Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Workers' United FC?

I haven't written anything about football for a while on this blog (lets be honest I haven't written anything about anything for a while on this blog), but since it is Euro 2012, I thought I may as well highlight one quite remarkable piece of footballing trivia that may appeal to some readers.  This is: the great East Anglian footballing rivals - Ipswich Town and Norwich City - both currently have managers who are not only socialists (not in itself so remarkable given there is a great tradition of socialist football managers or one sort of another) but also have an admiration for Leon Trotsky.   Chris Hughton, the new Norwich manager, was a supporter of Gerry Healey's Workers' Revolutionary Party during the 1970s and even wrote a column for their paper Newsline:

I did write - but it's probably not as dramatic as it sounds. I've always had strong views on social issues such as hospitals - I think we should have a good health system - and the education system, too.  I was a young player with Ireland at the time. These days, players can do as many interviews and columns as they want. Back in the day, it wasn't like that.

Paul Jewell, Ipswich manager, meanwhile, has a pet tortoise called Trotsky:

Though Paul Jewell was actually born in Scotland Road, Liverpool – a working-class area home to many of the city’s migrant communities – he spent 21 of his first 23 years in the Walton district, not too far from the Anfield football ground.
His father Billy, an engineer, was a profound influence on his life. "I miss my dad more than anything (he died of a brain tumour 17 years ago). He was my best pal, and a man of strong, strong principles.
"He worked on the shop floor, and would never do overtime at a time of unemployment because he thought he would be stopping someone getting a job. He stuck by his values to the letter, and I admired him for that, he was a great guy."
Billy Jewell was a trade union activist and his son remembers being hoisted on to his shoulders in the 70s for many ‘right to work’ marches, as well as protesting against the three-day week, and for the miners.
The young Jewell was keenly interested in politics, reading about – amongst others – the lives and times of Lenin and Trotsky; his family even today has a pet tortoise named after the latter! He’s a great admirer of the Labour stalwart Tony Benn.
But even though he can engage compellingly, if pressed, about issues like the war in Afghanistan and the neglect of Africa, the absence of ideology and the blurring of party political lines has left him somewhat disillusioned with politics today.
"I look at politics now and I think, they’re no different, no matter who’s in charge, Labour or the Conservatives. I think it’s all spin – we live in an age of spin, don’t we? These days you often feel we only get to find out what our political masters want us to find out.
"I didn’t like Thatcher, I’ve got to be honest with you, but I knew what she stood for; she didn’t try to pull the wool over my eyes. Equally with Norman Tebbit, when he said ‘Get on your bike’ I knew where he was coming from, what side he was on. That’s why I liked Tony Benn, he had opinions and he could back them up."

I don't know what this means for either Ipswich or Norwich with respect to football, and it seems doubtful Leon Trotsky himself would have ever advocated long term entrism into the world of football management as a tactic for his supporters, but personally as a Trotskyist Ipswich Town fan (who once had a pet cat called Trotsky) I think having two such anti-Tory football managers is to be welcomed given the task of building a wider culture of resistance to the politics of austerity and racism in the current climate.  

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