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(en) Britain, Class War* Issue 88 III. (3/3)

Date Wed, 27 Jul 2005 07:03:54 +0300


Reviews Page
Review of ‘Edward Heath Made Me Angry’, by Stuart Christie - Christie Books
Edward Heath Made Me Angry is the last in Stuart
Christie’s autobiographical trilogy. Many readers will
have bought and devoured his one volume Granny Made Me
an Anarchist, not realising that it was an abridgement
of a longer work – a work which deserves to be read in
its entirety. Sadly, the complete work was only issued
in a very limited print-run: and the individual
volumes were priced out of many anarchists’ reach.
This is disappointing, as Christie’s story is the best
anarchist work of biography to appear for a very long
time.

As we reviewed Granny Made Me an Anarchist in the last
issue of Class War, there’s no need to remind readers
of Christie’s story. Everyone’s likely to know that
he’s a Scottish anarchist who went to Spain in the
1960s as part of an abortive conspiracy to assassinate
Franco, that – failing – he was convicted in a Spanish
court-martial, and that he spent some years in a
Spanish prison. This volume describes Christie’s years
in London on his return, the Angry Brigade, the Stoke
Newington 8 trial and its aftermath.

Edward Heath Made Me Angry is one of the best books
I’ve read about the anarchist movement in the early
1970s. The story’s gripping, the action pacy – it’s
like reading a thriller, though it’s all true. It was
interesting to find out I’d drank in the same pub that
was his regular, or been up at the same magistrates’
court! The wealth of detail in Edward Heath makes
Christie’s story a more compelling read than many
other attempts at autobiography one reads.

The central planks of the book are the Angry Brigade
and the trial of eight people accused of being at the
Brigade’s heart. This should be essential reading for
anyone involved in anarchist politics today. There’s a
certain kangaroo court quality to the tale of the
trial, as the state did its damndest to get its
sacrificial lambs sent down. That not all the Eight
were sent to prison is a testament to the jury system
now under assault. Readers may recall political trials
of recent years, like the Gandalf case. The daddy of
them all – for the last forty years – was the Stoke
Newington Eight trial, which Christie describes in
gripping detail.

Christie’s depiction of anarchist activity in other
spheres, too, is well worth reading. His work with the
Anarchist Black Cross alone makes this a very
inspiring book to read. Having been a prisoner
himself, Christie’s prisoner support work – described
here in some detail – is as relevant now as it was
then. The prankster atmosphere of much anarchist
activity in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s – like the
King Mob actions, or the flour-bombing of the Miss
World contest – is captured perfectly by Christie.
Edward Heath Made Me Angry shows why Granny Made Me an
Anarchist has been so popular – but those who want the
unexpurgated story should do all they can to get the
complete text.

Stuart Christie’s trilogy is comparatively hard to get
hold of – and it’s dear – but it repays the effort and
cost in its illumination of anarchist politics and
Christie’s eventful life. Once you’ve read the
complete version, you’ll not be satisfied with the
more popular – though abbreviated – book.

five skulls.

Please note that Kate Sharpley Library subscribers can
get this book cheaper if you order it directly from
the KSL. More details of their work at
www.katesharpleylibrary.net


