The Day the Time(s) stood still!

On Friday January 24 1986 the print union members at Rupert Murdoch’s Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World went on strike over the introduction of new technology and were sacked. 

This was the climax of a plot, no other word for it, by Murdoch when preparing two print plants in London and Glasgow with the technology needed and the of recruiting, secretly, of staff to work the plants.

The outcomes were to have a profound effect not only on the newspaper industry but on print in general and other industries.

The “new(ish)  technology would see copy written, sub-edited and headlines fixed on screen by journalists. It meant complete papers could be sent electronically readied for the printing. Thus the loss of 5.500 print workers jobs.

The relations between the Journalists and the printers (“the Inkies”) in. the words of an NUJ member who refused to go to Wapping – a Refusnic.: “When the printers were sacked there was little sympathy for their plight among the journalists.”

Never the less the then NUJ general secretary Harry Conroy proposed at a National Executive emergency session, “an instruction not to cross the print workers picket lines” was approved.

Wapping was ready when on the Friday night the choice was spelt out by their editors. Move to there and work the new technology replacing the printers in exchange for a £2,000 pay rise and by now free health insurance.(a promise of a swimming pool on site! Never happened.) Refuse, become a Refusnic, and they would be regarded as having ‘dismissed themselves.’

The Sun and the News of the World chapels voted by large majorities to bow to the ultimatum. The Times Chapel held two long and tense meetings on the days after the sackings.

Ian Griffiths a Refusnic and a Times business reporter in the Guardian 20 years later recalling the meetings wrote “it seemed like a simple decision. The free and independent press I cherished was incompatible with Rupert Murdoch’s view that Times journalists should go to work in an armoured bus and report on the world’s affairs from a ghetto ringed with barbed wire and security guards.”

Murdoch’s move to Wapping was just a calculated, cynical and clever means of invoking in perpetuity and without question management’s right to manage.

The journalists in meetings over the two days was eloquent and articulate. But for all the posturing, the bluster there was no hiding from the ultimate reality. Murdoch’s move to Wapping was just a calculated, cynical and clever means of invoking in perpetuity and without question management’s right to manage.

It set the tone for a compliant and non-confrontational press. Dealt a body blow to journalism from which we have not yet fully recovered. Technology made newspaper production cheaper, not better. It did not herald the dawn of a golden age.” Ian Griffiths concluded.

(The Times vote in favour of going into Wapping was passed On the Sunday the Sunday Times voted by 68 to 60 to go to work.)

Ian Griffiths was right Left in the hands of Murdoch and his ilk newspapers readers nationally, regionally and locally when facing the instant news avenue media chose a poorly staffed low quality product, something even Woolworth’s failed at.

The promised golden age for journalists at the time of Wapping has turned out for many sweat shop conditions.

This is an extract of my autobiography being prepared for publication later this year. Roy Jones.end

.

Battle to beat O-be-sit-ty

The problem with Boris Johnson’s latest ruse “The Battle to Beat Obesity” Battle, battle, battle to beat, beat, beat ….ob-es-ity!  Is the lack of any knowledge of the target audience.

This vital in a campaign aimed at stemming  millions of our people being “too fat,  to give it the title best known among us the working or in this case the unemployed and the under paid employed classes.

To be fair good start was made with an example of what it means with “fatty” Boris walking the dog but the usual middle class like bans on early night TV adverts and labeling foods, or cookery classes will not help.

The obstacles to considering dieting (exercise they get aplenty daily) for the average women and men (in that order) and children are many and start early.

At dawn possibly to wash, clothe, feed and take the kids to school or nursery and go to that work at home, If any, or away. Then for many collect the kids and home for a similar evening routine.

Cries of foul will come from the food and drink industries if any attempt is made to stem the shops stocking up with sweets, crisps end pop being handily placed and piled high as with is profits.

It is by now well known what the root cause of obesity is it is not having enough money or time to feed families properly and resorting to cheap(ish) junk, processed and unhealthy food and drink.

This is nothing new,  poverty as always leads  to illness as is always the case historically and that someone will find a away of making money from it.

The exploited of Jamaica and Wales

Exploited in the sugar plantation and the slate quarries

The introduction to a “special report” on racism in Britain today Sky news sat a reporter before Penrhyn Castle (North Wales) who told of the wealth of a family built on exploitation, Jamaican sugar fortunes and the transatlantic slave trade.

Research would have revealed this “home” of the Lords Penrhyn the part played by the exploited native Welsh quarrymen suffering and dying in the often Bethesda quarries ice bound Snowdonia mountain sides.

The Pennant family were into the slave trade early and big time when Gifford Pennant by the latter half of the 17th century had sugar plantations “twenty times the average.”

This lasted until the abolition of slavery, opposed by Richard Pennent MP. The Pennants received £14,683 17s 2d (around £1,3million today) for the freeing of 764 enslaved people in Jamaica.

Under the management of Lord George Douglas-Pennant from in 1886 the Penrhyn Estate 26,278 acres, with a rent-roll of £67,000, the Bethesda quarries in good times produced £150,000 a year.

On the 22nd November 1900, 2,800 men at the Penrhyn quarries began a three-year-long strike when Penrhyn workers saud their union dues could not be collected.

Three years of action included clashes with police and troops on horse back met with support and assistance from trade unionist from throughout Britain before starved out and threats of losing their company homes before being starved bak to work,

the National Trust now owning Penrhyn Castle and other such sites are the telling of their history.m

Cymru am Byth!

Climb every mountain in Wales 2012 Senned election

Those looking for signs of Labour’s “mountain to climb” to power should not look further than foothills of Snowdonia or any of Wales ranges in 2021 for their its steps.

The record shows that the Welsh electorate voting in Merthyr Tydfil elected Keir (no relation) Hardy in 1900 the foundation which has given Labour in Wales majority support since WW2 and in the Senedd since 1990.

December 2019 general election Wales Labour lost six seats with 41 percent, the Tories 36 and Plaid 9.9. A January poll showed more people would vote Conservative than Labour in Wales!

A YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University Poll in April gave clear leads of twelve percentage points to the Tories in a general election; and six points for the Senedd on the constituency vote..

Pollster Professor Paul Scully said both the Westminster and Senedd votes were at their highest ever rating with Welsh position then was in line with Britain-wide polls enhanced by a ‘rally to the flag’ effect in the first weeks of the Covid-19 crisis..

But says “Things have changed with increasing public scepticism at Johnson government’s handling of Covid-19.. Doing significant damage to public evaluations of him and his party.” The Dominic Cummings saga significant damage to the Johnson government and the Tories.

This while Labour leader  Mark Drakeford’s emphasis on people’s lives first backed by the people of Wales rather than to Johnson’s “go anywhere.”

The desperate attempt to open schools, and its dangers, in England to the youngest children, aimed as much at getting parents back to work, contrasted badly with the Wales approach to the opening of all schools on June 29.

The signs are of the Labour movement in Wales sticking to its socialist principles under Drakeford its conduct during the pandemic restoring confidence in that and not try taking the Tories on at their own game.

The War against the virus that was Fascism. Circa 1939.

In the summer of 1940 Britain’s clear blue skies were filled with German bombers in close formation their droning engines clearly heard while around them white puffs of smoke from anti aircraft shells exploding, doing nothing to deter their their flight.

We looking north from Ellesmere Port’s edge witnessed this and saw as the bombs fell the skies turn to flaming red across the miles of horizon that was Merseyside.

In the air raid shelter we heard the hum of the German bombers returning and left the shelters and went to bed some a short time before getting up for work.

Liverpool, Bootle , and the Wirral  were the most heavily bombed areas of the country outside of London. They provided anchorage for naval ships with the Mersey’s ports and dockers handling over 90 per cent of all the war material brought into Britain from abroad.

The first major air raid took place in when 160 bombers attacked the city on the night of 28 August. This assault continued over the next three nights, then regularly for the rest of the year. In December 1940, referred to as the Christmas blitz. 365 people were killed .

The last German air raid on Liverpool took place on 10 January 1942, the bombs had killed 2716 people in Liverpool, 442 people in Birkenhead, 409 people in Bootle and 332 people in Wallasey.

We saw for ourselves the devastation of Liverpool’s buildings flattened and shops we had once visited there no longer. The Scousers, giving no signs of defeat. The scars left by these ferocious attacks were on view for years afterwards.

This detail shows how lucky we were as despite having the Manchester ship canal docks near bye, with just three bombs only landing in the Port’s confines.

Once my mother and I after visiting Aunt May in Birkenhead took to running with the crew and passengers of a bus we were travelling at the wine of a bomb dropping. In the dive to the ground by the conductor stumbled and the loose change from his bag went jingling all over the street. After a short time in an raid air shelter we were unharmed and soon home in its safe haven.

WE did once from behind the wood saw a “dog fight.” at about 100 foot was a German bomber accompanied by two Hurricane fighters which, it seemed guided it down to Hooton Aerodrome just about two miles from us.

This maiming and killing in Britain and Germany of thousands of men, women and children in their homes and workplaces along with the armed combat continued. For another year. Then two two atom bombs were dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing all that dwelt in the area and causing devastation beyond anything ever seen before. Ending the war.

On May 8 1945 we celebrated Victory in Europe In front of the shopping Parade on Overpool Road with singing and dancing as I recall and goodies to eat. What we learnt from this particular conflict and carnage seems to be little.

