The Warrington Bomb and Red Action

Recently, BBC North West’s Inside Out programme conducted an investigation into the 1993 Warrington bombing. Ending the police’s embarrassment of not catching the killers of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry was, seemingly, the motivation. Inside Out speculates that the perpetrators of the lethal bombing were Jan Taylor and, Red Action member, Patrick Hayes. Inside Out asks that when the police were looking for Irish suspects; should they have been looking for a rogue IRA active service unit made up of Englishmen.

The documentary’s evidence supporting their claim leaves some questions. First is the linking of the bin bombing and gas works bombing in Warrington to the Harrods bin bombing and the bombing of a gas works in Tyneside. They are linked by target but, it is also implied, by suspects. The Tyneside gas works was bombed by an Englishman; the Warrington gas works by Irishmen. That the Warrington gas bombing was conducted by Irishmen wasn’t mentioned in the documentary. Partially based upon this faulty evidence the programme reasons that the Warrington bin bombing was carried out by the Harrods bin bombers: Hayes and Taylor. The film insinuates that English IRA active service units were attacking similar targets but Warrington gas bombing was done by Irishmen.

Another problem with the same targets, same nationality of suspects theory is that Hayes and Taylor were also convicted of bombing a train. Where does the train attack fit in to Inside Out’s story?

Inside Out uses Hayes’ Red Action membership as more evidence of guilt. Firstly, the programme doesn’t make it clear that only Hayes was a Red Action member, Taylor wasn’t. The programme also points out Red Action favoured “chicken-box bombs”, like the one used by Hayes and Taylor. The fact is that Red Action has never been found to have bombed anything. The implication is that Red Action had a bombing campaign but they did nothing of the sort. Why would Red Action favour a certain bomb when they had nothing to do with bombing?

Red Action is painted as a shadowy organisation. Whilst certainly secretive it was hardly unreachable. The Independent, ITV and the BBC had all interviewed Red Action. The organisation was very openly pro-IRA, it was on the front of its newspaper and on its stickers; it wasn’t a secret. It was not the underground network Inside Out would have us believe.

Red Action Sticker

Red Action Sticker

Another claim is that the (or these?) English IRA active service unit were rogue or not in the loop. It is pointed to that the IRA was already at the peace table so why would they need to continue bombing? Furthermore, the polices’ claim that the IRA didn’t use the correct code words is their evidence of the bombers being rogue. But the IRA disputed that the wrong codes were used at the time. It’s a ‘he said; she said’ situation in which the truth may never be known.

Inside Out’s own evidence can be used to dispute the rogue unit idea. To provide evidence that there was a campaign to bomb certain targets in England they discuss how the IRA’s top man in England was caught with a list of targets, including gas works, and semtex. If the orders were coming from the IRA’s leading volunteer in England how were the active service units rogue or acting alone?

The evidence presented implying the guilt of Patrick Hayes and Jan Taylor is hardly clear cut. The idea that English IRA units were bombing the same targets isn’t true and the idea they were rogue has little evidence. I believe the documentary provides more questions than answers. The simplest being what was the purpose of documentary? And why now?

Read more:

The Arrest of Patrick Hayes

Patrick Hayes statement in Red Action following his arrest. 

Charge of the New Red Brigade, The Independent. This article asks who Red Action are following Hayes’ arrest.

Violence with Violence, World in Action (ITV) investigates anti-fascist groups.

Update 17

I haven’t done an update since October. So here is a round up of what’s changed since!

Three new academic articles have been uploaded

1. Contesting the ‘authentic’ community: Far-right spatial strategy and everyday responses in an era of crisis (Ince, 2011)

This article discusses AFA and the IWCA’s strategy in displacing and replacing the far-right as the radical alternative.

The idea that voting alone will eliminate far-right and fascist politics is fundamentally flawed. Politics takes place in the hearts and minds of people; in their streets, communities and homes. The struggle against the far right is in part a struggle over the spatial articulation of and claims to authenticity in differing understandings of working class values. Authenticity, I argue, is primarily a politico discursive tool to which competing politics lay claim, perching on the ill-defined border between reality and artifice.

