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Memory & Activism: the Heritage of Chartism, from Flett to Gove

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2021 by kmflett

Memory & Activism: the Heritage of Chartism. From Flett to Gove

I was unfortunately not able to join the event at the time but have now caught up with Matthew Roberts Working Class Movement Library meeting on Chartism. It is well worth watching/listening to and the link is below.

Roberts makes the point that Chartism has been claimed by various political constituencies. The Fabians, who saw William Lovett as a model for moderate peaceful reform. Those to the left of Labour who looked to the physical force traditions of Chartism and more recently liberal democrats (lower case) and even Michael Gove- who is neither-to press the case for a more democratic electoral system.

Roberts references by 1980s arguments with pre-New Labour around various attempts to harness the Chartists to their project, perhaps in particular Neil Kinnock. To be fair to him he certainly did know something of South Wales Chartism but an attempt to harness the 1839 Newport Rising to 1980s Labour politics didn’t impress me (and it still doesn’t). Cue a letter to the Guardian in 1986..

I am of course firmly on the page of seeing Chartism not just as history but as a movement that still has lessons for the modern labour movement and left. As Trotsky noted in Where is Britain Going, Chartism was the first to try a range of tactics including the General Strike and Armed Revolt. We need to enter here a note of caution from E P Thompson who argued that as the working class proceeded to warren capitalism from end to end starting in the 1860s, those options as specifically tried then (that is with no clear alternative) had gone.

Indeed but even so the fundamental questions that the Chartists asked about how to get democratic representation within capitalism and whether an alternative could work and how remain ones asked in 2021.

A key point Matthew Roberts made was what the memory and heritage of Chartism might be now. There is a new generation of historical research- albeit not so much in the public eye. There is also a danger of Chartism being seen as a fight by white blokes for their rights (though tbf Nigel Farage never references it). Here as Roberts notes the continuing effort to get recognition for the black leader of London Chartism in 1848, William Cuffay, has importance. There is some good news here in the sense that a plaque on Cuffay has been agreed in his birthplace of Medway and will be erected once current restrictions lift.

A question which is at least now being asked is whether there was a wider black presence in the Chartist movement and if so what its extent was. There are a handful of known examples but as often with historical research, if you don’t look, you don’t find.

There is also a think a good deal more that could be done on female Chartism following on from the work that Dorothy Thompson and others did some time ago.

Like the work of the left itself, the issue of the heritage and memory of Chartism remains work in progress.

Heritage politics and the memory of Chartism in England and Wales

Matthew Roberts at the Working Class Movement Library

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World Book Day: the ‘Luddite’ letter writer in EP Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2021 by kmflett

World Book Day: the Luddite letter writer in E P Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class

I’d choose E P Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class (1963 still in print) as my book for World Book Day. I’m conscious of the fact that the day is aimed at younger people and encouraging reading and Thompson’s book is a weighty tome, which might put some off.

That said it is full of characters who might spark interest and indeed passages that can be read allowed.

In fact Thompson compiled a good deal of the detail in the book and arguably some of the approaches to it while teaching WEA night classes in Yorkshire in the 1950s. His engagement with working-class students underlines the point he made in the 1968 postscript that the book is far from being a dry academic tone

Take this brief piece about a Luddite letter writer, stuck in jail

Thompson notes that in the early nineteenth century working class there was a considerable span of articulateness from the fully articulate artisan to the barely literate.

He writes:

‘Besides this (an example of a wife writing to a journeyman tailor in jail) we may set the letter of the Sheffield joiner Wolstenholme, to his wife’

Our Minaster hath lent me four vollams of the Missionary Register witch give me grat satisfaction to se ou the Lord is carin on is work of grais in distant contres

Thompson goes on ‘the writing of this letter was attended with difficulties since ‘Have broke my spettacles’

In a footnote he suggests that since the prisoners knew their letters were read by the Governor they were inclined to include references to improving reading

In an earlier version of this post the historian John Baxter added the following very useful background to the writer of the above letter:

