Just to get you all in the holiday mood here are the three tenors singing a traditional German Christmas song
The tune might remind you of something else
It was sung at the end of every Labour Party Conference until 1999 when
Prime Minister Blair and his New Labour colleagues decided the old socialist anthem had to go. Post-WWII, the father of the Welfare state
Prime Minister Clement Attlee loved The Red Flag.
George Bernard Shaw called it “a funeral dirge”
Who wrote the words?
Jim Connell (27 March 1852 – February 1929) in December 1889. On a train journey from Charing Cross railway station to his home in Honor Oak, south London, he gained inspiration as he watched
the train guard raise and lower the red signal flag on the platform.
Was he an Englishman?
No, he was born in the townland of Rathniska, the eldest of 13 children, near the village of Kilskyre, to the north of Kells, County Meath when Ireland was still suffering the consequences of the great Famine (1845-1850)
during which over 1,000,000 people died on their farms or on the roads and millions emigrated
His education amounted to little more than a few weeks “under a hedge” and he
“learned little more than reading and writing”As a teenager became involved in
land agitation (the Land league) and joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Aged 18 Jim signed the Fenian Oath,
I, Jim Connell, do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will do my utmost, at any risk, while life lasts, to make Ireland an Independent Democratic Republic; that I will yield implicit obedience, in all things not contrary to the law of God, to the commands of my superior officers; and that I shall preserve inviolable secrecy regarding all transactions of the secret society that may be confided to me. So help me God! Amen.
The Connell family moved to Dublin where Jim worked as a docker
until he became blacklisted for attempting to unionise the workers. In 1875, he moved to London. He held a variety of jobs, including time as a staff journalist on
Keir Hardie’s newspaper The Labour Leader, and was secretary of the Workingmen’s Legal Aid Society during the last 20 years of his life.
While writing the words to the Red Flag, Jim Connell hummed the tune “The White Cockade” which he preferred for his lyrics
“The White Cockade” was a traditional Scottish tune that celebrated the attempt by “Bonnie Prince Charlie” to reclaim the throne of Britain for the House of Stuart. “The White Cockade” was well-known in the colonies at the time of the American Revolution, as a country dance tune and a fife and drum piece. It is also used for the state song of Maryland, the wealthiest state in the USA
This Christmas a tidal wave of austerity threatens all the progressive advances of recent decades
The Red Flag looks tattered and torn and trampled into the dust by the relentless rush of the new right levelling whatever stands in its path. Or does it?
Mr Joe Cusker, 59, of Cambuslang, near Glasgow was inside the Clutha pub when a police helicopter crashed through the roof on November 29.
His coffin was draped with a red socialist flag and a single white rose was placed on top.