Dave Broady, 1937-2014

Submitted by Matthew on 23 April, 2014 - 11:31

Dave Broady died on 4 April. In 1972 he contributed regularly to Workers’ Fight, a forerunner of Solidarity.

An excerpt [below] signals the tone and type of his writing.

After joining the Navy, and being jailed and dismissed, Dave became a construction worker, a steel erector. He told me he couldn’t tolerate the more controlled environment of a factory.

Dave’s then wife Fran Broady joined our organisation in 1970-1, and was a prominent member for a long while. Their older daughter Karen also became an active revolutionary socialist, and now works with AWL in Manchester.

Dave himself, however, never joined a revolutionary socialist group. As the excerpt perhaps conveys, this was not because he lacked anger against capitalism and its servitors.

If anything the contrary: his anger was too hot for him to engage in the sometimes slow and tortuous processes of socialist organising, at least in the conditions of the era in which Dave’s generation of trade union militants were pummelled and dispersed.

He drifted out of our orbit in the 1970s and travelled wide in search of work. I last met him when visiting Fran several years ago. Dave was by then retired. He was still stronger and fitter than the average person half his age; but, so I understood, even more a loner than ever, spending much of his time on long walks.

His last years were tragic. In February 2008, he got into a late-night street fight. Another man died. Dave said it was self-defence. But he was convicted of manslaughter and jailed.

When he was found dead on 4 April, in his room at a homeless hostel, his body showed he had been beaten up. Police are investigating.

We send our condolences to Dave’s family, especially to Karen and Fran. We redouble our efforts to build a socialist movement broad and militant enough to be a workable environment for new generations of rebels like Dave.

Where have all the grasses gone?

What has happened to servility? We have lost the Empire.

Those who were born as leaders of men are now having that right questioned.

Entry into the Common Market will force us to accept the existence of all those damned foreigners on the other side of the Channel.

But must we lose all our national characteristics? Are some of the arts we have practised with such expertise to vanish forever?

Will the time honoured practice of fawning and cringing be something of the past?

The Russians may be masters of the chess board, the Americans kings of the athletic field. The Thailander has his badminton, the Basque his pelota.

But no-one has perfected the bending of the back and the touching of the forelock quite like the British.

Yet this art is in danger of becoming as extinct as the dinosaur.

It is a possibility that the son of Master John, the owner of the mill, may never again be confronted with a deputation of cap-wringing individuals uttering those immortal words: “Could you see your way Master, to giving us a few extra coppers. It’s for the bairns, Master. They need shoes.”

The schools do their level best to teach their charges to have proper respect for their betters, but somehow, somewhere along the line, they have failed in preparing pupils for the outside world.

For instance. There are those amongst the youth of the nation who consider that they have the right to work. Obviously, with this idea in mind, they will approach their interview for employment with entirely the wrong attitude. For as we are all aware, when there are five young men for every job, the Personnel Manager must be approached with the utmost humility.

With a little practice servility can become second nature:

Remember you are unemployed.

Remove all traces of pride.

When being interviewed, stoop the shoulders.

Keep your eyes downcast.

Shuffle the feet.

The use of the word “Sir” cannot be over-emphasised.

Being unemployed for long enough can bring about quite a transformation anyway.

What of another of our national pastimes? I speak of informing.

Granted there are still many participants in this old British sport. But I fear this too is on the decline.

It could well be that Mrs Jenkins down the street, who draws national assistance for herself and five children, could one day be able to go out and earn a few quid without a neighbour informing the authorities.

Is Charlie Cunningham to be allowed to clock his brother-in-law in on Monday morning and get away with it?

It could well be. As long as the decline in moral standards continues.

Remember this. Your employer (if you are fortunate enough to have one) cannot always be there to watch over you personally. He could be taking a well earned three months in the Bahamas. Whilst he is there he relies on you to keep the wheels of industry turning.

Don’t let him down.

Respect your employer.

Practice makes for perfection, so rehearse humility each day.

Grovelling can bring its own rewards.

Not only could you become a veritable Uriah Heap but you could even reach the dizzy heights of chargehand; or (dare I say it) foreman.

So happy cringing, everybody.

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