Good choice and the book has plenty of Luddite literature quoted but Luddites held to the ‘taissez vous'(keep quiet ) maxim.Most avoided being caught.This letter lovingly reproduced by Thompson,was I recall one is several letters held still by the state after several members of the Sheffield Political Hampden Club/union Society revolutionary underground were duped by Oliver the Spy and spent most of second half of 1817 imprisoned without charge.Katrina Navickas has used these letters to emphasise the role women played advocating rights for political prisoners.Think this letter was relating to William,’Old Wolstenholme’ a member of the revolutionary underground in 1801-2 who was this time arrested.He had two sons with him in jail in 1817..James , his son was the ‘Sheffield ‘captain’ so called..they claimed to be Despard’s men as badge of pride and twenty years later he and his own son James were Chartists.The son was elected to the Chartist convention..was in London and connected to the rising planning of 1839 got to hang out with Beniowoski and Dr Taylor but escaped to America in September and never came back.

The family were Kilhamite(TomPaine) Methodists from Scotland Street chapel.written a piece which in desperation for outlet put on Academia as ‘Passing the torch ofLiberty’.Then found at last moment that it was a three generation story..James son of William had won James ,a 36 year old son in 1839.Have revised it but subsumed much of information in my new version Holberry biography .

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Stan Newens (1930-2021)- from the archives

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2021 by kmflett

The former Labour MP and MEP Stan Newens has died at the age of 91.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Newens

He had a long and varied life on the left and in his later years did much work on socialist history.

I have vivid memories of him, usually lecturing me in a friendly way about some issue or other

Here however is one of his earliest published pieces (from Marxists.org) which appeared in the Socialist Review in 1954. It was the publication of the Socialist Review Group which is now the Socialist Workers Party. Stan Newens left in 1959 but certainly never forgot!

Stan Newens

Why Not to Rearm Germany

(September 1954)

The main feature of political ferment in Britain this year has been the great debate on German rearmament within the Labour Party. The widespread opposition to the National Executive’s decision to support the idea of a German army in any form at all has produced fifty-seven resolutions on the Conference agenda, and behind them an immense amount of discussion.

This opposition is one of the most heartening features of the trend towards a genuine socialist policy within the Labour Party. It represents the refusal of the rank and file workers in the movement to accept any policy that the N.E.C. cares to recommend. As such all left wingers are bound to herald its development.
 

THE BEVANITE LEAD: The reasons why the proposals for the inclusion of a German contingent in a European army has [sic.] met such stubborn resistance in the ranks are several. First and foremost, the scattered opposition has at last been given a lead by the Bevanite M.P.s. The powerful upsurge of feeling throughout the ranks of the Labour Party has demonstrated that the desire for a real socialist policy and the dissatisfaction with many aspects of official Party policy are not non-existent, but only completely scattered and disorganized.
 

THE OFFICIAL VOLTE FACE: Of course this is not the only reason for the strength of the opposition to German re-armament. The notion of re-arming Germany is so much out of harmony with the ideas which have been popularised on nearly every side in Britain for fifteen years and more that it produces a shock even in conservative quarters. When the official Labour Party line takes a turn contrary to all previous statements of Labour Party leaders, inevitably the turn is questioned.

When the idea of West German participation in a West European Army was first raised Mr. Attlee called the proposals “a very queer way to try to build up the unity of Western Europe” (Hansard, 16th March, 1950). Yet the official Labour Party pamphlet In Defence of Europe, states:–

“From a Socialist viewpoint there is much to be said for it. It transcends national frontiers and represents a considerable surrender of sovereignty to a wider grouping of nations.” (p. 2)

Ernest Bevin said:–

“All of us are against it. I repeat all of us are against it. It is a frightful decision to take.” (Hansard, 18th March, 1950)

Yet in In Defence of Europe welcomes it as “a great act of reconciliation” (p. 2)

Inevitable anyone politically conscious enough to work in the Labour Party is bound to wonder about the reasons for the change. It is clear even to a simpleton that either the statements before or after the change were wrong – perhaps both.

Why does Socialist foreign policy today look so different to what it was yesterday?

In whatever way reasons for the opposition before the change of policy may have been incorrect from a socialist point of view that opposition was undoubtedly correct. Even though the statements made before September, 1950, by Labour Party leaders failed to point out that the restoration of the German capitalist set-up, no any militaristic tendency within the German people as a whole, made German rearmament another step to a third world war. Any socialist would be bound to support their opposition.
 

