One of my photos

Here comes the sun

July 19th, 2010 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 1 Comment · Politics

My old union, the TSSA

Jayne and I went down to Dorset for the day today to see the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival.  I checked the weather forecast on the BBC yesterday and it gave variations of ‘white cloud’, ‘grey cloud’ and ‘black cloud’ throughout the day, with maximum temperatures of about 18C.

What we actually got was bright sunshine, mostly totally clear skies and lots of sore red skin.To be honest, it was not as good as last year.  Jayne admitted it was not really her cup of tea, because she doesn’t really do crowds and the place was very crowded.  The festival gets busier each year but I think there were only half as many catering stalls as in 2009 so the queues were extraordinary.

The journey left a lot to be desired too.  The coach we went in had really small and uncomfortable seats (5 in each row instead of the normal 4) and the driver didn’t seem to know the way.  We went the really long way – M23/M25/M3 instead of cutting across on the A24.  On the way back he got lost, despite having sat nav.

I have mixed feelings about seeing so many people there.   It is good to be reminded that there are so many trade unionists out there.  Sometimes it is too easy to feel in a small minority, but really there are so many people in the labour movement (and they all seemed to be in the queue for the burger van).  The slightly depressing thing for me is the reminder of how fragmented the labour movement is: the Labour party, the unions, Hope Not Hate, Class Warfare, the Communist party, CND, the SWP are all fundamentally against the Tories but for all the talk of uniting it just doesn’t happen.

I guess it did happen in 1997, and a lot of people felt let down by New Labour, though they now seem to be realising how much worse things could be – and are.

As usual there were some excellent t-shirts on view.  A few of my favourites were:

  • The simple red shirt with the slogan “I still hate Thatcher”
  • The Barking and Dagenham election t-shirts that said “Hope 51 BNP 0”
  • The t-shirts done in the style of the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks album that said ‘Never mind the bosses join the union’
  • The RMT t-shirts with a picture of a snake’s head and the slogan ‘Strikes when provoked’
  • The shirts with a large picture of Thatcher. At the top they say “Hurry up and die” and underneath they say “I want to party”
  • The Hope Not Hate shirts which just have a large star and the words “anti fascist”

Having said that, I did catch one chap of a similar age to me pointing out my 2004 vintage Spizzenergi t-shirt to his daughter.  I think Spizz fans are bit like owners of vintage Morris Minors, flashing their headlights when they encounter another enthusiast.

We missed a lot of the entertainment, but did see the Bad Shepherds, who the sister has been raving about, having missed them when they came to Crawley last month.  We both enjoyed them, and their folk versions of punk and new wave songs.  I don’t mind folk, but know so little about it that not much of it is familiar to me.  So this was ideal – it is like folk but you already know the words!  Which is a bit ironic if you think about it.

The agricultural workers union - with Horsham CLP's chair holding up the banner

The Bad Shepherds onstage

Jerry Hicks drumming up support for his bid to be leader of my union, Unite. I doubt I will vote for him, but he is certainly running an energetic campaign.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Richard

    We passed through Tolpuddle on our way back from a week in St Ives…

    Do you know we may have our own Tolpuddle Martyrs in Sussex – Amberley to be more specific :

    This olde Sussex song was printed on a postcard (on display at The Black Horse, Amberley Village), with the caption “Amberly Village Parliament; We Wunt Be Druv’ 1898” – with a photograph of Doc Hook (Blacksmith & Herbalist), Dick Wacham (Lime Burner), Snaggey Syeral (Lime Burner), Mark Syeral (Hair Dresser), Ned Ruff (Farm Labourer), Steve Field (Barge Man), Jimmy Adams (Carrier) and Taffy (Chalk Pit) :


    Some folks as comes to Sussex
    They reckons as they knows
    A darn sight better what to do
    Than silly folks like me and you.
    Ben them as comes to Sussex
    They mustn’t push and shove
    For Sussex will be Sussex
    And Sussex Wunt be Druv

    Mus Wilfred came to Selsey
    Us heaved a stone at he
    Because he reckoned he could teach
    Our Sussex fishermen how to reach
    The fishes in the sea.
    But when he dwelt among us
    Us gave up land and love
    For Sussex will be Sussex
    And Sussex Wunt be Druv

    All folks as comes to Sussex
    Must follow Sussex ways
    And when they’ve learned to know as well
    There’s no place else they’d wish to dwell
    In all their blessed days.
    There ain’t no place like Sussex
    Until you goos above
    But Sussex will be Sussex
    And Sussex Wunt be Druv