The Socialist

The Socialist 30 May 2018

Stop war, fight trump, walk out Friday 13 July

The Socialist issue 997

Stop war, fight Trump, walk out on 13 July

United working class movements can defeat Trump


Landslide vote to repeal Ireland's abortion laws

Historic victory won by grassroots movement


Sting's shipbuilders showcase class pride and change from below

Aberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

The Socialist Inbox


Johnson and Rees-Mogg widen Tory Brexit splits

Welsh Labour reprivatises rail lines: reverse Tory sell-offs!

Toxic air hits schools as EU ponders slap on wrist years late

England facing water shortage due to underinvestment

Them & Us


PCS conference 2018: members ready to fight to end pay misery


UCU conference: Members are organising and winning - build the union, build the struggles!

900-strong north west NHS strike

Unison ballots workers at Yorkshire hospitals at risk of privatisation

Wales TUC 2018: Socialist Party members challenge leadership at undemocratic conference

Springfield school strike in Birmingham against job cuts and workload

Broad Left candidate elected as Usdaw deputy general secretary


Socialist nationalisation: what it is and why we need it


Action demanded from new council

Hands off Teignmouth Hospital!

Socialist Party members inspired by revolutionary events

Police shootings in Tamil Nadu condemned

Leicester plans sales boost of 1,000th edition of the Socialist

 
 
 
 
 

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Theatre: The Last Ship

Sting's shipbuilders showcase class pride and change from below

Scene from The Last Ship, photo by Pamela Raith

Scene from The Last Ship, photo by Pamela Raith   (Click to enlarge)

Geoff Jones, Swansea Socialist Party

It's not often that a West End-style stage musical can be politically inspiring. But imagine one with amazing sets, great music by Sting, a strong cast - and an anticapitalist story line. That's 'The Last Ship'.

Returning to the Tyne after 17 years at sea, sailor Gideon gets two shocks.

Not only does he learn that the girl he left behind was pregnant and he now has a teenage daughter - but that the shipyard, the main local employer, faces closure. The near-completed ship is to be scrapped, along with all the jobs in the yard.

The manager and a Thatcher lookalike cabinet minister give the workers a lesson in capitalist economics: no one wants to buy the ship - it could be built cheaper abroad - and its only value is as scrap. The workers go on strike but then decide to occupy the yard and finish the ship.

The foreman, Jacky, effectively echoes the words of Bob Crow: "If we fight we may lose. If we don't fight, we will certainly lose."

In one of the most powerful scenes, when the workers hear that mounted riot police are massing to retake the shipyard, Jacky's wife Peg leads the women of the community to form a human shield. She says "the BBC won't be able to edit this report like they did at Orgreave to make it look as if unarmed women are attacking the police."

The show ends with the huge ship sliding down the slipway into the Tyne. Victory for the workers.

Although we are left wondering what happens next. Where is the ship going? It is no accident that the ship is named Utopia!

The characters are well-drawn: foreman Jacky, the sailor Gideon, a shop steward quoting Marx; another who can only express himself by reciting poetry, another who has become a hopeless drunk.

Refreshingly, there are three really strong women characters in Peg, and Gideon's girlfriend Meg and daughter Ellen. The songs, and the singing, are first rate. The message is one of working class solidarity.

All in all an excellent night out with a good message.


Pete Watson, Nottingham Socialist Party

In May I went to see The Last Ship. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole show.

Previous generations of my family worked at the shipyards on Tyneside so I was expecting a bitter and nostalgic journey about the destruction of heavy industry in the north east. And that was an important part of the musical.

But it was more than that. It brought out the pride that skilled workers had in producing the ships of Tyneside.

It brought out, too, the conflict within the workforce between a socialist union steward and a more reformist foreman, against the capitalist owner and a thinly disguised Margaret Thatcher figure.

Women featured quite strongly in the show. The songs were good and the cast were very talented. And there was a love interest thrown in too!

I did think The Last Ship was meandering to a pessimistic close. However, right at the end, a cast member came to the front of the hall and spoke to the audience about how change can come from below.

She highlighted the Occupy movement, the fight to keep the NHS - and the feminist strike and protest in Spain (in fact, the Socialist Party's sister party Izquierda Revolucionaria played a leading role in that). I was gobsmacked by the end!

I'm sure most people going there didn't expect a left-wing message. It's not cheap either to get in. But if you can go, it's a good show. Maybe we should ask Sting for a donation to the Fighting Fund...

  • The Last Ship is touring Scotland and the north of England in June and July

In this issue


Donald Trump

Stop war, fight Trump, walk out on 13 July

United working class movements can defeat Trump


Irish abortion referendum

Landslide vote to repeal Ireland's abortion laws

Historic victory won by grassroots movement


Opinion

Sting's shipbuilders showcase class pride and change from below

Aberfan disaster novel reminds us Grenfell was not an anomaly

The Socialist Inbox


Socialist Party news and analysis

Johnson and Rees-Mogg widen Tory Brexit splits

Welsh Labour reprivatises rail lines: reverse Tory sell-offs!

Toxic air hits schools as EU ponders slap on wrist years late

England facing water shortage due to underinvestment

Them & Us


PCS conference

PCS conference 2018: members ready to fight to end pay misery


Workplace news and analysis

UCU conference: Members are organising and winning - build the union, build the struggles!

900-strong north west NHS strike

Unison ballots workers at Yorkshire hospitals at risk of privatisation

Wales TUC 2018: Socialist Party members challenge leadership at undemocratic conference

Springfield school strike in Birmingham against job cuts and workload

Broad Left candidate elected as Usdaw deputy general secretary


Nationalisation

Socialist nationalisation: what it is and why we need it


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Action demanded from new council

Hands off Teignmouth Hospital!

Socialist Party members inspired by revolutionary events

Police shootings in Tamil Nadu condemned

Leicester plans sales boost of 1,000th edition of the Socialist


 

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