Friday, August 31, 2012

Peter Pink 1929 - 2012

Peter Pink
Morning Star & Hayes Communist

Peter Pink was born in 1929 at Stockwell, South London. His father was a policeman, leading to Peter being born in the police wing of Putney hospital. His father was posted to Southall in 1932 and the family consequently moved to Hayes, West Middlesex. He joined the Young Communist League in 1945 and the Communist Party in 1947 and, in time, became the Secretary of Hayes Communist Party. Peter Pink was born in 1929 at Stockwell, South London. His father was a policeman, leading to Peter being born in the police wing of Putney hospital. His father was posted to Southall in 1932 and the family consequently moved to Hayes, West Middlesex. He joined the Young Communist League in 1945 and the Communist Party in 1947 and, in time, became the Secretary of Hayes Communist Party. Amongst many successful meetings the Communist Party in Hayes organised was one with the Civil Rights leader Sean Morrisey (Chairman of the Turf Lodge Residents Association and education officer of the ATGWU) held in February 1972. Peter worked at EMI and was Chairman of Hayes branch of the Clerical Workers Union (then CAWU, later APEX, now part of GMB). For much of this period, Peter lived at 35 Camden Avenue, Hayes, later he moved to 1 Hambledon Close, Hillingdon. His sister was Labour councillor in Yeading Ward, Hayes. He was the Advertising Manager of the Morning Star for a while but Peter Pink is perhaps best known for having been the writer of the Morning Star’s daily Peoples’ Press Fighting Fund column during the nineteen eighties and nineties. Peter died in 2012.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Daisy Daisy, Give Me your Answer, Do" - "Join The Clarion's"

Daisy Greville, The Countess of Warwick
Aristocratic Convert

By Sylvia Alving

In her Autobiography published in 1929, Life's Ebb and Flow by Frances Evelyn Greville, Countess of  Warwick. (Daisy to her family and friends) there is a small photograph of her with bicycle.  She is fashionably dressed and wearing a large hat.

Intrigued,  I got in touch with Cycling World, hoping to discover that, in their Archives, there might be a bigger and better photograph of the lady in cycling attire.  But imagine my disappointment, when the photograph that arrived was of the Countess, with fan, seated and somewhat languid- looking.   I did. however, discover that Harry Dacre's 1892 hit song. Daisy Bell, was indeed inspired by her legendary beauty.

        Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,

        I'm half crazy all for the love of you,

        It won't be a stylish marriage -

        I can't afford a carriage

        But you'd look sweet on the seat

        Of a bicycle built for two.

The reason for my curiosity about Lady Warwick (1861-1938) and the Socialist politics to which she
devoted much time and energy from the 1890s until her death in 1938, was because I had been asked to
write a book about her politics by the owner of the remnant of her Essex estate the Gardens of Hasten
Lodge. I then discovered that I would have to explain her journey from having been the richest heiress in England, lover of Bertie, Prince of Wales throughout the naughty nineties, to being the People's friend while remaining a monarchist.

Very much a maverick figure: class traitor to the aristocracy, class enemy to the proletariat, she began her married life in   1881   as a Lady Bountiful, stood as Labour candidate against Major Anthony Eden in 1923 , and finally was a supporter of Sylvia Pankhurst's anti-fascist struggle in 1937, appealing in a letter to the latter's newspaper. New Times and Ethiopia News, for donations towards an anti-aerial bombing monument in Woodford Green in Essex and appealing for an end to aerial warfare, which is where I first came across her name.

Lady Warwick credits her conversion from land-owning Tory to Socialist, becoming a platform  speaker  initially  for  the  Social  Democratic Federation, and later for the Labour party, to the editor of The Clarion, Robert Blatchford, On the front page of the Clarion of 16th February, 1895, he had printed an article criticising the extravagance of the great costume ball held in Warwick Castle to celebrate her husband's inheriting the title of Earl on his father's death, and she becoming the next chatelaine in line. Through gritted teeth, Blatchford named it a 'costly masquerade' an example of the aristocracy's  conspicuous consumption:    'lavish luxury on lavish luxury, heap on heap, glitter on glitter, in a vulgar saturnalia of gaudy pride.'  This obscenity he contrasted with   'other men, and women, and children the while huddling in their ragged hovels, their meagre shrunken flesh pierced by the winter's cruel sting; without food, without clothes,   without  fire,   shuddering,   shivering, suffering till dawn; and then again from dawn till night, from day to day, from week to week - their souls crashed between ever-grinding millstones'!

And he ended with the unkindest cut of all: 'I can frame no angry taunts upon this one; upon my life I deeply pity the poor, rich Countess of Warwick.'

