This is my last post of 2015, a year in which I had my first book published; Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women. The women in my book have changed their lives and the history of this country through the various campaigns that they committed their lives to. Speaking at meetings across the north west I have met other sisters whose stories should also be recorded; many of whom continue to work in grassroots organisations which challenge some of the worst attacks on working class people and communities.
This year I have also been active in the Mary Quaile Club, promoting the life of a trade unionist who has been unfairly forgotten. Mary is one of the many women who made a tremendous contribution to their trade union and to society generally. In 2016 we are publishing a pamphlet and commissioning a play to draw the links between Mary’s era and today’s trade union women activists. Her spirit lives on…
Here are my highlights of 2015.
Campaign of the Year
Fast Food Rights….if things are to change in this country it is because the people who are really affected by the austerity fight back.This is a campaign for trade union rights for people working in the fast food industry that has links with American organisations campaigning for better pay and trade union rights. During the last year I have interviewed several of young women active in this campaign and they have inspired me, and they are the hope for real change in society.
Book of the Year
Dockers by Dave Sinclair. A photo history of the 95-98 Liverpool Lockout. Unfortunately in 2015 we accept zero hour contracts and a casualised work force as the norm but in 1995 the Liverpool dockers refused to accept what was a return to a nineteenth century life at work. This book is a pictorial history of the dispute, saying more in images than thousands of words might. Not sure how many copies it has sold, it was produced by a small publisher, and unfortunately it is indicative of how hard it is to get working class history published. But the dockers story is an important one for those of us who want to turn this society upside down. Buy it at
Film of the year
Girlhood. It would be hard to find a film made in this country with the insight this has in the lives of immigrant communities; particularly of girls and young women. Maybe one of the reasons is that in France the French African community is so marginalised and the complexities of the relationship between France and its former colonial subjects are rarely discussed. This film is about one young woman and her life in the banalieu or ghetto on the outskirts of Paris. It is hard growing up given these circumstances and made more so if your single mother works long hours as a hotel worker and the education system has already marked you down. This is a honest film, often shocking but at its heart is a truism about many young people at the bottom of society…that they too can have hope.
CD of the year
Animism by Tanya Tagaq. She is a Canadian Inuit and dubbed a polar punk. Tanya follows in her indigenous female tradition of singing but there is nothing demure about her music as she growls, gasps and chants throughout this record. Her music reflects her anger about the way in which the Inuit community have been treated by the Canadian government; pushed off their land; the degrading of their culture and even their children being taken away and put in residential schools. Tanya has survived all this and through her music and her campaigning she reflects the way in which the Inuit community are at the forefront of activism around issues such as fracking. Listen to it here
Hope you have a relaxing festive break and see you in 2016 to continue the fight!