Page last updated at 18:26 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Bragg's strike tour to inspire
Billy Bragg at Big Pit Blaenavon
The industrial landscape has changed since the 1980s but Bragg is confident that the Welsh culture of defiant resistance survives

By Andy Roberts
BBC South East Wales

Billy Bragg hopes a tour of Wales to commemorate the miners strike will reawaken the nation's "culture of progressive resistance".

The singer made his vow during a promotional visit to Blaenavon, where the nine-date tour begins on June 5.

Bragg says the bitter dispute of 1984/5 provided his political education.

"Young people these days don't understand what was at stake... and how Thatcher's victory led to the credit crunch," he said.

The former soldier from London's East End who left school at 16 was emerging as a musical force when his appearance at benefit gigs for striking miners boosted his profile as a political pop star.

"My political education really was the twelve months of that strike," he said.

"Once you go out into the coalfields and do these gigs and then go back and kip on someone's sofa, they rightly want to know if you're just some pop star from London who's come up to sell more records or if you can actually walk the walk as well as talk the talk."

Energised by their experience, Bragg and other performers went on to form Red Wedge, an organisation aimed at boosting support for the Labour party among young people at the 1987 election.

Billy Bragg in 1987
Bragg was a fixture at benefit gigs and political rallies in the 1980s

The tour will open with a special event at Blaenavon Workmen's Hall on Friday 5 June 2009 in which Bragg will play songs and discuss, with a guest interviewer, the miners strike and its impact on his own life and music.

He'll then perform in Porthcawl, Cardigan, Pontardawe, Brecon, Caernarfon, Wrexham, Aberystwyth and Blackwood.

Bragg insisted the gigs were not intended to be purely nostalgic occasions, hoping it would inspire people to defend their livelihoods and communities in the face of the current economic crisis.

"If we look again at our history we'll understand there are other ways to respond to this economic situation other than passively," he said.

"Once, people resisted the layoffs and the cutbacks by organising. That message needs to be restated - it's a painful lesson to learn and each generation needs to be reminded of that," he added.




SEE ALSO
Singer Bragg's miner education
13 Mar 09 |  Wales
Billy Bragg on British workers
06 Feb 09 |  This Week
Billy Bragg and the Miners Strike
04 Jun 09 |  Music
Billy Bragg before the pit strike
24 Feb 09 |  Music
In pictures: Blaenavon's heritage
25 Feb 09 |  People & Places
Coal still uniting the community
11 Dec 08 |  History

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