|SocialismToday Socialist Party magazine|
Issue 164 Dec/Jan 2012/13
Clay Cross legacies
I read with great interest Dave Gortonís article on the fortieth anniversary of the stand of Clay Cross council against the Tory Housing Finance Act (Socialism Today No.163, November 2012).
I was one of the generation of Marxists campaigning in South Wales at the time in support of the councillors. This involved me in helping to organise a successful public meeting in Cardiff addressed by Clay Cross councillor David Skinner and confronting within Cardiff South East Constituency Labour Party (CLP) the local MP James Callaghan, a right-wing Labour opponent of the council.
In 1972 I attended a huge conference in Cardiff on the Housing Finance Act organised by the South Wales National Union of Miners (NUM). On the platform was a young newly-elected Labour MP from the South Wales coalfields masquerading as a left winger. Eloquently he denounced the entire Tory Act but was then asked by a miner to support the type of action favoured by councillor Skinner referred to in Daveís article. He refused but his weasel words were drowned by the loud booing of practically everybody present. His name? Neil Kinnock.
Twenty-three years later Kinnock famously denounced a similar stand against the Tories by the Labour group of Liverpool city council, led by Militant supporters (the forerunner of the Socialist Party).
The Liverpool and Clay Cross councillors joined those from Poplar in the 1920s in becoming part of the living traditions of the labour movement. Their names will be remembered long after those of political pygmies like Callaghan and Kinnock are forgotten.
Andrew Price, Cardiff