A plague on both their houses…

Leave_RemainThis article was written by a member of the Independent Working Class Association from the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford. It outlines the fundamental anti-working class nature of the EU and the historic complicity of Tory and Labour politicians from both the Remain and Leave camps in the EU’s merciless rightward drift:


A plague on both their houses…

To a working class drained and exhausted by having been made to shoulder the weight and the cost of austerity and immigration (and being called bigoted and racist for its efforts), the ruling class is offering a choice between two very bad options, both of which will make life even harder for the working class. Because whoever wins will claim a mandate to carry on with their current identical agendas of privatisations and austerity (Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as defenders of the NHS? Please!). So even a victory for the Remain campaign would not be a victory for the status quo. This is a War of the Roses, the prize being whose friends get the rich pickings of privatisations (the Land Registry anyone?), academisation and anti-trade union legislation, with the working class being asked to pay for its consequences and validate the result.

Of course the EU is a cabal run by the Council (comprised of the heads of state) and unelected commissioners (with the European Parliament playing much the same role as the House of Lords) designed to serve the interests of multinationals at the expense of the workers in each member state. Nobody in their right mind can deny that. But the truth is that successive UK governments, far from being victims of these forces of darkness, have been the main actors in bringing about the most anti-working class policies that could be concocted that were then imposed on the whole Union. Here’s how the little scam they’ve been playing on us works:

1.  We are watching the game, and suddenly there’s a scuffle, we follow the scuffle, and we don’t notice that the ball leaves the pitch;
2.  A while later a ball is kicked back into the pitch, but it’s not the same ball that left it – and by the time we notice it’s weighted, it’s too late and we are told that now there is no other ball.

WTOlogoWhen the ball is smuggled out of the pitch, it’s taken to one or more of the four main transnational institutions of political and economic control: the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the EU. None of these have an elected decision-making body (the MEP’s that we elect have consultative powers), none of these have a transparent, democratically controlled system to address grievances. For example, any case of a country being sued by another country for breaching a WTO rule will be heard by a panel of 3-5 “experts” in Geneva. Their report can only be rejected by unanimous consensus and appeals be made only on points of law. The rules do not favour one country or another as such: they favour big business, and big business will use the countries with bigger muscles to enforce their will.

bananawar1The famous “Banana Wars” of the 1990s are a case in point: the EU had given bananas from former Caribbean colonies protected access to the EU markets to stimulate their economy. Latin American producers, owned by giant US-based corporations, sued the EU because protective tariffs breach free trade principles. The WTO found against the EU, but the US were not satisfied with the changes the EU made, so they imposed retaliatory, non-WTO authorised 100% import duties (and got away with it) on a range of European products, some of which (on textiles) hit Scottish producers very hard (https://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/mar/05/eu.wto3).

The rules transnational institutions make can and are broken, but only by the mightiest and in favour of the interests they serve, yet none of us gave them the power to make those rules, so we can’t vote them out to change the rules. As one anti-globalisation campaigner once said, “Free trade? What is it? Show it to me.”

The UK is a major player in all four institutions. It is true that at the WTO, IMF and WB it negotiates as an EU member, not independently, but, for example, from 2004 to 2008 the Trade Commissioner negotiating on behalf the EU at the WTO etc. was none other than Peter Mandelson.

In all four bodies, all UK governments of the last 25 years at least have aggressively pursued policies and trade deals that hugely strengthened multinationals’ interests and undermined democracy in general and the working class in particular, together with workers’ rights, the environment and the fabric of civil society. Here are some of the most pernicious and far-reaching:

Structural Adjustment Programs, that required developing countries to privatise their public services in order to qualify for the cancellation of debt they had already repaid many times over; these strengthened the hand of multinationals that could later be played at home;

GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), that made it illegal for governments to impose “trade barriers” such as environmental and social safeguards, the obligation to train and employ local workers, the enforcement of workers’ rights including the right to organise through unions, democratic accountability, etc. – in practice, everything you would want to be protected by law, so when you hear “trade barriers”, reach for your wallet, as thieves are about – on companies interested in privatising public services. In practice, it stipulated that if a company wants to acquire a public service and run it for profit, it’s illegal for a government to stop them or favour companies that include protections amounting to “trade barriers” in their bid.