20th anniversary of the
miners 1984/85 strike

The Enemy Within

The Secret States War Against The Miners

Seumas Milne


This is the third edition of the book, now brought up
to date and recommissioned to mark the 20th
anniversary of the start of the strike. It is a large,
thoroughly researched book, which unfortunately falls
apart half way through.(Not the logic or the story,
the book itself, which is unfortunate and seems to be
the product of cheap binding and getting it rushed
out)
As to the story itself, it is immensely complicated.
Seumas, it seems, in among all the things he has done,
has not attempted to lay bare what did happen and what
didn’t happen in an easy to understand way, although
all of that information is in there if you care to
carefully extract it. For example apart from providing
the NUM national officials with a massive salary, the
rules also allowed for the provision of a free house
in which to live.
Both Arthur Scargill and Peter Heathfield had only
just been elected to national office prior to the
start of the strike. They were still living in their
own houses. The decision was then made (not by the
rank and file of course) in order to comply with past
custom and practice to buy these houses off them, and
effectively allow them to live rent free, in houses
which would then belong to the union.
The legendary stacks of money dished out in the
presidential suite of the union offices, apparently
did take place. One stack was the remainder of money
to buy Arthur's house, the other was to Peter to
complete repairs to the building and add an extension,
and the third was to Roger Windsor, a loan for him to
buy his house, again within the rules of the NUM.
The point missed by the press or simply ignored was
that the national officials houses actually belonged
to the NUM then, the repairs and extension to Peter
Heathfield’s house for example was to improve a union
asset not simply his living space. The imperative for
all this was the threat of court action against the
officials, It was widely presumed the courts would
move against the personal assets of the leaders for
contempt of court in not complying with anti-picketing
orders etc. The scene of Arthur Scargill and Peter
Heathfield being evicted from their homes by bailiffs
was thought to be something which needed to be avoided
not least for the propaganda value it would provide to
the other side. That anyway is the way I have followed
these strange events, I have heard at least three
other interpretations of the house transactions and
how the piles of money fair. Either I’m thick or
that's how clear Milne makes this crucial set of
events. Perhaps we might conclude that the NUM is top
heavy with privilege for its national officials and
all sorts of perks are sanctioned by the rule book and
fiercely defended by its leaders. Wrong though that
is, this was hardly the aim of the public allegations.

What seems irrefutable is that the state, using
direct intervention through the media, and the secret
forces of MI6 and MI5 with the personal sanction of
the prime minister and an ad hoc 'counterinsurgency'
team comprising semi-official and shadowy agents, did
make serious efforts to defeat the strike. This they
did by manipulation of events and by actually creating
events which we as a union and our leadership would be
bound to respond to. At first glance these allegations
are enormous , they expose the naked partisan
intervention of the state against democratic forces of
the people. The revelation is so enormous, academics
writing of miners history and the tremendous events of
1984-85 will not touch it with a barge pole. Loath as
they are to unravel the workings of the secret state,
they are embarrassed by it, it is something they dare
not repeat, even though they cannot refute it. No-one
should ever accuse us of being conspiracy theorists
and paranoid ever again, here it all is laid bare.

