Tonight, with my wife, who doesn’t consider herself a political soul, I saw the play “United We Stand” at the Chatfield Theatre, University Church of England Academy:
In 1972 tens of thousands of building workers won the first national strike in the industry for better pay and conditions. ‘Flying pickets left the contractors reeling. The Tory government and the large building companies wanted revenge, and the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ were put on trial in the following year.
Further background to this story can be found here, on Des Warren; here, on Ricky Tomlinson; here, at the BBC, on the recent overwhelming vote by Parliament to release all papers relating to government intervention at the time; and here, at the official campaign website.
I think more than you might imagine.
Apart from the fact that it serves to give brilliant voice – both musical and spoken – to two grand performances we were privileged to witness, I’m really not sure that in a world of social networks the Conservative government of Edward Heath would have got away with what Parliament has had to recognise to be a gross miscarriage of justice.
In fact, in a world of social networks, I’m not even sure they’d have dared to go so far. I say this gingerly, in the light of what the Coalition has done over the past few years to people with disability, the working-poor and the wider unemployed or underemployed. But I think a groundswell of opinion, sufficiently firm, would have been created and mirrored by social media, if it had existed.
That everything people have done since then to shed light on the injustice has not quite borne fruit only indicates how serious a challenge any truths which could be revealed by action under the Freedom of Information legislation would now surely pose to the establishment.
Poor stuff, it is. But it should make us also realise how not everything may be lost after all. If post-Snowden we can still find it in ourselves to continue our campaigns, our linking up with like-minded souls, our search for constructive truths and our desire to assure and implement good democracy – and that such actions do bear fruit in the end – perhaps it’s time to measure how far we’ve come: the vigilance and scrutiny of a million eyes mean that a “conspiracy” of so many socially focussed voices cannot all be put behind bars, now can they?