All EU directives about privatisation of public services, which are an application of GATS to EU member states, ranging from the “creation of a single market for postal services in the EU” (the operative term being market), to the Bolkenstein Directive. The Bolkenstein Directive is a diabolical and complicated piece of legislation created to ensure that a company providing a service in an EU country is automatically entitled to provide it in all other countries regardless of differences in standards and “trade barriers” between the country of origin and the host country. In its first draft it originally stated that when a company from one country provides a service in another country, the country of origin legislation applied, which would have resulted in a high-speed race to the bottom. Please note that the UK held the EU presidency at the time, and Tony Blair was pushing for the Directive to be adopted, and the Tories didn’t make a sound. However, there was some popular resistance in some countries (France, Germany, Italy, with the British trade unions spectacularly failing to campaign amongst their members and simply sending their bosses to Brussels) and the “country of origin principle” was removed. But it was not replaced with the “host country principle”, in a fudged, fiendish, final directive that therefore obfuscates the issue, doesn’t say which laws apply, and leaves it open to be battled out in courtrooms for lawyers to have a field day.

The UK negotiated an opt-out on the European Working Time Directive (the Directive meant to prevent employers from making workers work more than 48 hours a week). It is a standard clause in most UK contracts that you “agree” to opt out. The wording on www.gov.uk says, “You can choose to work more by opting out of the 48-hour week”, like it’s a freedom it negotiated for you, but doesn’t say that all overtime must be paid. It is of course true that in every country workers’ rights have been hard won by the organised working class but, truth be told, it has been EU regulations that have so far prevented successive UK governments from stripping off the last vestiges of them, and the UK employment law is the worst in Europe.

TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership), the next step from GATS being negotiated between the EU and the US, which is meant to allow multinationals to sue a government for “lost revenue” (???) if a government denies it permission or restricts its right to operate on its territory (through the imposition of “trade barriers”, of course), and CETA (which is the same as TTIP, but with Canada). Did you hear Cameron, Johnson or Gove or any of them (apart from, in fairness, the Green Party) denounce TTIP for the evil it is before it suited them for the purpose the referendum campaign?







It is fundamental to realise that all of the above trade deals and consequent policies, that ensured the transference of power from nation states and elected governments to multinationals and banks, were pushed for by all of the UK governments in the last 25 years: they were not imposed on the UK – they were pursued by the UK and imposed on other countries (such as the developing countries).

So that’s what happens to the ball when it leaves the pitch, and that’s why the ball that is kicked back on the pitch a bit later is never the same ball – it is one heavily weighted, and weighted against the working class and in favour of multinationals. And if somebody complained every time it happened, the UK government was able to play the victim and say its hands were tied by WTO/WB/IMF/EU regulations.

It is of course tempting to think that leaving the EU would at least remove one of the fig leaves the ruling class hides behind. Yet one look at the reality of the British economy (no manufacturing worth mentioning, a parasitic banking and financial sector, and a monstrously overblown, bloated housing market) explains why bilateral deals, like the disastrous one Osborne successfully negotiated with China a few months back and which would be the rule outside the EU, mean the sell-out of the UK in order to line the pockets of Osborne’s patrons and bleed the working class to death. It is true that Norway has been doing well outside the EU, but it was never inside and it hasn’t put its public services, infrastructure, power and working class through the mangle the way the UK has.

And let us not forget that, given that the UK still retains the £ pound and the power to set its own economic policy independently from the EU and the European Central Bank, the austerity that has been choking the working class was not imposed by the EU but is entirely of Osborne’s choosing. Again: did you hear Boris Johnson or Michael Gove complain against it?

So the truth is that the ruling class, in the UK and in the rest of the EU, doesn’t need the EU, not even its cover, to carry out its class war and this very dirty work. What is happening now is that, after blaming the EU for the muck on its hands for too long, a sector of the ruling class has seized the opportunity to exploit the other sector’s political miscalculation together with the anger of so many, and make another push to further their patrons’ and their own interests. The working class will not only gain nothing from either outcome, but will be subjected to a further squeeze whatever the outcome, when the portion of the ruling class that wins takes all.