So shocked was she at being represented in this manner that the Countess travelled at all possible speed to London and the Fleet Street offices of the Clarion, appearing in Blatchford's little room in a great rage, demanding an instant apology.  None was forth-coming, however, instead she was given a lecture on the meaning of her (and his) particular brand of economics.  Thus chastened, this was followed by her return to Warwick Castle and its many guests, where she compiled a reading list, arranged for a university professor to come and answer the many questions that were crowding into her mind.  As she put it, ever after 'I joined the Union of Love in the service of those who suffer.'


Robert Blatchford's argument had a lasting impact on her, and she joined the Social Democratic Federation in 1904. She donated large amounts of money to the organisation and in particular supported its campaign for free meals for schoolchildren. As a patron of several parishes, she appointed socialist clergy such as Conrad Noel to their livings. She opposed World War I and supported the Soviet Revolution of 1917. After the war, she joined the Labour Party and her home was used for important meetings

The Countess of Warwick recalled

"There had been a grand ball at the Castle. Of course the ball was a great success, and the newspapers applauded with great enthusiasm, all except one obscure sheet, the Clarion. This paper only reached my attention on the second morning after the ball; and my attention was called to its special article about the ball by an ominous black line. I read with indignation and amazement a violent attack on myself for holding idle junketing in a time of general misery. This "impertinent rag" said scathingly that ours was a sham benevolence, a frivolous ignoring of real social conditions. I was so angry that the memory of that anger is vivid today. I said to myself that the write of this article was some crabbed, envious being, who grudged the chance of work to the poor people who had their share of the money spent on the festivities; someone who hated luxury because it was out of reach.
"In my bitter indignation, I forgot all about my duty to guests who still lingered. I got up at once, told my maid that I was going to London by the earliest train, and leaving the Castle without a word of explanation to anyone. I was in Fleet street by midday searching for the editorial office of the Clarion. I found this office at the top of a staircase in one of the older buildings in the street, with the editor's mane, Robert Blatchford, on the door.

I entered unannounced, and there at the writing-desk sat the man who dared to attack us for indulging in legitimate amusement that had at the time given honest work to so many unemployed. His coldly gazing eyes showed no surprise at the unexpected and abrupt vision in his dingy office of a young women dressed in the height of fashion. He made no movement of welcome. I remembered thinking that the garment he wore, which was some thing between a dressing gown and a lounge coat, was most undignified.

"Are you the editor of the Clarion" I demanded. He merely nodded. "I came about this", I went on., thrusting the marked page under his eyes. He made no reply, but his preoccupied eye seemed to hold a question and he waited for me to go on. "How could you be so unfair, so unjust" I asked. "Our ball has given work to half the county, and to dozens of dressmakers in London besides."

"Will you sit down" he replied, "while I explain to you how mistaken you are about real effect of luxury?"

"And then Robert Blatchford told me, as a socialist and a democrat, what he thought of charity bazaars and ladies bountiful. He made plain to me the differences between productive and unproductive labour. He said that labour used to produce finery was as much wasted as if it were used to dig holes in the ground and fill them up again.

"By this new standard I found that nine tenths of the money spent on the Warwick Ball had been wasted. Such elementary economics as that the only useful labour was labour that produced useful articles, which in turn helped labour to produce again, was all new to me

"My old ideas and ideals were brought to aought, and it was late in the afternoon before this plain man with the big ideas had ceased speaking"

"I was somewhat dazed when at last I left Fleet Street and got to the railway station, where I sat waiting for the train to take me back to Warwick. During the journey home I thought and thought about all that I had been hearing and learning. i knew my outlook on life could never be the same as before the incident"

"It was Robert Blatchford's honest talk on the memorable day that gave me vision of how it would be possible to change and modify the unjust conditions of our modern life".

The Countess of Warwick "I went to  Paddington station (after their meeting) and sat on the platform for two hours thinking, I was not used to being talked to like that".

Blatchfords "most undignified" garment was according to Blatchford "a pilot jacket of the best Russian cloth, very warm and soft and comfortable, and I was really rather proud of it"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic Swimming Heroine's without a Medal - 1936 Berlin Games

Judith Deutsch was Austria's top swimmer in the mid-1930s and was selected to represent her country at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. After hearing about what Jewish athletes were going through in Germany, she and two other Austrian Jewish swimmers, Ruth Langer and Lucy Goldman boycotted the Games. 

In a letter to the Austrian Olympic Committee, Deutsch wrote: "

...I a Jew I cannot participate in the Berlin Olympic Games. My conscience does not allow me. This is a personal decision and is not to be contested. I completely understand that I am giving up my rights to participate as the Austrian contestant in the Olympic Games. I sincerely hope you will understand this decision and not pressure me to change my mind."


