Durham Miner’s Gala 2019

Saturday saw 300,000 of us gather in Durham for the Big Meeting, on what is up there with my favourite days of the year.

I once more marched with the Hatfield Brigade, an honour in itself, but made a hundred times more so by being handed a pole and asked to carry that incredible symbol of Working Class solidarity and defiance, the Hatfield Main banner.

So good to meet comrades from up and down the land and share a day celebrating everything we spend the rest of the year fighting for.

Especially great to catch up with the inspirational Mike Jackson of LGSM, who marched directly in front of us, with Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign comrades just in front of them.

A great day in the finest of company.

The speeches weren’t bad neither!

Especially Laura Pidcock, who SMASHED it.

I dropped into People’s Bookshop on my way back through town and gave them a rendition of ‘With Banners Held High’, which pretty much sums up what being handed that pole by the Hatfield Brigade had meant to me.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2295192373850930&id=206528372717351

Amazing day.

Hull Fishing Heritage Exhibition- Wonderful Night

Truly incredible night last Friday singing ‘Headscarves and Hurricanes’ live at the opening night of Hull Fishing Heritage Exhibition.

In the poignant setting of the Fisherman’s Church on St. George’s Road myself and Rebekah Findlay played the album live to former trawlermen and relatives of those lost at sea.

It was an emotional night, and one that will live long in my memory.

So great to play these songs to two incredible historians in Brian Lavery and Alec Gill whose books inspired them, and to meet relatives of the legendary Headscarf Revolutionaries.

Perhaps the most poignant moment was meeting Jill, whose first husband, Tony, was lost on the Finbarr in 1966 and who is remembered in my song ‘Don’t Say Goodbye At First Light’.

If you couldn’t make it, the whole gig was recorded and it’s on YouTube if you have a spare hour.

Massive thanks to the organisers and volunteers who made it happen, and to all those who came along to support the event; and especially Lee and Rebekah for whom I have long since run out of superlatives.

We may get chance to do that again someday. The album deserves to be played, but it’s finding a venue and an audience for it.

We’ll see.

Watch this space.

New Video Interview

New video interview available from today.

Shot at Strummercamp Festival in Oldham late in May, it’s basically mainman Phil Fitzpatrick and meself talking Joe Strummer, Ranking Roger, music and politics in the hour after I’d come offstage.

Shot and edited by the brilliant James Eddleston.

On the link below.

Orgreave 35th Anniversary

35 years ago today striking miners made their way from up and down the land to the picket outside Orgreave coking plant.

They were used to the subterfuge of back roads and early morning walks across fields due to police road blocks trying to prevent them getting through; but that day they were waved past by officers only too happy to help, some even providing directions as to where best to assemble.

It soon became clear why.

As miners gathered, most in shorts and t-shirts anticipating a day in the sun, they found themselves facing massed ranks of police in full riot gear, some in ill-fitting uniforms with no ID on their shoulders many of the pickets would later believe were soldiers drafted in to bolster the numbers, and the violence.

The police lines parted and through them rode mounted officers swinging truncheons at anyone and everyone, breaking bones, cracking skulls.

It was a bloodbath.

As miners struggled to run to the aid of fallen comrades they too were clubbed to the ground.

When some tried to fight back they were filmed and the BBC edited the footage to make it appear as though this was the first act of the day, and police were merely responding to the provocation and violence of the pickets. In this way the state broadcaster deliberately assisted the Thatcher government in smearing miners as violent thugs undeserving of public sympathy.

95 were arrested.

They were charged with crimes which could have seen them jailed for life.

The charges were thrown out of court when it was proven the police statements had been doctored and there was no burden of proof against these men.

Doctored by whom? And on whose orders?

The same process of arrest, smear, and fabrication of evidence was used by the same police force to deny justice to the families of 96 football fans five years later, but it had been honed in the summer of 84 at Orgreave.

Those hospitalised were denied anaesthetic by arresting officers who forced medical staff to stitch skulls knowing the intense pain they were causing. This was an act of unforgivable brutality, the mental scars from which some have never recovered.

Orgreave was an act of Class Warfare designed and executed by a malicious Tory government hell bent on breaking the strike, defeating the NUM and destroying the trade union movement.

On many levels it worked.

But no battle is lost until the last of the fight has left us.

Today I pay tribute to comrades in the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign who will fight on until we have that inquiry no matter how long it takes.

And you can help too.

You want to stand at their side, look them up, support their events, wear their t-shirts, share this post, and let’s build an unstoppable chorus of voices no politician can ignore.

And you want to help mend the damage?

Today of all days, join a trade union. Let’s rebuild the movement decimated 30 years ago, and let’s stand in solidarity with each other like never before.

They have the past.

Tomorrow could still be ours.

#NoJusticeNoPeace #Orgreave35 #OrgreaveJustice

WE SHALL OVERCOME: Four Years On

WE SHALL OVERCOME: FOUR YEARS ON.

On 8th May 2015, a group of musicians and activists started a grassroots community fightback against the impacts of austerity.

We called it ‘We Shall Overcome’.