The EU offers its helping hand to the revival of Greek fascism, rescuing it from the grave made for it in 1945
The EU’s imposition of austerity on the people of Greece was also a helping hand to Greek fascism, rescuing it from the grave dug for it in 1945.


BREAKING NEWS: First Minister & Deputy First Minister’s Statement on the EUros Situation


A Jointly Separate Statement on The French Situation by the First Minister/Deputy First Minister of NornIron/Northo’Iron

We, the undersigned as First Minister/Deputy First Minister of NornIron/Northo’Iron, have had our attentions drawn to a situation that has developed over in that there Franceland during the EUro Championships that are on over there the now, so’s they are.

As your First Minister/Deputy First Minister of NornIron/Northo’Iron, we are firmly of the opinion that this situation must not be allowed to develop into a further situation that might lead to an unnecessary situation that could well end in a tragic situation.

With that situation in mind, we are calling for the fans of NornIron/Northo’Iron and RaRepublicayIron to remain calm and not to respond to this situation no matter the Proviecation and circumstance of said situation. We call on the people of NornIron/Northo’Iron and RaRepublicayIron to stay focused on the peace process situation and not to allow the hooligan situation to deflect from a situation that might upset the balance of our commitment to the precarious situation in NornIron/Northo’Iron.

We were heartened to see the situation where the peoples of these islands were able to bring about a peaceful situation, indeed, a united situation, where they sang in a situation of harmonious drunkenness those great songs of peace and brotherhood – ‘Ten German Situations’ and ‘God Save Our Situation’ – in a manner that is fitting in such a situation as that of the serious situation in Frenchland right the now, so’s it is. We commend the fans of NornIron/Northo’Iron and indeed RaRepublicayIron for the tremendous restraint that they have demonstrated in this situation.

Now away over there and behave yersels and please do not create a situation where Marty might have tae intervene in this situation.

No Surrender/Tiocfaidh Ár Lá

Vote Out/Vote In

Arlene & Marty

Politicians To Arrange ‘Proper Naughty Offs’ In Europe

igorlebedev-russianMP“I do not see anything terrible in fans fighting. On the contrary: well done to our boys – keep it up!”

  • Russian MP, Igor Lebedev (Deputy Chair of Russian Parliament & Executive Member of Russian Football Union)

In light of these outrageous comments by an elected member, several other elected dicks have also added fuel to the fire… allegedly

CameronFlags‘England’s best option is to remain in the EUros, unless Wales jolly well kick our arses on Thursday, in which case we will all be stronger together and rally around the British team.’

  • David Cameron, British Prime Minister & leader of the campaign to remain in the EUros.

boris-johnson-boxing‘Crikey chaps! Those Ruskies are a rum lot. Head for Dunkirk immediately!’

  • The Man Who Would Be Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, leader of the ‘Get Me Out Of Here, I’m An Upper Class Twit’ Campaign.

carwynjones_OneNationLabour‘We’re just glad to be here and taking part and as a net gainer from the EUros, we are firmly in favour of remaining on the gravy train all the way to the final (vote)’

  • Carwyn Jones, Prince of Welsh Labour and nothing to do with those mad Corbynistas down in that London.

Sturgeon1‘The very fact that Scotland are not at the EUros only further demonstrates the oppression of our nation by the Westminster Elite (apart from our 59 revolutionary guerillas bravely elected to Westminster by a subjugated and downtrodden nation). It’s very clear that only a second referendum will now guarantee Scotland its rightful place at the head of a group that will fail to win a single argument in Europe. Wha’s like us, eh?’

  • Bonnie Nicola Sturgeon, Monarch of the Glen & Queen of the (nearly) Independent Scottish non-Republic in Europe.

nigel-farage‘I’ve always enjoyed the company of my many Russian friends, though I do draw the line at sharing a continent with them. Like the English, they love a drink and a cigarette inside a smokey pub, unlike this so-called EU-UEFA Elite who want to dictate that the beautful game – which we English invented incidentally – should be played in an entirely separate space to the drinking, smoking and fighting. It’s political correctness gone madski!’

