Over a hundred specially invited guests attended the official launch of the Jack Jones Trust on the 13th November in Portcullis House, Parliament.
Rodney Bickerstaffe hosted the evening as an old friend and comrade. He welcomed Jack’s family to the event and told us all about the spirit and commitment that Jack showed throughout his life.
Len McCluskey spoke on behalf of UNITE and also as an old friend of Jack’s, who he met when he first started work on Liverpool Docks. Len, as General Secretary of UNITE, the UK’s largest union and the successor union to the TGWU, spoke about the tradition and legacy of shop steward organisation that Jack left the union. Len spoke about Jack’s life time of struggle, as an activist on the docks, an anti fascist fighter in the Spanish Civil War where he was badly wounded and then as a union organiser. On behalf of Unite Len spoke of their pride in being at the launch and being asked to speak in Jack’s memory.
Brian Reade from the Daily Mirror told the launch how passionately he felt about Jack’s life story describing him as ‘the greatest Briton of the 20thCentury and that includes Winston Churchill’. He talked about the film project the trust is already working on, to commemorate the life of Jack who he also described as one of his heroes. He told a little known story of Jack confronting Michael Portillo – a member of the Tory Government at the time – whose father was a refugee from Spain and had fought against fascism. Jack told Portillo ‘ I fought to save the father and now I fight to defeat the son’ and told him that his father would be ashamed of what the son was doing.
Tom Watson MP spoke about the domination of film media by the likes of Murdoch and Fox and how initiatives like the Jack Jones Trust are needed. He urged everyone to support the Trust and reflected on the need for the Project to help the movement break out from the power of the media to tell our stories.Finally the UK Ambassador for Palestine Manuel Hassassian spoke about the Trust’s film project Al Miftah that will tell the story of ordinary Palestinians by working with Palestinian film makers. He reminded us all of how desperate the situation is for the Palestinian people and how Israel still breaches Human Rights and political agreements on a daily basis. He said that jack Jones is not a British working class hero at all but a hero of the international working class and that is how he is remembered all over the world
The Directors would like to thank everybody who came along to support the launch. We would particularly like to thank Rodney Bickerstaffe who despite feeling very unwell wanted to stay and host the event because as he said ‘I can hear Jack telling me to get up and get on with it!’