Political memories of the 70s in Swansea..I have been letting my mind drift back to my political memories if the period 1974 to 1979. I went to Dynevor Comprehensive in September 1974. In those days the sixth form comprised of two political groups. The Upper Sixth comprised of a nest of Tories and of the hard right. Amongst that hard right group was one Nigel Evans now MP for Ribble Valley and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.I can honestly say that over the last 45 years that Nigel has not varied his hard right policies over the entire period. However in those dark prejuduced days of 1974 somethings were more securely hidden and denied. And we must ask the questions that must be asked about the hideous Section 28 legislation passed in the 80s. I regularly debated with Nigel and the clique of crypto hard right lackies that surrou dad him, in the School Debating society . I am afraid Nigel was not the sharpest thinker and it was with great pleasure we regularly destroyed his arguments. I notice that not much gas changed in the years looking back to 1974.
Those of us in 6 13 and the lower Sixth were a mixture of Libertarian Socialists, Marxists and a significant group of the Militant tendency. I remember putting up a facsimile of a Nazi poster and writing on it issuesd on behalf of Swansea West Conservative Association. It was poor taste and it was taken down. However in that Autumn of 1974 I had many perceptions and attitudes that make me flinch when I think back on them. But I dare say on my 100 th birthday I will look back on my perceptions I had today and flinch. I hope that my ever becoming self awareness has been constant and will continue throughout my existence. I am afraid Nigel has been an ever sticking product of the hard Tory right and it’s outlook
At some point during the Sixth Form we had a visit by Harold Wilson to the Uplands Book Shop. In those days you could walk up to our leaders. He had what seemed l one guardian with him. I walked up to him and asked him to write in a political work ‘ To a future Prime Minister’ I was far more arrogant in those days and my friends had dated me to do it..Wilson smiled and wrote in my book ” to a possible future Prime Minister. I still have the book. After that Sir Keith Joseph some how came to speak to the Sixth Form . It was just after his speech that suggested that the ‘lower orders’ bred too quickly” we gave him hell. I remember picketing the Dolphin Hotel when Enoch Powell spoke to a meeting of the Monday Club it was the time I first met Fred Fitton at an anti Apartheid protest outside Barclays Bank in the Kingsway. I remember attending Anti Nazi League meetings in the Old Elysium buildings in the High Street
I met Ian Bone and the Alarm Collective at his flat in Windsor Street in the Uplands. Regularly I distributed Alarm and one of my friends leaked the Olchfa School rule book to Ian..it use to be said that the Headmaster of the school bore a resemblance to Ian Smith of Rhodesia. My girlfriend at the time Alison Cleary told me that they used to say he had a tunnel under his office that led directly to the Rhidesian capital Salisbury. Ian Bone took it further and published a special edition of Alarm that called the Headmaster Fuhrer Grove. It was I who had passed the book to Ian and I will keep silent on the identity of the Olchfa student who gave me the book. The police were called and an aggressive PE teacher began waving his fists at Ian and as the police car arrived and Ian was taken away by police officer Bas Manser . Bas was regularly seen at left wing protests on behalf of the South Wales Police. After some years and some developments Bas “retired” from the police and became a private detective based in an office in the old bookshop that was near the Old exchange building.
I remember the rout if Swansea Labour in the elections of May 1976. At the Sketty Count I chatted to a very youthful Mike Hedges. Years later I got drunk with Gerald Murphy and was a guest speaker at his Pickwick Club. Charlie Thomas his former deputy invited me regularly to speak at the St Thomas History Society in the 1980s and we often reflected on those years of the 70s
For today I will stop there however one last memory springs to mind. In the very late 70s perhaps even 1980 Peter Black CBE ran for election as Student Union Treasurer. He campaigned under the slogan “Bank at the sign of the Black Cat” A few days later we noticed an amendment occurring on Peters posters a strategic change had been made and the B of his posters m had been replaced by a W.
However in those days Peter sat as the English National Anthem was played. Then he did not accept titles from the Saxe Coberg Gothas some of us have remained republicans perhaps that change from B to W was fair.. anyway I am nearly in Penrhos…i will tell you more tomorrow.