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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#321  PostPosted: 24 Jul 2015 19:07 
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An Unwanted Fight
An Unwanted Fight


Looking back,it might appear that I was awaiting events, nothing could be further from the truth. I was in a quandary, the man I most respected in the Union movement seemed to have a wrong impression of what I was actually trying to do. I simply wanted to get back to where we had been before all the brouhaha about ballot rigging and start clearing up the mess that was growing by the minute. More ,and more rumours were surfacing by the minute and things were getting a little out of hand. The regional Chairman and the full time lay official called me into the head office at West Bromwich,they told me I was to tell no one of my visit which made me very curious.
When I turned up to the meeting I was led into Brian Mather's office where I met the senior lay official ,a Welshman whose name has been lost in the mist's of time. They seemed very chary at first,wanting to hear what my view of the situation was and I answered them as best I could. I seemed to be involved in a fight for my own survival after trying to save Alans' reputation. I was not an extremist, I was against the people who were seeking to capitalise on the mess that our branch was in and I felt that bridges needed to be built. They nodded and said that they would afford every help in my endeavour but I must not let anyone know of the help that they would give me,in fact they said that if I should ever mention it they would deny ever having seen me.. And so after tea and biscuits I went back to work to see what would happen next. I did'nt have long to wait,I was called back to their office the following week and when I got their I saw Alan sitting with them in the boardroom. Brian Mather's opened the proceeding by saying to Alan and I that we had things to tell each other and that we both seemed to have the same aim in mind. He then said that they would leave us to talk things through and see if we could reach a compromise, so saying he gather his papers together and said he would go and see about some refreshments. Alan got up and walked to one of the windows, I went and stood beside him as he stood staring into the street. I said that we should'nt be against each other, there was so much to do without making things worse by fighting each other. I had tried to nip things in the bud when I gave a sanitised version of events to the mass meeting. People were cheering and things looked as the the fuss would die down. He glowered at me and said “I fight my own battles, I don't need some jumped up kid defending my back; you heard what Marion told you, you're finished in Birmingham and you'll never get another bloody job in my Branch!” I was not shocked,saddened yes, what kind of ego did this man have?
It was not too long after that meeting when I received another summons to appear before the regional chairman and the Welshman; this time they sat me down and acquainted me with the story as they read it ,Alan was tired and not up to his usual standard, he was making too many mistakes and it was all attributed to his poor state of health. They said his position was becoming untenable and that we should get the members to stop supporting his attempts to get back in charge of the 5/35 branch, the members must be made to see that by supporting him they endangering his health and pension status. We will give you any information you may require ,but the original position remains, you never heard it from us.
I tried my best to make the branch see that they were hindering Alan and that we would be better giving him an honourable retirement dinner and putting him out to grass. Dennis and Tom were in favour of it but some of the new chairmen were enjoying their “rise to power” and seemed to cling to Alans coattails. I was still considered a maverick by the new branch officers, I had been Alans “pet” and now I was stabbing him in the back,but I persisted in my attempts to sway the 4 sections to come into line so that we could go forward into the future. It was Autumn 78 and we knew that we had a Road Haulage strike planned for the New Year. I was going to attend one of the 5/35 sectional meetings at a weekend in August ,my brief was to make them see the wisdom of having the one overall Branch meeting and keep the section for purely administrative purposes. Unity ,was going to be our strength, also I had to try and persuade them to let Alan retire respectably. It promised to be a good meeting. On the Friday before that Sunday meeting I was getting ready to go home when one of our drivers staggered toward me, he used to spend his Friday afternoons in a pub were all the heavy road haulage lads met, along with the young ringleader. He was sweating profusely and his nose was running; he could'nt look at me but kept averting his gaze. I knew this man Dave K. , a mouthy guy , always griping and very anti trade union. He said that he had a message to give me, saying firstly that he was “Only the effing messenger” they knew that he worked with me and that is why he was here. I asked what it was about and he muttered something and then blurted “I've been told to tell yer that if you attend that meeting yew'll be found face down in a ditch with a knife in yer back!!” When I was about to ask him who gave him the message he said that it was'nt his fault ,he was only the messenger. Some of the drivers and warehouse men heard what was happening and came over to me, a lot of them said they would support me by attending the meeting with me . I felt comforted by that ,the first offer of overt support from my workmates. We arranged to meet on the car park behind Transport house early on Sunday morning so the we could be sure of getting into the Hall. I had a good sleep on Saturday night and woke up to a very bright Autumn morning. A shower and trim of the beard and I was soon ready to go to the meeting. I had a few butterflies in my tum , but I would have some good strong lads with me should anything amiss occur. When I arrived ,there were six of the lads waiting for me on the carpark. We formed up and strode up the side street towards Broad Stret, we could see some of the Branch members walking across the top of the street towards the Hall and seemed assured by their presence. When we got to the top of the street and turned left into Broad Street we saw three big guys on the pavement, they had in their hands what looked like pick axe handles and they were swinging them and patting them into their empty hand. I knew these men ,they were the fire brands closest supporters and they were known hard men. I almost had an out of body experience. They were about a 150 yards away from us ,standing right outside the entrance doors of Transport House. I looked around at my companions, they had gone. They were on the other side of Broad Street ,walking very slowly along the pavement. Somehow or other I found myself still walking towards my destination, nervous, and a little panicky , I reached for my meerschaum pipe and started to stuff it with tobacco, stopping to light it I carried on walking towards them. They stood facing me ,their menacing looks fading as I said “ Mornin' Lads ,are you going in ?” I heard the clatter of their pick axe handles as they fell to floor and they ran and embraced me saying “Effin 'ell Daley, you've got someballs” A big knot was freed from my stomach and they hastened me up to the hall where I was made welcome for the first time in months. My message went down well and I gained a lot of supporters that day. I now felt that that I would get my message across and do what I had set out to do.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#322  PostPosted: 12 Aug 2015 21:03 
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The end of the Beginning


Things got a little easier now that I had faced the Branch that was greatly opposed to me, the attacks slacked off and I still had the job of persuading the rest of the branches to fall in Line. Shortly after that I was summoned to HQ in West Bromwich, I was told that it was vital that I attend and so I took a few hours of work and made my way over there. When I got to the Regional Secretary's office I found a group of strangers there. Brian Mathers saw the puzzlement on my and introduced " These men are from the West Midlands Fraud Squad and they have something very important to tell you" My mind was racibersng ,what the hell was I going to learn now?
One of them informed that they were investigating the whereabouts of the Branch Fund, this was an item of money that each member paid directly into the branch,on top of their Union dues.It was paid at a rate of 5p a week and was used to help members who might be facing hardships due to labour disputes. This money had been levied for 20 years, and having 4,500 members it was felt that there should be a substantial sum of money in the fund, The Fraud Squad officer informed that the kitty had disappeared and that they were holding on to that information so that the Press would'nt use it as anti union /anti Labour propaganda before the coming election .They wanted Jim Callaghan to stay in Power. "Your Job young man is to try and make Alans Supporters see that they are endangering him and Labours chances of getting re elected. " You cannot mention the impending fraud charges ,that would destroy everything, just use your force of will" I was totally banjaxed,I had so much information about Alan that I felt helpless, who was going to believe me without any proof? I carried on soft pedalling, talking about Alans ill health and how we were making it worse, but Alan, the man,was appearing to be in rude good health and he had surrounded himself with the tanker branch and the catalogue men. By now the Road Haulage section was against Alan and we just had to get the Own Account drivers onside. The regional office seemed to be playing both ends against the middle,Alan seemed to back in favour with the heirarchy and your truly was the bad man again.
I reflected upon all the stratagems that had been used by head office and realised that this situation could go on forever,and so I did the only thing left to me, I called in the Sunday Times Insight Team.
I had a very long telephone conversation with Will Ellsworth- Jones and he decided to come up to my house and interview me at length,telling me that they would be cross checking my statements with all the parties involved. I agreed to his conditions and a couple of days later he and another reporter,Jon Connell came to our house and spent the whole evening interrogating me . It was a hard slog but
they were very thorough. They checked, and crossed checked every utterance I made,asking for names ,dates and times; they also said that they would check with all the parties that I had mentioned to ascertain the truth of my allegations. It took them quite some time before their investigations were complete and on Saturday the 18th of November I was called down to the Sunday Times editorial office where I was met by the insight team and the papers Lawyer. They took me line by line through the whole article and had me sign it off. They gave me the Galley Proof ,which I still have. I refused any financial offer, this was more important to me than money. The story came out next day in the penultimate edition of the Sunday Times, Murdoch closed it down for about ten months in his attempt to destroy the NUJ. The effect of that story was explosive, Moss Evans the TGWU leader and Jim Callaghan started rattling cages and the movement to get Alan to step back from our branch got under way, but there were still a few moves up Alans sleeve.