Other sportsmen and women who boycotted the Olympics were American women’s swimming coach Charlotte Epstein, U.S. defending 1932 Olympic women’s Discus champion Lillian Copeland, Canadian amateur Welterweight boxing champion Sammy Luftspring, and French fencing champion Albert Wolff.

Tennis player Dennis Penn and boxer's  Erich Seeling and  Johann Trollmann were excluded from the German Olympic team for lack of racial purity.

The most vigorous and effective proponent of an American boycott of the 1936 Olympics in Germany was a devout Irish-American Catholic known all his life for his stubborn opposition to racial and religious discrimination. Born  in 1878, Jeremiah Titus Mahoney

By 1935, Mahoney had ascended to the presidency of the Amateur Athletic Union, making him responsible for the selection of America's Olympic team. After long reflection, he came to the conclusion that American participation in Hitler's Olympics would serve only to legitimate a wholly evil regime, a regime that was discriminating against its own Jewish citizens as it chose its Olympic teams.

"There is no room for discrimination on grounds of race, color, or creed in the Olympics," 

One of the three Austrian swimmers to Boycott the Berlin Olympics was 15 year old Ruth Langer, she  escaped to London in 1939  she won the last British long-distance championship swim in the Thames. Five weeks later, World War II began and she was evacuated from London to Bath as an ''enemy alien.'' She was later allowed to return to London, where she met John Lawrence, whom she married in 1943. and lived there until she died 2nd May 1999 aged 77

In 1995, the Federation of Austrian Swimming Clubs lifted the ban imposed on her. The Federation president wrote:

''When I learned in recent weeks that athletes who refused to serve as window-dressing for the Hitler regime received a lifetime ban . . . I blushed with anger and shame. I am deeply ashamed of the decision taken at that time.

''You, who as an irreproachable and decent athlete, did everything you could to achieve athletic success, were already stamped by the Nuremberg Laws as a second-class person, and for renouncing athletic success in order to show solidarity with the persecuted, you were punished.

''Those responsible today for the Federation of Austrian Swimming Clubs are glad that you survived that cruel and merciless time and humbly apologise for what our predecessors did. All of your athletic successes and achievements are hereby confirmed and recorded in the perpetual scoring tables. You, Ms. Lawrence, are an example to young people. We are proud that you are there.''

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Ealing Bakers Union Established 1898

A demonstration of bakers and members of other trades "to protest against the conditions used by several of the Ealing master bakers to prevent their men joining the bakers union" was held on Saturday evening (29th May 1898) on Ealing Common.

There had previously been a parade of the neighbourhood with  band and banners.

A month previously (April 1898) a branch of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers and Confectioners was established in Ealing and as the operatives were working sixteen and seventeen hours a day and receiving very small wages.

if the men wanted to win they must show a bold front So long as they were outside the union the masters knew they could work them as long as they liked and pay them as little as they liked, and they did it. it was not surprising therefore that masters viewed with alarm the formation of the branch of the union in Ealing. He knew perfectly well that there were men working there from seventeen...

The remedy was in there own hands but if they kept out of the union because they were afraid of being discharged, then he considered their case hopeless

the public they might feel were in sympathy with them and as long as that was so they had nothing to fear.

if all the men were discharged let them start a co-operative bakers society as had been done elsewhere. if they did that the public would buy off them and the real sufferers would be the masters (cheers).

It was anticipated that every man in the district would enrol himself in its ranks, but a member had been deterred by a threat of instant dismissal should they take such a step. Mr C. Perry branch secretary of the new branch presided at Saturday's meeting.

Perry stated they were men working there from seventeen to eighteen hours a day for a wage not much more than a pound a week.

Mr John Jenkins General Secretary of the bakers union

George Summers past chairman of the district board pointed out that that the union was not merely a fighting one, but was a society which assisted its members in times of poverty and sickness and ensured them descent burial

Mr Croxton, Hill and Lee

Later that evening a meeting of the Ealing branch of the Operative Bakers union was held at the North Star public house, Ealing and which more members were enrolled and membership cards issued

Ealing branch of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers and Confectioners  June 1898

Uxbridge Advertiser 3rd June 1898

1861 - Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers of England was formed.

1914 - changed its name to Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners and Allied Workers of Great Britain and Ireland.

1925 - changed its name to the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners and Allied Workers.

1964 - name shortened to Bakers Union and later expanded to Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union. 

