October 5th 2009 saw a great memorial meeting in London’s Royal Festival Hall for Jack Jones the ex -TGWU general secretary. Born into poverty in 1913 and brought up in the docklands of Liverpool, James Larkin Jones (Jack) fought, and was wounded in Spain in 1938 during its civil war against fascism. He led his great union to a peak of 2.2million members, and was a force for good in the land. The champion for pensioners in the last 31 of his 96 years, he was the quintessential working class hero.
UNISON conference delegates in 2006 will recall his moving video message to mark the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War and its strong anti fascist message.
The establishment could not of course allow this, and right –wing efforts to smear Jack’s memory have led to feeble accusations based on absolutely no evidence, that he was considered for a short time in the 1960s as an agent for the KGB. One smear has him accepting £200 from a dubious double` agent in 1984.
Speaking at the memorial Rodney Bickerstaffe, a close friend, said that Jack Jones, a great internationalist, worked only for the people of the world, and definitely not for the KGB or CIA.
“Having been offered a £10,0000 farewell gift by the TGWU members at his 1978 retirement,” Bickerstaffe later said, “he immediately handed it over to the fledgling Retired Members Association.
Is it probable, is it likely that 6years later, this man of integrity with a huge reputation would have accepted tacky hand-outs from some cold-war clown ?”