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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#323  PostPosted: 17 Aug 2015 15:38 
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1979



The New Year saw the start of the Lorry Drivers strike, more correctly,the withdrawal of labour by the drivers working in the Hire and Reward section of the industry. The 5/35 Branch ,with a membership of 4,500 ,had just 300 men who belonged to the H&R section, the rest were employed in the Own Account sector,that is companies that delivered their own goods or fleet services such as BRS, Lynx etc. The Labour Government had asked for a limit of 5% be set on any wage claims and the H&R drivers were striking for a 27% increase. Things look set for a prolonged strike.Looking back at the situation then ,it seemed as though the government was on a loser,wage restraint had led to a lowering of income for most wage earners,things were undeniably tough and that it is why the strikers were adamant in their demands. The strikers had learned a lot from the miners about effective picketting and pretty soon the effects were being felt throughout Britain,shortages of staple goods led to food shortages as well as manufactured goods. But the own account companies were unaffected, we still had our work for farm produce and food products were in the hands of own account deliverers. So companies like the main Supermarkets were almost unaffected. Until some wiseacre on the H&R strike committee decided to Picket the Own Account transport depots. The depot I was working at was one such that was chosen for picketting, we were looking after deliveries to Sainsbury's and our contract meant that we had to be at their stores for 7.30am on the dot each morning. Our delivery area stretched from Exeter in Devon right up into Washington ,Tyne and Wear in the North East. Our vehicles used to leave Birmingham from midnight onwards, with the last one leaving at 7.00am for the local store in Chelmsley Wood. I was on a 7.00am delivery on this particular morning and when I arrived at the depot all of the trucks were still in the yard;as I got out of my car I was greeted by our drivers inside the yard. They were angry because there were H&R pickets on our gates and they were refusing to let them out on the road. When I got to the gates I saw that they were part of the same group that were going to beat me up when I went to the Union meeting at Broad Street,they were not very happy chappies and they were ready for trouble if need be. I asked them who had sent them to picket us and they said “The strike committee”; I went into the office and telephoned the strike committee chairman at his home, he was still asleep when I called but his wife got him to come to the 'phone. He was still a bit groggy but I explained why I was calling and informed him that he was in danger of losing his house because of his action. He blustered and asked me what I meant and I told him of a recent High Court ruling where the Judge found a shop steward guilty of secondary picketting against United Biscuits and fined him personally,not the union, which meant he had to sell his house to pay off the fine. I could almost hear the clockwork in his brain working as he began to realise his situation.” Get the lads to the phone “ he shouted . I did and he told them to get out quick. Our drivers were pleased with the result and they all departed post haste to their destinations, it was a bad moment for the company though. Sainsbury's were beginning to doubt the wisdom of operating in Birmingham ,we would have to work bloody hard to recover the situation if we were to keep our jobs.
The H&R drivers succeeded in getting their basic wage increased from £40 to £65 +£2.50 West Midland s preferential. The real cost of that wage rise was the loss of the Labour government.On May the 4th,the Tories were elected to power and thus began the real war of the classes, we now had a government committed to destroying the power of the unions,and what a future that heralded.
Meanwhile there was still the issue of the 5/35 branch to be settled , the repercussions of that Sunday Times article were still making waves within the Union. Alan had left our branch and was consolidating his position within other branches ,he had built up a loyal following amongst these new people and was gaining an acceptance that the leadership was not too happy about. Rumours had started to surface about how he would finish me off and I was gaining an unwarranted reputation amongst his new members.
I learned of a meeting which would take place at the AUEW hall at the Horse Fair and determined that I would attend it. The place was jam packed when I arrived , a lot of 5/35 member had succeeded in getting seats there ,but there were an awful lot of strangers too;these were Alan's new members. The platform consisted of The Regional Secretary and Chairman, Alan Law and one other whom I forget.
As soon as the proceedings started it became apparent that this was a kind of Kangaroo court and I was the defendant. The chairman opened by saying “ that the time had come to draw a line under what had passed and that we must go forward etc.etc. Etc.” Speaker after speaker then arose and spoke of the pain and suffering that I had caused Alan with the gross lies and distortions that I had been uttering against him, I kept looking at the chairman and secretary ,trying to catch their eye in the hope that they might put a stop to these calumnies,they kept looking away. I could feel my anger building and I eventually got to my feet. “Mr Chairman , you called me into your office on September the .. last year and informed me that you would help me in my endeavour to undo some of the wrongs that I had been suffering from Alan law.........you said that you would help me .but deny it if I ever mentioned it to any one outside your office” The chairman spluttered and said it was'nt the date I said. And then realised he had let the cat out of the bag. The whole tenor of the meeting changed and it was no longer a kangaroo court ,rather it became a meeting of settling on a new full time official for the 5/35 Branch.
I thanked heaven for that breakthrough and left the meeting full of hope for the future. Alan went on to have several retirement parties ,he received a grandmother clock from the 5/35 branch and various gifts from his other branches. Pretty soon the 5/35 was back in business and were given a new officer called Jim Hunt,but life was'nt the same without Alan.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#324  PostPosted: 23 Aug 2015 19:57 
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Post by The Tenement Kid on 2 minutes ago



Alan and his daughter left the offices at Broad Street and the new man Jim Hunt took his place.He was a nice person but seemed less of a personality than Alan,this was the new broom and he did'nt surround himself yesmen. He was a generation younger than most of us and was feeling his way in without being too abrasive. I did'nt seek any favours with him, my part in Alans downfall made me suspect in the eyes of a lot of the union officials and I was a kind of working class hero amongst the members. It was a kind of limbo for me, feared and loved at the same time. Jackie,the office secretary,who had always been cheery towards me was now very reserved, Jim did'nt encourage the committee men to to come and have afternoon drinks at the office and we sort of drifted a little.We still had our monthly committee meetings and branch meetings and we still attracted politicians to come and air their views and take away our views. Within a few months we were all back together as the one branch and began to learn the meaning of independence. We now had a government that was hostile to unfettered unionism and we had to undergo a great big learning curve.

It was now Christmas 1979 and news reports began to appear in the press of the horrors that had been perpetrated by the Khemr Rouge in Cambodia. The Vietnamese army had invaded Cambodia and overthrown the Pol Pot regime. What they found there was every bit as horrific as what the Allies found when they invaded Germany, death camps and concentration camps and a country reduced to living in the stone age. John Pilgers reports chilled the readers, a generation of parents had almost wiped out ,crops had withered in the ground and there were thousands of young children and babies who were without any form of nourishment. It was in this period that our branch had its Christmas meeting at which there would tables groaning with the weight of pies,sandwiches, sausage rolls and chicken legs,plus hot mince pies and gallons of beer , all of which was supplied by the companies that we worked with. I was to make the Christmas appeal this year and I made it with those Cambodian children in mind. When I got to the microphone I spoke of the joys of the coming holiday,of how we would sit with our children,or grandchildren and watch them play with their presents before helping to get the feast ready for the table. And then I told of the children in that far away land who had no parents nor any food ,they would be grubbing up roots from the earth,if they had the strength to do so. No silent night for them just the cries and groans the many,many hungry mouths who might not live to see the New Year. The lads stuffed four hundred pound on to my collection plate and we sent it off to Oxfam first thing Monday morning. They also promised to help me hold a jumble sale in the New Year so that we could add to the fund.

And thus it was that I began to realise that life was just about struggle,it was about loving life itself.