The most serious and it seems now proven scam was
concerning the Libyan donations. I do not need to
retell the serious financial and social hardship being
suffered in the coalfields by the striking miners and
their families, or the financial demands upon the
structures of the union at all levels to keep the
fabric of our operation running on all fronts? Money
was needed from anywhere and everywhere for all
purposes.
We , speaking for the rank and file , most of the
branches , and the women's support groups, if not the
apparatus officially at Area or National level, would
have taken money from the Devil, with or without
receipts in any currency he cared to offer. We were
fighting, we believed, an evil more direct and
threatening.
Assistance from Libyan unions, or the Libyan
government posed no problem to us, many of the
militants had no sympathy for the British state’s
animosity to them, and even the shooting of PC Yvonne
Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy did not ruffle
many feathers in our camp. One of our pickets got the
nickname 'Colonel Gaddafi’ for his habit of winding
the cops up, by air machine gunning them from the
window of the picket transit making the noise of a
machine gun by shouting gada-afi ga-da-afi ga-da-afi.
We could see through all the crocodile tears, double
standards and hypocrisy.
I could well see Arthur Scargill dispatching Roger
Windsor, his appointed Executive Officer off to Libya
to raise funding for ‘the fabric of the union’ and
Windsor himself not be buggered who knew it.
Alternatively I could see Windsor going off on his own
initiative on Arthur’s approval but with orders to
keep the meeting quiet, because the state and the
press would not take such fund raising as
pragmatically as we did. Arthur insists he did not
authorise or organise the visit and did not know about
it until it was over. I true this seems remarkable
adventurism on behalf of the mild mannered almost
timid Windsor.
Why does it matter? Because the state’ forces knew
that a donation from Libya could be a propaganda coup
if they disclosed it with enough shock horror
sensation at the right moment. Milne is utterly
convinced that Windsor was an MI5 plant, and this
scheme was central to bashing a hole in public support
for the strike, maybe even the miners own support for
the strike. The fund raising trip was not supposed to
include a meeting with Gaddafi, let alone a public,
televised then worldwide broadcasted meeting with
Gaddafi.
Nobody regardless of how fearless they were at
accepting funds from anywhere would have signed up for
that without thought for the PR consequences back home
and nobody surely would suggest Arthur Scargill would
have sanctioned that development? The meeting with
Gaddafi and the TV broadcast was, the Libyans now say,
at the request or at least with hearty approval from
Windsor.
The impact of the publicity from that impacted greatly
on our fund raising efforts among the public, at least
for a time. “Get your fucking money from Gaddafi you
bastards!” London taxi drivers would shout to fund
raisers following the revelation. It took us a week or
two to start combating the revelations in the press
and exposing the truth about increased oil exports
from Gaddafi which Thatcher had requested and
received.
But there was more. The question whether we got money
or not from Libya was a further part of the story, for
the security forces, aimed at discrediting the strike
and its leadership, this was to be perhaps even bigger
than the Gaddafi embrace. The involvement of Mr.
Abbasi, a Kashmiri political militant with
international armed struggle connections, who swears
he carried through case loads of money to support the
strike. They link in with Windsor, who says he brought
it up to Arthur Scargill’s office who divvied it up
for various projects regarding Peter Heathfield,
Arthur Scargill and Windsor's living arrangements, as
well as the Nottinghamshire NUM members legal defence
fund – it becomes a fascinating and confusing paper
chase. The Lightman inquiry commissioned by the NUM.
to investigate the allegations of corruption which had
been ignited at the end of the strike, by the Daily
Mirror and Channel 4’s Cook Report, found no evidence
that specifically money had come from Libya. The
parcels of money arrived right enough, and it wasn't
always with a from me to you gift tag on it.
Lightman concluded that if Libyan money had been sent
in among a consignment of cash dropped off at the
office by Windsor, then it had all been accounted for.
Arthur had indeed divided up parcels of money for the
four respective purposes, but these purposes
themselves were subject to bitter accusation and
denial. This book does not to my satisfaction clear up
those contentions, but perhaps much more importantly
and startlingly it goes on to demonstrate that Windsor
did not hand over tens of thousands of pounds from
Libya and that Mr. Obbasi had not, as he had stated,
walked through customs carrying it all in his brief
case, which was then opened, inspected and sent on his
way. The allegations launched by the Mirror and Roger
Cook were a broad blunderbuss of allegations of
corruption and theft, covering many areas of donations
and funding. These were class motivated politically
conceived smears.
What they did, and they perhaps did not understand it,
was unearth an unexploded bomb which the state’s
security and counterinsurgency team had left in the
field, un-detonated and perhaps abandoned. What had
been disclosed could have been the biggest press
expose of the state’s dirty tricks departments, and
the criminal lengths it would go to the defeat the
miners. But so blinded by class hatred, and so
determined to pull Arthur from his throne, the hacks
missed the real meaning of the whole Libyan cash for
the miners scam. I am not convinced Cook or Pattinson,
the reporters central to the whole expose, were part
of the plan (although Roger Cook has gone on to make
similar smears, at other times, about other
individuals and political organizations)
I think they set off with a simple piece of gutter
journalism to show Arthur was a fat cat who bought a
big ranch while the poor miners got fuck all. They
then started to discover bits and pieces of a far more
involved device which in fact had been set by the
state itself to explode in the NUM’s face and defeat
the strike. In my opinion they were not clever enough
to understand what they had discovered and just
swallowed whole the hook line and sinker that Arthur
Scargill and the NUM leadership were creaming the
funds off for themselves and accepting money from
terrorist agents.

