Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Jack Jones R.I.P

He was the spirit of that age. A deeply honourable man, infused with all the strengths and weaknesses of the Labour Movement of that time. An International Brigader, he was a TU full timer who even the most purblind of ultra-leftist would have difficulty pinning the charge of personal or political corruption on. Integrity was his hallmark. He was hewn from the same rock as thousands of now departed working class leaders, in TUs and the Labour and Communist Parties, whose like I fear we will not see again. Despite the historians' argument I think this rock was neither specifically Methodist nor Marxist - but a uniquely working class culture and morality, shaped by the demands of British politics and industrial relations of the day.

Of course there were things I disagreed with him about. But on the big political question of his time as TGWU General Secretary let me just say this: the teenage Charlie thought the Social Contract Jones entered into was a sell-out. The teenage Charlie was both callow and wrong. Jack Jones was right - he just didn't have a movement behind him with the political maturity to make it a socialist Social Contract. So wage driven, economistic struggles predominated. There is a sadness here - he was, after all, an early supporter of the Institute of Workers Control.

Mod pays his tribute here, and there is some immediate TUC reaction here. Andy has a different view of the Social Contract, but not of Jack Jones the man over here on Socialist Unity.


  1. I too was a young adolescent who thought the Social Contract was a sell-out, and got told very sharply by the wife of a shop steward friend of the family that "many working people" backed it solid.

    Jack was a really good bloke.

  2. Andy,
    I can actually recall you selling me a paper - was it the IMG rag of the time ? Was it called Socialist Challenge? - at Warwick in 1976 which called Jones a sell-out. But we were both wrong in agreeing with that sentiment.