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.

#alun parry#des warren#prison#ricky tomlinson#shrewsbury two#song#video


  1. Rob Clague - June 14, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    Another excellent ballad Alun. Growing up as an apprentice in the printing trade in Ormskirk in the early 70s, those guys never got a good press, you had to rely on the likes of the Socialist Worker to print the facts about the dispute. Keep up the good work. I will get to see you perform yet.

  2.">KattyBlackyard - June 15, 2009 @ 9:17 am

    Hi, gr8 post thanks for posting. Information is useful!

  3. alan McShane - June 16, 2009 @ 8:39 am

    Excellent words. A period of trade union history that some would rather forget.

  4. Della Wright - June 16, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

    Wow Alun all of your tunes hit home, but that one just had the hairs on the back of me neck standing to attention!!! thanks for sharing it with us as ever x

  5.">Alan Corkish - July 3, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

    I met Des when he came to Liverpool to talk to the Communist Party and drove him to the train afterwards. I was a brickie and went to Shrewsbry to picket. Des was a man of PURE principle, an inspiration… it was the way he was treated in prison that led to his death. I admired the man greatly; he’s sadly missed…

  6. Gary Kaye - October 29, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

    This is a classic song and a very moving song. It makes me angry (about Dessie’s treatment) and thankful (that there are people like Dessie who will stand up for people’s rights and songwriters like Al who keep alive the flame of optimism).

    See you on the 13th in Liverpool.

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