Interview: On Holiday
Unions: One Day Longer
Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Politics: Spun Out
Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
History: Taking a Stand
International: The Split
Legal: Pushing the Friendship
Poetry: Simple Subtractions
Review: Sydney Trashed
The Locker Room
AFL-CIO Not The Only War
We Love Morris
A Readers Suggestion
Following the attacks he attended the vigil in Trafalgar Square that was partly sponsored by the Trades Union Council.
What, then, to say?
I attended the vigil in Trafalgar Square last Thursday, to seek closure for myself in relation to the bombings. That was a success; I'm now well over it, although I remain conscious that others in London will not be able to be so for a long, long time.
I also feel very safe, and not at all worried about leaving from Heathrow Airport nor, what would ordinarily be of more concern, catching the train to Heathrow from Paddington.
Until the vigil, I had not yet encountered anyone in Britain who mentioned in any way that they were members of an industrial union of workers. It seems the bombers had found not only union members, but active and radical ones. What an inspiration, to discover there is some union coverage here!
Individual transport and emergency services workers, and leaders of their unions, received enthusiastic welcomes, but the president of the Trade Unions Council (equivalent to the ACTU) was not so warmly received, for some reason unknown to me. One of the most memorable extracts described how the union delegate at the Stratford bus depot, from where the Number 30 operates, insisted they drive the first Number 30 out on Friday morning.
However, among the many speakers were some I didn't know, and a few I wondered why they were there. One gentleman in particular intrigued me; he was introduced as a landscape designer, and he introduced himself, to a loud cheer, as a person born in London 41 years ago but who left at age 5 and grew up in Ireland; "an Irish-Londoner". I looked around for where I could join the queue, to recite a verse or two of John Williamson's "Hey True Blue", or sing a song about a sheep-thief, or whatever.
Many speakers read out poetry, which was nice. Throughout the speeches of the many who made them emerged the themes of the spirit of the blitz, this has brought us together, we won't be beaten, this was an attack on our way of life and values, (we shouldn't turn on each other), etc. That's all well and good. There were also some themes along the lines of London being the whole world in one city, how London it was to unite in defiance against adversity, and even how great are our way of life and values. As an Australian-Londoner, born here 41 years ago but an Australian since age 5, allow me to retort.
It would be trite to remark that London is not the only multicultural city in town, and that any community unites in the face of adversity, but what is so great about our way of life and values? They're pretty good, I'll grant that, but nowhere near great; definitely needing improvement generally, but London has some real problems that need attention.
In short, Australians have much to fear from the new era of unrestrained Thatcherism that has started to afflict us, if the social cost of its aftermath here is any guide.
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