THE RESTORATION OF CAPITALIST GERMANY: The present proposals for the rearmament of Western Germany are merely another step in an attempted reconstruction of pre-war Germany as a bastion of western capitalism against the Russian “bloc”. This attempt is being made despite the fact that pre-war Germany was the breeding ground of Nazism and that it involves the rehabilitation in important positions of many Nazis.

Take for example the industrial magnates who, faced with the rising clamour of the working class movement for social changes to relieve their miseries during the slump of 1929–33 were ready to finance Hitler as their saviour. Of them, Major General Telford Taylor, chief American counsel for war crimes said:

“In a very real sense these defendants and others like them – not the half-mad Nazi fanatics and street fighting thugs – are the principal criminals. And what is more important, these defendants will, if their guilt is unexposed and unpunished, be an immeasurably greater threat to the future world peace than Hitler, were he alive today.”

These very men have been allowed to regain their leadership of German industry. Alfred Krupps, who was sentenced in 1948 to twelve years imprisonment and confiscation of all property for using slave labour, was released and his property restored in 1953. Heinrich Dinkelbach, a Nazi from 1938 and right hand man to Friedrich Flick, head of the pre-war United Steel Company is now Chairman of the re-organized United Steel. Wilhelm Zangen, Chairman of the Mannesmann steel combine before the war, is back at his old post. Herman Abs, a former director of Deutsche Bank who “devoted his entire attention to extending German domination throughout Europe” (U.S. Office of Military Government, November 1946) is now head of the advisory committee which controls most of the assets of the pre-war chemicals monopoly, I.G. Farben.

Not only the men are the same, on the whole but so is the structure of industry. Speaking in the House of Commons on the 18th May, 1947, Ernest Bevin declared “We adhere to the principle of public ownership of German industries.” But when the North Westphalian Government – where the Ruhr is – decided to nationalise all heavy industries in 1947, the British High Commissioner vetoed. A similar veto was applied by the American authorities in Hesse.

Similarly, the Allied governments agreed to break down the industrial monopolies and cartels in order to destroy the concentration of economic power. Yet Krupps, United Steel, Mannesmann and other steel giants are still functioning. I.G. Farben, the gigantic pre-war chemical trust, was reported to have recovered its unity in all commercial operations by 1950 (Manchester Guardian Weekly, 30th March, 1950) and is now practically re-united in all respects as Badischen Anilin und Sodafabrik Ludwighaven. The same story applies in the case of banking.

Even the military staff for the proposed army includes a large number of leading military figures under the Nazis. Generals Speidel, Heusinger, Lieutenant General Kuitzen, Generals von Leuttwitz, von Gersdorf, Boeslager, von Manteuffel, Count Schwerin and Dettleffsen, are examples of the people connected with Herr Blank’s West German embryonic Defence Department. The Daily Herald (23rd May, 1953) stated that most of the volunteers for the proposed Germany army were veterans of Hitler’s campaigns from all ranks.

All these facts show how capitalist Germany which produced Hitler is being resurrected. And with resurrection the natural search for markets and for fields of investment, which drives all capitalist countries to seek to expand their influence, will tend to drive Germany in turn eastwards once again.

This is precisely the plan of the leading capitalist spokesmen in the American sphere. The re-arming of Germany is merely a new step in the policy which led to the North Atlantic Treaty organization, the giant increases in the British re-armament programme, and the inclusion of Fascist Spain in the plan.
 

RIGHT-WING OPPOSITION TO GERMAN RE-ARMAMENT: However, on the wisdom of German re-armament as a new move, not all European – particularly French – capitalists are in accord with their American allies. Much of the anti-German propaganda, the demands for restrictions on German industry and the annexations which followed the war were dictated by fear of Germany as an economic rival rather than a military threat.

For example, the Association of British Chemical Manufacturers urged the elimination of the German dyestuffs industry (The Times, 27th March, 1946). Lincoln Evans, as General Secretary of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, wanted limitation of heavy industry “not indirect armament” (letter to The Times, 5th November, 1946). Sir Murray Stephens, a Glasgow shipbuilder, protested against raising the limits on German shipbuilding (New York Herald Tribune, December 1948). These fears and sentiments are current in France and it is not surprising that many right wing spokesmen are too afraid of Germany as an economic threat – eventually backed by military force – to their countries to support the idea of German rearmament. Marshal Juin in France and Lord Beaverbrook’s press in Britain are examples.
 

