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Len Dawson

Dawson was an ETU lay official in Fleet Street and gained considerable support from the thousand members of the union’s `Press’ branch. He was secretary of the branch from the beginning of 1963 and was previously its chairman for about ten years. A shop steward of long standing,   he   had the distinction of representing newspaper electricians on the trade's negotiating committee and, in this position, took part in many of the talks with newspaper tycoons. He had made his mark when officiating as co-chair of the 1955 newspaper strike committee. 

Larry Braithwaite has recalled that, when organising trips and holidays to Bulgaria as part of the work of The British Bulgarian Trade Union Association, Len was anxiously awaiting two letters confirming bookings.   One from Hilda, in Manchester and the other from Walter, in Sheffield.  He opened the most urgent one only to find that it contained the wrong letter.  The one post marked Sheffield held Hilda’s letter, so he spent a little time thinking about this incompetence before deciding there was nothing to be done about it anyway and opening the letter he wanted even though it came from the wrong place.  

Shortly after this a television program ludicrously portrayed Len as a communist spy.  They had installed a camera in a room above a corner shop in his road and filmed him as he ambled along to buy a paper.  The shop owner apologised to Len, a customer, telling him that had he known what they intended he would have told them to piss off.  All they told him was that they wanted to film a little local colour.  Typical of Len was the way he just shrugged his shoulders and carried on working.

Source: Daily Worker 28thAugust 1964; LB comments to GS