Pete Carter “airbrushed from history” by Morning Star

October 28, 2011 at 12:01 am (good people, Jim D, sectarianism, stalinism, unions, workers)

“Despite differences between sections of the left, what unites us in our struggles is the collective wish for a better world for working class people” – Gerry Kelly

Pete Carter, building workers’ union organizer, former Communist Party youth leader, Communist Party industrial organizer, and (later in life)  a committed environmentalist, will be cremated today.

Pete Carter

The Guardian published an obituary.

The Morning Star hasn’t even mentioned his passing.

Gerry Kelly – a former IS’er  who doesn’t share Carter’s politics – expresses his disgust at the Morning Star‘s sectarianism :

I was a shop steward on Woodgate Valley B in 1971-2 and worked with Mick Shilvock there. Pete, Shilvock, Phil Beyer and me struggled together in Brum to kill the lump and organise the building workers.

Pete was the best working class orator I ever heard and was a great organiser. We had a couple of years in Birmingham in which we fought a desperate struggle, acheived some great victories and also had some laughs. Pete was an inventive class warrior and we carried out some stunts that publicised our cause and made us laugh as well.

I was tried with Phil Beyer and others at Birmingham Crown Court as a result of the Rotunda occupation. We were acquitted, mainly because Pete Carter was at the forefront of a ferocious solidarity campaign in our support.

Two years ago, I went to Mick Shilvock’s house for a re-union with him, Pete and Phil Beyer. We had a good time discussing and reflecting on what we had done in the early 70s.

The workers’ movement has lost a man who was a great rank and file  leader…

… It is disgraceful that the Morning Star has not even mentioned Pete Carter. I was an IS member at the time I was I was active in UCATT and of course I had political differences with Pete and the other CP members in the union. I continued to disagree with Pete over a number of issues (I had quite an argument with him over the miners’ strike when I bumped into him in London in 1984 – he was, I thought, wrong in attacking the tactics adopted by Scargill and the NUM leadership – tactics he had advocated during the 1972 national builders’ strike) and I completely disagreed with the EuroCommunist line (just soft Stalinism, I thought).

However, as a union militant and organiser  he was outstanding and I seldom disagreed with him, Beyer and Shilvock on tactics . Further, it is disturbing that the CP is trying to airbrush from its history a man who at different times was leader of their youth organisation, their industrial organiser and one of their most prominent and influential rank and file union activist.

I will be at his funeral … and will be sorry to say goodbye to him, but also proud to have served the labour movement as an ally of one of the best union militants I have ever known.

Shame on the Morning Star!  Despite differences between sections of the left, what unites us in our struggles is the collective wish for a better world for working class people.

– Gerry Kelly


  1. Dee McLoughlin said,

    I first met Pete when I was on the People’s March for Jobs and because of his humanity . knowledge and commitment to defending the Working class from the scourge of Thatcherism I joined the CP. I have many happy memories of evenings spent in Moseley talking Politics and also my time spent at the UCATT offices working with him. Sadly I lost contact with him when I left the CP but I will forever be grateful for what he taught me and will never forget him.
    Onward ever Backward never.

  2. Orwell, Tribune, etc « Poumista said,

    […] Pete Carter “airbrushed from history” by Morning Star “Despite differences between sections of the left, what unites us in our struggles is the collective wish for a better world for working class people” – Gerry Kelly […]

  3. Gerry Kelly 1951 – 2021 – Shiraz Socialist (Second Run) said,

    […] are proud that Gerry contacted Shiraz (the ‘Old Place’) in October 2011, in response to a post about his friend and fellow […]

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