I began to turn my attentions to my own family, my children were now near 10 and five respectively and I was 'nt the best of fathers, the hours I worked kept me away for the best part of the day, I worked every Saturday and my work in the Union and Labour Party to up huge chunks of my free time. So while I was working for the advancement of the working class I was being very selfish in not giving enough of myself to the most important people in my life. I would have an epiphany,but not yet.
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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#325  PostPosted: 08 Sep 2015 20:29 
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The End of a Decade


Looking back at the '70's they seemed to be full of strife and uncertainty ,it was'nt really,in fact there were plenty of good times too. I remember the Labour Party Conference at Brighton,the one before the general election which saw the crowning of Maggie Thatcher and the years of Tory rule.
I was lucky enough to be selected as a TGWU delegate to the Labour Party and given a weeks leave by my company to go down and enjoy the heady political atmosphere. I travelled down with two of my Labour Party colleagues from Sutton Coldfield and the journey seemed to take no time at all..I was given expenses enough to cover my hotel ,food, travel and some entertainment too. This was the first time that I would be away from my little family for such a prolonged time and I was a little unsure of how much effect it would have upon us.
I was put in a beautiful Georgian Terrace just a short walk from the conference centre and I was due to have my first attendance at the TGWU's reception the day before the conference started. It was a pretty staid affair, Moss Evans was not present and the meeting was taken by Stan Pemberton, a granite faced man of the old school. I never knew him personally ,but seemed a pretty cold character, reminded me of Russian commissar. But ,that being said,he was a masterful chairman and he got through the agenda PDQ and then it was on to the reception, which was a very opulent affair. I had sat next to a delegate from the Welsh TGWU, a chap called Llyn Tregonning, he was a rugby player and chairman of the South Wales region of the TGWU, he was about the same age as me,married with family and very funny man too. I was to enjoy his company for the whole week and his circle of friends included some very well known politicians at that time.
His take on the reception was the same as mine, it was a little too opulent for our tastes, there were two types of caviar, all manner of cheeses ,cold meats and lots of spicy little snacks.The wines and spirits flowed freely and the confectionary tables groaned under the weight of the many sugary delights. Sure,we ate our fill,but it all seemed a little like animal farm.The highlight of that reception for me was when I was introduced to Jack Jones and his wife,they were such lovely people,she was a magistrate and still very active politically and he, well, he was great; he gave off an aura of power and well being but was very warm and understanding too. I still treasure that short while we had together.
Llyn and I had a third delegate join us who was an old party hand, he was called Ted Marklew and he was a Leicestershire man who worked for the Co op Insurance. Although somewhat older than Llyn and I, he had a fresh outlook on life and the three of us became fast friends for the week.
I had never been to a large conference before and this one was a big as they come, all of the Unions affilliated to the Labour Party were there,everywhere you cast your eyes around the meeting hall there people who you had seen in the press and on television. Joe Gormley,the miners leader before Arthur Scargill ,was there, immaculate in his pastel coloured suit with shirt,tie,handkerchief and shoes to match. The speakers were very good, a lot of rehearsal had gone into those words, although I had never addressed an assembly as large as this one ,I knew what work lay behind a five minute speech,hours and hours of repetition until the words sit easily upon your tongue. Although this was the last conference before the General Election , that week everything seemed so upbeat and Jim Callaghans speech received a rapturous applause.
Llyn was part of the Welsh Tafia, he knew most of the leading lights from Wales ,the Kinnocks were among his friends as was Lord Elwyn Jones and a few other luminary's, which was why I found myself on the last evening of the conference sat at a table with Neil Kinnock, Elwynn Jones and five or six more ,plus Llyn and Ted, swapping scurrilous jokes with the best of the them. It was a glorious night and I was well in my cups ,and when I am in such a state I become very animated as when I was telling a very blue story and my arms were flourished ,making grandiose gestures and ,as I was delivering the punch Line I swept my arms across the table swiping all the drinks down and half drowning my audience. Thank god they were all so drunk that they thought it was hilarious. I would have hated to have been stuck with the cleaners bill.
Another delegate I met down there was one Arthur Scargill, he was staying at a hotel near mine and I used to see him every morning as he made his way to the conference. I think it was about the third day when I was going there and fell into step with him, he was very cautious, he did'nt know who I was and you could'nt blame him for being reticent. When he learned of my union branch he relaxed somewhat for he was thankful for the help we gave him in the 70's strike,indeed he became a close friend of Alan Law because of that. I found him to be quiet and polite and quite unlike his public persona.
Another political personality that I drank with down there was Jimmy Reid,one of the leaders of the Upper Clyde Shipyard workers committee. He was a very striking personality ,softly spoken with a Clydeside twang he was a marvellous conversationalist, I thought then that he was going to be somekind of political leader but he seemed to disappear from the headlines ,whatever happened to Jimmy?
The conference bar was a place for meeting people ,especially journalists, I met a leading right wing journalist there that year, Peregrine Worsthorne, no friend of the working man ,he dipped his pen in vitriol when pronouncing judgement of union actions, and there he was sitting at the bar right alongside me. He had had a few by the look of it and when I ordered my drink he said “that's a Liverpool accent I hear” I said “You heard right” And then he asked me what I was doing there and I told him ;this was not too long after he had written about a dock strike in Liverpool and I told him that he was known as the Dockers Sweetheart up in Liverpool. He smiled and asked why “ Well mate,they all say that you need f**king !!!” He screeched with laughter. I wonder if George Melly was right about him?



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#326  PostPosted: 23 Oct 2015 19:25 
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I attended the 1978 Labour Party Conference in Brighton as a TUC delegate from the Transport and general Workers Union. It was my first party conference and I found it to be a very enjoyable experience;there was a feeling that the next election was going to be hard fought,but there was'nt a sense of doom hanging over us. The Winter of Discontent had yet to happen and the period of prolonged strikes was still in the future. But the onset of Winter brought about the conditions that led to the death of the Labour Government and brought a near disaster for the entire country with advent of the Iron Ladies rule. The first thing that was felt was the cold shoulder by the government to any approaches by the Union Movement with regards to reversing the gains that had been made by the working class in conditions and pay during the last 4 years. We were being treated almost as enemies of the state, when the new cuts in social spending were being brought in and were being depicted as Luddites fighting against changes in working practise. I can only write about this period in a subjective manner, I was living under these conditions and could see the way my section of society was being punished for having the temerity to seek fair and equal conditions. The relations between the Police and the trade unions was another area that the change was felt.At the 1979 Tory Party Conference in Brighton the TUC decide to have a protest march to show the Tories how we felt about their anti trade union policies. This was less than a year since the last Labour Party conference that was also held in Brighton. The men at our depot Birmingham elected to go on the march with me and ,because I could not take all of them, I took just enough to fill a mini bus. One of the men at the depot had a few vehicle which he let us have at mates rates, they were quite ancient ,but had current MOT's and were taxed too. So eleven of us squeezed in the bus and headed down to Brighton, When we got past London and picked up the Brighton Rd we were just one of many hundreds of Buses making our way south. As we came to the main road into Brighton we were stopped by a Police cordon and the men manning it were in armoured clothing, these were not the friendly Bobbies who had policed the Labour Party Conference in '78. We were made to empty the bus while they rummaged through lunch boxes and bags for weapons, there was no banter allowed, and after frisking us we were allowed to carry on to the start of the march.Those eagle eyed bobbies failed to note one thing though, the tyre on the rear offside wheel had an egg in it the size of a football, and I had been going flat out all the way from Birmingham. We made our way to a garage and had that put right immediately, did'nt want an accident on the way home.. When we got to the start of the march we were astounded by the crowds of men and women who had turned up for it; there were also thousand of police and they were not at all happy chappies. They divested us of of all our placards, the only things that they allowed were the trade union banners, we were also warned not to make a noise, no chanting, or singing. As we moved off there were police marching alongside us, as well as those on the pavement. When we tried to engage them in conversation we were told to”Shut it” This was 1979 and we were only at the beginning of Mrs Thatchers term of office. As Al Jolson said at the opening of the “Jazz Singer” “Stick around, you ain't seen nothing yet!!”.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#327  PostPosted: 25 Oct 2015 22:50 
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Family Life