This is an extract of my autobiography being prepared for publication later this year. Roy Jones.


Care Tory Style

Don’t let the Tories get off the hook in the debates around older people in nursing, care and in their own homes where the coronavirus the has led to the deaths of staff and residents.

Let it be known of the voices of those older people’s organisations and trade unions have been warning of the serious dangers to those in care over years.

Silence has reigned s “older people” individually (except for a few “celebrities”) or their organisations with both experience and expertise. Have spoken up. As with the National Pensioners Convention.

The trade unions also (mostly with “Pensioner” sections) are missing from the conversations left out of the nation’s debates .

This follows five years and more of these warning of the threat to the well being and the very lives of those working and living in nursing and care homes. This now writ large in the deaths of residents and staff.

The voices first were raised with the move from local council care to private, for profit, care. This was backed by government funding to local councils oiling its wheels. This though has been cut massively over the years as the numbers needing care grew.

The cuts also affected the duty of care the disabled and ill in their own homes. The consequences were poorly paid, trained and overworked staff left to cope with the care for vulnerable people.

The warnings given are now tragically writ large in the deaths of care staff and residents. The fact that Tory governments have failed to produce a Green Paper on care over three years is not encouraging.

A demand then is a national social care system funded from general taxation free at the point of delivery and without means testing. Nothing less.

Ramping up can’t happen. Exclusive.

Once again Boris and his  ministers take to the airways with a glib phrase making for an entry into the “Dictionary of Meaningless Phrases designed I  presume to pull the wool over our eyes with:  – “ramping up.”

“We are ramping up…” precedes the answer to every searching  question asked about vital shortages   of protective  clothing  for hospitals and  care homes staff and testing and tracing facilities. Its as with Alice in Wonderland ‘s Humpty Dumpty “a word will mean what  I choose it to mean nothing more nothing less” adding “the question is whose master – that’s all”

It was so  with “Let’s get Brexit done” when Boris did a deal with Europe little different  than Theresa May’s deal that  “We got Brexit Done.” was true could not challenge because it meant what Boris said it meant. Is then ramping up meaningful.?

To find out I  turned to the  Oxford Concise Dictionary and the word “ ramp: “Ramp n, slope, inclined plane joining two levels of ground, floor,; etc. stairs for entering or leaving an aircraft; difference of levels between  opposite abutments of rampant arch.

ramp v, v.i (of lion etc.),; stand on left foot with fore- paws in the air,  assume  or or be in a threatening posture; storm; rage,.rush about. (Archit.., of  wall) ascend or descend to different level. v.t. furnish or build with a ramp,{ME.f,OF ramper creep}

ramp  n. & v. .. (n)  swindle, racket, esp. conducted by levying of exorbitant prices. v. .i. Engage in ramp,  Subject,( person etc.) to ramp. n.f.v., 16thc;org.unkn}. I submit then that unless  Boris or one of his mates stands on his left foot with for paws  etc. to ramp i

England Their England

A chance find at a second hand book stall last month of “England Their England” by A G MACDONELL l revealed where I came across one of the funniest punchline ever written.

During World War I, MACDONELL served for two years as a lieutenant of the Royal Artillery before being invalided out of the army. (as is Lieutenant Cameron, the narrator in England, Their England.) He became a journalist .and author.

Introduced as both “a classic of English humour” and “gently satirical” MACDONELL though educated at Winchester was Scottish and in the book (David) Cameron aided in pursuit of a journalistic career by a Welshman unmercifully satirises the English upper and middle classes.

Published in 1933 and of that time …The most famous chapter in the book is of a “cricket match” between journalists, up from London, and a village team in which features equally both the match and the local pub. Peopled by Journos drink and pubs proliferate.

To illustrate here’s a chapter (subbed) featuring one aspect of an Englishman’s and women’s lives, their theatre going tastes, when as a drama critic, Macdonnel principally was, On which Donald holds forth thus.

“The acknowledged fact that the English drama, as acted in London, is the lowest form of the art in the world, because the public will only go to visit trash and would religiously boycott first rate plays.

Donald’s week time fare featured adultery against a background of 1) Spiritualism, 2) in the Straights Settlements, and 3) in Mayfair with lots of epigrams and “two joll young things “

It is left to societies and groups of Intelligent Theatre Lovers to produce these first class plays on Sunday evenings. Hardly a Sunday went by without a masterpiece by Pirandello, Tchecov or John Jacques Bernard “dazzled the eyes.”

