1983 Cowley Moles

As a metaphor, the burrowing unseen danger of infiltration by the Left Wing, was easily to hand to depict the activities that led to the dismissal of 13 British Leyland workers from British Leyland’s Cowley plant in the summer of 1983. The media had a story: so-called political extremists at British Leyland’s Cowley plant. They had the individual to focus on, Stephanie Grant (dubbed “Red Steph” in newspaper headlines) who admitted she lied about her qualifications to get her job, but denied being an infiltrator.
The media interest lasted a few weeks; CowlyMOles recalls the episode and other incidents at Cowley of the last century Leninist endeavours to build an industrial base for the notion of “Old mole” has a pedigree.

In the signs that bewilder the middle class, the aristocracy
and the  poor prophets of regression, we do recognise our 
brave friend, Robin Goodfellow, the old mole that can work
 in the earth so fast,that worthy pioneer — the Revolution. 
Karl Marx, Speech on the Anniversary of the People's Paper.
from a speech delivered in london on April 14th 1856 at a meeting
to mark the fourth anniversary of the foundation of the Chartist
People's Paper. Its theme is Marx's unshakeble conviction in the
 inevitability of revolution.

That continuity was expressed last century in the  Red Mole the publication of the International Marxist Group IMG, an English Trotskyist group.

The article was scanned from “October Review” Spring 1996, a piece of nostalgia from the Maoist Left. An observation left unsaid, is that so often the contribution that those from outside of the working class want to make to working class struggles always seems to be from a position of leadership.

Of course, “hiding” in plain sight was Alan Thornett (1937- ) who worked at the Cowley Morris plant from 1959 until 1982. Thornett was a good union man. He became a shop steward in 1963 and the Transport and General Workers’ Union deputy convenor for the plant in 1967. Four years later, Alan Thornett was elected to the Midlands regional committee of the Transport and General Workers’ Union. In addition, he served as chairman of the Transport and General Workers’ Union 5/55 branch and of the Joint Shop Stewards’ Committee. mole
He was also an active Trotskyist becoming a media hate-figure in the 1970s, when he became known as the “mole” at British Leyland, being blamed for any industrial unrest at the company. He was a founder member of the Workers Socialist League in 1974 following a split from the Workers Revolutionary Party led by Gerry Healy with whom he had been associated with since 1966. A chronicler of one of the strands of Trotskyism in Britain, Thornett is the author of three volumes of autobiography: From Militancy to Marxism, Inside Cowley and Militant Years.


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