SOCIALIST VERSUS RIGHT WING OPPOSITION: Their ideas, however, have nothing in common with a socialist opposition. They manifest themselves in the form of sheer anti-German ideas. Like Ilya Ehrenburg, their motto is: The only good German is a dead German.

The truth is that the German people are no more militaristic than any other. The threat comes from the continued existence of the capitalist system and their incorporation in the American capitalist “bloc”. That is why we must oppose German rearmament. The same reasoning applies equally to the British, French and the Russians. It is not militarist tendencies within these people but the systems in which they live – monopoly capitalism in the Western Bloc and State Capitalism in Russia – and the rivalries between the two world camps which threaten them. Therefore we must oppose British, French and Russian rearmament as tenaciously as German.

The fault of the Bevanite leadership of the opposition is their failure to do this. In nearly every other respect they support British adherence to the American “bloc” and their opposition to German rearmament is often right wing and chauvinist.

A consistent policy involves a choice between this unconvinced, uncertain adherence to the American bloc and a socialist stand.
 

NEITHER WASHINGTON NOR MOSCOW: This is not to suggest a change from American tutelage to Russian. Everyone but the so-called “Communists” in the working class movement knows that the totalitarian dictatorship which prevails in the Soviet countries is just as much to be hated and opposed by genuine Socialists as the American capitalist system. The revolt which swept through the cities of East Germany on June 17th, 1953, demonstrated the hatred of East German workers for it.

The opposition to German rearmament which the Socialist Review appeals for is on the basis of equal opposition to all attempts by either world “bloc” to incorporate part or all of Germany into its own sphere. This means resistance aiming ultimately at an international socialist position equally independent of both Washington and Moscow. In other words a “third camp”.

It demands, therefore, not only the prevention of German rearmament as part of America’s anti-Soviet Crusade, but in addition opposition to every aspect of this crusade. This means the complete withdrawal of troops from Germany, British exit from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a programme for a Socialist – not Capitalist or Stalinist – unity of Europe.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/kidron/works/1954/sr/09-disarm.html#newens

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The Budget & ‘Wet Led’ pubs. The Tories plebophobia or As Soon As This Pub Closes..

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2021 by kmflett

The Budget & ‘Wet Led’ Pubs. The Tories plebophobia or As Soon As This Pub Closes..

Its almost 20 years since Alex Glasgow, probably most commonly associated with When the Boat Comes In died, but a song he wrote for the Alan Plater play Close the Coalhouse Door seems relevant today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Glasgow

Hospitality including pubs have been very badly hit by the pandemic with many closed for extended periods. This was mostly unavoidable, although not helped by anti-alcohol campaigners who continue to hope they stay closed for ever.

Rishi Sunak’s Budget on 3rd March recognised this to an extent. Measures like a modest extension to the furlough, reduction in business rates, grants and loans to allow businesses to recover and cuts in VAT (although not on alcohol- here also duty continues to be frozen rather than cut despite long running CAMRA efforts).

Broadly all this comes in the better than nothing category except for one area-‘wet led’ pubs- those that rely entirely or mainly on the sale of alcohol and don’t sell much in the way of food. They won’t benefit from the VAT cut (again) and nor is there any recognition that they have had to close for much longer than some other places.

One begins to suspect a certain class prejudice against a certain kind of pub- the community boozer often- which caters for all rather than just subsets of people. A correspondent in the Morning Star (not me) recently termed this as ‘plebophobia’.

After all what are people doing in these pubs? Not having a nice meal and a chat about things perhaps. Are they organising and plotting subversive activities?  After all amongst a range of other things pubs have a reputation for such things and the authorities  have had concerns about that since  at least the French Revolution in the 1790s.

Even so Alex Glasgow’s message (last line aside) still seems relevant

As Soon As This Pub Closes

I could have done it yesterday if I hadn’t a cold,

But since I’ve put this pint away I’ve never felt so bold.