The book I think very convincingly makes out the case
that the Libyan time bomb was Plan B for the Thatcher
government if all else was failing. If NACODS had
carried through the successful ballot result and
struck with the NUM, the lights were going out and the
miners were riding to another crushing victory against
another Tory government.
The expose of boxes and brief cases of cash coming
from Libya, with the good wishes of Colonel Gaddafi,
carried into Britain by a convinced armed militant,
presented on his desk by a chief executive officer who
had been kissed by his Libyan paymaster before the
eyes of the world. A government which had murdered a
hapless British policewomen. The cash was from funding
an antigovernment, antidemocratic, anti- British
strike as part of a world wide terrorist conspiracy by
Marxists and God knows what else, was also to keep the
NUM leaders in the manner to which they had become
accustomed. Whilst ordinary miners starved. All of
that, was meant to go boom! In the eleventh hour of
the miners winning the strike. It was meant to pull
the rug on the strike, demoralise the strikers, cut
off our support, discredit any case we had. Key to it
all happening of course was that money had to arrive
from Libya.
Truth was we can now prove it was sent, to assist the
great struggle of the miners, without any strings or
ulterior motives on behalf of the Gaddafi government.
What catches the states special forces in a trap, is
their own impatience and their own belief that the
victory of the miners is imminent. The money gets held
up, it doesn't arrive, in fact Libyan security forces
now say it was ceased by criminal elements in a purely
internal scam. But money comes out the other side all
the same! It is paid into Abbasi’s bank account.
Although it is the self same amount, paid into the
account set up for the purpose, it is not Libya's
money! But money put it by persons and parties unknown
to bait the trap for the British media to spring in
the event of the miners impending victory. The
conclusion is the bloody Libyans made a bollocks of
baiting our trap so we will do it for them and pretend
it was their money all along.
The money was never drawn in fact and as far as we can
tell is still sitting in that account, whilst the
Libyans know exactly the source of their own money
which never in fact arrived at this end. THAT
regardless of any other feature of this story, is a
remarkable revelation. That it has not blown the roof
off Parliament and the British media goes to show how
far they all piss in the same pot.
Incidentally, the book also for the first time in my
knowledge lays clear the heavy involvement of
millionaire David Hart (one of Thatcher’s ad-hoc
counter insurgents) and Thatcher in derailing the
NACODS joint national action. Thatcher had always
expressed the view that she was ‘unclear’ why the
deputies had suddenly settled and saved her and her
governments skin. The book discloses a plan splitting
the NACODS Executive, and actually bribing some
officials with back handers, jobs and special
concessions on pensions. The pulling of the plug twice
on joint NACODS action was absolutely crucial to the
defeat of the miners, it is a little discussed and
researched area of the whole dispute and one which
still stands begging for answers.

The story of the missing Russian millions, which
Arthur ‘diverted and withheld from the striking
miners’ is an entirely separate event though not one
which occurred without deliberate state interference.
If this was another shot against the NUM leadership
then it misfired. Misfired, because the press got the
story wrong and cocked up its impact. The Russian
miners did indeed get levied, from their wages, money
to support their British comrades, who they had seen
fighting it out with the cops and making a stand for
the survival of their jobs. The donation was a
magnificent act of international solidarity and was
much needed by the striking miners and more
importantly their families. They never received it.
The story went that Arthur had nabbed it, and used it
either for himself or for his own political whims.
Originally the whole central allegation was that he
had paid off his mortgage with it, during the strike.
The middle stump went when Arthur was able to
demonstrate quite easily that he did not have a
mortgage during the strike. The fact though that
something to do with Soviet monies and his (as it
turned out subsequent) mortgage was known about, and
this information was privy to perhaps three people at
most, shows that very secret communications had been
intercepted and fed to the media. The fact that they
were too stupid to build on the information they had
been given and in effect ‘dropped the ball’ does not
take away the lengths the states intelligence services
had gone to , to publicly crucify Arthur, and to a
lesser extend Peter Heathfield on a similar charge.

