November 2015

TONY HALL: Trade unionist, anti-racist & and radical cartoonist.

Foreward by Jim Mowatt, Director of Unite EducationTony Hall book cover

Welcome to number four (*) in a series of short books on great men and women who feature prominently in the history of UNITE and its predecessor unions. Our hope is that publishing these histories will provide not only fascinating reading but inspire the current and future generations of trade unionists to take up the struggle on behalf of working people. There is certainly a lot to fight for. We are facing a difficult future in which the division between rich and poor is growing ever wider. The constant attacks on trade unionists, both in Britain, Ireland and abroad are expected to intensify. Education has therefore to be viewed in the context of equipping members to understand and fight back.


Additionally as part of UNITE the union’s three pillars strategy of organising, international solidarity and politics the education department is enthusing our members to write their own stories and explore their own family and local histories. To that end we have established on our website REBEL ROAD - an inventory of trade union and labour movement heroes who are publicly recognised in the form of a plaque, mural or statue or even a pub named after them. Please have a look at it and consider contributing.

It is in this context that we are producing these booklets and it’s a delight to feature a man who was a determined life-long fighter for liberty, justice, equality and socialism. After studying painting at Hornsey School of Art and the Royal College of Art, Tony Hall decided he would prefer not to work as a portrait painter forth wealthy and instead concentrated on political cartoons, illustration, photography and graphic design. He did factory and labouring jobs before starting work as a newspaper artist in Fleet Street.

Tony was employed at The Evening News and Sun/News of the World, during which time he was an active member of his union chapel (branch) and served as an elected workplace and safety rep on many occasions. Meanwhile he did free cartoons for the Labour Movement; particularly the Labour Herald and Newline. Outside of work he risked injury and imprisonment by physically fighting fascism in east London and throughout his life he was a passionate anti-racist and anti-fascist.

When Tony was on strike during the Wapping Dispute of the mid 1980s, he, and other artists from Murdoch’s papers, formed Strike Graphic to produce posters, postcards, mugs, badges and T-shirts in support of the 5,500 sacked print workers. Tony did not, of course, get his job back but did not regret standing up for his rights.

He thereafter continued doing cartoons, graphic designs and photography for trade unions, the broad left, and numerous justice campaigns including Hackney Community Defence Association and the Campaign against Racism and Fascism.

Tony, who was born in 1936, had lived in Hackney since 1967 with his wife Libby and their family, and a succession of much-loved dogs, until he died at home from lung cancer on 21 February 2008. This book commemorates Tony’s life and his great contribution to the Labour Movement.

I’d like to thank Mark Metcalf, who was a great friend of Tony for many years, for putting together this booklet and look forward to the many others I know he is working on.

Copies can also be obtained from the Unite Education Department.

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Want to comment on this book?   Email Mark Metcalf at
Want to comment on this book?  Email Mark Metcalf at - See more at:
Want to comment on this book?  Email Mark Metcalf at - See more at: