On april 4th there's a celebration gig to raise funds to save one of the most historic pubs in Liverpool. Before it was bought by the Dockers twenty years ago, I remember going there when it was a brilliant (illegal) late night drinking Den ran by a Jamaican firm from Liverpool 8. Back then it was called The Casablanca. 50p would get you in after 11pm (when all the bars closed) and you could be there, literally all night.
As the article below (Written by Brian Reade for the Daily Mirror- http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/keeping-spirit-solidarity-alive-20-4992151 ) tells you much more eloquently than I could, the building was purchased by the Liverpool dockers twenty years ago. I drank there regularly on Fridays ever since (until i started working away from the city). I have never once seen a fight in there or even a serious altercation (well maybe a bit of a one at The End Book Launch 2 years back) I have promoted gigs there, put gigs on and referred 100's of people to the advice centre upstairs (where my friend Anthony Thompson has worked voluntarily in the advice centre, along with many other dedicated and loyal staff since its inception).
Unfortunately, It seems that the Casa has now lost its funding and could close down, we can't let that happen!
The Casa Soildarity Show aims to raise funds and awareness to keep this Liverpool Treasure alive - Be warned there are VERY FEW TICKETS LEFT so you better get yer arse in gear if you want to see an amazing show and help save one of the finest establishments in Liverpool.
20 years ago 500 Liverpool dockers were sacked for refusing to cross a picket line. Now their spirit is remembered in a gig with the likes of Ricky Tomlinson and John Bishop
For those who fear communal solidarity no longer exists here’s a tale to lift the spirits.
When five men were sacked in an overtime row 20 years ago, 500 Liverpool dockers refused to cross a picket line. Despite being described by Lloyds List as “the most productive workforce in Europe” they too were sacked.
Their 850-day dispute became one of the longest in British labour history. With the men risking everything to uphold the most sacred of trade union principles, it was also seen across the world as one of the most noble.
On day one American longshoremen on both coasts and Australian wharfies brought their countries’ ports to a standstill.
On other days every Japanese docker stopped working and in South Africa all ports were closed down “in solidarity with the Liverpool dockers who stood by us during apartheid”.
At home acts like Jo Brand and Noel Gallagher did fundraisers, footballer Robbie Fowler was fined by Uefafor unveiling a dockers’ T-shirt and support groups the length of Britain swung behind the sacked men.
But with the TGWU neutered by Thatcher’s anti-union laws the dockers eventually lost. One legacy of that defeat is those zero-hours contracts that blight so many lives today.
Yet the solidarity never waned. Under the tutelage of Jimmy McGovern some of the dockers wrote a drama about the dispute for Channel 4, using the £130,000 fee to buy a building in the aptly-named Hope Street. They turned it into a communal hub. A not-for-profit bar, function room and advice centre. An open house for anyone in need of help or radical stimulation. A lasting memorial to the spirit of solidarity shown in their dispute.
Downstairs it hosts everything from Greek theatre and salsa to pensioners’ meetings and political forums. There’s an exhibition about the Spanish Civil War. I even had my wedding do there.
Upstairs they give free expert advice on benefits, employment, asylum, debt and welfare to anyone who walks in off the street. Over the past 15 years it’s estimated more than £10million-worth of advice has been given to people in desperate need.
But due to loss of funding and rent, The Casa faces an uncertain future. They could keep the bar open but unless the rest of the building is used to fight for social justice they feel they’d be betraying their founding principles.
So they won’t do it.
Before Christmas it looked like The Casa had only months left, until solidarity came to the fore once more.
Phone calls to comedians John Bishop, Ricky Tomlinson, Neil Fitzmaurice and Mark Steel and to musicians The Farm and John Power gave us a line-up. Another call to the 1,600-seater Philharmonic Hall gave us a venue.
All of them agreed, in a heartbeat, to do their bit.
And so we have The Casa Solidarity Show on Friday April 17, the tickets for which go on sale today at the Liverpool Philharmonic website.
Buy one and not only are you guaranteed to have a cracking night, you’ll keep a treasured institution built on rare principles going for another few years.
More than that, you’ll keep alive a truth which says no matter what you throw at working people, no matter what you try to take from them, when they stick together they won’t be beaten.
2 of The End Writers (Phil Jones and Tony McClelland) outside The Casa at THE END book launch December 2012