June 12, 2009 by alunparry
My Name Is Dessie Warren
I know it’s usual for musicians to only share their songs when they’re completed, produced and the full works.
But I’ve decided to start sharing works much earlier than that.
I wrote a song today. It’s early days so I may tweak it as time passes over the next few weeks.
But I’ve uploaded a video of me singing it so you can see where I’m up to at the moment. It’s a bit rough obviously but you get the idea.
If it doesn’t change then great. If it does you’ll see it in development when I record a later draft.
This song is entitled My Name Is Dessie Warren.
Des Warren was a great trade unionist in the building trade who successfully organised workers in that notoriously difficult sector.
His fight was for a safer working environment and for decent pay. Reasonable demands.
The state responded by dredging up the 1875 Conspiracy Act and applied it for the first time to the legitimate work of a dedicated trade unionist. It was a stitch up and an attack on the entire union movement.
Des Warren was jailed for 3 years in 1973, and was kept in jail even when Labour formed the Government a year later.
Labour Home Secretary Roy Jenkins refused to free him.
His treatment in jail was abusive and hostile. He was subjected to the persistent use of the “liquid cosh”. This was where “awkward” prisoners were forcibly given tranquilisers by the prison officers.
Des Warren’s doctor told him that the Parkinson’s disease he suffered from, and which cut short his life, was caused by the liquid cosh he was given in prison.
Des Warren was a great working class organiser who was attacked and jailed by the state, and then betrayed by the leadership of the union movement. His story deserves to be told.
I hope those who have not heard of Des Warren will Google his name and learn more – especially about the campaign to get a pardon for Des and fellow prisoner Ricky Tomlinson.
Those who know of Des Warren can join me in raising a glass to a genuine working class hero.