The bakers union commenced in the small house of Mr Thomas Hollingworth in Manchester in 1849 (a house destroyed in the blitz). Mr Hollingworths house was a meeting place for operative bakers during a period when it was a risky matter to join and meet as trade unionists.

In 1854 the union had enough members to appoint a secretary Mr Thomas Hodson but little progress was made until the formation of the first Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers of England in 1861, this consisted of local branches/societies in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Cheltenham, Bristol, Newcastle, Wigan and Hanley.

In 1864 Mr Thomas H Hodson was elected part time secretary and remained in office until 1883 on a salary of £26 per annum. Mr Hudson was a native of staffordshire, coming from the town of Leek later moving to Manchester in 1849.

in 1871 the union ran a campaign to demand a 10 hour day, and a sixty hour week.
The key branches of the union remained in London, Chester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, The Executive coming almost exclusively from Salford, Hulme and Manchester.

Mr John Jenkins "The General" was elected Bakers Union General Secretary in 1883. a position he held until 1914. Jenkins was born in Golborne a small village between Wigan and warrington. Like many children of the time he left school at an early age and began work a "baker, sugar-boiler and soda biscuit maker" in a relatives bakery in Bolton. He tramped many miles selling copies of a pamphlet called the "National Reformer". Jenkins joined the Bolton Bakers union branch in 1867 and was a delegate to the Chester national conference in 1870, by 1877 he had been elected President of the union and General secretary in 1883 with a membership of about 3,000.

In 1885 the produced the first issue of its journal "The Journeyman Bakers' Magazine and Chronicle" under the editorship of Mr Watts Austin which supported the union and in 1888 became the full property of the  Amalgamated Operative Bakers Union under the editorship of John Jenkins.

1888 Halifax branch of Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers established at a meeting held cellar hole in the old Central Hall in Union Street with Mr G. Langstreth of Bradford as first branch secretary.

In 1889 a strike place amongst London bakers and under the leadership of John Jenkins the union recruited over 4,000 new members. A great meeting was held in Hyde Park at which a crowd of over 10,000 was reported and with John Burns as the principle speaker. The union's other key organiser was Mr Sturgeon a free card member of the union for many years.

The result of the strike was debatable matter but at the least did show the need for drastic changes and proved the spirit of the men to fight for changes.

In 1892 the headquarters of the union returned to London (Hammersmith)

The first fully delegate conference was held in Birmingham in 1910 Mr A.F. Bentley (Manchester) President.

Cambridge branch of the bakers union established in 1902

The General Secretary Jenkins reported in 1909 that the average life expectancy of a baker had risen due to the union taking on safety issues from just 40 to 43 compared to 37 for a plumber.

The agitation in Birmingham in 1910 was still growing for a 26s 0d minimum wage and a big demonstration was staged with active assistance of the Trades Council (especially its secretary E.J. Berry. they held a public court of enquiry and issued a long report into pay and conditions in the trade. One of the leading figures in the City was Bishop Gore who took a leading part on behalf of the workers. Scribbans, who attended the meeting was the biggest employer in Birmingham. The branch ended the campaign with 300 members .

1912 saw an upsurge in British trade unionism and also amongst bakers with the establishment of many new branches. The new Rugby Bakers Union platform of August 1913 launched at the Engine Inn, Bridge Street included 54hr week exclusive of meal times, minimum wage Foreman 34s0d, charge hands 33s0d, single hand 32s 0d per week, second hands 30s 0d, machine dough makers 32s, jobbers 7d per hour

In 1913 John Jenkins decided the London District as the cockpit of the baking trade, meanwhile with the help of others unions a branch was established in Great Yarmouth. Ipswich co-op workers and management reported as "averse" to the union. 

Bristol branch of the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers & confectioners set out a platform on 18th November 1913 for 54 hr week for day workers 48hrs for night workers , Foreman's pay 34s a week single hands 34s second hands 32s: factory bakers Foreman 42s a week charge hands 35s Dough Makers 34s Table Hands 32s.

Females were accepted into membership from 1915 and an early activists was Miss E. G. Edmondson who spoke up for equal pay "Equal pay for Equal work" In the same year unskilled workers were also allowed to join  as a result of a resolution from Birmingham District speaking at the 1914 Conference Mr Fletcher (Northern District) stated "The time for a mere craft union had gone by, and they had to recognise that the fight was a class fight, and it was incumbent upon them taking their stand alongside the unskilled labourer or workman, realising that their interests were his interests and vice versa"

By December 1918 the union had 2,000 women in membership (total 20,000)  paying subscriptions of 3d to 5d compared to men's 1s to 1s3d (the difference may be due to benefits such as sick pay) It is also reported in women in trade unions by Barbara Drake that the union also had a women's organiser in 1918 ? and while mosts branches were "mixed" male and females the union had some all female branches. With regards to equal pay women bakers were receiving on average two thirds of male wage.

