Letters

Trade union leaders

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Dave Lyddon claims in his latest contribution to our discussion about the 1972 docks’ strike (Feedback, December SR) that the TUC threat to call a general strike was not key to the release of the Pentonville Five, that the crucial factor securing their release was growing unofficial action in which 250,000 workers had walked out by the time the Five were released in July 1972.

Clearly the TUC would not have acted without the unofficial strikes, but to describe the threat of a General Strike as “icing on the cake” underestimates its significance.

Commemorating the role of the early IS

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I was most interested to read the obituary of Ian Macdonald QC (December SR). The story of a life devoted to fighting within the legal system for justice and against racism was indeed inspiring.

But I was a little surprised that there was no mention of the fact that, in the 1960s, Ian was for some years a leading member of the International Socialists (IS), the forerunner organisation of the SWP.

I knew Ian a little in those days. In 2009, when writing my biography of Tony Cliff (the founder and leader of the IS), I interviewed him about his memories of his days in IS.

Corporate dominance damages film

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I was somewhat taken aback by Sasha Simic’s article in the last edition of Socialist Review. Three of the world’s best known and critically acclaimed filmmakers — Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and the socialist Ken Loach — have criticised the methods and output of the corporate giant Disney and its franchise outlet Marvel. Sasha criticises the filmmakers but not the corporation.

Amazingly Sasha dismisses the opinions of the three on the basis that he thinks they are being elitist.

Not all Boomers!

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Readers of Socialist Review will be very familiar with the ruling class’s “divide and rule” tactic, where they use nationalism, racism, sexism and homophobia to create scapegoats and divisions in the working class.

Ageism, too, whether directed against the young or the old, is often used in this way, to create intergenerational conflict and divert attention away from the real source of our problems: capitalism.

Dockers and the TUC

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The springing of five dockers from Pentonville in July 1972 was class struggle in the raw. Sabby Sagall (Feedback, November 2019) suggests that the unofficial strike movement “was certainly crucial but, arguably, the dockers’ release would not have happened without the TUC’s intervention”. Ralph Darlington and I detailed the sequence of events in Glorious Summer (Bookmarks, 2001), building on Fred Lindop’s account. All three of us challenged the mainstream opinion that the TUC’s general strike call was key.

Courting controversy

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Shaun Doherty (October SR) raises important questions concerning the Supreme Court judgement that the government (the executive) acted unlawfully in proroguing (suspending) parliament (the legislature) for five weeks.

First, he claims the ruling “plays into [Boris] Johnson’s narrative”. Would we rather then that the Supreme Court had found for the government instead? Wouldn’t that have further convinced Johnson that he was untouchable?

Workers' power

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Fred Lindop is right to say that the 9-week London and Liverpool dockers’ strikes preceding their march supporting Enoch Powell in April 1968 following his “rivers of blood” speech had been over the “decasualisation” of dock labour rather than containerisation (Feedback, October 2019). Nor was it over housing as Dave Lyddon claims in his letter in the September issue.

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