Wednesday 17 April 2013


TUC poster 1982

Hafal Chair Elin Jones is in London today to commentate for S4C on Mrs T's not-quite-a-state-funeral - I'm sure she will pick her words as carefully as she did for the last Royal Wedding!

Supporters and opponents of Margaret Thatcher alike have been reminiscing about those days and I will offer you a vignette about how I played a minuscule part in the heady politics of over 30 years ago...

In 1982 I found myself working for a project managed jointly by the CAB and Swansea Sound - broadcasting sage and worthy advice to the bemused citizenry of South Wales. For obscure reasons I was elected the trade union rep: we were in the white-collar section of the TGWU. At the time Norman Tebbit was steering the Employment Act 1982 into law in the teeth of union opposition - this was the main plank of the new Government's strategy to restrain organised labour.

At the same time there was a hue and cry - or witch-hunt depending on your point of view - with the Government trying to root out left-wing bias in non-political institutions, one of the results of which was a gleeful discovery of Trotskyist subversion in the CAB - this got widespread national publicity and emboldened the Government's supporters in their determination to change the face of British public life.

Actually I can now reveal that the CAB was blameless but the whole scandal had originated with a Socialist Worker "Stop Tebbit's Law!" sticker which somebody affixed staff-side notice board! I didn't put it there myself and it's worth saying that the notice board was not in a public place and anyway it was the responsibility of staff and not the CAB. So in other words it was a lot of fuss about nothing but a useful lesson in how mountains can be constructed out of molehills.

Incidentally, in case you think I was a revolutionary firebrand, along with virtually every other trade union member in the UK (and in spite of my modest representative position in the biggest trade union) I refused to strike in the September 1982 "Day of Action" called by Arthur Scargill. Things were changing and the rest is history as they say.