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.

Advertisements

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.

Rugby League: Have Featherstone fans got their club back?

“It will all end in tears,” some Featherstone Rovers Rugby League football club supporters said when news broke of major new investors and signings at the club. Months later, majority “B” shareholder Feisal Nahaboo and chief executive Craig Poskitt walked away from the club.

Michael Griffiths and Simon Barraclough, Wakefield Socialist Party

Featherstone, a small ex-mining community, is proud of its professional rugby league team. The smallest town in Britain to have one, Rovers won the game’s biggest prize, the challenge cup, at Wembley stadium three times. It produces local youngsters and causes upsets against more fashionable clubs.

At a packed fans forum after Feisal and Craig’s departure, Rovers chairman Mark Campbell reported concerns about apparent inaccurate financial information being presented by the finance director and Feisal’s attempt to take over an elected board. The fallout led to legal threats and then Feisal’s departure.

Fans raised questions on the club’s financial plight after the departure of the majority shareholder. Feisal’s shares are owned by Probiz Excellence Limited. Probiz (and its sister companies) offer “a range of added-value solutions for business owners and individuals from general accountancy to business advisory services to wealth management opportunities,” says its website.

Despite threats of winding up orders, however, the club is not on the verge of financial collapse. The chairman stressed that the club does not have to buy back the shares Probiz acquired. Campbell also pointed out that all full and part time player contracts already signed will be honoured.

Campbell’s answers seemed to reassure fans. The club is a limited company but many major decisions are still in the fans’ control, who can own one “A” share each. The fans control the land the club owns and elects representatives onto the board.

And although Featherstone Rovers may not have the money to make the club a force in the game again, we’ve been through hard times before and will again pull through by our own efforts together.