2. The Politics and Culture of FC St. Pauli: from leftism, through antiestablishment, to commercialization (Petra Daniel & Christos Kassimeris, 2013)

Transforming football stadia to political arenas is an old phenomenon, particularly, when clubs boasting a glorious past are involved. FC St. Pauli has certainly been instrumental to developments in its immediate environment though not so much for its success on the pitch, as for the socio-political views that its fans have been projecting ever since the mid-1980s. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to contextualize the same fan (and club) ideological background that has attracted worldwide attention in the light of the game’s contemporary transformation.

3. ‘The birthplace of Italian communism’: political identity and action amongst livorno fans (Doidge, 2013)

Since the 1980s, there has been a shift to the right on the curve of Italian stadiums. Livorno stands apart as one of the few Italian clubs to maintain a resolute Communist identity. They draw on a variety of Communist images and this helps define their actions. Through political protest, charity and matchday choreographies, Livorno fans reflect and resist specific aspects of football in a globalized world.

New Posts

Visit the La Zineteca: Punk and Ska Fanzine Library, issues of Leeds United anti-fascist fanzines are now available here, The Big Issue revealed evidence of police infiltration of AFA, read what Class War had to say on Red Action and the IWCA and visit the fantastic anti-fascist resource blog called Lewisham ’77.

I have also posted two Red Action articles: Time to Dump Multi-Culturalism and Red Action on Multiculturalism.

Liverpool based Cairde na hEireann have published a report on anti-Irish racism in 2012. I found a great article on Celtic Fans Against Fascism  read it here and, lastly, I found an interesting article on Red Action and it’s support of the militant Irish Republican movement.

New Book

In the time since the last update an invaluable new resource for those wishing to learn about militant anti-fascism has been published. Largely an oral account, Physical Resistance by Dave Hann is now available. My thoughts on the book are also viewable here.

Your Archivist

Lastly, since October we have received 35,000 more views taking the archives total page views to 85,000; from New Zealand to Mozambique to Chile to Kazakhstan to Ireland and Canada.

The Archive has also received generous donations and with these funds I am looking to move to a much better, custom website in the near future.

Yours,

The Archivist.

Anti-Racism World Cup in Belfast

Anti-Racism World Cup Belfast!

Some of those who have helped with providing materials for this Archive are also helping organise the annual Anti-Racism World Cup in Belfast.

This years competition is taking place in Belfast between 26-28 July.

 Team registration is now open:

ANTI RACISM WORLD CUP 2013 Team Registration form.
The Anti Racism World Cup is an expression of anti racism, anti imperialism and anti fascism. It is a show case of solidarity by amateur 7 a side football teams from across the world. As such, it is about building links between people of all races. Racism, bigotry and sectarianism will not be tolerated.
I ___________________________ wish to register my team _________________________________
In so registering I will be responsible for my team, their conduct and attendance, including provision of all required football gear –rigs, boots, etc.
I include payment of £35 for registration
(All cheques to be made payable to Anti Racism World Cup)
Signed by Captain
___________________________________________________________________
Signed by ARWC committee member upon receipt of payment
___________________________________________________________________
The football tournament will take place from 10am sharp on Saturday the 27th July at Donegal Celtic Playing Pitches, Suffolk Road Belfast. Teams should be ready from 9.30am.
Teams will be registered on a first come first serve basis. It is the responsibility of all team campaigns/managers to have players present for all matches on time and to liaise with ARWC volunteers in advance of the tournament.

All completed forms to be returned to ARWC committee members or posted to
Anti Racism World Cup
c/o Lenadoon Community Forum
Social Economy Village
Hannastown Hill
Belfast
BT 17 0LT

 

 

Call for Participation 2013

Call for Participation 2013.