The idea was to use events as collection points for food, cash, clothing, toiletries, in fact whatever was needed on the front line; and to use these gatherings to stand in opposition to, and in defiance of, a government we believed was, and is, waging ideological warfare on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

It took off.

So much so, that as things stand We Shall Overcome organisers have run more than 1000 such events up and down this island and beyond, and have raised an estimated £450,000 worth of help for those hardest hit; and that help was not gathered centrally, but stayed in the town which raised it going straight to the front line of need wherever that was greatest, be it the food bank, a soup kitchen, homeless outreach, a crisis centre or a youth project. We decided from the start that you know your towns best, so you make the choice as to where you target help.

Between the Bedroom Tax, benefit sanctions, Universal Credit, Zero Hours contracts, poverty wages, and a targeted destruction of support services, the government, coupled with a hostile media, have managed to inflict deep and lasting wounds on our communities while being cheered on from the gallery.

But the help we have raised is only the quantifiable outcome of our collective efforts.

What We Shall Overcome represents is a unified response to austerity at the grassroots. It has taken literally THOUSANDS of organisers and activists, musicians and poets, speakers and artists, and it is a wonderful thing. The beauty of We Shall Overcome is in the ‘We’.

So in the long shadow cast by Brexit, where all eyes are on leadership elections and potential outcomes, there exists an island sliding ever deeper into poverty and escalating need for ordinary people to fight back.

And we will.

As We Shall Overcome enters its fifth year we are needed more than ever. We are appealing for new organisers, new activists, new venues and new communities to step forward. All you need is to be that someone somewhere who does something about it. The rest is easy.

Just get in touch.

No event is too small. No gesture is insignificant, because when you add all those seemingly insignificant gestures together, they become something very significant indeed.

They become We Shall Overcome.

With Banners Held High 2019

Joe and CC Neil Terry

Banner Photo pre show

With Banners Held High 2019 was an absolute blinder of a day and a massive thank you must go out to the organisers who made such a wonderful occasion possible. Events like this are needed more than ever these days, to remind us who we are and what we are fighting for, to recharge our batteries and put the wind back in our collective sails.

Well, it certainly did all that.

Selby Banner

I made it just in time to join the march and fell in behind comrades from Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, as up for it as ever, and just as determined to get that inquiry as the first day I met them. Inspirational folk. You should follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and help spread the word.

March

I had been asked to write a poem for the opening ceremony and delivered ‘With Banners Held High’ to a street full of amazing people and banners as far as the eye could see. An incredible scene.

Poem and fist

There were phenomenal performances by Lily Gaskell, Bard Company and the incredible Commoners Choir whom I borrowed to close my set with ‘Haul Away, Boys’ and ‘No Pasaran’.

And it was great to see so many amazing comrades out supporting the event. From the fab ladies of the Women’s Banner Group to a big RMT contingent, fantastic company all.

Also brilliant to see RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley take to the stage for his keynote speech wearing a Joe Solo t-shirt remembering the ten International Brigade volunteers from Hull.

Steve Hedley and Joe

So full marks to everyone involved for another superb festival, and here’s to 2020!!

WBHH Poem

 

Thanks to Neil TerryPaul and Lindsay Rutland, Sean Mcgowan, James McElhoney and everyone else who snapped the above pics.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY We Shall Overcome!!

Original WSO Roundel Logo

We Shall Overcome is officially four years old today and still battling on, fighting the worst excesses of government policy and the pain it inflicts on the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities.
 
In those four years ordinary people up and down this land have organised well over 1000 events in 150 different towns and cities, raising an estimated £500,000 worth of food, cash, warm clothing, toiletries, sanitary towels, tents, sleeping bags, furniture and electrical goods all going direct to the front line of need in the community which raised them.
 
We have supported food banks, soup kitchens, homeless outreach, youth projects, crisis centres and just about anything else tackling the multiple impacts of targeted, ideologically-driven austerity aimed at those least able to fight back.
 
Well, we’ve been fighting back.
 
All of us.
 
It took THOUSANDS of organisers, musicians, poets, artists, venues, activists and campaigners to pull this off and it has been a genuine act of nationwide solidarity I have been proud to represent from the start.
 
Together we prove there is no such thing as a meaningless gesture, because all those seemingly meaningless gestures add up into something very meaningful indeed. From the first person who rocked up with a 4-pack of beans at the very first show, to the donations I received in Harrow last night. It ALL mattered, it all continues to matter.
 
It is perhaps fitting that today we celebrate housing another gentleman facing street homelessness. Thanks to a combined donation by Poetry on the Picket Line, Commoners Choir and Lindsay Rutland for Wool Shall Overcome, Pauline Town has been able to sort out a flat for a chap named Colin. Colin has health issues and had been evicted on to the streets with all his possessions lost. Today he has a new home and a new start.
 
And yes, you might sneer at our ‘one life at a time’ motto, it might seem like a lost cause and a waste of time.
 
Well try telling that to Colin.
 
We fight til they lose.
 
#WSO2019 is booking.
 
Bring em on.