Billy Bragg’s Miners’ Strike Tour

UNDER THE South Wales area National Union of Mineworkers’ banner with the words “Forward to a Socialist Britain and World Peace”, singer Billy Bragg treated us to a great concert in Caernarfon on 11 June. It was part of Billy Bragg’s Miners’ Strike Tour around Wales. The singer declared he was proud to stand in front of the words on the banner.

Jan Underwood, Bangor Socialist Party

Billy introduced a young singer, Dan Amor, who sang beautifully in English and Welsh about struggles and life in North Wales. His group’s rebelliousness mostly amounted to different coloured shoelaces, and their sweet harmonies would only contrast Billy’s gruff but it was great to see Billy backing local youth.

A political poet, Patrick Jones from South Wales then really set the scene, staring with an anti-BNP poem. Other poems were against organised religions and pro-female. He finished with a tribute to Aneurin Bevan and his vision of the NHS’s ‘free at the point of entry’ ideals, The Healing House, set to music by Billy.

Billy started with ‘The sound of ideology crashing’ – no prizes for guessing the topical subject! He sang several rare Woody Guthrie songs, arising from a collaboration with Woody’s daughter, which could have been written today – we are still in the same political mess! Other political songs included Oh Freedom, From Red to Blue, Which side are you on? and All you fascists are bound to lose.

He interspersed I keep faith and There is power in the union with a call to action. He defined his use of the word ‘faith’, saying: “Faith is international solidarity – there is power in the union”, linking these two great songs brilliantly.

Whether you love him or hate him, he works constantly at grassroots level. He even found an opportunity to raise funds for his charity ‘Jail Guitar Doors’ keeping all his fans happy with original signed pictures. He didn’t stop until he had spoken to everyone who wanted a chat and an autograph.

The Socialist Party in Bangor also had a great night, selling 15 papers, two copies of Socialism Today and books and pamphlets – including a paper and our bilingual pamphlet The Great North Wales Quarry Strikes to Billy himself! Youth Fight for Jobs leaflets went home with many at the gig.

The good feeling continued at the following day’s Socialist Party stall in Bangor, where £15 was raised. If this is his influence, he is very welcome to come again!