EU compels Britain to outsource sections of our economy such as Council Housing to private landlords, the NHS is now partly owned by International Trusts, and Care of the Elderly are now in the hands of private providers, 

The EU precludes a Government from giving subsidies to Britain’s remaining basic Manufacturing Industries whist allowing an Internatioal Pension Fund to bid/own our Steel Industry,——

I call on all Constituncies who voted in 2016 to leave the EU to collect  the 10% of the main signatures to remove any and all MPs who are acting in breach of the Referendum and replace them with MP’s who will honour the decision of the British People.  Remember Britain loses £85 billion a year trading with the EU whist Britain secures a £41 billion surplus from its trade with the rest of the world.      

STOP THESE MP”s FROM WRECKING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE.   LEAVE THE E U NOW WITH NO DEAL.                                 

                                        ARTHUR SCARGILL–LEADER SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY.

Brecon and Radnorshire bi-election confirms result of 2016 referendum

The result in the Brecon and  Radnorshire is a disaster for the Labour Party  and a success for Brexit.  The total vote for leave parties without a deal was 50.21 per cent whilst the vote for Remain parties was 49.78 per cent. The vote is in line with the 2016 Referendum and the vote in the 2019 European Elections. 

The clamour in Westminster by those wanting to remain in the European Union is pressing for a second referendum. That held in 2016 gave a result which many didn’t like so they want another one. So far succeeding elections have shown a similar result to 2016 so why hold yet another ignoring the results. The country is governed according to the results of a process intended to be democratic, so discarding the outcome raises questions of the legitimacy of the outcomes. To change it questions a democratic process. This is not to say that the system can’t be improved so that votes cast to elect representatives do properly reflect accurately the wishes of the people. Many countries have adopted one form of proportional representation but that has so far been resisted in the UK with the major parties in what has up to now been a two party system who fear change will disadvantage them. The time for electoral reform is ripe.

The Electoral Reform Society reported that in 17 councils the party with the largest number of votes did not secure the most seats. Scotland has already adopted a new system.

A view from Europe on the UK EU election on 23rd May

La Tribune des Travailleurs [Workers’ Tribune] Issue no.191 – 29 May 2019

Britain: The  people  want  democracy  respected

The simple truth is that the people want democracy respected – and political power back.” This is how Doreen MacNally, one of the British delegates to the internationalist rally in Strasbourg (France) on 11 May, summarised the result of the European elections in Britain.

Three years during which the Labour leadership did everything it could to oppose a clear and full  break as decided by the voters in the 2016 referendum.

On Thursday, 23 May, British voters had to elect members to the Parliament of the European Union (EU). An EU that they had already decided to leave three years previously. Let us remember that on 23 June 2016, a majority of the British people – especially in working-class constituencies – voted in favour of leaving the European Union.

Three years during which the crisis that has torn the Conservatives apart has seen conflict between the City’s financial representatives in favour of remaining in the EU and those who were saying that they would implement the EU’s anti-working-class policy from outside the EU. 

The leaders of the Labour Party and the Conservatives have consistently agreed on this denial of democracy. 

Regarding the minority of voters who took part in the election, Tory voters largely turned to the Brexit Party of far-right politician Nigel Farage. The Labour Party’s electoral base mostly abstained, although it is indisputable that some Labour voters voted for Farage’s party – for which the Labour Party leaders bear full responsibility.

The result on 23 May: an abstention rate of 63 per cent, rising to over 70 per cent in some working-class constituencies where there had been a majority in 2016 in favour of leaving the EU.

It is pointless to beat about the bush: democracy means breaking with the European Union, as the people decided in 2016. What is now on the agenda is rallying together all those in both the trade unions and the Labour Party who are in favour of respecting the 2016 mandate: a clean break with the European Union and all its anti-working-class and anti-democratic provisions, which would open up the path to renationalising privatised services, to ending privatisation and zero-hour contracts, and to satisfying working-class demands which are forbidden as long as the straitjacket of the European Union remains in place.

Jean-Pierre Barrois

Massacres at Jallianwalla Bagh and Peterloo.

It is one hundred years since British troops opened fire on defenceless people including women, children and men in the area of the Punjabi city of Amritsar known as Jallianwalla Bagh. It was an enclosed public space where people regularly assembled for meetings or spent leisure time. There were high walls and very narrow alleyways. Gates were locked at the time, and many died escaping the bullets by jumping into a well. This notorious massacre has gone down in history and on the centenary of the event many are lobbying parliament for an official apology of what took place.

