Always Red is a good story about the way that trade unionism can drastically change people’s lives. [Len] McCluskey was brought up in the Kirkdale area of Liverpool in a house with an outside toilet, by a mother and father who had lost a child to tuberculosis. He slept in his parents’ bedroom until he was 10, and left education at 18 to work on Liverpool’s docks as a planman, drawing up all-important diagrams of ships and their cargo. The book’s best section evokes the dazzling world in which he found himself, and the constant sense that without the unions’ collective vigilance, many of the pillars of working-class life would come crashing down – something that began in earnest with the arrival in power of Margaret Thatcher.”

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