Keith Narey Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Keith Narey

Bradford: A future if we fight for it

(September 1982)

From Militant, No. 618, 17 September 1982, p. 5.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The city of Bradford is being destroyed.

The dilapidated mills are a grim reminder of the textile wealth on which Bradford was built. But now growing unemployment figure herald an even more stark and depressing future for the working people of the city.

Already, this year has seen record levels of unemployment with 26,706 (15.6% of the population) out of work, and record short-time working with redundancies in textiles up 48% on last year.

550 jobs have gone from GEC, 600 at International Harvesters, 300 jobs from Mintex, 350 jobs from Rank Wharfedale and now there are rumours that the Renold operations in Bradford may close with the loss of over 2,000 jobs.

With a Tory/Liberal/SDP council in charge of a £5½ million cut in local expenditure the traditional escape valve of a job on the corporation has disappeared. The old answer of male emigration is now impossible due to high unemployment right around the country.

This nightmare certainly doesn’t result from years of militancy or of high wage demands. The last major strike in Bradford was in the 1930s, and wages are between 13% and 18% below the national average.

Workers here have worked long hours for low pay with few complaints and are now reaping their reward – the sack. Nor can the Tories blame high spending councils for frightening away jobs because of extravagant rate demands. The amount spent on school pupils per head in Bradford is the lowest in the country.

This year, Bradford plans to spend only half as much per pupil as Inner London. A Department of Education report says that our city has the most socially deprived school children in West Yorkshire with more poor, large and badly housed families; more single parent families, more children receiving free school meals than any other metropolitan area.

Is it then, any wonder, that more and more are looking towards an alternative that gives them some hope?

Already, two factories have set up work-place branches of the Labour Party and over 40 workers have been recruited so far. The Labour Party, for so long dominated by corrupt right-wing councillors has now moved dramatically to the left, whilst at the same time the sleeping giant of the trade union movement is beginning to stir.

The Trades Council and Bradford North Labour Party have called an emergency conference of the entire labour and trade union movement to discuss the fight for jobs, on Saturday September 25th at the Queens Hall, Bradford, commencing at 10.30 a.m.

This will be the launching pad for an all-out campaign in the city to expose the appalling prospects and consequences of unemployment and to publicise the socialist alternative.

We must seek to draw together not only the unions and the Labour Party but the immigrant groups, tenants groups, community groups and special interest groups. An appeal must also be made to the small businessmen, many of whom such as publicans and shopkeepers face bankruptcy as a result of factory closures.

We must show the people of Bradford that there is a future for themselves and their children – black and white – if they are prepared to fight for it.

Keith Narey Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 6 May 2017