So as soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

As soon as this pub closes, the revolution starts

I’ll shoot the aristocracy and confiscate their brass,

Create a fine democracy that’s truly working class.

As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

As soon as this pub closes, I’ll raise the banner high

I’ll fight the nasty racialists and scrap the colour bar,

And all fascist dictatorships and every commissar.

As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

As soon as this pub closes, I’ll man the barricades

So raise your glasses, everyone, for everything is planned,

And each and every mother’s son will see the Promised Land.

As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

As soon as this pub closes … I think I’m going to be sick

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Thatcher statue in Grantham to be privatised

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2021 by kmflett

It has been reported that the cost of erecting a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham later this year will no longer be met by public funds.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/mar/02/grantham-council-wont-pay-for-thatcher-statue-unveiling

It was originally planned to erect the statue in central London but this didnt go ahead due to concerns about protests. Instead the statue is to be placed in Thatcher’s home town of Grantham on a 10 foot plinth to keep protesters at bay.

The cost of doing this was estimaed at £100K but following pressure from Labour Councillors the Council has now agreed it should be privately funded.

The privatisation of her own statue is surely what Mrs Thatcher would have wanted anyway

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Campaigners call for a luxury shaving tax

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release 3rd March

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR A LUXURY TAX ON SHAVING

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said called on clean -shaven Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take the chance to be innovative in the Budget and announce a luxury tax on shaving.

The campaigners say that while there has been a significant growth in beards, in reality they still represent a minority in the country compared to the clean shaven.

The BLF says that shaving is environmentally unfriendly and a Shaving Tax would do a good deal to address carbon reduction targets by reducing use of electric shavers and power used to make shaving products.

Those currently employed in the shaving industry can easily be re-deployed into the beard care area of the economy, a growing sector.

A Shaving Tax could be levied at £100 a year for all those who did not have a beard at the beginning of the financial year- April 1st. It would hit popular targets such as clean-shaven bankers in the City who would have to grow a beard or pay up.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Rishi Sunak remains resolutely clean shaven but he can boost his popularity and the Exchequer’s finances considerably by implementing an innovative Shaving Tax.

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British Pie Week Poll for the Classic Beard Friendly Pie 2021

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 2nd March Keith Flett 07803 167266

BRITISH PIE WEEK POLL FOR THE CLASSIC BEARD FRIENDLY PIE OF 2021

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with British Pie Week running from 1-7th March its annual poll on the most Beard Friendly Pie is once again going ahead.

The hirsute campaign group say that as with many prepared foods the requirements of people with beards are often overlooked when it comes to pies. The outcome of the annual poll often reflects that with traditional pies designed for eating ‘on the go’ easily beat leading pie brands.

The BLF says that common issues with pies for those with beards are:

Excessive gravy

Puff or flaky pastry which ends up in the beard not the mouth

‘Deep filling’ making it difficult to avoid contact of the pie with the beard

The campaigners cite some types of the traditional steak and kidney pie as an example of pies which are made without thought for the requirements of the hirsute pie consumer. Such pies often have excessive gravy- and comparatively little steak and kidney- which ends up in the beard.

Unfortunately the same issues tend to apply to many vegetarian and vegan pies too

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, this year we’ve decided to have a narrower focus on the absolute classic beard friendly pie

Link to vote:

Steak & Ale.Stilton

Fish

Leek & Potato

Scotch Pie

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Jeremy Clarkson’s place on Beard of Spring 2021 shortlist not guaranteed

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release 2nd March

Contact: Keith Flett 07803 167266

Jeremy Clarkson’s place on Beard of Spring 2021 shortlist not guaranteed

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that despite the fact that Jeremy Clarkson has grown a lockdown #3 beard, his place on the Beard of Spring 2021 shortlist is not guaranteed.

Clarkson has beard history and it is not always positive.

He grew a beard in 2014 but by 2015 he was writing in a tabloid paper in 2015 that people with beards should be arrested. It appears however that he did not turn himself into police.

The shortlist for Beard of Spring 2021 will be unveiled on 17th March and the winner announced after a public on-line vote on Easter weekend.

