onsıde| ISSUE 39 AN EXTRACT FROM: TAKING IT ON THE CHIN 42 MANDELA AND ANTI-APARTHEID During the 1960s, I became an active member of the anti-apartheid campaign to boycott South African goods until the apartheid system was eradicated. It was in June 1965 when I received a phone call from Ethel de Keyser, of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain based in London. As a leading member of Anti-Apartheid in the East Midlands, Ethel asked if I would lead a boycott against the impending visit of the all-white South African Cricket side’s tour to England, which was to take place at Chesterfield. I readily accepted the challenge and my first point of call was to meet the Executive Committee of the Derbyshire branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the largest workforce in that area at that time, who agreed to join my boycott at Queen’s Park county cricket ground, in Chesterfield, by way of protest. The picket line not only had miners, but other workers in the area, as well as Anti-Apartheid supporters from Derbyshire and Yorkshire. The demonstration was a great success. That evening, and after hearing the BBC’s account of the success of the boycott, I received a telephone call from Ethel congratulating my team and me. She then invited me to speak the following day at Trafalgar Square in another anti-apartheid rally. Not yet an MP, or, indeed, even a parliamentary candidate, I was thrilled and honoured to be asked to say a few words about our mission at Chesterfield. My part in the rally was small but well received, as it demonstrated that sport-loving people were prepared to forego their natural desire to attend a favoured sport in the interest of a greater ideal. With the end of apartheid, sports organisations rapidly ended their boycotts. During a 1995 visit with a parliamentary rugby team to celebrate South Africa winning the World Rugby Championship, I, together with other colleagues, was invited to the lawns of the presidential palace to meet the newly elected President Nelson Mandela. He walked towards the line of dignitaries and asked: ‘Which one of you is Tom Pendry?’ With a broad smile, he thanked me for my part in the Trafalgar Square protest. He must have been well briefed. He then gave me his book Long Walk to Freedom with an inscription highlighting my work for the Anti-Apartheid Movement. At a subsequent meeting, following our meeting with Mandela, we met F. W. de Klerk. ‘What was the most compelling reason for abandoning apartheid?’ I asked him. He replied that the trade boycotts were relatively easy to overcome, but that his country was a sport-loving one. The people yearned for a return to international competitions that they had been denied entry to. He told me: ‘What people like you and your colleagues did meant we could compete on the global stage again.’ ALL-SEATED STADIA AND THE TAYLOR REPORT Following the terrible tragedies at Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough, there was a great deal of talk about all-seated stadia, and Lord Justice Taylor’s report did recommend them. It was a very contentious issue and in my capacity as chairman of the All-Party Football Group I went to Risely, near Warrington, Lancashire, at the invitation of the nuclear industry. They had asked me to see safe standing areas that they had developed and I went to take a look because, after all, the nuclear industry of all industries was very safety conscious. I do blame to some extent those brilliant nuclear engineering experts for not recognising the importance of promoting their product of safe standing areas before, or during, the Taylor Inquiry and marketing their own scheme. Even Lord Justice Taylor, who took me to the Garrick Club for lunch one “What I couldn’t tell Muhammed Ali and his wife was I had actually dislocated my shoulder demonstrating my left jab to them.”