Just two hundred years ago people had gathered in such a space in and area of Manchester. As in India armed militia were brought in and an order given to open fire directly into the crowd. This too has gone down in history as the Peterloo Massacre.

A meeting held in Handsworth Birmingham on Saturday, 20th April 2019, remembered both events and attention was drawn to how people have been, and continue to be oppressed by a ruling elite using armed militia. They unite people of India and the UK by the brutality they experienced at the hands of the ruling class in a shared history.

The film Gandhi (1983) recreates events at Jallianwalabagh on April 13th, 1919. A film about Peterloo was released in 2012. An illustrated book about the event is due out to coincide with the bicentenary of the Peterloo massacre in August 1819. Both events should be included in schools’ curriculum.

Aimez vous Brahms?

Growing up in the fifties and sixties I listened to a lot of music, becoming hooked on the classics. I spent time working in a gramophone record library in my home town of Enfield, alongside Eric Cooper who became quite well known in this innovatory field. We lent out vinyl lps and spent time inspecting borrowers’ stylus tips and the records themselves, recording scratch marks on disks printed on card, just as if hiring a car.

Among the celebrities recording Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms were the likes of Toscanini and Bruno Walter, perhaps the established classic sets of that time. Karajan and Klemperer are coming into view, both with the celebrated Philharmonia Orchestra. Guido Cantelli became a firm favourite, although I didn’t attend any of his concerts. I still enjoy the recordings of Debussy, Ravel and de Falla.

I began visiting the famous HMV store in Oxford Street, in London’s West End, and acquired mono recordings of the Italian and Unfinished symphonies of Mendelssohn and Schubert. Also a couple of 10″ disks of Brahm’s Third and Schumann’s Fourth. I still have these on CD and download.

I began going to concerts, particularly at the Royal Festival Hall, in 1955/6. The conductors for some reason all seemed to have names beginning with “K”. First there was Karajan in a Mozart concert with pianist Clara Haskil, and then Beethoven under Klemperer. Others I was to encounter were Josef Krips, Royalton Kisch, Rafael Kubelik and Rudolf Kempe. I missed out on Keilberth and Knappertsbusch, but there were always recordings in the library! Oh yes there was a young Charles Mackerras. Does that count?! I think it was Harry Newstone who broke the mould. I have kept all these concert programmes. What do I do with them now?

Aimez vous Brahms?

Klemperer in particular became noted for slow speeds. His lumbering presence, after suffering strokes and brain tumours, was reflected in his music making. Not least this was so in Brahms, but I heard a riveting account of Brahms First Symphony, particularly in the granite like conclusion. This is evident on his recording with the Philharmonia. I later found the performance of the Brahms First Symphony is also swift in the first movement when I started catching up with reissues.

I was brought up at a time when slow or deliberate tempi were the norm, but lived to witness a time when authenticity has become the order of the day. When it comes to Brahms a clutch of recordings from chamber ensembles have appeared, comparable to the size of the Meiningen Orchestra which Brahms knew and first performed some of his works. A set came out from the Leipzig Gerwandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly. This referred back to a set made by the London Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras in 1939/40 under Felix Weingartner. I find these performances more compelling than many of the new recordings I’ve heard. Music performance is created from momentary feelings and ideas as much as anything and spontaneity is crucial. This seems evident in the Weingartner recordings. Other recordings from the thirties shows much quicker tempi, and these were from people who either knew Brahms, as Weingartner did or were closely linked. Recordings of the two Piano Concerti from Backhaus and Schnabel are considerably faster than performances even now. A recording of the Tragic Overture by Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra is also exciting and revealing making you feel this is the way it should go. Subsequent recordings with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra don’t catch this mood.

Carlo Maria Giulini visited Birmingham Symphony Hall with the Philharmonia with Hugh Bean leading. Both have since left us. Brahms Second Symphony was four slow movements and for me painful to sit through. I thought I was used to Klemperer performances, but they certainly didn’t have the same effect.