Whilst looking back over the years ,I feel that I have not given a fuller picture of my family life. I would hate to leave the impression that I was a hard left student of politics with no time for my wife or children. I know I was a bit of an absentee father whilst attending to my trade union and party affairs. The time spent away from my wife and children, was hurtful because they were the most important things in the world to me. Sue and I had two special children, there were five years between them and Joanne, the younger one , was always striving to be the equal of her brother. Steven was five when she came into his world,he was at school and his teachers told us that he was a very intelligent boy but chose to be lazy.This used to cause Sue and I some concern, were they telling us the truth,or was he a couple pennies short of a pound? He could read when he started school and we used to buy him Ladybird books because he loved the stories and the pictures,but his writing was atrocious and his drawing ...........if it was trucks or cars he could do a good impression and would always get the model right, any thing else and he had no interest in trying.He was very mechanically minded and was always finding out how things worked, by taking things apart,which meant that clock work trains and Lego engines had a very short life span in his care.
Joanne started reading and drawing long before she went to school and she inherited all of Stevens Ladybird books, which her 4 year old daughter Lulu now owns.Sadly I did not have as much time to spend with Joanne as I had with Steven,when she wasone I became a middle distance truck driver and worked very unsociable hours which meant I was starting work in the early hours of the morning,doing a ten hour day and ,with the travelling time to and from work I was getting home when she was abed and going out when all the family was still asleep.But, we were all thankful that I had a job, there were so many of my friends who were unemployed and were really suffering.When Joanne was about 6 months old my old landlord ,John Light ,contacted me and told me that one of his clients had a little car for sale, he said it was a good one and that I could get it for the right price .It was a Skoda 110LS, at that time they had a terrible reputation and I was more than a little hesitant ,but John promised that he would never offer me a lemon, the seller was an old friend of his and he would make sure that the car was A1. I went with John to see this motor and was really surprised to see that there was only a couple of thousand miles the clock; there was'nt a speck of rust and the tyres looked unworn. What was the catch?John told Roger to let me take it for a run, it was a Sunday and he lived just on the border between Birmingham and the Green Belt. There was no traffic about and we headed for the country lanes, she ran as sweet as a nut, I was smitten, I never had much cash and John had said that this would be a good buy. As we drove back on to Rogers drive I knew I had to buy it, but first I had to see if I could afford it. When we got out John came over and asked me what I thought and I answered in the affirmative. Then he asked Roger how much he was asking for it, Roger said £500, I shook my head,it was too much, this was 1976, that was still a fair sized wad of cash. He came down a hundred and I told him that I could'nt even afford that. I said that I would have to talk it over with my wife but I thought that she would refuse to let me spend that much. Roger told me to go and think about it, he would wait a week before he let anyone else have it.
When I got back to our flat I told Sue of the Skoda and what a bargain it appeared to be and she was pleased to hear of what a bargain it appeared to be. We went to Sue's parents for dinner that same day and the journey it took, two buses ,the babies pushchair and the time it took ,resolved us both to see if we could borrow some cash off her parents to help us buy the motor. Her mum and dad were marvellous , they immediately offered enough money for us to buy it,I had a hundred and they would lend me three hundred which I would pay back a £3.00 a week. I could'nt wait for Monday to tell Roger, and when I called his first words were " I can't go lower than £350.00!" I picked the motor up the following Friday,she had an MOT and there was just the tax and insurance to pay. It's a wonderful feeling owning your first car,I could now have an extra half hour in bed, we could visit the folks at home in Liverpool more often and petrol was only 41p a gallon. Prior to this piece of good fortune we would always hire a car for our holidays,Sue's parents would let us stay at their house in Birmingham and we would have days out all over the place from Southport down to Weston Super Mare and all points in between. We had the Skoda for 4 years and she was so easy to maintain and service that I ran her until she was ready to retire,of which I will tell you more as time goes by.



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Post Number:#328  PostPosted: 28 Oct 2015 17:06 
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80 was a real year of turmoil, unemployment was rising and racial tensions were gathering apace, right wing and left wing parties were fomenting disturbances in places were strife was about to break out. The Broadwater Farm riots in London had seen the Black backlash against the "Sus" laws and the real hatemongers called out their forces on both sides of the racial divide, one young policeman was hacked to death during this disturbance and it seemed to act as the spark that led to further Race Riots throughout the country.The Labour Party and Trade Unions worked flat out to bring some calm into the debates and rows that were breaking out in the press and the rest of the media.Ordinary people were frightened of the situation and were wondering where the next flash point would be. Being a delivery man in Birmingham,you learned that it was not safe to leave your vehicle in an area where there was a lot of unemployed black youth, you were not wanted and were under suspicion, were you spying ,or what?

The winter of 1980 passed fairly peaceably but Thatcher was still turning the screw, industries which had existed for years started to disappear, we in the union movement were learning that this was part of a strategy which was developed during the Heath period. It was called the "Selsdon Strategy" and basically meant that to destroy a Trade Union the best way was to destroy the places where it organised. When I was running the Anti Common Market campaign I learned from an expert on the Treaty of Rome, a Professor Frank Parker, who lectured at Birmingham University but kindly assisted me in public meetings at that time. He stated,time after time at our meetings ,on what membership would mean for Great Britain. Steel Production would not be allowed outside of specified areas on mainland Europe, steel casting for engine production would also be vetoed, the same was true for dairy farming ,beef and pork ,as well as fish and various other staple items.

Well the message never got home then but it would appear that those clauses of the treaty were well and truly being enacted by Mrs T.

I was lucky in gaining a place at the Summer school run by the TGWU, this was held in Cirencester at the Cirencester Agricultural college. There were quite a few hundred members attending, the setting was very nice, the main building was quite old, early Victorian by the look of it , but there were a lot of barrack like buildings that were used as dormitory's, the block I was in was where Mark Phillips was resident and it was quite well appointed. In the main building there was a dining hall, called the Refectory , quite like the halls you see in public schools; the scholars tables on the main floor and the masters on the stage. Quite impressive and terribly British.The pupils ,however, came from every corner of the Kingdom and from a multiplicity of in dustries, ranging from heavy steel and iron trades to dock workers, secretraries, shop assistants ,millworkers and truck drivers. We were all shop stewards and all there to learn about free and collective bargaining.

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#Shown above is the class I was in ,we were a real mixed bag,I am front row centre and to my left is a man called Jack Clark, a boatman working for the Dock Board in Liverpool, immediately behind me is another Liverpudlian called Billy Gale, he was a deckhand on river tankers ,just running between the Ribble and the Mersey . Billy was a great story teller and I learned that he knew of my mother and her family ,the Henglers because he was a neighbour of theirs before the war. Everyone one of these "pupils" was intreresting;all from different trades and all of left of centre politics.The social side of summer school was brilliant, Cirencester is semi rural and the town is full of lovely pubs,. after our evening meal we would have a stroll around town

and acquaint ourselves with the different brews, purely as a matter of research. On our first evening I was sat with Billy and Jack and we were well into our cups when, I think it was Billy, raised the subject of embarassing moments, told them the tale of my adventure in Ghent (as written in the chapter marked OOps),it went down well and Billy told us a story of his time when he was conscripted during the last months of WW2. He was put in an Army barge unit and they were training for the invasion of Europe; all of his fellow bargees were drawn from various ports around Britain and like him ,they were all barge deck hands. He said there was no bullshine, the lads all wore jumpers KD's and pumps,with army berets pushed to the back of their heads ,they were dressed almost the same as when they were civvies except they were all in Khaki.

Their job, during the landings was to transport men and machines from the ships to shore, they had missed the initial action and their job was pretty much workaday as it was at home. However , when they had been their a few weeks they were given a new Sergeant Major, a proper military man from way back. He was immaculately turned out, boots with a mirror like gleam, his uniform crisp and neatly pressed, belt blancoed and brass buttons and badges glinting in the sun. They were aghast, this man insisted that they attend to their appearance,immediately,they were to do PE every morning and parade before breakfast. They soon settled that poor mans hash, they failed in everyone of his endeavours and he began putting them on jankers (punishment duties).One of those duties was attending to the WC, this was a tent within which there was a trench and above that trench was a plank which was supported on two uprights at either end. The plank was about 10 foot and could set three or four men with ease. The Sergeant Major had to use this WC ,as well as the Bargees and it was noted that he always went just before parade.The trench had been dug to a depth of five feet and the jankerman had the job of levelling out the waste product every night, the depth was assumed to be about 4 foot at this time. Under cover of darkness some Bargee entered the WC tent sawed partway through the plank, word went around ,no number Two's before breakfast. Come morning the men completed their PE, went and changed into full uniform and then lined up ready for the Sergeant Major. He strode smartly to the WC and within moments the men were treated to an amazing display of verbal pyrotechnics followed by a shitcaked sergeant who staggered away to his quarters and was never seen again.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#329  PostPosted: 31 Oct 2015 19:32 
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The Cauldron 2