  • Nigel Farage, man of the people, beer drinker, smoker and jolly well English & Drunk.

Rebels Should Vote To Leave The Empire

Why I’m voting to leave the evil empire and why I think every worker should do the same.

SteveLeaveRMTBy Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Rail Maritime & Transport Union (RMT)

We in the RMT are a union of 80 000 workers that covers train workers, Tube workers, port workers and seafarers. We oppose racism in all its forms, we are for a peoples’ Europe and a peoples’ world; a socialist Europe and a socialist world.

You may have been forgiven for thinking that the right wing are the only people who are arguing for a British exit from the European Union. News reports concentrate almost exclusively on the Brexit campaign led in Britain by racists like Farage, and racists like Boris Johnson and the right wing of the Tory Party. We have no association with these people at all.

They are like a stopped clock which is only right twice a day,  but for all the wrong reasons. We want to come out of the European Union because we want to protect the rights of workers.

If we look at the philosophical and political reasons why the European Union was formed we can see that it a capitalist entity, a completely ruthless trading block, in competition with other trading blocks, including developing countries.

As early as 1957 the European Treaty outlined the absolute necessity of the free movement of Capital, labour services and the pre-eminence of the free market economy within the borders of the signatory states. This completely rules out two of the fundamental bases of socialism i.e. the need for a planned economy and control over the movement of capital. To change this treaty all 28 current European states would have to unanimously agree the changes.

Of course, those in Britain arguing to remain in the EU  will correctly point out that the Conservatives led by Thatcher [and after that, the Labour government under Blair] brought about privatisation in all the major utilities; gas, water, electricity, telecommunications and of course the railways. However, what the EU does is institutionalise these privatisations and does not allow nation states to reverse them.

Take the rail industry for example. The European Fourth Railway Package institutionalises privatisation and enshrines it in European law, which has precedence over the national law of member states.

The Fourth Rail Package in its own words seeks:

“Opening domestic passenger markets. The 4th railway package includes the proposal to open up domestic passenger railways to new entrants and services from December 2019. Companies would be able either to offer competing services, such as a new train service on a particular route, or to bid for public service rail contracts through tendering. The proposed changes would make competitive tendering mandatory for public service rail contracts in the EU.”

Even if we had a left-wing government elected in Britain tomorrow and Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister,  he would not be allowed to renationalise the railways and stay in the European Union.

In our Maritime industry we have seen the obscene spectacle of Portuguese workers, our brothers and sisters, working in British ships in Southampton being paid less that £3 per hour, which is less than half the national minimum wage.  This is completely legal under European law, which in the Viking Lavelle judgements stated that an employee can work in a foreign country and be paid the minimum wage of their home country [Portugal] and not the superior wage of the host country [Britain].

In essence this is what the EU is all about. It’s a bosses club, a rich capitalist institution that wants to destroy workers’ rights and workers’ terms and conditions. It seeks to open up markets to private capital that have previously been closed to it, precisely because they were state owned and run. SteveRMT

We welcome any worker from across Europe and indeed across the world. We have far more in common with workers from other European countries [and beyond Europe] than with our bosses. We want those workers paid on the same terms, conditions and pay as British workers.

Our opponents try to brand us as ‘racists’ because we demand that the workers of all nations should have equal rights. It is a slur and a lie. It’s part of the “Project Fear” campaign to intimidate workers – especially those from ethnic minorities in Britain – into voting to remain in the European Union.

The liberalisation package that the EU is demanding by 2020 is the reason that France is on strike at the minute. It is intended that this package will be applied in every European country.  As in France, the need for capitalism to maximise its profits means deregulation, lengthening the working week, cutting pensions, introducing flexible working conditions [including zero hours contracts] for workers throughout Europe.

Multinationals are already taking advantage of those European laws which prevent free trade. We have the appalling example of an American company, Uber, registered in Holland, taking the Spanish government to the European court because, they say, their trade is being restricted.

