The today’s breaking news in all media concerns the death of Margaret Thatcher. Even in Germany it was a hot news. All medias told what good she did over her term of office and that she wasn’t loved by her own people and that the way she did her job was the best for Great Britain retrospective.
If it was good to call slaughter Pinochet a friend, to raise a war in the Falklands, to do the population in the poverty, to diminish the mining and sending troops to stop strikes – than, yes indeed she did a very good job.
But there’s something that will stand the test of time: She united a lot of people under the flag of Red Wedge.
Red Wedge was a collective of musicians who attempted to engage young people with politics in general, and the policies of the Labour Party in particular, during the period leading up to the 1987 general election, in the hope of ousting the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.
Fronted by Billy Bragg (whose 1985 Jobs for Youth tour had been a prototype of sorts for Red Wedge), Paul Weller and The Communards lead singer Jimmy Somerville, they put on concert tours and appeared in the media, adding their support to the Labour Party campaign.
“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge”, a 1919 lithograph by Lissitzky
The group was launched on 21 November 1985, with Bragg, Weller, Strawberry Switchblade and Kirsty MacColl invited to a reception at the Palace of Westminsterhosted by Labour MP Robin Cook. The collective took its name from a 1919 poster by Russian constructivist artist El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. Despite this echo of the Russian Civil War, Red Wedge was not a communist organisation; neither was it officially part of the Labour Party, but it did initially have office space at Labour’s headquarters. The group’s logo, also inspired by the Lissitzky poster, was designed by Neville Brody.
Red Wedge organised a number of major tours. The first, in January and February 1986, featured Bragg, Weller’s band The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, Lorna Gee and Jerry Dammers, and picked up guest appearances from Madness, Heaven 17, Bananarama, Prefab Sprout, Elvis Costello, Gary Kemp, Tom Robinson, Sade, The Beat, Lloyd Cole, The Blow Monkeys and The Smiths along the way.
Thank you, that our heroes of the past could unite against you. I wish this happened in my time when her friend and our former chancellor Helmut Kohl was on duty.
One thought on “The Iron Lady and Red Wedge”
I saw a few of the Red Wedge concerts in 1986. Great nights out….a great mix of pop and politics with the amount of both on offer just about right.