In 1915 Mr William Banfield former District secretary in Birmingham became General Secretary, born in Burton on Trent circa 1875, saw much poverty in his youth apprenticed to bakers in Birmingham aged 18  and soon became branch secretary on the death of District Secretary Mr C. Gibbs became secretary of Birmingham which in 1909 included 7 branches and 250 members and a wage of 22s0d unlimited hours and  by 1915 was one of the strongest union areas in the country. they had 20 branches and over 1,000 members with a minimum wage 33s0d for a 54hr week  this district being successful in obtaining the support of the clergy in their efforts to better the sweated conditions then prevailing, the outcome was an agreement with the employers. Banfield was later elected after a number of attempts as Labour Mp for Wednesbury in 1932 and 1937.

A big meeting of the Bakers union in Barnstaple, Devon addressed by the Acting General secretary W. Dymond and General Secretary Mr William Banfield was held in June 1915. Mr Banfield General secretary stated The Barnstaple branch had been established in 1913 because of the excessive hours worked by bakers in the area 12-15 hours and wages were "very, very low" as a result the union had sent Mr Montano the General Organiser with the definitie instructions to stay in Barnstaple for any time that might be necessary, and under no circumstances would he leave until a platform of hours and wages was definitely established. Mr Montano would make Barnstaple a centre for the entire district"They were familiar with the song "Glorious Devon2 and theirs indeed was a glorious county, but he thought it would be agreed that it was not a glorious Devon so far as the operative baker was concerned... When Mr Montano came to Barnstaple it would be no good running away from him, and it would be of no use for employers to say that they would not meet him. They would have to. ".

During the First world War many stalwarts of the union continued to fight for workers rights and against exploitation , excessive hours and poor safety. The union recalls these as "Men who will be remembered as long as there is a baker in our land".

Mr J. T Clements Midland District Secretary
Sir Herbert Hiles Jp South Wales District
PMr P. Williams Staffordshire District Secretary
George Haynes Jp Birmingham District Secretary
A. E Halliday Home Counties District Secreary (later gen sec)
A. Rawcliffe Preston District Secretary
E. S hall Nottinghamshire & East Mids District Secretary
M. Pringle Northumerland & Durham District secretary
S. Andrews Bristol & Western District Secretary
W.R. Morris Warrington District secretary
F. W. Petzing London District Secretary

1919 strike by bakers in London for 44hr week 4,136 but 920 locked out. 450 members many with over 30 years service lost their jobs at V.V. Bread Company, by 1920 38 were stll recieving victimisation pay. It is estimate London had 7,000 bakers at the time.

In September 1940 Mr J. J Thomasson was appointed General Secretary (another Lancastrian).

During World war two the union's 23,000 members members worked tirelessly to ensure no one went short of bread, the bakers  unions headquarters at 8 Guildford Street, London were lucky to escape undamaged during the Blitz  London Bakers union member A. Darbyshire was awarded the British Empire Medal

In 1941 Miss Marion E Thomas was elected to the position of National women's organiser and Miss Thomas of Blackpool accepted a post for 12 months covering Southern England and also a Miss Doherty.

The first Bakers union women executive member was Miss E. G. Edmondson of Manchester.
Ernie Haynes became national president in 1945 succeeding H. J. Keen. The son of a London bus driver, after a spell in a stockbrokers office aged 14 gained insight into financial manipulation  he joined the merchant navy but ended up as a night baker in Birmingham successfully organised Bordesley branch taking the membership to over 300, active in Birmingham trades council employed at barrows stores bakery and highly esteemed by management, previously worked at Nuffield's canteens and five years at Birmingham co-operative bakery.

Membership in December 1948 stood at 31,259

1951 the number of workers in the industry was 62,615 of which  the union had 27,000 in membership

General Secretaries
Thomas H Hobson 1864-1883
John Jenkins 1883-1914
William Banfield 1915-1939
J.J. Thomasson 1940-1952
A.E. Halliday 1952-1968
Stan Gretton 1968-1975
Sam Maddox 1975-1979
Joe Marion 1979-2010
Ronnie Draper 2010-

A.F. Bentley 1910-1914
J.H. Brown 1914-1925
T. Ferris 1926-1927
H. Keen 1927-1945
Ernie Haynes 1945-1969
C.T. Child 1969-

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Trade Union Covenant - Pledge 1927

One year after the General Strike of 1926, the TUC campaigned to get workers to pledge their support for a Trade Union Covenant.