Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Peasants are revolting

There have been a series of “wildcat strikes” in Britain, for what I believe are good enough reasons.

They have been in response to the practice of Companies hiring workers from outside of Great Britain for various (mostly construction) jobs in the country.

We are not talking here about undocumented immigrants (too often known as “illegal aliens”) .

(Nor are we talking about racism, or primitive xenophobia)

Rather the strikes are precipitated when (for instance) Companies from the European Union win contracts for projects in Britain (all fair and square), then import workers from their native lands, possibly/probably pay them below market rate wages, and in at least one case, house these workers in barges moored in a local river or harbor.

The following Guardian story may give you some background.

What has pissed me off is the reaction of Britain’s ruling Labour Party. It’s leaders have been less than supportive, and indeed more than dismissive of the actions of British workers.

I am old enough to remember that this is the LABOUR party, formed by and for the laboring classes. Now this party, gelded by the infamous Tony Blair, is the party of Government which works against the best interests of working people.

It was with this in mind that I posted the Chartist hymn the other day. In response to “God save the QUEEN” the Chartists sang “When wilt thou save the PEOPLE?”

In the next few days I will try to trace some histories of the struggle of working people in England and Great Britain.

We begin with the Peasants’ Revolt, A.D. 1381. You can read a very fine account of this from the url posted below.

Essentially this was a revolt against unfair taxes, and the suppression of wages. It was a stupendously brave protest by the peasant classes against the oppression of the ruling oligarchy.

Three of its leaders have names which should yet be remembered.

One was Wat Tyler who cared not a fig for the “dignity” of the 14 year old King Richard, and for his pains was murdered during the course of the revolt. He would never have fawned over the current playboy Princes, William and Harry.

Another was Jack Straw for whom a London pub on Hampstead Heath is named” “Jack Straw’s Castle”. It is believed that Jack Straw addressed a crowd from the back of a hay wagon - the hay wagon was his castle.

(Incidentally, a British Labour Party member, part of the leadership cabal, is one John Straw, Member of Parliament for Blackburn, Lancashire. He chooses to be known as “Jack Straw”.
John Straw M.P. is an odious semi-fascistic creature. His adoption of the Jack Straw moniker is an insult to the memory of the 14th Century peasant leader).

Last of all is John Ball (yes, Ball not Bull). He was a reforming Priest, a Lollard. He understood the radical nature of the belief that all people are created equal - almost 400 hundred years before the American Declaration of Independence!

It is to John Ball that we attribute the penetrating understanding of:

"When Adam delved and Eve span,/Who was then the gentleman?”

(Delved = dug).

"When Adam delved and Eve span,/Who was then the gentleman?” was repeated all over England, and became the “mantra” for an egalitarianism which would surface again and again in English/British history. More about that tomorrow.

For a full account of the Peasants’ revolt see:

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