Chasing these Russian millions and unearthing their
fate has been a sound piece of detective work by
Milne. Mrs Thatcher had sought and received assurances
that no money would come from the USSR to assist the
British miners, this would be unwarranted interference
in an internal matter. The Soviet politico’s agreed.
As a consequence despite everyone's best efforts in
the Soviet miners union to get the money (2.2. million
roubles) moving, it got spiked. Eventually two years
after the strike was over it landed, but redirected so
as not to offend anyone and cause any international
incidents as “aid for international purposes” and sent
to the Miners Trade Union International which Arthur
had set up some time before, one of the recipients of
which could be the NUM.. The MTUI later becomes the
International Miners Organisation which Arthur is a
joint leader of. Milne says that the MTUI “dissolved”
along with its funds into the IMO.

Arthur has argued throughout that he was not party to
the decision either to delay sending the money, or to
redirect its purpose. He had made direct NUM fund
account numbers and those of the women support groups
available to the Soviet miners but they, not he, had
chosen not to use them.
Likewise the money donations from the Eastern European
miners unions, raised during the British miners strike
had been designated ‘for international purposes’.
There are few of us in any doubt whatsoever that these
moneys were raised for the British miners and their
families as a result of the hardship of their
struggle, and for the NUM. as an organisation under
siege by the state. ”International Purposes” was
doubtless a cover used to prevent any international
incidents or incur Mrs. Thatcher's wrath. It may also
have been a bureaucratic device by the miners in those
countries to outwit the official party and state line
on the matter.
Where we have serious disagreements with Scargill is
that, having got
custody of the funds, now titled 'for international
purposes' and directed
to his organisation over which we the miners have no
control, he concluded
that the money never was the property of either the
miners or the NUM. He
was free along with Simon, the IMO (now IEMO)
Secretary) to dispatch that
money to any purpose they wished, some of which he
assures us would have
been the miners’ hardship fund or even the NUM. He
also still insists that
since that money was never ours, he never would have
released information
about it to the union, were it not for the
revelations.

What give grist to the rumour mill and lays him wide
open for accusations of
corruption and double standards then is made worse by
the fact that he
borrows money from this (MTUI) fund, (£100,000) to buy
his big ranch at
Barnsley 'Treelands'. Treelands cost £125,000 at a
time when miners were
living in houses valued at £15,000 and less. This was
not during the strike,
but only six months after the end of the strike. Peter
Heathfield, too, was
allowed to borrow money from the fund to assist with
his living
arrangements, although that transaction is less
explicit. Nobody can say
either of these things were illegal, or given the self
governing rules of
the MTUI or IMO, unconstitutional. These were the type
of privileges which
had been enjoyed by miners’ officials in the NUM and
probably the MFGB
almost since the Union started. The press and TV had
never previously been
outraged by privileges enjoyed by Joe Gormley or
Sidney Ford or any other
of the miners’ leaders, certainly they had never
conducted any campaign to
democratise the functioning of the NUM or its
international affiliates
before. The concern for ‘justice for miners and their
families’ was not
something one would normally find tripping off the
lips of the editorial
rooms at Fleet Street, or in Broadcasting House
before, indeed it was quite the opposite during that
epoch struggle of 84/85. All of this ‘fat cat’ and
manufactured outrage was aimed at discrediting
Scargill and Heathfield because of the strike. It was
an attempt to take away the legacy and dignity of that
stand, and rubbish its standing in the eyes of the
working class and future
generations. That was its sole purpose.

Arthur paid the loan back at a high interest rate
within three years of
borrowing it, which benefited the fund, but it had
been borrowed the year
after the bitterest strike in union history when
miners and their families
had given their all. To be enjoying a privilege
position like this, and to
be engaging in lavish consumption like this on the
back of that strike, was
not only politically stupid, it was seen by many as
grossly arrogant.
Certainly it laid the way open for him to be
discredited and mud to stick
which had had no actual basis in fact. Even today
round and about the bars
in Barnsley or Doncaster former miners will repeat the
allegation that
Arthur Scargill bought the big house, while we were on
strike. He did not, but he did buy a big house soon
afterwards which to class fighters doesn’t sound a
whole lot better.
In part his arrogance is rooted in his Stalinist view
of socialism as
a top down action carried out by wise leaders on
behalf of the workers. He
will decide what is best for the money not the miners.

