How the Communist Party of Great Britain discovered punk rock

11 Comrades in bondage trousers: how the Communist Party of Great Britain discovered punk rock M atthew Worley Speaking in June 1976, Paul Bradshaw, the editor of Challenge, the newspaper produced by the Young Communist League (YCL), surveyed the state of British youth culture.1 Superficially, he reasoned, things did not look good. The youth movements that helped define the 1960s had fragmented; popular music appeared depoliticised. Although glam rock had briefly offered an interesting challenge to masculine stereotypes, and reggae continued to provide a

in Labour and working-class lives

a platform for all culture. The agitator’s need to find a point of leverage from which to exert influence over current events clearly motivated RAR’s mission, but it also offers an insight into the dispute over RAR’s attitude to the Asian community. Insofar as Asian people shared an enthusiasm for rock music with their non-Asian friends and neighbours they could, and did, participate in RAR. The movement’s activists thus point to the Southall carnival, the presence of large numbers of young Asians at gigs and the organisation’s close relationship with Asian punk

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channel. As he and fellow RAR activists wrote, ‘working class kids NOW are political and fun without having to make 5 minute speeches to prove it’.5 Widgery’s apparent eagerness to yield the political initiative to such radicalising influences as punk rock and angry British youth led one party critic, Ian Birchall, to claim that he saw ‘everything from the standpoint of the mass movement, nothing from the standpoint of the party’.6 According to Birchall, Widgery placed a naive faith in goodwill rather than ‘hard politics’,7 and he attributes this shortcoming to Widgery

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Essays to celebrate the life and work of Chris Wrigley

This book reflects upon the wide range of Chris Wrigley's research and publications in the study of the various aspects of British labour history. It presents a set of themes revolving around the British labour movement and the lives of those connected with it. The book begins with a discussion on biography in the shape of George Howell's work on trade unions and presents Herbert Gladstone's view that the unions emerged from the medieval workers guilds. Chris was also interested in political figures connected with progressivism and the labour movement, which is reflected in the examination of Gladstone's role in the Liberal Party. There is an examination of the Co-operative Party in the north-east of England, the 1911 National Insurance Act, and the relationship between the unions and the Labour Party. The inter-war British labour politics is covered by the disaffiliation of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) from the Labour Party and by a study of the Progressive League. British and German working class lives are compared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Female trade unionism is dealt with a focus on Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries (AWCS). The contribution of the Lansburys is brought by an essay on the role of the family members in working-class politics, including women's enfranchisement. The book also deals with the attempt by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) to engage with punk music, and ends with a discussion on the theme of Labour disunity.

covered some ‘2,000 miles on the road’.8 RAR could also claim the support of many of the most innovative musical acts of the time, including the Tom Robinson Band, Sham 69, Steel Pulse, Aswad, the Members, X-Ray Spex, Stiff Little Fingers, the Specials and the Clash. Through its slogan, ‘Reggae, Soul, Rock and Roll, Jazz, Funk and Punk: Our Music’,9 RAR declared its intention to deny popular music to the forces of the far-right, but although a multiplicity of styles were represented at their events it is clear from the concert line-ups that punk, ‘new wave’ and reggae

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cultural experimentation in the early twentieth century. But besides this debt to older antecedents, RAR seized on contemporary developments in popular culture, including the two musical forms that became most closely identified with RAR: punk rock and reggae. After spending a lengthy period in relative obscurity, RAR’s leading role in the anti-racist mobilisations of the 1970s has become more widely recognised in recent years. Dave Renton’s history of the AntiNazi League (ANL), When We Touched the Sky,2 Alan Miles’s documentary film, Who Shot the Sheriff?,3 and the work

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The cultural politics of Rock Against Racism

Rock Against Racism (RAR) operated between 1976 and 1981, and was a mass campaign that combined anti-racist politics with popular culture. Throughout this period RAR used the medium of concerts featuring black and white musicians as a focus for, and practical demonstration of, its politics of 'inter-racial' unity. This book deals with important theoretical issues that are particularly pertinent to the party's relationship with RAR. It covers three areas: the theory of state capitalism, the relationship between the party and the working class, and the united front. The book then examines the state of the Socialist Workers Party - formerly the International Socialists (IS) - during the mid- to late 1970s. The youth cultures with which RAR most closely identified were contested between political tendencies and music industry interests before RAR appeared on the scene. Punk had emerged as a significant, if somewhat ambivalent, radical phenomenon in its own right and reggae was implicated in the politico-cultural struggles between black people and the British state. Furthermore, it is clear from the testimony from the far-right that black culture was not immune to co-option by forces opposed to the kind of multiculturalism that RAR espoused. The book also looks at some of the political and social influences on the organisation's politics. It argues that RAR's approach entailed a rejection both of the Communist Party's Cold War-inflected point of view and of those theorists who despaired of any attempt to break the grip of bourgeois ideology on the working class.

Irish republican media activism since the Good Friday Agreement

Newspapers, magazines and pamphlets have always been central, almost sacred, forms of communication within Irish republican political culture. While social media is becoming the primary ideological battleground in many democracies, Irish republicanism steadfastly expresses itself in the traditional forms of activist journalism.

Shinners, Dissos and Dissenters is a long-term analysis of the development of Irish republican activist media since 1998 and the tumultuous years following the end of the Troubles. It is the first in-depth analysis of the newspapers, magazines and online spaces in which the differing strands of Irish republicanism developed and were articulated during a period where schism and dissent defined a return to violence.

Based on an analysis of Irish republican media outlets as well as interviews with the key activists that produced them, this book provides a compelling long-term snapshot of a political ideology in transition. It reveals how Irish Republicanism was moulded by the twin forces of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the violent internal ideological schism that threatened a return to the ‘bad old days’ of the Troubles.

This book is vital for those studying Irish politics and those interestedin activism as it provides new insights into the role that modern activist media forms have played in the ideological development of a 200-year-old political tradition.

Open Access (free)

comprised a family who lost a possible home for themselves. In terms of squatter capital, their status as a family meant that the squatting community expected less from them than if they were young single punks, for example, and so they did not lose any capital by this failed action. The members of the kraakspreekuur, and especially the spokesperson, felt the embarrassment of this failure because with planning, they could have easily prevented and avoided such mistakes. Although I never spoke with the spokesperson

in The autonomous life?
Youth culture and the rethinking of historical legacies

national interests (74 per cent) ranked just below that, it concluded that the youth mostly identified with the social/​class group it belonged to.16 The sense of belonging to a socially, culturally or generationally defined group with a relative disregard for the ethno-​national aspect indeed surfaced in many of the interviews I  conducted. Robert Botteri’s testimony is particularly illustrative: I have to say I  never identified as Yugoslav. I  was at the age when I  would rather identify as a punk than a Yugoslav. I used to claim that I have more in common with a punk

in The last Yugoslav generation