Throughout the strike, pit villages were twinned with the labour movements in towns and cities throughout the country, and there was a constant flow of activists between the two. One of the towns the North Notts strikers were twinned with was Basingstoke, and Paul and his comrades spent a lot of time with socialists and activists from there. Alan Fraser, who had himself been sacked for union activity in the local post office, was then chair of Basingstoke Labour Party and a supporter of Socialist Organiser.
In my eyes Paul was a working class intellectual, a Marxist and unswerving fighter for our class.
His trips to Basingstoke were inspirational. His warmth and humour towards all of us in the Basingstoke labour movement was always there, and everyone I knew respected and liked Paul immensely. We spent many a day and night organising support and raising funds, but Paul was also great company whether in the pub or just nattering over breakfast. And my two kids, Gary and Roxy, always looked forward to seeing him.
I will always have memories of Paul and that great anecdotal speaking style of his. Only last year he came to a political weekend school for GMB activists. As usual Paul delivered a sharp historical analysis of the miners’ strike, but he spoke also of the betrayal of the Blair government and the need to keep the fight alive for genuine working class socialism. The GMB activists loved his sharp northern wit as well as his political insight, and commented afterwards how different the union would be with just 20 Paul Whettons.
I will never forget his ideas, determination, humour and compassion, but above all I will remember that when we were asked to stand up and fight for our class during the miners’ strike Paul Whetton did that in abundance. He never flinched one inch in terms of his commitment to the cause of socialism and the class struggle.