The morning after our little pub chat about embarrassing moments , I was just leaving the dining hall when I was summoned to the masters dining table.I wondered what on earth they could want,I soon found out when the Principle asked me if the story I had to tell was worth hearing. I looked at him blankly "What story" I asked, "The story you told Billy Gale in the pub last night" he replied .The other diners around the table egged me on ,saying "C'mon Daley ,he told us it was a good 'un" There were no ladies present so I related the tale of my weekend in Ghent for the men around the table. It was met with gusts of laughter and when I finished I set off to find Billy before things got out of hand. I found him telling the tale to some lads from Sheffield,too late to stop him and I knew that story would grow legs, fast.
At evening meal I was getting looks of admiration and disgust in equal number and tried to keep a low profile; especially with the young females, I did'nt want to be thought of as a sexist pig. It was a good job there were no women in our class because we got the laughs out of the way and knuckled down to work' and it was hard work ,we had so much to learn, it was'nt all cakes and ale. We had role playing to do in enacting workplace scenarios regarding disputes,shop stewards responsiblilties, wage bargaining, first aid, work contracts and works committees.We also learned how to write up reports, how to conduct works meetings,and how to to convene branch meetings. Each evening we were told study the course work and to help each other in understanding what the days work had been about. Some of us found it really engrossing and others preferred to go to the bar or play snooker. I never went to the bar until I had finished my days work, I realised that I had an awful lot to learn and I did'nt want to waste my time, luckily the were two other guys who felt the same and so we never hit the bar until about half past eight. There still plenty of time for banter and jokes and we always went to bed just a little bit merry.About half way through the week some of us were told to write a speech and practise orating it.The lecturer stressed that the art of public speaking consisted of composing a speech that fitted easily upon your tongue, write it with a beginning,a middle and an end. The speaker should first of all introduce themselves , tell the listeners what you are going to talk about, talk about the subject ,and then finish by summarising about what you have spoken about.. The first part should take no more than a minute, the subject should be short and to the point and the summary should be a case of explaining the main points in readiness for questions.You had to learn your speech so that when you took to the rostrum you could deliver it from memory using small notelets with the bullet points of your speech to act as aide memoires.We found that a quarter of an hour delivery would take a couple of hours practise to get it word perfect. We spent a day at that and we had to deliver those speeches to the class the following day. It was a real learning curve and the great thing was that we were making our maiden speeches to people we knew and this lessened our nervousness. I knew I would find this of great use when I got back to my branch.
It was with a feeling of sadness that I realised that in a couple of days the summer school would be over and that these wonderful companions would be scattered to the four winds ,perhaps never to be seen again.I get that same feeling when I am near the end of a holiday and it is time to depart for home.
On the morning of the next to last day I was summoned to the masters table as I was leaving the hall, I thought "What now?" but was mildly surprised when the Principle asked me if I would like to make the closing speech at the school dinner the following day. I was stunned.He told me that he had watched the videos of the various pupils making their speeches to the different classes and thought that I might like to have a crack at a real audience. I realised the great opportunity that I was being offered and quickly said yes. I then asked him what I should talk about and answered "Your choice Brian" Wow, reminding myself of the cardinal rules Tell them who you are, what your subject will be, talk about the subject, summarise.
I spent the rest of the day writing and re-writing, speaking out loud, going over and over the words, keeping the simple ,keeping them memorable and keeping it short. We had a great night in the bar but I never told anyone that I was going to be the last but one speaker ,they would find that out tomorrow.
The next morning seemed to fly by, we packed after breakfast and then we had a short session in the classroom and then off to our final meal.After dining we trooped off to the bar and had a few soft drinks and then were called into the hall for our last meeting.My heart was beating like a drum and the butterflies in my tum seemed to wearing hobnailed boots. I can't remember how many speakers there were before me, time seemed to have stopped ; and then I heard my name being called and I nervously mounted the rostrum. "Mr Chairman, Sister's and Brother's,my name is Brian Daley..........................................................................."
My nerves settled ,the butterflies in my stomach had gone and I got stuck into the meat of my speech;
I spoke of the reason I thought we found ourselves in the situation we were in, we threw away the Labour Government because we were not prepared to countenance a 5% wage increase, we never gave the lower paid workers a thought while we went for 25% increases , we were the ones that created the winter of discontent but it was the poor, the unemployed and the pensioners that would be paying the price for our hubris. So, we won our strikes, but we lost the battle against the forces that would destroy the country that we knew and loved.I could see the faces of the audience and I knew that I was getting through to them.
I finished by saying that we had a long hard road ahead and that the strong should help the weak.
I got a rousing cheer and then the principal rounded off the course with a well polished speech and took me up on my theme of the fight ahead saying "........and I hope, that Mrs Thatcher, like Brian Daley , might see the Light, as he did that night in Ghent" Fame at last.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#330  PostPosted: 11 Nov 2015 22:28 
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Getting organised for some positive Action.

As 1980 morphed into 1981 we saw the rise of racial tensions in different parts of the country; Winterime saw the Black discontent in Brixton which was at simmering point because of the "SUS" law, it would seem that the Black youth were being targetted by the police and it touch and go wether there would be trouble. Coventry experienced the same kind of problems and slowly the picture widened. There were multitudes of unemployed and the old axiom ,the Devil makes work for idle hands was coming true.The racist's either side of the divide were out for trouble and the goverments attitude seemed very lax in the matter. They were more interested in making cuts than in looking answers to the problems. MrsThatcher was determined to weaken the Trade Unions so that they would more malleable and desist in their drive to increase their workers pay. The drubbing that the Mineworkers had given Mr Heaths government still rankled this government and Mrs Thatchers working her way to destroy them.
Meanwhile city's like Liverpool ,Birmingham as well as many others began to experience the warnings of an impending apocalypse, the young generation were not prepared to sit back and let the heavy handed policing take place among their number. How could the government not heed the warning signs that began to manifest themselves? The Iron Lady was cut ,cut, cutting as though that was the only way out of the problems. And sometimes she went a step too far, but that happened a year later and I will write about it then. In the Spring of 1981 her standing amonst the working class was zero, they were the ones who were paying the price of her economic reforms. I remember lapel badges appearing at this time with the slogan "Don't blame ,I Voted Labour",they were very popular down in London and the Midlands and it was very hard to meet someone who would admit to being Tory then; I did'nt move in middle class circles and never met any true blues as friends. Meanwhile the TUC was helping to get a march organised to protest about the Joblessness, they were thinking it would be along the lines of the Jarrow March when the unemployed mineworkers and shipbuilders marched from their town to London. This was a peaceful march and the people in the towns and cities along the route helped sustain them with food and places to sleep. Sadly ,although it gained a place in history ,it did'nt solve the problem then. The thought in the Spring of '81 was that Mrs Thatchers standing amongst the public was so low that maybe this march could be the beginning of her end.
It was decided that the march would be called "The peoples March for Jobs" and that it would start out from Liverpool and make its way down through most of the major towns and cities and terminate in London. Those of us in the trade union movement and Labour Party set about forming committeees to help get this marrch off the ground . In the little town where I lived,Tamworth, the local paper gave us lots of newspace to publicise the march and the council gave us some committee rooms so that we could set up a centre for the unemployed where they could go and get advice ,a cup of tea a warm place to search through the situations vacant in the newpapers.I was given the job of organising this and the public meetings that we would be holding to generate interest in the employed as well as the business community.



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Post Number:#331  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 11:06 
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just for you Brian mate!!!Image



