Warm Reception for Corbyn and socialist ideas in Featherstone

Corbyn supporters at the rally in Featherstone - photo Iain Dalton

Corbyn supporters at the rally in Featherstone – photo Iain Dalton

On Saturday 10th September Jeremy Corbyn attended his 35th election rally within the last month, at Featherstone Rovers Rugby League ground. Several hundred gave him the obligatory standing ovations.

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield Socialist Party

Introductory speakers commented how it had been difficult to keep the faith with the Labour Party after the experiences of Blair, Brown and Miliband. However, Labour is now potentially back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.

A young recently new member asked the question, “Is it too much to want affordable housing, stable jobs, with decent wages, and free education for the future generations?”

Jon Trickett, Labour MP for the area, related back to the Featherstone Massacre of exactly 123 years ago, when miners were shot at for striking against pay cuts. Back then, Labour’s first MP, Keir Hardie, spoke at Featherstone and campaigned hard for the miners case.

It was raised that we face the same question today. Do we want a Labour Party led by socialists, fighting for a political voice of workers or yet again another set of pale Tory imitators?

Jeremy Corbyn said that the banking crisis was not caused by low paid cleaners in Yorkshire, it was caused by the greedy, poorly-regulated bankers. He said that we must, and will, offer something very different to the electorate. He went on to explain in full an alternative programme of good quality, full employment all over the country.

Corbyn summed up by saying Labour would eliminate all discrimination, come together with the people to work to defeat the Tories and create a UK society and world that is better for its peoples.

Socialist Party members were well received with a prominent stall outside the ground. We sold 84 copies of the Socialist and raised £35 for the fighting fund, as well as selling other literature including a copy of the ‘Rise of Militant’ book. Several young people expressed their interest in joining the Socialist Party.

Featherstone Massacre Commemorated

At James Gibbs and James Duggan's graves, commemorating the Featherstone Massacre

At James Gibbs and James Duggan’s graves, commemorating the Featherstone Massacre

Despite poor weather, over 25 people turned up to commemorate the 121st Anniversary of the Featherstone Massacre organised by the Wakefield Socialist History Group. Wakefield & Pontefract Socialist Party member, John Gill, recounted the fateful events when miners at Ackton Hall Colliery in Featherstone took six weeks of strike action in 1893, against their tyrannical employer, Samuel Cunliffe-Lister – the same person who owned the Manningham Mills in Bradford.

Iain Dalton

As workers succesfully blocked the moving of coal supplies on the 7th September, troops were called to ‘maintain order’. After clearing the site and reading the Riot Act, 16 men were wounded when the soldiers shot into the crowd with live amunition. Heavy rain stopped those gathered visiting the site of the massacre, although a dry spell allowed us to visit the graves of the two workers who died from their wounds, James Duggan and James Gibbs, where WSHG convener, Alan Stewart spoke briefly.

Instead, we were confined to the Bradley Arms, a local pub connected to the dispute, where ILP MP RB Cunninghame-Graham’s words from his visit in the aftermath of the shooting, ‘Revolutions are not made with rosewater’, adorn the fireplace.

The ILP made the case a cause celebré, with Keir Hardie visiting as well as Cunninghame-Graham. For those wanting to know the outcome of the ILP’s campaign for justice for those miners, then come and join next year’s (hopefully sunnier) commemoration or get a copy of the forthcoming pamphlet which John is writing about this struggle as well as the Kinsley Evictions, which also was pivotal for the development of the ILP in the area.

Wakefield Coalition Against Cuts – Update

Wakefield Coalition Against Cuts will be holding its next meeting tonight at 7:30 in the Red Shed in Wakefield town centre. Attendance at the meetings has fallen for a variety of reasons since Christmas. In light of recent events: the continuing fight against public sector pensions cuts, the recent protests against government work schemes and the successful outcome of the Electricians Unions struggle, it can be argued that a Wakefield Coalition Against Cuts still has a role to play both locally and nationally supporting and being active in whatever struggles are going on for this reasons this meeting is especially important and well help us relaunch the campaign.

We encourage as many people as possible to attend this meeting, and to pass on the information to anyone further who might wish to attend.