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Historical Perspectives

Lest We Forget ... Arthur Scargill interview 'TV Eye' 1984

'Thatcher, Trade Unions and the Union of Democratic Mineworkers' by Steven Daniels HERE

'The Mysterious Case of David Swallow: Life and Times of a Miners Leader' by Graham and Ken Capstick HERE

Anniversaries to Remember - 22nd September 2013.

from Comrade David Marchesi.

At this time in 1948, Count Bernadotte (a descendant of one of Napoleon’s generals) was assassinated by the Zionist Lehi gang, because of his support for retaining Palestinian rights, when working on behalf of the United Nations.

Again, approximately 40 years ago, the Chilean poet, artistic director etc., Victor Jara was murdered (after torture) by Chilean thugs acting under the orders of Thatcher’s friend General Pinochet.

Remembering the First World War by Harry Parfitt

During the years 1910 to 1914 there was widespread civil and industrial unrest in Britain. This period saw the first militant revolutionary class struggle. These struggles might have turned into revolution had it not been for the outbreak of the First World War.

Many commentators considered that in the decade before WW1 it was a race between world war and world revolution. Ernest Bevin, the leader of the T.G.W.U. and future Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1945 Labour Government, said that 1920 was a period which, if the war had not broken out, would have seen one of the world’s greatest revolutions.

In South Wales one miner was killed by police in Tonypandy and two railway men were shot dead by the military in Llanelli. This sort of thing was going on all over the country. There were battleships stationed in the Mersey and later, tanks on the streets of Glasgow.

When war did break out, millions of working class men and boys ran to join the army, the vast majority to escape poverty, starvation and very bad treatment by their bosses. Little did they know they were going out of the frying pan into the fire. The recruiting officers soon found out that two in five were unfit for military service because of ill-health. That was the state of Britain’s young men in 1914. When conscription was introduced in 1916 the health requirements were reduced, such was the need for cannon fodder at that time. During the war over 6,000 men were imprisoned in shocking conditions for being conscientious objectors; one of these was Emrys Hughes from Abercynon, who later became the Member of Parliament for South Ayrshire in the 1945 real Labour Government.

The big battles of the war started with the battle of Mons, which involved the British Army; 7,960 were killed, 30,000 wounded, with 18,000 missing. At the battle of the Somme 19,000 were killed and 40,000 were wounded in one day, for no gain. At Passchendaele there were 24,000 casualties. During the entire war over 662,000 men were killed, 1,000,000 wounded and 140,000 missing, with 338,955 men having no known grave. These figures are for the British army alone.

The vast majority of men on both sides of the conflict were not regular soldiers, but miners, farm labourers, railwaymen and factory workers. The working class on all sides were slaughtered in an imperialist war. In the midst of these battles 306 men, some as young as sixteen, were sentenced to death for alleged cowardice and desertion. One man who was shot had been decorated for bravery a few weeks previously. Far from being cowards many of them had survived horrific battles before reaching breaking point. The senior officers of the British Army, Field Marshals and Generals, who signed these death warrants considered themselves to be officers and gentlemen. In reality they were tyrants, cowards and murderers.

When the war was over Field Marshal Haig was made Earl Haig and given £100,000 – he had asked for £250,000. Ordinary men who came out of the war with no arms or legs, blinded and gassed, ended their days selling bootlaces and boxes of matches on street corners, with their medals pinned to their coats.

On the War Memorial in Penrhiwceiber you can see the names of three men, three brothers, all killed in the First World War: B. Gibbon, O. Gibbon and T. Gibbon. There was a fourth brother, Aaron Gibbon, who survived the war. Mr. Gibbon was a teacher in Ynysboeth School. I can remember him when I was a child going to school – he was always on his own and seemed to be deep in thought. He had plenty to think about.

The parade they have at Whitehall every year is a disgrace. The monarchy dress up as high ranking soldiers and sailors – they look ridiculous and are an insult to serving men and women. Remember the outrage Michael Foot caused when he went on parade – he was an old man wearing a warm coat on a cold day, but the bureaucrats saw it differently – he spoiled their parade. They took more notice of Michael than they did of the war dead. The only way to honour and respect all previous war dead is to STOP ALL WARS, present and future. But war is a lucrative business for arms dealers and capitalists, human life does not count. The majority of wars in the world are caused by capitalism, religion and imperialism. At the present time, out of 196 countries in the world, the capitalist United States government has combatant troops stationed in 150 of them.

The English Revolutionaries by Rob Hawkins

In his book, The Tyrannicide Brief', the Q.C. Geoffrey Robertson says that 'Britain's education must be unique in hiding from children the truth about the nation's annus mirabilis' i.e. the year 1649. In these revolutionary times it is well worthwhile reflecting on previous revolutionary eras. Below, for instance, is the ensign, or flag, of the leveller Major William Rainsborough, a cavalry officer in the New Model Army and dates from 1649.

william rainsborough flag

It portrays the demise of Charles the first and comes from a catalogue of coronet devises in the late wars added to the book 'The art of making devises' published in London in 1650 by Henry Estienne, translated by Thomas Blount. The inscription reads 'Salus Populi Suprema Lex' which roughly translates as 'the welfare of an individual yields to that of the community' or 'the safety of the people is the supreme law'.

William was the brother of the great Leveller commander Colonel Thomas Rainsborough. He had returned to fight in the Civil Wars from America, where he had emigrated in the 1630's. Both brothers spoke in the famous Putney debates of 1647. Here, they spoke in opposition to Cromwell, Ireton and the Army 'Grandees' in trying to gain basic rights (against impressment, slavery and for the right of the poor and downtrodden to have a voice in electing a government. The Levellers won the debates but were eventually brought to heel by a military dictatorship run by Cromwell). The parallel would be the diversion by Bonaparte of the revolution in France away from egalitarian issues. In one of the great tragedies of English history, Thomas Rainsborough, leader of the levellers in the New Model Army and a Vice Admiral in Parliament's navy was assassinated in late 1648, possibly with Cromwell's connivance. William Rainsborough remained in England and along with others raised a force to attempt to stop the restoration of Charles the second in 1660. He was imprisoned but later, on huge bail, left again for America. He was more fortunate than the subject of the Tyrannicide Brief.

In order to help regain the throne Charles had declared a general amnesty to all those living in the Commonwealth who had opposed his father in the Civil Wars. Once restored to power, however, the promises were quickly broken and John Cooke, the prosecuting counsel at the Trial of Charles the first in 1649 was along with many others tried by a 'fixed' court and brutally executed. Charles, the new King , was reported to have been a keen spectator when Cooke was , with others, Hung , drawn and quartered. So much for the 'merriness' of the monarch. Cooke had in 1648 published a work entitled 'The Poor Man's Case' which amongst other innovations called for a National Health service 300 years before a British Government was forced to accede to the idea in order to stave off the perceived threat to them of Communism in Britain. This is one gain that the present Government would like to turn back another 300 years.

Today's Prime Minister resides in Downing Street. This was named after Sir George Downing who had served the Commonwealth in intelligence matters during the interregnum. With the restoration of the monarchy he gained advancement by helping to betray some of his former colleagues who were subsequently executed. The turncoat George Monk the New Model Army officer largely responsible for the restoration was another who gloated in the demise of former colleagues. He took his wife along to stare at his former comrades who had been imprisoned at the Restoration (which was indeed bloody and brutal for those who had been involved with the trial and execution of the former monarch). For his treachery, Monk was heaped with wealth and made Duke of Albemarle.