The actions of Uber will become the template for every other multinational that wants to drive down terms and conditions. If a government tries to protect its workers, companies can take governments to the European Court. This will be further enshrined in the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, which is now being negotiated in secret, behind our backs. The chief negotiator for Europe in the TTIP talks said plainly that she was not responsible to the European people, but was responsible to the unelected European commission.

I would like to end by saying that this year is an historic year for me as an Irishman.  One hundred years ago, a few thousand Irish people rose up in 1916 and shook the chains of the British Empire. It is my fervent hope that in 2016, the peoples of France, Germany, Spain, Greece – and indeed all the peoples of Europe – will rise up against the dictatorship of the European Union.

Beverley: TAL talks to Bev Thompson about film of her life in the 80’s

From the Cass Pennant production team comes the multi-award winning short film Beverley, set in Leicester in 1980. The film begins in the urban city centre where Bev lives with her parents Caroline and Travis, younger sister Jess and autistic brother Carl. This is an economically depressed environment – consistent with The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ in many ways, although amongst the shuttered empty shops within the network of council housing and their frequent red lights, is a vibrant social multicultural community. Bev feels at home here drifting in and out of houses, listening in to the incessant noise of drinking, socializing and sound systems. All of that changes when her father comes into money and moves the family to middle-class white suburbia…

IMG_2827Beverley Thompson is the real life inspiration for the film. She spoke to TAL’s Choppy about growing up in the 80s; her love of music, especially reggae and 2 Tone ska; and about being a girl involved in football, fashion and fighting.

First of all, how did the Beverley film project come about?

I contributed to ‘Casuals’, a documentary on football terrace fashion. Cass Pennant was the producer and Alex Thomas was the cameraman. I told Cass I had a good idea for a film – my story of being a mixed-race Rude Girl moving from the black community to white suburbia. A year later Cass interviewed me in depth and out of those interviews Alex wrote the script… and the rest is history.

With the film Beverley, what are you trying to convey to the audience?

There’s no single message. We wanted to explore a certain era in social history, the sensitive issues of race, gender and class under the emergence of Thatcherism. The film is also a personal journey of a young person trying to make sense out of the nonsensical. Love, family, politics, loyalty, violence… it’s all in there. It was important to make the film about a mixed-race female, yet everyone can identify with feeling vulnerable and wanting an equal shot in life.

How do you feel about the portrayal of your character in the film, is it difficult to watch yourself being played by an actress?

In real life I was only 12 when the events in the film happened, Laya Lewis plays me as if I was 16. I think Laya is an amazing actress and did a great job with the character. Filming was emotional. It was on location in Leicester, filming on the streets where I used to hang out as a kid. Plus my Dad is dead so it brought back the loss. It was surreal.

How do you view music and culture these days comparing it to the 80’s?Bev1

The music I grew up listening to was either talking about the struggle of the underdog in life or love. Music was a means of expressing emotions anger, sadness and hope. In the early 1980s 2tone and Punk were political and belonged to distinct sub-cultures, it was protest music. Now music is purely about entertainment, it doesn’t make you think about the wider world and how it is self-centred and image driven. The gatekeeper of the music/media industry control what the mainstream are exposed to. Music is censored.

Which five style items and labels define the 80’s for you and why?

There’s leg-warmers and ra-ra skirts that we associated with the mixed up ’80s, but I’d say dreadlocks – they were about as anti-establishment as the punks’ Mohawk – white activists, like black Rastas, grew dreadlocks as a form of defiance. I wore Aquascutum, a British label, more exclusive than Burberry. It made me feel aspirational straight away you knew I had money and money was equated with success. Also the European labels like Benetton, Lacoste, Fila all became massive as we started to travel and appreciate design.Clothes were statements of how ‘cultured’ you were – tennis wear and golf jumpers on a 15-year-old made you feel important, even if you weren’t. Trainers were no longer for PE. We stopped wearing shoes and started wanting the latest footwear. Adidas Gazelles are iconic of the mid 1980s.At the end of the 1980s it was the mobile phone and filofax. I was the first female I knew with a mobile phone, a Motorola. I was 20 years old.