Looking back at recordings from fifties I found that there were performances among my vinyl collection which were swift in contrast to the prevailing slowing down of the classics favoured by so many of the star conductors. I discovered, or rediscovered that Cantelli’s performance of the Schubert Unfinished Symphony’s first movement was a real allegro. I haven’t heard many performances like this, an exception being Thomas Dausgaard with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra which is, well, fast! Cantelli’s is a performance I want to return to.

Klemperer’s Beethoven became legendary, but the issuing of Roger Norrington’s Beethoven recordings I found a revelation, particularly with Symphonies Two and Eight which I had on cassette. I found Harnoncourt fine, but the performances I enjoy above all came from an unexpected source: Emmanuel Krivine with the Chambre Philharmonique which really points up a link between these works and dance or folk traditions that existed, on which Beethoven must have drawn. They can all be seen on Youtube. Similarly Mozart Symphonies from Jos van Immerseel and Musica Aeterna, Bruges are exhilerating.

Booted and suited.

Brexit rides rough shod over political identities, Tory or Labour, left or right, brexiteers or remainers. The booted and suited remainers could well be Labour, we know that it is the Tory elite group who are leading the Brexit campaign since this is the message repeated ad nauseam in press reports. The left case is less well documented.

Brexit has been identified with the right from the start with UKIP getting full press coverage. Takis Fotopoulos analyses a situation where, not only in Britain, but elsewhere, including the US, confusion has abounded. The population, divided between the beneficiaries of globalisation and those (the majority) who have found themselves its victims, have looked for alternatives. The traditional left has failed to show support for the victims while many are giving support for remaining in the European Union, an engine of globalisation repressing further those affected by austerity, the loss of what were termed “essential services” provided by almost non-existent local government.

In case any one missed it, this was David Cameron’s promise around the time he offered the chance to take part in a referendum on staying in or leaving the EU. Since then local government has shrunk losing the ability to provide even the most essential of services at the same time as increasing council tax levels significantly. Privatisation of everything, following the highly praised model of Chile’s experiment under Pinochet, has taken hard as “globalisation” (neoliberalism) has taken firm hold. It has become the engine of the European Union and its institutions as well as governments universally whether calling themselves right or left.

Every where privatisation has been practiced flagship projects have ended in tears as private providers collapse through corruption and greed. Carillion failed in the middle of building new hospitals, our railways are costing more and more, at the same time as failing to deliver basic services with huge profits going to providers which include companies set up by state railways of Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy etc. Carillion’s highly paid boss not only landed a new job leading another failing company but was retained as a government adviser. Heads they win, tails we lose.

47th Anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate

Flier for meeting in Birmingham on 47th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate, addressed by Arthur Scargill

The 47th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate, which took place in Birmingham on 10th February 1972, will be celebrated in Birmingham with an address from the man who took a lead on that day, Arthur Scargill.

An act of betrayal of both socialist principal and a betrayal of the democratic vote of the British people

Press release from the Leader of the Socialist Labour Party

“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that any discussions with the government will only take place provided that ” NO DEAL ” is taken off the table is not only deplorable but an act of betrayal of both socialist principal and a betrayal of the democratic vote of the British people and the 60 per cent of Labour Constituencies who voted to leave the European Union including its corrupt Customs Union, it’s rigged single Market and it’s unacceptable Free Movement of workers and Capital. His appalling abandonment of his previous position would have been condemned by the late Tony Benn; Michael Foot and is condemned by me who for over 40 years regarded him as a comrade and friend. No More.” 

Arthur Scargill Leader Socialist Labour Party and former President National Union of Mineworkers 1982 — 2002

Labour Party MPs and Labour Party leadership ” Betrayal “

Labour Party MPs and Labour Party leadership ” Betrayal “

The Labour Party MPs and the Labour Party leaders who voted yesterday to oppose a “NO DEAL”  are guilty of betraying the British people and betraying comrades such as Tony Benn and Michael Foot who warned that membership of the EEC and later the. European Union  would destroy our economy and hand over our sovereignty to an unelected body who take decisions and adopt laws which are binding on all member states, and more important membership would bind Britain to a EU which has a constitution which commits all member states to a Capitalist system. I congratulate Ronnie Campbell ( a mining MP ) Graham Stringer and Kate Hoey who were the only three to keep the faith. The Labour Party leadership should lead the fight for a ( NO DEAL) exit from this rotten bureaucratic E U.  

Arthur Scargill leader Socialist Labour Party and former President of the National of Mineworkers.