Feb 12, 2010

Socialist Alliance tribute to Alistair Hulett

It is with a great deal of sadness that we in the Socialist Alliance mourn Alistair Hulett’s recent death from cancer in his beloved Glasgow. It was much too soon for this comrade to die—he had so much ahead of him. Some of us remember Alistair performing in the 1980s at the “Sando”, Newtown’s famous Sandringham Hotel in King Street before it was gentrified. He became famous for the political songs he wrote and then performed with Roaring Jack—songs such “Lads of the BLF”, “Yuppietown” and “Cat Amongst the Pigeons”.

He supported the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF), the union deregistered and outlawed by Bob Hawke’s Labor federal government, the first Thatcherite Labor government in the world. This attack led to the hated Australian Building Construction Commission being created by John Howard’s conservative Liberal-National government and now kept and refined by Kevin Rudd’s conservative Labor government.

Alistair and Roaring Jack played benefits for many causes -- whether it was for the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Campaign, the BLF Christmas picnic or during the three and half month strike/occupation at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in 1989. Alistair and Roaring Jack were playing outside Sydney’s Long Bay Goal in 42 degree heat for Tim Anderson, when he was framed for the Hilton Bombing. They performed Alistair’s song “Framed” on Australia’s MTV show. We won that fight and after the Royal Commission into Police Corruption came out, Tim’s three convictions of murder were overturned and quashed.

Alistair and Roaring Jack performed on the first Green Left Weekly Sydney Harbour cruise, which was interrupted by a visit from the Water Police. Later, we had to stop the boat for more beer! Alistair went on from those roaring days in the “Sando” to write a whole host of other cutting-edge political songs.

The Sydney Resistance Centre hosted another performance by Alistair Hulett and David Rovics in December 2008 brought back memories of many similar performances that same space in earlier times.

We join the many who knew, loved and respected Alistair -- his family, his many friends, his comrades in Socialist Alternative and in the broader left -- in a salute to a wonderful comrade. The famous last words of Joe Hill are appropriate: “Don’t mourn for me, organise!”

Socialist Alliance