I try to avoid political comment here on my blog. Mainly because in public service jobs, people have lost their jobs by expressing political views. They have been accused of “bringing the profession or the organisation into disrepute” so it is safer not to comment.
Personally I believe that this breaches their right to free speech. Even though I do not necessarily agree with a persons view, I would defend their right to express it., but hey I am just a small fish in a big pond with a mortgage to pay, so defending free speech is as far as I am prepared to put my head above the parapet.
So what I am coming to, is my visit to the Peoples palace in Glasgow. A brilliant social history museum, which chronicles the lives of people of Glasgow from 1750 to the late 20th century, through displays, paintings, photos and film
The museum is set in the middle of Glasgow green and attached to a beautiful Winter Gardens where I had lunch.
At the start of the exhibition there is a TV installation showing Glasgow humour through Billy Connelly, Rab C Nesbitt ( with subtitles ) and some other comedians and sketches that I had not heard of before. It was Hilarious! So I started the day with a good laugh, which I badly needed.
With it’s heavy industry of Shipbuilding, Glasgow became a hotbed of trade unionism and Socialism as the exploited working classes struggled for justice in the last century..
As my Glasgow trip was a break from the redundancy negotiations at work and the possibility of loosing my job was weighing heavy on my mind, the museum seemed to have added poignancy for me.
Poignant dancing at the Barrowland dance hall in the 195’0’s
A day at the seaside.
Does anybody remember the Poll tax? There was a whole section devoted to this.
This was a tax which Margaret Thatcher introduced in 1990 to replace the existing “rates” which was a tax paid on individual houses. The old rates were based on the value of the house as opposed to the poll tax which was a tax paid by each person equally despite their income.
This new tax of course hit hard on the poorest of people, because previously six people could live in a small house and pay little tax, whereas the rich couple living in a mansion would pay the most.
The resultant protest, riots and refusal by huge sections of the populations to pay this new tax, started in Scotland and eventually brought the downfall of Margaret Thatcher.
Glasgow has a rich history of class struggle and trades unionism and as a trades unionist myself for many years and a union steward I have always been very moderate, But I looked at the displays and quotes from speeches that detailed the working class struggles against exploitation and for basic things we take for granted today, like 40 hour weeks, 8 hour days and a decent minimum wage, basic health and safety and employment rights and felt a strong proud stirring inside, which nearly brought me to tears.
The irony is that the industries that spawned this struggle, the shipbuilding, coal mines, engineering are all gone now from Clydesdale. Devastated by the Thatcher era, globalisation and recent financial crisis.
At my place of work we have just been told of 12.5 hour shifts and intentions to terminate contracts if we cannot come to an agreement on redundancies I wondered how far we have come, if things have really changed and feel that we must not slip back. These people struggled and suffered, sometimes died for their cause and it must not be in vain.
Love from Bolton.
Comments are welcome