Although I have nothing but praise for the scholarly
manner in which the
facts of the whole situation were explored and
exposed, they are not
presented as plainly. The turn of phrase and the
choice of presentation hides another agenda in my
view. I would be very surprised if Arthur Scatgill, in

did not contribute to a couple of chapters of the book
or greatly edit their
content personally. There are tell tale phrases and
descriptions of Arthur
himself, and that egocentric knack he has of turning
history around his
personality and presence, rather than being simply a
part of its process.
Phrases like ‘the Troika’ to describe Himself,
Heathfield and McGahey, which
he hoped would catch on, never did in fact only he
calls them that. The
descriptions of the picketing at Saltley in his own
image and likeness reveal
who wrote these passages; the book says he
masterminded the whole operation.
‘In 1974 Arthur and other left wing area leaders’
‘pushed through a strike’
which helped bring down the government of the day.
There is the old
favourite that Arthur ‘invented’ flying pickets and
even mass picketing.
Jones was editing the Yorkshire Miner ‘for Scargill’
not for the miners or
the Yorkshire Area of the NUM for Scargill.
Describing the situation following the strike when
there was a mass and often aimless scramble for
survival among the areas and real tactical and
political divisions with Arthur Scargill, Milne says
‘Traditional left wing areas like South Wales and
Scotland made common cause with the right wing against
Scargill’. He doesn’t tell us how, or about what or
why that should be? This is Arthur’s view of perfectly
valid disagreements about the way forward after the
strike. In
fact Arthur tended henceforth to see any disagreement
and tactical dispute
as a sign that his comrades were turning against him
and being treacherous.

From this point on Arthur’s political and tactical
vision started to become
very refracted, but this was not in fact what was
really happening. Worse
still in my view is the almost Jesuitical logic which
leads through a
defence of the miners and the NUM and their leaders in
1984/5 through to
support for the IEMO. Defence of our
stand in 1984 and 1985 is not in anyway linked to
support for either the IMO
or its successor the IEMO. Milne, echoing Arthur calls
the IEMO the biggest
most important union international in the world, which
if it were true is
crushingly sad for the others.
In fact the IEMO even more so than IMO is
simply a bureaucratic social gathering of union chiefs
with no rank and file
involvement or control. It is not a working class
organisation at all.

Reading this book, the lengths to which the state and
its intelligence
services went in signing up spies, agents and the
media, gives us some idea
as to their determination not to let us win. There was
more, David Peace’s
novel and drama GB84 is not a fiction at all. It’s a
set of facts we have been unable to
pin down the evidence for, as the state has moved to
bury witnesses. This
involved setting up a plan to implicate striking
miners with the murder
of a police officer in Leeds. Indeed the death of the
officer was reported on the
news with the mining strike background denoting a
feature involving the
strike broadcast. We can’t prove it, but I am told all
the truth of the events are in the ‘drama’. It
maddens me even further that we lost, had we
been aware as to the extent of the state’s involvement
against us, I’m
certain we would have stood out more determinedly to
win. As it turned out,
although their efforts to discredit our strike by
discrediting the leaders,
was proved to be a set up in one case, and a mishmash
of lies, fabrication
and distorted fact in the other, the mud still sticks.
In part because of
the bureaucratic and entirely egocentric world Arthur
inhabits, and his view
of the world from the lofty heights of his own
importance.
The two things together have damaged us, and the
events are not easily explained, although in the heat
of the slander and attack the vast bulk of the miners
stood shoulder to shoulder with Arthur and Peter, and
not simply because the accusations were in fact
discovered to be fabrications and distortions. We knew
the reason for the attacks, was to break all of us,
and send a message of despair to the whole working
class not just here but world wide. One wonders how
much of the truth of the story followed the original
exposéround the world. One wonders if your average
Russian miner for example knows the truth behind the
story or whether he thinks his magnificent gesture was
futile and would be wary against doing such a selfless
act again. This was the true purpose of the slanders
and why we repulsed them so energetically.