Call for Participation 2013

UH logo

Saturday 15 June & Sunday 16 June 2013- Manchester, UK 

A public conference to discuss how society produces, presents, and consumes history beyond official and elite versions of the past.

–   Call for Participation –

The Unofficial Histories conference seeks to bring together those who wish to consider the value and purpose of historical engagements and understandings that take place within, on the edges of, or outside “official” sites that produce and transmit historical knowledge and ideas.

After a successful first conference at Bishopsgate Institute in London in May 2012,Unofficial Histories moves north to Manchester, and this time we’re making a weekend of it:

  • Saturday 15 June 2013 will be a day of papers, presentations and debate at Manchester Metropolitan University, Oxford Road, Manchester.
  • Sunday 16 June 2013 will be a relaxed day of activities exploring the theme of  ’Unofficial Histories’.

We now invite presentation proposals for the meeting on Saturday 15th June 2013 to be held at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Taking its cue from the assumption that history is, as Raphael Samuel put it, “a social form of knowledge; the work, in any given instance of a thousand different hands”, the conference aims to open up to examination the ways in which historians, curators, writers, journalists, artists, film makers, activists and others, seek to represent the past in the public realm, spheres of popular culture and everyday life.

What subjects, ideas and themes are presented? What styles and mediums are used? How is this history produced, transmitted and consumed? Who is producing and consuming it, and why?

We hope to sharpen the awareness of the different sites and forms of historical production and consider how they impact public perceptions and consciousness of history. We are also concerned to understand the interactions between competing and corresponding impulses in history-making: the scholarly and the political; the academic and the everyday; the imperatives of funding, sustainability, ethics and access.

Finally, we would like to consider whether or not such “unofficial histories” have political effects that might serve democratic and emancipatory goals, and/or can be seen as sources of dissent and resistance against conventional, privileged models of historical knowledge.

Presentations of 20 minutes (different approaches to communication are encouraged) are welcomed on any aspect of the above, which may include:

  • People’s History & the History of Everyday Life
  • TV, Radio and Internet
  • Literature, Poetry, Music and Folksong 
  • Museums, Heritage and Archives
  • Feminist , Women’s and Gender History
  • Historical Re-enactment and Living History
  • Memory, Myth and Folklore
  • Class, Culture and Ethnicities
  • Art, Drama and Theatre
  • Family History and Genealogy
  • Oral History, Testimony, and Biography
  • Local, Regional and Community History
  • The Role of the Historian
  • History Education, Teaching and Curricula
  • Uses and Abuses of History

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words by Wednesday 20th February 2013 to Fiona Cosson, email f.cosson@mmu.ac.uk . 

Download Unofficial Histories 2013 CFP as PDF

 

Physical Resistance: Thoughts and Reply to Renton

Part 1

Unfortunately I am thousands of miles from my copies of Beating the Fascists, No Retreat and Anti-Fascism in Britain which I think would be extremely useful in a full and detailed review of Physical Resistance. I am having to make do with my computerised notes of Beating the Fascists, sadly I chose only to word process my notes after reading No Retreat and Anti-Fascism in Britain. Following reading Dave Renton’s review of Physical Resistance I decided to write down a few of my thoughts of the book and his review. My focus will be on the latter chapters as this is the period where I have mostly researched. I welcome any response and correction.

Physical Resistance: A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism has given those interested in the study of in militant anti-fascism a wealth of important and interesting events which have laid undiscovered, exciting long oral accounts of former activists and a number of questions to attempt to answer. These long oral and written accounts are woven with Hann’s narrative. Sadly Dave Hann died before he could finish his work but his long term partner, who also writes the introduction, has stepped in and finished the book well with the circumstance. However, as Renton points out there are points in the book which are under-analysed and leave the reader asking for more detail.

