UniteLive's stories of the year - Battle of Stockton remembered
On the fifth day of Christmas – Unite’s Barry Faulkner in conversation with Battle of Stockton Campaign chair Sharon Bailey
Every day for the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ this year, UniteLive is running a different story from our top stories of 2021. Today, we look back at a story from September, when Unite members reflected on the Battle of Stockton, which played a instrumental role in fighting off Moseley’s fascists – and what it means for us today.
‘If ordinary people stand up, they can change history’
Ahead of this year’s Battle of Stockton Campaign event on Sunday, September 5, Sharon Bailey, Chair of the Battle of Stockton Campaign and Unite Shop Steward (pictured below), speaks to Barry Faulkner, Unite’s Political Education Coordinator and Education Lead on Unite’s Unity over Division (UoD) project.
In conversation with Barry (pictured below), Sharon highlights the role Stockton on Tees played in fighting off Oswald Moseley’s fascists in the 1930s and the launch of the Unite education booklet on former T&G member Stanley Taggart who was part of that fight. You can read their interview below.
BF: Sharon, it’s a great privilege to play a part once again representing Unite in the commemoration of the battle of Stockton. Our UoD project challenges the bigotry of far-right narratives today. What role did unions play in 1933 at the battle of Stockton?
SB: Barry, thank you for joining us again at our event and thank you to Unite for the fantastic support it’s given to us. To answer your question, some 2000 local people came out to stop the British Union of Fascists on the 10th September 1933. Many of those people will have belonged to trade unions, political organisations, and the national unemployed workers movement. As would be the case today, there would have been many Trade Union activists and ordinary members amongst them.
BF: Last year some of our Unite young members were inspired by the actions which took place in Stockton and recorded their thoughts for last year’s online event. Our young members recognised the importance of commemorating events such as the Battle of Stockton, the events at Cable Street and similar events all over the country. Why do you feel BoS is important and what are the lessons for 2021?
SB: I was thinking the other night how vital it is in such uncertain times, to learn from the lessons of our past. I saw some dreadful posts on social media regarding Afghan refugees coming to Britain and this kind of bigotry is whipped up by far-right extremists. We also see far-right fascist movements around the world — we can’t tolerate the evils of fascism for our children’s sake.
BF: Our Unite education booklet, about the life of T&G (Unite) member Stanley Taggart (pictured below) is being launched at this years BoS event on Sunday 5th September. What is the most important lesson that we can learn from the story of Stanley Taggart?
SB: I feel the most important lesson is that if ordinary people stand up to be counted, they can change history. Stanley and 2000 other people stood up in 1933 and the fascists failed to get a hold on Stockton.
BF: Finally, Sharon, this year’s event is coming up very soon and includes some fantastic acts at the Georgian Theatre, what can people expect on the day and where can they see more information about the event?
SB: Thanks Barry, we are meeting in Green Dragon yard, Stockton at 11am on Sunday 5th September and following speeches by yourself, Marsha Garratt (All In Youth Project) and Amjid Khazir (Media Cultured). Afterwards there will be an afternoon of free entertainment from comedian Patrick Monahan, Joe Solo and two of Teesside’s finest singer/songwriters; Frazer Lambert (and the September 1933 Choir) and Ella-Joy Hunton and compere, Simon Rylander.
You can find out more about Sunday’s event on the Battle of Stockton Campaign Facebook page here.
By Barry Faulkner