Monday, September 29, 2008

The world's gone mad...

The world seems to be in serious economic turmoil,and it's getting worse.

As a teacher, one of the things I do with classes, particularly if they have a double period, is to give them a general knoweldge and current affairs quiz to see what they know.

Sometimes it is nothing short of depressing to find out how little they know about the world they live in. Families no longer seem to buy newspapers, and whilst the know what Peter and Jordan are up to, there's seemingly very little awareness of their own history or what's going on in the world. 'What's this got to do with me?' The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist...

Whilst my parents and I haven't always agreed on politics, at least they encouraged me to take an interest in the world around me and to get involved.

As a teacher in Scotland, two days have been given up to striking by Unison, whose workers not unreasonably want a decent wage. Living where we do, the impact of HBOS being bought out is still waiting to be felt.

I don't put my political views down my students' throats, it isn't on, though I will rip shreds off kids who make racist remarks (the Polish are getting a lot of stick around where I teach), but it depresses me to think that people think that politics cannot change the world, or that it has nothing to do with them.

So, in support of the workers and those who are really struggling at the moment, these are for you:

Billy Bragg -'There Is Power In A union.' mp3

These are two different versions of the Angelic Upstarts' track 'Solidarity. First the video...

...and a different recording of the song

Angelic Upstarts -'Solidarity.' mp3


Anonymous said...

Cheers Ed, music is a great route to political awareness and interest too.

The Upstarts were very unfairly lumped in with the Oi crowd, which they really had nothing to do with. A listen to "Liddle Towers" or "Last Night, Another Soldier" makes that clear.

Billy Bragg also speaks very eloquently about his experience at an early RAR / Gay Pride march in John Robb's book, "Punk Rock: an oral history", which is a cracking read by the way. It was that which sparked his political stance.

cheers, Craig

Simon said...

My mum influenced my politics more than anybody else; in the late 70s she was a paid up member of the Workers Revolutionary Party; and some of my Welsh ancestors were very much involved in early union activity - my great grandfather in particular - he emigrated to America and was involved in setting up the mining union in West Virginia. (Google Mining War West Virginia to see what a big deal that was...)

I know a lot of people who are anti-union, and yet they don't seem to realise that most basic workers rights didn't exist before the unions. I tell them next time they take paid holiday or sick leave to think about unions.

And after the Thatcher years I'm thankful to see unions still able to show how powerful an idea they still are.

Good post!

Ed said...

Craig - the older i get, I'm realising that the Oi! crowd were quite diverse, and the fact that Gary Bushell was involved in championing the scene probably didn't help either. Angelic Upstarts did some great records, it's a shame that the loathsome far right did so much damage to some bands around this time (see also Sham 69 and Madness).

Simon - I'm glad the Unions still have some power, despite what that ruddy woman did. I'm wondering if maybe we need a return to some of the core values of the of industries anyone?


Peewit said...

Unfortunately the current generation in the UK both still at school and just now entering the workplace have no desire to join unions because Thatcher and Blair both painted them as the enemy of the state and the enemy of the individual. I am a Union official at my workplace and it is a devil's own job to get the younger generation to join.

The Union I belong to (the FDA)is pragmatic and because it is for the senior staff is reluctant to use industrial action unless it really has to. In contrast the junior Civil Service Union the PCS is led by a team who have political ambitions themselves so they call strikes on the feeblest of pretexts. This is what gives Trade Unionism a bad name and reinforces the Blairite and Thatcherite prejudices.

Having said that back in 1983 I joined the Civil Service on the Monday and I was on strike on the Friday!

On another note I gather the FDA has employed Billy Bragg to make an advert for the Union. I'm dying to see this!

Ed said...

I'll have to look out for that ad.

As a teacher, the unions are vital, if nothing more than because in our litigious society, membership provides protection that is important to have. Great that so many folks now know their rights, would that they knew their responsibilities too...

Anonymous said...

Cheers ED and the rest. I agree with everythnig said on this thread as a teacher too and one who lived through the punk area (about unions, kids knowledge, the Upstarts, Billy Bragg and so on).

And ED thanks for some great reading!


Ed said...

you're welcome!