Would you swap growing up in the late 70/80s and all that entailed, for growing up now?

I wouldn’t swap to be young in today’s society – kids are great with technology, but they’ve missed out on the freedoms we had as kids. Big groups of kids could play out from dawn ’til dusk, in tight knit communities, where adults were like extended family. We weren’t allowed to be in the house! There were ‘gangs’ but no guns and knives were carried. If they were, it was for bravado, rarely used and never fatally. My own kids have experienced multiple deaths of their friends and a whole generation are in prison serving long sentences.

Today’s Politics? How do you view the rise of the far-right EDL, UKIP, etc., and how would you tackle it?

Today’s politics are an insult to our intelligence. The UK is a corporation run by puppet masters. The far-right – EDL, UKIP, etc. – are smokescreens created out of ignorance and frustration. Bullying the weak and vulnerable sickens me to the core. Islamophobia has stopped me watching the evening news and reading newspapers. if I had it my way I’d call an international strike until every human being is paid the same rate for their time and energy, ending the massive gap of the 1% and the rest of us. I’d also end world debt and fair trade would be mandatory. I’d get rid of most the laws, replacing them with a vow not to intentionally harm anyone or anything. Government would not exist. I think history has proved that they cause more harm than good – people don’t need governing, we are free! Let’s get rid of the slave masters.

Ska1In the Casuals Documentary you mention it becoming easier to move into the Soccer Casual scene early 80’s after being a Rude Girl, was this down to Leicester City having a multiracial Firm at that time and not having to deal with right wing skins?

Yes, I was in to fashion so the clothes were my ticket in. I was lucky to wear all the latest stuff and compete with the older men in the firm when it came to my garms. The leader of the Baby Squad was a Black guy, which made me confident enough to feel I could stand in a rowdy pub with some tough looking white guys and feel part of the team. We looked forward to teams like Millwall playing Leicester so we could battle with their racist hooligans.

At TAL a few of us were into the Two Tone scene around 1980, it seemed to be around a two year movement surprisingly, would you put that down to the rise of the Football Terrace cultures?

The 2tone bands went off to the USA. By the time they came back it was all New Romantics and Soul to Soul. Some sold out – think FUNBOY3! The music industry wanted cheesy pop. Political music didn’t get radio play, so didn’t feature in the charts or mainstream. it died a lonely death. The football terrace scene reflected Thatcherism – individualism not community, politics was about business not society; people’s values changed and consumerism killed off socialism.

In the tradition of Ska, do you still see that as class, the working class and the need to unite together, rather than separate along racial and religious lines?

Ska2Ska started in Jamaica and came to the UK with the immigrants after WW2. It was a sound for the rebels, before that Jamaicans listened to USA imports or Calypso. Ska was music for the underdog and young people identified, regardless of skin tone. The style represented the ‘working man’ – jeans, work boots and braces and a short haircut called the skinhead.

What would your favourite Ska band be at the time?

2tone (Ska is 1960’s) was the answer to my prayers. I remember seeing The Specials on Top of the Pops – a mixed culture group – with moody Terry and crazy Neville. It was love at first sight for me. They get criticised for all the Prince Buster covers but they gave 1960s Ska to a new audience. I also have loads of respect for Selecter and The Beat.

What would you consider your top five albums to be?

I guess the soundtrack to my life would be CarWash Disco music. The Specials both albums; Sade’s first album; Gregory Isaccs’ Night Nurse; and Skinnyman ‘Council Estate of the Mind’. I like music that makes me want to get up, whether to dance or bang my head against the wall! My favourite song of all time is ‘A Change Is Going To Come’ by Sam Cooke the anthem of the civil rights movement.

Did the Baby Squad have any infiltration by the far-right? I remember Celtic played a friendly against Leicester after a couple heroes of both clubs – Neil Lennon as a player and Martin O’Neil as manager – joined Celtic. That night a few of us had some run–ins with Leicester fans who were definitely far-right in their attitudes and they knew Celtic had a left-wing reputation. Obviously that was not in your era of activity, but was there ever any problems like that when you were around the casual scene?

Leicester was the headquarters of the National Front and is a similar town to Luton where the EDL started – years ago it was aimed at Blacks now its Asians – pure bullying. I never witnessed anything in the Baby Squad. No doubt racism existed, but it certainly wasn’t accepted and would’ve been undercover. BSquad wasn’t political with a big P, it was more about money, reputation and feeling part of a group that was willing to fight a common ‘enemy’. It was the powerless for a few hours playing at being powerful. Now, in 2016, look at our world leaders, same bullshit but their weapons are of mass destruction – we had a Stanley knife and a clenched fist. At worst, you’d ruin your outfit and get a nose bleed!

How was the relationship with any other female peers in other mobs from other teams?Bev2

Ironically there was only one other girl who got close to the action. She was a punk/skinhead – a nutter – we weren’t friends but would hang about waiting for the madness to commence! I hung out with other young lads – too young to play with the big boys – we talked clothes and football battle heroes. Black guys like Cass Pennant from the ICF and Barrington ‘One Eyed Baz’ from the Zulus – Birmingham’s firm – were legends, as Blacks were a minority on the terraces, which were filled with angry white guys full of rage.

For us there’s always been a link between football, music, fashion and politics. Moving into the Casual / Terrace scene in the 80’s which bands influenced you at that time?

The Smiths were big but I’ve always loved black music, reggae and soul. I liked a bit of Madonna, she was fresh, but mainly Gregory Isaccs, Aswad, Lovers Rock – I like sound systems too – Saxon Coxsone. Anything with lyrics and a good bass line will get me dancing tho’ but Reggae is rebel music so that’s where my heart belongs.

You’ve been involved heavily with two, key, iconic, modern English subcultures: 2 Tone and Soccer Casual. A path travelled by many of your generation. How do you compare the two?

There were similarities in that they were passionate, anti-establishment vents of the young. You wanted to aspire to principles of equality – better wages – even if it was only to be a Poser. Socialism wasn’t fashionable and Thatcher’s youth were fickle. The difference showed how time never stands still, it moves in circles; the bust was over and the boom was starting. 2tone was ‘Ghost Town’ and rioting; Casuals was Wham and saving up to get a ticket to watch a game in Porto. It’s like, ‘HANDS UP WHO DON’T WANT MORE MONEY?’ Consumerism took over.

Do you have any regrets about your time in the mob? Or the scenes you were into?

No regrets. Isn’t life an adventure? Mine certainly is, and those days were a big influence on me. I learnt so much about loyalty, justice, strategy, ambition. I learnt to be strong. I gained the tools that made me cope with difficult times in my life. Being a woman in a man’s world is tough, but being a mixed race woman is even tougher- yet I’ve gained respect in places angels fear to tread !

Leicester City BadgeDo you still get to the odd Leicester match? How do you view the modern game? With Leicester flying high in the Premiership, do you think it will be able to maintain its reputation as a local family club, or will big money corrupt it and the working class be priced out of the game by the present success?

I was more interested in what happened before and after the game than the actual football match. Leicester have done amazing though, I’m very proud of the team. I was travelling back to London from Nottingham the day Leicester celebrated winning the Premier League and the train was packed with all races, class and ages; men, women and children wearing LCFC colours – what a celebration of multiculturalism. I hope the club do right by the fans. Leicester is definitely back in the game

We really like the Stone Foundation a mix of soul, funk and a touch of ska, quite refreshing. How does it feel to have a track dedicated to you?

I am very honoured to have inspired the ‘Beverley’ track. I met the guys when they were supporting The Beat we hit it off straight away – They went off and wrote the song in one go and its perfect. I got to watch SF at the jazz cafe on my birthday. They performed the song and everyone was dancing, it was great.

What does the future hold for you? Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m writing a script based on the early 1990s and the whole war on drugs bullshit. That’sRudeGirl3 an important topic to me as the policing of crack cocaine devastated the black community. There are talks of Beverley becoming a feature film – there’s a lot of support behind the film, as its a powerful concept. It’s like Bob Marley said, “You only know how strong you are when theres no other option but to be strong.” That’s me all over.