The miners’ communities stand in 1984/85 was more than
a strike. There were elements of insurrection in it,
and certainly it was a civil war of
ideologies and views of the future. Arthur Scargill
and Peter Heathfield
were almost unique as trade union leaders in that they
never attempted to
sell us short and stood their corner alongside of us.
The state pulled out
every stop it had to wreck the strike and these
revelations show how far
they did go in setting up those two men for public
political assassination.
There is no question that we defend them from these
attacks, which in any
case are vicarious attacks upon the miners and their
families at large.
Where we differ from Milne is we also reserve the
right and duty to attack bureaucracy and privilege in
the workers’ movement and stand foursquare with the
struggle of the rank and file miners for full workers’
democracy and complete control over our own
organisations, for complete accountability of all
representatives, and everything they do in our name.

The state is in final analysis a room of armed men,
with a highly
efficient propaganda vehicle in the shape of the press
and TV, ready most of
the time to print whatever scandal and anti working
class propaganda they
are asked to, regardless of its truth or lack or
integrity. It is a team
with its own agenda and its own programme. We are at
war with them, as they are with us.

Four skulls

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J.D. Wedowhatthehellwelikespoons

Wetherspoons have taken it upon themselves to ban
smoking in all their main
city pubs from May 2005 onwards, and they are serious.
It is two years
ahead of the government’s official ban on smoking in
pubs. In addition, 60 of the company’s pubs will go
completely non-smoking on Wednesday 4 May 2005.
Among the pubs which will introduce the ban in May are
those in Aberdeen,
Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, London, Newcastle and
Nottingham.
Why should we pick on Wetherspoons? They do sell cheap
drink! I mean, where else can you get a double whiskey
so cheap? Pop into a large
Wetherspoons on pension day and you are guaranteed a
laugh with pissed-up old people smelling of wee! So
what are they up to? If we look into the
history of Wetherspoons and their dodgy dealings we
see a different picture.

When Wetherspoons moved into our high streets in 1979
they made it a policy to undercut the local pubs,
especially free houses who couldn’t compete with such
aggressive competition. There has been a big decline,
and a lot of our locals have been closed down
especially in cities and turned into yuppie flats. How
can Wetherspoons sell cheap beer at the price they do?
Well, apparently, they have unscrupulous salesmen who
approach breweries and demand that they sell the beer
in mass bulk, beer that is going out of date and would
be useless in a few more months, so undercutting
competitors.

JD Wetherspoons also claim that they are central part
of local communities
all over the UK, bringing benefits to millions of
people in their daily
life, through social enjoyment or direct/indirect
employment. They paint a
picture of a caring company and hide the fact that
they pay the minimum
wage, no overtime or bonuses and ‘advise’ staff not to
join any unions. They
do their recruitment at universities, and the bulk of
their staff are students who will work for a few
months and leave when their course finishes.

Let’s face it they have about as much enthusiasm as
someone cleaning vomit
from a carpet. Should we rant on about slave labour
here? If truth be told, a
lot of pubs use the same methods as Wetherspoons – so
this is nothing new.

‘Our role in society doesn’t begin and end simply by
serving quality food
and drink’ – Wetherspoons.

This emphasis on creating a positive impact on society
is called “corporate
social responsibility” – a grand title, perhaps, but
one which means that we
care about and consider how we can interact positively
with the environment
around us.’ This was stated by Wetherspoons recently
on their web site.
Quality food my arse! Yes, it’s cheap as chips
(especially the chips) but most
of the time it always taste a bit ropey just like
their stale beer. It’s not
all grim though! We at Class War didn’t know that
Wetherspoons has won for
the third year in a row LOO OF THE YEAR award.
Customers in the Wetherspoons near Highbury and
Islington tube – the Swan – noted that when you where
having a jimmy riddle some
bloke in the toilet, employed by Wetherspoons, was
there to provide a clean
towel, fresh soap, and some shitty perfume for you
when you went to wash
your hands. Then you slip him a quid. What the fuck is
that about?
Perhaps for a fiver he would wipe your arse, which
probably impresses the
toilet inspectors.

