Andy Danford brings to life his experience as a worker and senior union representative in Bristol’s arms industry during the 1970s and 1980s. During these two decades, life on the shop and office floors, and the strength of workplace trade unionism, shifted dramatically, as the advent of Thatcherism marked the beginning of the sustained attack on worker and union rights which extends to this day.
Against this background of change, Andy provides a rich account of the actions of rank-and-file trade unionists to improve the pay, conditions, and job security of these Bristol workers, culminating in a notable industrial and political struggle to convert the British Aerospace arms factory in Filton to the production of socially useful products. His participation in such initiatives is an invaluable first-hand account that reveals an often forgotten history of attempts to repurpose arms technologies for human needs. Such endeavours at Bristol, and also the perhaps better known Lucas Plan, signposted a signficant and hopeful alternative economic and social direction. Alas, this final campaign failed, and in his account, Danford reveals the complexities and political difficulties of achieving the principle of “swords into ploughshares.”