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#332  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 19:17 
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The Tamworth Unemployed Centre quickly became established as a place where people would go to seek advice and help with their different problems regarding lack of work or food. We were finding out that life on the dole was not all about "dole" and lots of benefits. Most of the people who came to the centre were desperate for work and the lack of cash to keep their homes together. When we got the centre going people who could afford to would drop in with canned goods and dry goods which we were able to dispense to those in real need. It was one of the first food banks that started to appear during our first spell of the Thatcher years.
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As soon as the centre was organised we got one of the members agree to go on the March,joining it as it passed through Cannock in Staffordshire. His name was Vic Mortimer and he had worked in the ceramics industry in Tamworth, a skilled man he had been unable to find work anywhere. The Town gave him a rousing send off and a lot of people pledged to join the March as it came through the midlands. The weather was fine and the local paper did us proud with its coverage.
During these years my wife and I had become firm friends with a young woman who we had met during our time in the Communist Party. She had divorced her husband and was bringing up her son and daughter by herself. Her son was the same age as our son Stephen and they were like TNT and Nitro Glycerine, OK when they were seperate but dynamite when together.They were close then and still are 40 odd years later, however, since she had seperated from her husband she had the job of keeping home and hearth together. She decided to advertise for a lodger to help with the household bills. She interviewed many but settled on a young Iranian who had come to England to further his education. He had passed through Brunel College and was working as a Laboratory technician in West Bromwich, his name was Ali and he seemed a very nice guy. We used to spend a Saturday evening each month with them , we'd buy some wine and snacks and sit in the garden and chill out, George and Steven would play out and Louise ,her daughter ,would entertain Jo' our daughter whilst we adults would put the world to rights as we drank and snacked.. All this had been going on for some years and during that time Ali had become very Anglicised; he joined the local Labour Party and became very active there. And at the time of the Peoples March for Jobs he decided he would join us at the start in Liverpool, by this time he had married his landlady and was making great strides to become an English paterfamilias. I liked him very much, he hated what was happening in Iran and was fearful for his family there, when he knew us well enough he told us of how escaped from the Khomeini regime and made his way to to England. His father was a peasant farmer and had very little cash but they owned a Persian rug which had been inthe family since time immemorial, Ali was given it and told to sell it when he got to England, it should provide him with enough funds to pay for college. He bundled up all his worldly goods in the carpet and and trekked across the Balkans and Europe until he came to London, where he sold the carpet and paid for his college education with the proceeds. And here he was now,3 years later and with an English wife, two step children and a little one growing in the womb of his beloved wife. We had a wonderful day marching through Liverpool and it was all the better for Ali being there, he was very humorous and seemed to spread happiness whereever he went.
When the Marchers reached the outskirts of Birmingham the various Unions and Parties had raised thousands of their members to accompany the marchers as they passed through the city and I joined my branch members at West Bromwich where we met up with the thousands from Liverpool. As we marched through Handsworth I met some Firemen from the Liverpool Brigade, we indulged in a bit of banter as Scousers normally do but one of their number seemed a bit uppity, as my Dad would have said "e 'ad plenty of lip" That was my first meeting with Derek Hatton, and that first impression remains.
There was'nt the same exuberance on the march through Birmingham as there was up in Liverpool , I did'n't know why but not very long after , the areas we passed through would be facing the same carnage as Toxteth did.
Back in Tamworth we got ourselves organised for joining the marchers in London and we filled a 44 seater coach with families both unemployed and employed.
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Here are just some of the folk who went down to London,I'm the one holding the vacuum flask and the little girl in front is our daughter Jo' the boy in the middle is our son Steven and that is Sue ,my wife standing behind him.
We had a great time that day, Hyde Park was absolutely packed and there was a gaiety about the marchers, the colourful banners of the trade unionists blazed in the sunlight and the march down to Trafalgar Square was very good humoured; I even bumped into an old shipmate I had'nt seen for 14 years, Bob Rayner,the kid who got arrested by the Red Chinese in Dairen ; he was now a senior official in the National Seamans Union.
After the march terminated My friend Pete and his family and our little brood set off to see the sights of old London Town, we did the tourist route ,Horse Guards Parade ,the Palace and the Houses of Parliament and then back to Hyde Park and home. A great day, but did we achieve anything?



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#333  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 19:30 
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I must confess to being a rank amateur at constructing an on line page,it's a good job I'm not being paid to do this. Anyway these are just a few of the column inches that our local paper gave us to help get our campaign going. We had great success in generating help in getting a jobless centre up and running and,best of all, there were some dedicated unemployed people who got involved in the running of it. We also got involved in the March for Jobs that was being organised nationally and we were able to attract some very good speakers to a meeting which we held in our local assembly rooms. It was in this manner that we were able to unite our actions with the Labour Party and Main Trades Unions. The Peoples March for Jobs would commence in Liverpool in May,. 1981 ,and it would wind its way down to London ,passing through all the main towns. I was swept up in the whirlwind of organisation, meetings with labour party groups in the greater midland area took a lot of, we wanted a turnout on the Midlands sector that would give the marchers a welcome that they would never forget. And we in Tamworth found a volunteer to go on the March the whole way; we got him kitted out with what he would be likely to need and gave him a great send off as he left to join the throng of the Unemployed. My union branch agreed to send a contingent to Sefton Park for the march through Liverpool and some my workmates travelled with me in a mini bus so that we could add to the number of marchers.
When I got home that night I sat down and wrote about my feelings and the sights and sounds that we met with that,here is the article as published then:-
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Post Number:#334  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 19:38 
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Summer 1981



Looking back at the period after the big march in London life seemed to become very busy, I had been put forward as a prospective magistrate by the District Labour Party and had to go before a Magistrates committee for an interview.Most of the panel were middle aged and middle class and they were very kind in their questioning, I let them do most of the talking ,I was'nt about so start making waves before I was safely aboard, There were a whole load of new magistrates being recruited and we were all from different political parties.Most of the recruits were from the conservative and liberal parties but there were a few labour and trade unionists.It was a shoo in really, volunteers and people with the ability to spare the time were thin on the ground. So there I was , parcelled off with half a dozen or so other new ones to be sworn in before the High Sheriff at the county hall in Stafford. We were presented with our certificates and magistrates hand books and then began our training before we were set loose on the malcontents of our respective towns.
One of the first things we had to do was visit the gaols and institutions for young offenders so that we would be aware of what we would be committing people to if ever we should consider custodial sentences. As part of this we went to Winson Green, a place that I had travelled past regularly but never had the occasion to enter before. There was a coach load of us and we were met at the main entrance by a fairly young warden who had a very jaundiced look on life. I had accompanied a fairly young Tory lady to this prison , she was a near neighbour of mine and we had chosen to travel together to share fuel costs. Prior to our visit here the consensus of most newcomers was that sentencing was too soft and that prison should be punishment not a holiday as reported in the red top tabloids. When we entered the the hall of the prison the first thing we noticed was the smell ,it stunk of urine, sweat and smegma, so much so that it was offensive.One of our blue rinsed ladies asked what was causing this odour and we were blandly informed that it was the inmates.,they never showered. The blue rinsed lady then asked if we could look in the cells that we were passing ,the warder demurred but she persisted that she wanted to see for herself what these cells could be like.The warden then unlocked the door and allowed us to enter the cell, when this prison had been built the cells were designed to hold two men, they now held four and the place was very cramped. The beds had the blankets stripped back and the sheets were stained with semen and other horrible stains and the smell was atrocious.. The ladies were appalled and remonstrated with the jailer, he said that they were animals and did'nt deserve any better.Enlightenment seemed not to have reached this young man and he took great pleasure in relating what he would like to do to theses animals . I never considered trying to reach this guy ,the job had got to him and he was telling it like it was. After we had done the main galleries he asked the women not to come any further with him because what he had to show us next was not for their eyes.He took them to the main cafe and the rest of us went with him to what he called the ZOO. This was a new wing (circa 1981) and it was for housing the untamed .The cells were cages, there were no furnishings, concrete bunks and steel pedestal toilets, the bars were floor to ceiling and the was a hatchway for passing in food. The men were naked and the were washed with hoses every morning . I have never seen such pent up anger in my life, if you look at any wild animal in a cage when you visit a zoo , you will see that glaring blaze in their eyes as they watch you pass their prisons , the men here were the same,you could practically feel their aggression as their eyes smoldered at you. The jailer thought it was quite amusing , he saw this effect everytime a new bunch of magistrates came visiting.
On the way home in the coach even the blues rinses we against sending any body there , there was no way you could reform an offender in those conditions.
Our next establishment for a visit was a young mens prison at Swinfen Hall; this was at the opposite end of the spectrum , this was a fairly new institution set in the countryside on an old estate. It looked, and felt,good. The people in charge here were not hard bitten and jaundiced old lags, they seemed to have a sense of purpose and their young charges seemed to reflect that. We started off by looking at some cells and we were absolutely amazed, the first one we entered was decorated in the art deco style, the wall were aglow with the most lustrous colours and the lights and windows reflected the style throughout. You could hear the gasps of the magistrates as they passed through this amazing place. The next cell was done in a perfect Regency style , the candy stripes and rich reds and blues were wonderful and the floor was tiled to match. Having barely got our breath back from these wonders we entered the third cell and this was very Laura Ashley.I noticed that our guide had a big grin on his face, he had heard the magistrates complaining about the holiday camp atmosphere and then confessed to us that these rooms were test peices done by the inmates for their City and Guilds certificates. We did get to visit the proper cells and found them to be clean and tidy and very well appointed for young men. We met quite a few of the inmates and it was hard to understand how they had ended up there , they seemed so well mannered. That was the last place I visited and was then put on the bench with two very nice ladies who were housewives and true blue, I was to be their counter balance.
But first I had to go to another Trade Union summer school, more of which anon.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#335  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 19:39 
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World events seemed to be adding to the government troubles, the events in Northern Ireland seemed as though they would never be resolved. The distance between the Catholics and Protestants seemed to grow apace and the death count kept on climbing, it seemed that it would take a Solomon to bring about reasoned peace but at that time it seemed insoluble. And here at home Mrs Thatchers axe was still chopping away at the ever increasing mountain of government debt; she spotted an easy target for saving, Britain was still involved in protecting some of its overseas territories in the South Atlantic. We had a Royal Navy vessel stationed in South Georgia which was keeping a watch on the Falklands , a colony which Argentina was claiming was rightfully theirs. It was costing £7.5 million a year to keep her down there and the mad Iron Lady thought she could save that money by bringing that ship, the HMS Endurance, back home ,it could be sold off to some other navy and thus bring some much needed exchequer into the government coffers.We will see what that little episode really cost the country as I pursue this tale ,in the meantime I am about to attend another TGWU Summer School at Cirencester college.
It was lovely to be back in that wonderful atmosphere, all eager young people wanting to grasp the fundamentals of real trade unionism and this time there seemed to be a lot more women than last year. In fact I was one of the very few people who were there for a second time and I soon learned why. I was being groomed for a more senior role within the movement, this time I was learning the skills of chairing a meeting. I was being taught the principles of chairmanship as laid down by Lord Walter Citrine, he was the man that helped to establish trade unionism in post war Germany and was internationally respected. I found the work very deep and and slowly gained a real understanding about the ethics of chairmanship, plus we underwent a course of public speaking so that we could clearly communicate with our audiences. This was exciting to me for I had been to enough meetings ,both union and political, where bad chairmanship and poor communication had led to some very rowdy meetings. There were no people on our course who were of the same calibre as the two men from Liverpool last year, in fact this class seemed so much quieter that I found myself missing Billy and Jack. I can remember the weather being exceptionally mild and sunny and the wedding of Charles and Diana took place while we were there. We students were given the day off to spend as we liked . I took three of my classmates off for a run through some of the Cotswold towns so that we could see their celebrations; Cirencester,Stroud and Painswick were decorated very colourfully and the streets were almost traffic free. Inns and taverns were crowded and there was a really festive spirit in the air.
Being the driver I had very little to drink but I still had a wonderful time.
It was known throughout the school that I had written an article about the Peoples March for Jobs, that was published the unions newspaper the TGWU Record.I was amazed to be attacked over its content by some of the women students, they accused me of sexism and using heterosexual language.looking back on it and having a re -read ,yes it does seem male orientated,thats because most of the trade unionists I marched with were men. It warned me to beware of alienating women if I succeeded in getting onto the list of Parliamentary candidates................that was the next thing that was lined up me.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#336  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 19:40 
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Autumn and Winter