Talking of arses, CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale)
must be taking a backhander from Wetherspoons,
probably to help them towards their printing
costs, as in their newsletter CAMRA constantly praise
the company. You would think CAMRA would knock their
dodgy stale beer, point out how they killed off the
little pubs, and are ruining our way of socialising in
pubs. Very embarrassing for CAMRA but hey that’s
survival in the big pub corporate business.

THE GREAT SMOKING DEBATE

What’s CAMRA’S stance on this one? And what are the
big bosses at
Wetherspoons up to?
Chairman of Wetherspoons Tim Martin said: ‘An
increasing percentage of the
population is giving up smoking and a significant
number of people are
staying away from pubs and restaurants because they
are too smoky. Wetherspoons pioneered non-smoking
areas, but we now feel that it’s the
right time to go one step further. The government’s
approach to the issue of a smoking ban does not make
sense, since pubs can get around it by giving up food
sales. We believe that the Wetherspoon approach of a
complete ban after a period of notice is the right
one.’

Recently when visiting a Wetherspoons I noticed that
at least 80% of the punters smoked; and that the
no-smoking area was empty. I also have seen one or two
people selling contraband baccy and cigs in a shady
corner – usually pensioners after a quick buck. Has
Tim Martin done his homework properly? I believe that
people are not staying away from pubs because they are
too
smoky, they are staying away because they are skint,
and are drinking at
home. Tim Martin must know this.
If they are so concerned about people’s health they
should look at the
damage drinking has on people’s lives and especially
in Wetherspoons with
cheap doubles always available. Wetherspoons are doing
the government’s work for them, agreeing that you can
go out and get totally pissed but having a fag is out
of the question, especially with the 24 hour drinking
law but
that’s another subject. Sadly Wetherspoons have taking
the approach which they have done in the past, which
is to dictate to the public what they can and
can’t do.

WHAT ARE THEY UP TO?
The customers in Wetherspoons are often OAPs, and a
lot of other working class people use these pubs for a
quick but shit pint before going on somewhere so when
in may the ban comes into effect Wetherspoons are
going to lose a lot of trade with people staying away
in the long term. We wonder how can they afford to
lose these loyal customers.

High street pubs’ competition to get customers has got
worse since Wetherspoons first opened in 1979, with
franchise bars opening up left right and centre. All
Bar One, Pitcher & Piano, O`Neill’s – obviously these
bars are expensive and they aim at middle to upper
class clientele with more money than sense.
Well, someone has to pay to have bouncers on the doors
telling you what to
wear, no trainers and footy tops: you can see where
we’re going with this.
So the big bosses at Wetherspoons are missing out on
this passing trade and by being selective and
introducing a smoking ban before anyone else will be
hoping to catch these people and still keep their
prices reasonable. Fair
enough if they want to play politics but in the long
term they will put up a
big fuck off sign up to the people who have supported
them in the passing
years, the working class, the OAPs will be pushed out
to the off license and
drinking at home as we are not allowed to drink on the
streets anymore. That’s our conclusion but maybe Tim
Martin has a dark and mysterious reason hiding away
somewhere.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Why not get together with the locals on the 4th of May
and when they ban
smoking the whole pub can light up at once in
solidarity and tell the bosses
to fuck off. What is there to lose? We are going to be
banned anyway.

We will be sending Wetherspoons and CAMRA each a paper
– and our letters page is there for them to defend
themselves and give their reasons why they do what
they do.

London Class War
PO Box 467
London
E8 3QX

www.londonclasswar.org
=======================
* Journal of the British anarchist federation Class War


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