Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The book review

It's what hospital wards are made for!

Readers may recall how I was the lucky recipient of Cllr. Iain Malcolm's book about the South Shields Labour Party rebellion over the 1972 Housing Finance Act. "Reluctant Rebels" became the perfect foil for another afternoon of boredom whilst lying on a bed in South Tyneside District Hospital. I'm now sure that Iain was giving me a metaphorical slap on the wrist for my my failure to remember that Stan and George Smith did indeed spend time together on the old South Shields County Borough Council during the short period of Progressive control from 1969 to 1972, but, as I explained this was a period before my political birth.

Ah, back to the book (isn't it nice when people make such spontaneous gestures), it does exactly what it says on the tin. The book makes no judgements, appears not to be clouded with any personal ideology, is not washed with red dye and is purely a documentary record of events at the time. However, it is not bland or poorly illuminated, it is researched and considered. It has a naturally Geordie flavour to it and gets behind the scenes and looks at the issue from differing angles whilst reporting the events through the words of the protagonists from all sides as the deadline approached for South Shields Borough Council to ratify it's compliance with the new Act.

I don't wish to review the book in it's entirety here, suffice to say that I enjoyed reading it, reacquainted myself with some old names and characters that had hidden away in some dark rooms at the back of the mind, and reminded myself of how vulnerable some politicians were in face of the strident outcries of the left in the 1970's. The conclusion may have been so different if South Shields had taken the same route as Clay Cross, but clearly those who were in the vanguard of the protests were safe from risk, and expected others in more responsible positions to fall on their swords.

Thanks for the read Iain!

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