If I thought life had been busy before I was learning just how busy a body can be when they mixed up in so many organisations. My work, union, party and magistrates business gave me more than enough to keep going, having a wife and two children as well made me pace myself,that's how marriages breakdown and I did'nt want that to happen to Sue and I. I had seen too many of my friends and relatives marriages break up and I was doing my best to keep all the balls in the air.One thing I kept up was my relationship with my son, during the school holidays and weekends I always took him with me on my truck, he must have clocked tens of thousands of miles with me and there was nothing he liked better than a night out on truck. We stopped at the driver's B&B's and he was always good company plus Sue was given a break from having to look after two when she was alone.It was around this time that I was nominated by my trade union branch for being put on the TGWU's list of parliamentary candidates, shortly afterwards the local Labour Party got me put on to the party's list of candidates and I was thrust into the whirlwind finding a seat. To tell the truth I did'nt join in the process right away,I was wanting to be chosen as the local Labour Party candidate.I did have a few invites from around the midland area and I accepted those invitations with gratitude. I would gain experience by going before their party committees and undergoing a grilling.It was'nt an easy process, the people I appeared before were thoroughgoing in their questions and I learned how little I really knew about party policy ,but it was all grist to the mill. I came close in a few of the meetings but I wanted to win........,my own constituency.
I was now chairman of our ward party and was determined to make our meetings interesting, we had gained a few new members during the '79 election and I wanted to keep them ,none had been involved in politics before and I wanted them to learn what the Labour movement was about,it's history and it's aims. I was fortunate in having a good network of movers and shifters that I could call upon to help out with this process. Racism was on the rise again and I wanted to show our new members of just how harmful this can be to any civilised society. There was a marvellous play written by a man called David Edgar,it was called Destiny and it showed how racism corrupts and breaks down civilised communities. I wrote to David and asked if he would care to talk to our group and he replied that he would be more than pleased to do so.That meeting proved to be very effective and the audience feedback was wonderful, among the audience was a young man from the Workers Education Association and he asked if I would become one of their teachers and I was duly enrolled as a lecturer in the "Art of Chairmanship" This did'nt lead to any extra working hours,I did it as part of my role as local party chairman, just added that duty to the agendas of our local meeting.
As autumn edged into winter our transport dept got busier in building up the supplies at Sainsbury's , our main customers, shops. This meant taking on extra staff who would be employed on a purely temporary basis.I knew some of the temps, they were only too pleased to have the jobs, even if it was only for Christmas. Working here meant that they would be having a good wage and would be able to put food on the table and presents by the tree this Christmas. There were a few bad'uns but the good ones far outweighed them; there was one guy who was so grateful that he never failed to tell me of how much it meant to him and his family, new shoes and clothes all round and a turkey for christmas.He was working in the warehouse loading the vans and I used to see him when I started my shift, there would one little family in Chelmsley Wood who were looking forward to a happy festive holiday. When the warehouse became busy a change of attitude took place amongst the foremen and supervisors. They would normally be able to have a laugh and a joke with you, now it was all rush rush. The supervisors in charge of loading would have their foremen tearing around the yard with their wagons, reversing them into the loading bays pell mell like stuntmen in a Burt Reynolds movie. I was on a very early shift this morning, a 2.00am start, my truck was still being loaded when I heard the squeal of brakes and a terrible scream. I ran toward the sound and saw one of the foremen reeling through the polythene weather screen. He looked horrified and he pointed in to the warehouse. He had just reversed his truck over the new temp , his head was like a crushed melon and he kept trying to rise. Oh mother of God, my heart broke as that poor man gave himself up to death. What is it that makes a man so uncaring that he would drive like a maniac , was he he so pressured that he dropped any care or attention . And that poor little family ,what kind of Christmas would they have had ? It's near 35 years ago when that happened but it still sears my soul when I think of it.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#337  PostPosted: 13 Dec 2015 19:45 
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Winter 1981/2



