Union Songs

My Name is Dessie Warren

A Song by Alun Parry©Alun Parry 2009

Up and down the nation he gave the worker's strength and courage
Up and down the nation he taught us to prevail
He fought for safer building sites he argued for a pound an hour
He was so successful that they put him in the jail

Some workers leaders they are sent to royal garden parties
Some workers leaders they are sent to the house of lords
Some workers leaders they are sent to jail they're sent to prison
Which ones sold you down the river? Which ones fought your cause?

The guard said what's your number boy?
He said my name is Dessie Warren
The guard said that's your name you fool
Your number's what I need
And he said
My name is Dessie Warren
Do you hear me my name is Dessie Warren
The number it belongs to you
I'm only saying my name

The bosses and the Tory Party plotted to imprison Dessie
Labour came to power but still Dessie was not free
So don't just point the finger at the ones who framed him in the first place
Also at the scoundrels who clung on to the key


Dessie said I have no time for Pontius Pilate union leaders
They're job is to protect us and they're paid to do it well
As they walk into Number Ten for drinks and small talk with my jailers
The state still hold me hostage in this solitary cell


Dessie Warren he refused to take the label of a criminal
They branded him awkward to be broken and denied
The drugged him and infected him with chemicals and tranquilisers
The bastards went and killed him cos he dared to take our side



Many thanks to Alun Parry for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection

Alun writes
'Des Warren was a great trade unionist in the building trade who successfully organised workers in that notoriously difficult sector.
His fight was for a safer working environment and for decent pay. Reasonable demands.

The state responded by dredging up the 1875 Conspiracy Act and applied it for the first time to the legitimate work of a dedicated trade unionist. It was a stitch up and an attack on the entire union movement.

Des Warren was jailed for 3 years in 1973, and was kept in jail even when Labour formed the Government a year later.
Labour Home Secretary Roy Jenkins refused to free him.

His treatment in jail was abusive and hostile. He was subjected to the persistent use of the “liquid cosh”. This was where “awkward” prisoners were forcibly given tranquilisers by the prison officers.

Des Warren’s doctor told him that the Parkinson’s disease he suffered from, and which cut short his life, was caused by the liquid cosh he was given in prison.

Des Warren was a great working class organiser who was attacked and jailed by the state, and then betrayed by the leadership of the union movement. His story deserves to be told.

I hope those who have not heard of Des Warren will Google his name and learn more – especially about the campaign to get a pardon for Des and fellow prisoner Ricky Tomlinson.

Those who know of Des Warren can join me in raising a glass to a genuine working class hero.'

Visit Alun's website at http://parrysongs.co.uk/go/

See also 4 July Shrewsbury 25 protest where this song was sung

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