Firstly, Renton’s review; I believe it contained a number of factual errors. One such error is the statement of Hann being in the Red Action leadership, my research and interview with former Red Action members (and subsequent communication) did not give Hann as a national figure in Red Action but he was key to Anti-Fascist Action and Red Action organising in Manchester. Renton, disingenuously, says that Beating the Fascists finishes when it reaches the Battle of Waterloo in 1992. In fact, BtF continues for a further 100 pages which includes, amongst other events: the 1993 Welling demonstration, the conflict with Combat 18, the BNP declaration of “no more meetings, no more marches, no more punch ups”, ‘Operation Zero Tolerance’ and the development of the Independent Working Class Association.  Furthermore, Renton comments that AFA decayed following the Battle of Waterloo, however, issue 3 of Fighting Talk (June 1992), the Journal of AFA, lists 22 branches by issue 12 (November 1995) the number of branches peaked at 38 until it began to fall.

Renton also says that Hann is a “little self-serving” due to almost all interviews being with militant anti-fascists. Perhaps the subtitle “A Hundred of Militant Anti-Fascism” would have been more apt, but, I think Renton does Hann a disservice. As Renton points out Hann gives kudos to the ANL and other non-militant successes and, even, gives the UAF laurels for the BNPs 2010 local election defeat.  I think Renton’s short dismissal of BtF and AFA in this review opens him up to the charge of self-servicing his anti-squaddism.

Turning to the book itself, as I earlier commented I thought the book is under-analytical in places. One such area is the collapse of the National Front following the 1979 general election. A conclusion to whether Hann thought the ANL or Thatcher’s hard talk against immigration was the primary or most important cause for the NF’s demise is not offered. Another section where I was hoping for more evidence, detail and conclusion was the 1988 Red Action split; Renton also says most early Red Action members left. Further information and explanation would have been interesting; perhaps Red Action’s archives will shed some light onto this period. Similarly, the AFA split between Red Action and the anarchist elements is light on details and analysis.

One question I asked during my undergraduate dissertation research was on the divisions between AFA members, particularly women. One of Hann’s interviewees provides a glimpse of a division; that between “hit men” and “foot soldiers”. During my research I was convinced that a division between organisers and fighters didn’t exist, the organisers were also got their hands dirty. The division between the “hit men” and “foot soldiers” also, allegedly, manifested socially as well as tactically. Who were the “hit men”? Red Action members or simply the best fighters.

Regarding women, two of Hann’s female interviewees’ tales tell of a gender role divide of duties in AFA which seems to correlate to my results. That’s not to say the duties of ‘spotting’ or checking out a pub for fascists was looked upon as less brave in fact my results showed my interviewees thought these acts required much more courage than the fighting. Although, more investigation into this by Hann would have proved interesting I think, particularly when AFA and militant anti-fascism is often charged with chauvinism and machismo.

An interviewee also speaks about AFA’s support for the IRA. Although Red Action’s strong support for the IRA is openly known and AFA stewarded republican marches against loyalist and fascist attacks, AFA was supposed to be a single issue campaign. For this interviewee the extent of the IRA support was uncomfortable. To what extent AFA as an organisation supported the IRA is not dealt with in depth and it does raise an interesting point as to what people’s experiences of IRA support were within AFA.

Hann also gives an insight into the continuation of militant anti-fascism post-AFA. He accounts both No Platform and Antifa, and, I think, it gives the impression that Hann supported the continuation of a violent street strategy and a rejection of the IWCA’s approach of following the BNP off the streets and into the electoral arena. But his position doesn’t seem clear. Any comparison between the post-AFA movements and AFA is also lacking.

To more general points: I’m surprised no Red Action literature appears in the bibliography, I think it’s a shame footnotes weren’t used in the book, as they are so useful to students of anti-fascism, also, there are few details on AFA in Scotland which is a shame. Lastly, there are a few errors in the writing such as Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Association is listed as Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Action and the Kindle version is littered with hyphenated words in the middle of the page which I found annoying.

To conclude, the book is a valuable read for all those interested in the Communist Party’s role in anti-fascism, the British volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, opposition to the British Union of Fascists and the later history of militant anti-fascism. An excellent and unmissable source for students and those interested in British militant anti-fascism.