It is the second seasonal vote of 2021 that goes towards the Beard of the Year vote in December 2021

Those on the shortlist must have promoted a positive image of the hirsute in the public eye during the quarter. They don’t need to have a permanent full-time beard.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Jeremy Clarkson’s beard represents a challenge. Is he promoting a positive image of hirsuteness?

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Full results of St David’s Day Beard of Wales vote: Wales proves its beard friendly

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

1st March

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Full results St David’s Day Beard of Wales 2021: Wales proves its beard friendly

The annual vote which decides the St David’s Day Beard of Wales, the Welsh beard that offers the most positive national image, has concluded with actor Michael Sheen shaving the opposition and winning for the second year in a row.

Veteran Cardiff based reporter Martin Shipton came a creditable second.

The full results are as follows:

Michael Sheen 76.9%

Martin Shipton 13.2%

Jake Ball 5.8%

Hefin David 4.1%

The BLF notes that while Hefin David was the main challenger to Michael Sheen in 2020, this year he conceded early on that the actor’s Beard Power would see him win by some beard lengths. This will have impacted his vote. Martin Shipton’s 13.2% is creditable for a first appearance on the poll, having grown again the beard he had in younger years.

The Beard Liberation Front says that images of St David suggest that the Welsh Saint himself may have had an organic beard

Welsh rugby prop Adam Jones won the Award in 2013 just shaving former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Another rugby player Leigh Halfpenny won in 2014. In 2015 the Award went to Thee Faction musician Chris Fox, in 2016 footballer Joe Ledley won and in 2017 it was Charcutier Illtud Llyr Dunsford, with Chris Fox winning again in 2018. In 2019 journalist Grant Tucker shaved the opposition to claim the accolade. Michael Sheen won in 2020 and went on to share the Beard of the Year Award with Michael Rosen in December 2020.

It is the ninth time the Award has been given following the traditional UK Beard of the Year at the end December each year and the BLF says it is a mark of Wales as a modern nation on St David’s Day that beards are now playing an increasingly significant role in national life.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, On St David’s Day we think of course of daffodils being in full bloom but in 2021 that also applies to beards. Congratulations to the four beard wearers who made it to the final vote. They are excellent ambassadors for a beard friendly Wales

Beard of Wales 2021 shortlist

Carwyn Jones

Hefin David

Martin Shipton

Michael Sheen

Jake Ball

Vaughan Gething

Sir Tom Jones

James Dean Bradfield

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St David’s Day Commons debate pays tribute to socialist historian & Labour MP Hywel Francis

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2021 by kmflett

St David’s Day debate in Commons pays tribute to late socialist historian & Labour MP Hywel Francis

Thursday 25th February saw the St David’s Day debate in the Commons. It contained perspectives on the future of Welsh Government and democracy in the wider context of the four nations of the United Kingdom

It also saw a number of tributes to the late socialist historian and Labour MP Hywel Francis led off by Cardiff MP Kevin Brennan

I want to open on a sad note, by paying tribute to the former Member for Aberavon, Hywel Francis, who died earlier this month. Hywel entered the House nearly 20 years ago, alongside me and other current Members from Wales, my hon. Friends the Members for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) and for Caerphilly (Wayne David), my right hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mark Tami), and the hon. Member for Arfon.

It will not surprise hon. Members and others listening who knew Hywel that, in his maiden speech back in 2001, he spoke about Labour history, the miners’ strike of 1984, Welsh devolution and the rights of disabled people, the latter a subject that was personally very close to Hywel and his wife Mair and their family. In calling, in that speech, for equal rights for disabled people, he said:

“Those are, after all, universal rights, whether they apply to a disabled child in Soweto, or to a disabled miner or steelworker in Skewen.”—[Official Report, 25 June 2001; Vol. 370, c. 456.]

Typical of Hywel: a voice for the oppressed everywhere, an internationalist voice, a compassionate socialist voice, a distinctly Welsh voice. Rest in peace, good friend and comrade.

The full debate is at this link

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-02-25/debates/9A0CC788-4D00-42B4-8D5B-2B778AC9FB02/WelshAffairs

Dai Smith’s Guardian Obituary

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/01/hywel-francis-obituary

My appreciation of Hywel Francis

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/hywel-francis-1946-2021-socialist-historian-who-chronicled-the-making-of-the-c20th-welsh-working-class/