About Kath Fry
Born in 1943, Kath Fry moved to Manchester as a young single parent of two in 1973. She joined the Labour Party a few years later. She was Secretary (and Minutes Secretary) of Manchester City Labour Party from 1984 to 1988. As a Manchester City Councillor from 1988 to 2004, she held positions of Chair of Personnel Sub-committee (1989), Chair of Education Committee (1991-95) and Deputy of Children’s Service Committee (1996/97)
In her working life she was a careers officer and a maths teacher, working first in secondary schools and then in adult education.
About this website
This website has been set up to publish to as wide an audience as possible, an account of a short period (1984-97) in the history of Manchester City Council, when a group of radical socialists attempted to change the nature of local government.
Kath spent over seven years writing this account (as a book) from the perspective of someone who was an insider for the events described. She was still finishing writing it right up to her premature death from cancer on 5th May 2011. The text had an initial edit by Steve Platt and Tony Dale, but she didn’t have time to approve a thorough edit of the whole book. I typeset a printed copy using Lulu.com, which sadly didn’t arrive until after she died. Although that looks like a ‘proper’ book, it is not even a proof copy, more of a draft in a convenient print form that still needs a lot of editing.
Deciding what to do with this account and actually doing it has been a difficult task for me. I started this website five years after Kath was diagnosed with cancer, and four and a half years after she died. Each time previously that I had thought about this project, it brought up too many painful feelings. I had started doing some editing and releasing a chapter at a time on a tumblr site a few years prior to this, but couldn’t keep it up. It wasn’t the right time for me. In 2015, the time felt right to try again, given the selection of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and also what seemed to be very similar circumstances of such a hard Right government imposing austerity measures on the country. People may be more interested in learning some lessons from the past. This website is an attempt at producing an accessible format that is as true as possible to her original intent.
The difficulty I had was that it’s not my account and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of it. However, Kath didn’t write it all from her own memory. She kept all the papers from meetings she attended with her notes in the margins. These were deposited with the Manchester Records Office when the Central Library was being refurbished. (I have added a blog post about how to access those). She also carried out interviews with many of her colleagues of the time, and I have some of the tapes of these interviews, which I have digitised, if any researcher wished to follow those up, but I will not be putting those online, as the recordings were not made for that purpose and the people involved didn’t give their permission for their words to be used in that way.
A criticism I have of this account is that because Kath was so concerned to be ‘factual’ and for it not to be about her, it seems to me that mostly she wrote herself out of it, writing it as if purely an observer and not, as she actually was, a participant. It is also very LONG, too long almost for a book, too long to be a riveting read. If she hadn’t died, I am sure that she would have been having many conversations with an editor telling her to chop a lot of it out. Kath was aware of the shortfalls herself, as she says in the introduction:
Even though I was one of those people, with personal experience of many of the events described, this is an incomplete account, since I was not present at all meetings, nor privy to the thoughts of everyone involved at the time, and some of the key players have chosen not to contribute their reflections and others cannot recollect events that happened more than 20 years ago. Perhaps after reading this, others will be inspired to add to what is here, so that a more complete account will eventually be recorded.
I set myself a deadline of completing the project by the 5th anniversary of her death (ie 5th May 2016) and basically have achieved that goal in that I have checked/edited all of the chapters and added them to the site. I feel I need a rest now from the project for a while.
About Me (Karen Cropper)
I’m Kath’s daughter and I was born in 1965, when Kath was 21. I’ve worked in Local Government (1990-97) as an officer in Planning and Transportation and 2 years after that in the Local Government Association as a Political Assistant to the Independent Group. I have also worked in the Voluntary Sector and Higher Education. I’m very interested in technology and open access to information and education. I’m not very interested in politics.
Page last updated 3rd May 2016.