Staying Red: why I remain a socialist
by Norman Harding
out of print
300 pages with pictures; paperback
£12.99 + £2.50 p&p (UK)
Norman Harding has written a humane and often humorous account of a lifetime struggling for principles and for socialism. As a national serviceman in postwar Germany he found friendships with working-class Germans with whom he had much more in common than with the British officers. He joined the Trotskyist ‘Group’ in the Labour Party in the early 1950s. As a trade unionist in the Leeds clothing industry he fought for wages, conditions, principles, and the right for working people to enjoy the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra concerts. As a tenants’ leader he campaigned for improved conditions and the demolition of slums.
In the 1970s and 1980s, as a full-time worker for the Socialist Labour League, later the Workers Revolutionary Party, Norman’s work was mostly behind the scenes. But Party members recall that in a regime known for its harshness and ‘discipline’ Norman always treated them fairly and had a kind word, even after sleepless days and nights printing or dispatching the party’s publications.
Norman explains his evolution as a Trotskyist, standing up for socialism against the betrayals of Stalinism. These experiences meant that in 1985 he had no hesitation in standing against corruption and abuse in the heart of the party to which he had given the best years of his life. His account is the only one written by a participant in the explosion that expelled Party leader Gerry Healy from the WRP in 1985. What little there is on the internet and elsewhere in print is inaccurate and fails to grasp both what the party achieved and how its members dealt with the corruption.
Norman Harding died in December 2013, but until his last months he participated in the tenants’ movement in Yorkshire. He addedd his voice to the opposition to the 'bedroom tax' and the extra hardship it is creating for families. Norman's vision of a socialist society shone through everything he said and did, and he hoped that his book would help to pass on his knowledge of the movement to younger generations.
Articles by Norman Harding, and a bit of a blog, are at http://stayingred.wordpress.com/staying-red-html-version/
The archive of the early editions of the Newsletter, the journal produced by those breaking from the Communist Party from 1957 onwards, is also available here, thanks to Norman Harding.
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