The period before Christmas is always quite hectic in transport,there was overtime aplenty to meet all the extra demands of Sainsbury's and it was quite good for our pay packets too.The one thing we never did was work on a Sunday, the Lords Day Observance society had long since succeeded in making it a day of rest for shopkeepers, they stopped work on Saturday evening and we always finished at on Friday with Saturday as overtime.Those of us on the union committee never worked overtime on the third Saturday of the month, that weekend was given over to our branch commitments.During the December meet we always had our Christmas drink and a buffet. It was'nt anything spectacular but the beer was supplied by one of the breweries and the buffet was supplied by a local bakery. There was no charge for the members and they were usually very convivial occasions. I asked the committee if they would mind me bringing some of the men from the Tamworth Unemployed Committee and they said they thought that would a splendid idea.There were three men who I knew who had been trying so hard to get a job and never succeeding and I asked them if they would like to come with me and have a good blow out. They were made very welcome and when the meeting was over and the buffet opened they got stuck in, lord knows when they had last had a pint but by god,they made amends that day.Our christmas buffets were always left with a lot of uneaten pies and sandwiches and I was happy to learn that all the surplus food was carefully wrapped and taken around to the Salvation Army to be disbursed among those seeking shelter.
I've already related my experience with vehicle breakdowns ,they were quite common in this company ; drivers were not given particular vehicles, they were given what vehicles that were available which meant that you never had the same vehicle everyday. We were all like temporary staff in that respect and because of this the wagons were not treated with care, the cabs were like mobile bins.Quite frankly they stunk! Cigarette stumps littered the floor, old food lay mouldering in the corners and nothing was ever thrown away.I tried cleaning the vehicle I was given when I began work there ,it was'nt worth it because I never saw that vehicle again for a month or more. This foolishness on the companies part led to the drivers not feeling a responsibility towards their vehicles consequently faults were never ,or very rarely, reported to their supervisors.This particular Christmas I had taken my son Steven with me to do a delivery to Sainsbury's of Sheffield. It was on a Saturday morning and we would be leaving our depot at 2.30 a.m and would be at the Sheffield shop very early in the morning ,and be back at our depot for midday. That is what should have happened ,what did happen was we got to the shop on time ,delivered the load and then got ourselves on board for a speedy run down the MI to our depot and be home for 2.00pm. However,the vehicle would not start, try as we might ,every attempt failed. I called the garage that fixed the last wagon I had a breakdown in and they informed me that they would not be able to get to me before Sunday. I did not have enough money to get both Steven and myself home and could not bring myself to subject my lad to thumbing it home in this icy weather and so I called a driver that I had often had a coffee and chat with when he delivered to this same shop. He worked for a major bakery and,like me, he was in the Labour Party and the union; his name was Steve Spooner and he lived in Wincobank, in Sheffield. I asked if he knew of any cheap guest houses where me and my boy could get a nights sleep and he asked me why I wanted to do that. I explained about the breakdown and he told me that he would come right away and take us back to his house. I was really embarrassed and he told me not to be silly. He lived miles away from the shop but he did'nt take long to get there and soon Steve and I were on our up into the hills above Sheffield..He had a lovely terraced house where he lived with his wife ,young son and great big Alsatian. We had a terrific welcome when we got there,the house was filled with the aroma of a well cooked dinner and his wife bade us refresh ourselves and come back to the table . When sat down we were served a meal that was fit for a king, Steve's son was really please to see us and the dog was nuzzling us and it felt good to at such a warm spirited house.After dinner Steve told us that the three of them were off to wedding reception and that we would have the house to ourselves. He took me to the kitchen and showed me some beers in the fridge as well as some pop , there were crisps and peanuts and; here my sons eyes lit up ," We have a video recorder and lots of video tapes so that you will be able to watch anything you like" said Steve. We did'nt have a video recorder at home then and my Stevens eyes were gleaming, he went to the cassette cupboard and started looking at what films there were.
The Alsatian sat with us and seemed very affectionate,nuzzling and licking, he'd be good company. Soon Steve and family were ready for the off and we bade the safe journey and returned to our seats in front of the t.v..; the Alsatian re entered the room and sat on a chair opposite it us, his head was cocked to one side and he was growling, I went to pat him and he glared at me and bared his teeth. Oooohhhhh sheeeiiit. There was a sports programme on the television and it was'nt remotely interesting so I reached the remote control to change channels and the dog raised himself on his forepaws and barked aggressively. He was'nt going to let us move a muscle! We sat there, hunched together ,hoping he would fall asleep or just relax,but no. he was bristling with anger.After an hour Steve said he wanted to pee,I did'nt tell him what I wanted to do, but either way that dog was not going to let us move. The hours passed slowly and I thought of the beer glistening in the fridge,the crisps and the nuts awaiting my teeth, Steve was getting drowsy but the dog sat there, glaring and growling as we watched some bloody awful tripe on tv. It was just before midnight when Steves car pulled up in front the house and the dog changed immediately.He went all floppy and ran to the door to welcome them back and then came over to us and started nuzzling us and licking us again. Steve was amazed to find we had'nt touched a drop of beer or pop and had'nt opened the crisps or nuts. He could not believe that his dog was such a good watchdog while they were out. We retired to bed after a few drinks and had a great sleep and in the morning we were awakened to a mansized breakfast of a full monte. Steve then ran my son and I back to my truck and the repairmen were out early and we were soon ready to get of home.
Looking back ,it was wonderful that the Spooners were so welcoming, and the dog, well it was looking after it's masters welfare.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#338  PostPosted: 14 Dec 2015 14:58 
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who spotted Brian in those newspaper clippings? i did!!!!



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#339  PostPosted: 18 Dec 2015 18:06 
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Winter Driving



Since writing that last draft I was reminded of those cold winters on the road. Our vehicles were all diesel powered and when the temperatures dropped below freezing the fuel pipes used to clog up as the diesel thickened in the cold. We used to have to light little fires beneath the pipes from the fuel tank to the engine and after about 5 minutes or so the fuel would thin out and feed through to the jets.We always carried old newspapers and oily rags to get started on icey mornings.Another important tool for those snowy mornings was a stout shovel, if the snow had been deep and the temperature was below zero then you had to clear away the ice and snow from under the drive wheels so that you could get some traction. And when the weather was really bad we used to take an overnight bag just in case the roads became so bad that we would have to call in to a nearby guest house or cheap hotel. I was up in Washington ,Tyne and Wear on one such a night , it was freezing and blowing a gale and I had to drive up to the old A1 to find a decent stop for the night. It was a public house near Birtley and was ,so I was told, a popular place with tourists on their way North in the Summer months. That night the weather was cold and forbidding and there were no tourists in sight anywhere. The landlady said that they never offered rooms in the dead of winter as there was never any call for them but she made me welcome and found me a room that was clean, well furnished but bitterly cold. She and her husband brought three calor gas butane heaters into the room,it was a big room, to warm it up for me whilst I went down to have a hotpot dinner. It was wonderful and I washed down with a couple of pints of bitter and then went up to my room which was as warm as toast. I switched off one of the heaters and settled down to sleep in a wonderfully comfortable double bed which had a big fluffy duvet on. I was awakened by the smell of bacon and sausages and had shower and went down to huge breakfast of double eggs, sausage, bacon ,black pudding ,mushrooms, fried bread and a bucket sized cup of hot ,sweet tea. I was fit for anything when I went out to my truck,it was frozen solid and I had to use my shovel and light a fire .The landlady was quite amused and when I had got the truck started I went back and thanked her for her tremendous hospitality.
There was another winter run that sticks in my mind and that was a run to Exeter which was meant to take two days but could be done in one,but not this time. This was a time of heavy snow ,ice and harsh winds.I took my son with me for this was during the weekend, there was not a lot of traffic on the road and the motorway was thick with snow; I had a full load on board my artic and traction was quite good, never went too fast,there was evidence all along the M5 of what speed did to artics, we counted 8 trucks that had come to grief on the way down; the fastest trucks on the road were the continental ones, they would fly by with chains on all their wheels ,keeping them glued to the road. I cannot recall seeing any British trucks using chains in this weather. We got safely to Exeter and dishcharged our full load,this meant we would have no weight on her for the return journey;no weight meant no traction and this could lead to jackknifing on those very slippy roads.The depots yard had hundreds of pallets stowed against the wall and so I asked the depot manager if I could take a load back with me. He was more than happy to be rid of them and so I asked the fork lift truck driver to load them at the front of my trailer so that they put some weight over the turntable,or fifth wheel as the drivers call them. This was perfect and enabled us to get through the little streets of Exeter without any undue skidding.Going back up the M5 was worse than when we came down, there were jacknifed wagons on either side of the motorway and I headed north at a steady ,but slow speed. When we got as far as the turn for Weston Super Mare I decided to call it a day and we drove down the Locking road looking for vacancy signs in the boarding house windows. We found one right by a hot pastie shop and I pulled over and went to see if they would take a trucker and son; she was a lovely lady,very motherly and she took an immediate shine to Steven. So, I parked the wagon up safely and then went to the hot pastie shop where Steven and I demolished a couple of Somersets finest pasties and washed them down with copious cups of hot sweet and then went to our lodgings. Steven was so excited to be out in Weston and not a holiday,he was getting a taste for a truckers life. The landlady woke to a nice English breakfast and then we headed off to home. I shall never forget our arrival back at the depot, the ground was still thick with snow and I dropped Steven off at the car park so that could sit in the car and wait for me to finish. It did'nt take long to complete my return and I started back to the car park, as I neared I heard Steve calling me,his voice was cracked and strained. He was crying and I ran to see what had happened ; he was out of the car and his body was wracked by sobs. I went and took him by the shoulders" What's up son?" I asked ."They're dying Dad" he sobbed and pointed to some sparrows fluttering slowly in the snow. He then opened his winter jacket and showed me a pile of little sparrows in there snuggling in the warmth. I hugged him to me and felt
so loving toward him that he be so moved by the plight of those little birds. We got them home and made them as warm and comfy as possible and then let them go, I was so proud of him then,still am proud,he is now the trucker and he takes me out.



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 Post subject: Re: A Liverpool Lad ©
Post Number:#340  PostPosted: 18 Dec 2015 18:58 
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:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbsupp: Keep them coming Brian



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