Donald on a Sunday viewed one of these masterpieces with ”an audience filtering through the stalls, broken only by the greetings of celebrities.” The piece to be given was a translation of a German masterpiece by Herr Rupert-Stilzchen the great exponent of Illuzionist Symbolism incidental choreography by Dripp

The scene throughout a gallery of a salt mine in Upper Silesia the play called the “Perpetuation of Eternity” with Donald wondering which part of the choreography played in life in Upper Silesian salt mines before a gong heralded twenty minutes of darkness. This followed by twenty minutes occupied by a soliloquy to the spirit of Polish Maternity, spoken in Italian, punctuated with applause by 100 per cent of the audience

The soliloquy ended, the lights went up to see the salt workers digging while chanting dismally as they worked. The foreman of the gallery then came forward and shot two of the workers. Whether for bad chanting or bad digging was not made clear. Cinema shots of New York was followed by ‘Negro’, in the wings singing through a megaphone with gusto “When the midnight Choo Choo leaves for Alabam.”

Acts 2, 3, 4 and the last five (of the play) “packed full of Illusionist Symbolism were of brilliance and irony. One effect being the murder by the salt workers of a preference shareholder of Cerebos Salt Ltd by throwing into a quartz crushing machine.

Dripps choreography turned out to be the dance of the mourners at the funeral of a demented house agents symbolic of the 1926 housing shortage in the Silesian towns of Kattowitiz and Breslaw.

In short the Perpetuation of Eternity was, as one of the dailies said next morning “an arresting piece of thought provoking symbolising produced since Six Characters etc. last week.”

A leader in the critic craft a Mr Brown though called it “a turgid Drip from the village Pumpernickel and enquired ( this is it!) “If this is life in Upper Silesia what can Lower be like?”

Curtain down.

Don’t take Shapps for Granted on Railway

Two jobs (an MP and running a get rich quick scheme) Grant Shapps alias Michael Green and Sebastian Fox is still making it up as he goes along claiming in a BBC TV interview that Labour was responsible for the Beeching plan that decimated t Britian’s railway network.

The facts are that the brief for Beeching, former chairman of ICI, was  provided by the Tory Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan, in 1960 thus: “First, the industry must develop modern conditions and prospects modelled to meet current needs and with the premise that the railways should be run as a profitable business.


Over 4,000 route miles axed on cost and efficiency grounds, leaving Britain with 13,721 miles (22,082 km) of railway lines in 1966.  There were no proposals to improve or repurpose the usage and efficiency of the existing network or how to maintain or dispose of redundant infrastructure

 

Thee sceme was carried though by Ernest Marples of Marple rIDGEWAY  construction, roAD BUILDERS Minister of Transport (1959–1964). He b oversaw significant road construction (he opened the first section of the M1 motorway) and the closure of a considerable portion of the national railway network

Initially, Harold Wilson‘s Labour government continued with the policies A further 2,000 miles (3,200 km) were lost by the end of the 1960s. In  1966, a White Paper on Transport Policy identified economic utility, rather than commercial viability, as the major objective of railway policy. This resulted in a revised railway network plan with 3,000 miles of additional track surviving Beecham’s scheme

On 16 February 1965, Beeching had announced the second stage of his reorganisation of the railways. To cut 7,500 miles of trunk railway throughout Britain. These  proposals were rejected by the then Labour government and Beeching, sacked  by Labour’s transport minister Tom Fraser, returned to the ICI.

Following a policy review in 1967, the Transport Act of 1968 made provision for major capital reconstruction on the railways and deficit relief. In 1970 Ted Heath and the Tories were back in power

 

Boris No story gov! Then make one up

A piece in “Informed” the NUJ’s  NEC Mag (I think) has Ian Burrel claiming that “Brexit has changed political journalism beyond recognition” as he “gauged feelings on the front line.” but hey! Makes light a subject  that should bother us. I think again.

 

He states that despite “all the journalistic resources thrown at Brexit, there are complaints that the news industry has left the public under-served and ill-informed as reporters cotton onto  off-record briefing strategy.” There’s perceptive.

Peter Oborne a right wing commentator quoted in the article further believes that a swathe of his peers as “stenographers” for swallowing “dodgy stories and commentary” from Number 10. These two makes the point. “ Begs the question is this good for our trade.
Well: It should be noted that the two practitioners; political journalists  and politicians are/have become two of a kind the former a welter of journalists in the ranks of politicians  (MPs, PRs and advisers)and politicians seconding as journalists by trade and or inclination across tele, radio and print.

Boris is “right in the thick of it.!” To the detriment I claim of our trade.

The piece  has in a box this: “Johnson (not as with Theresa May) is at his ease among journalists  and his “eye for a  story” has put him “on the front foot” in relations with the media since entering Downing Street. A man who, as a reporter in Brussels, thought nothing of concocting stories like an  EU “plan” to regulate on bendy fruit.

“At ease with journalists” is surely the euphemism  of the century, He had  editors downwards in his pocket willing and able to play up his merits (if any) and down plays his demerits of which there are plenty. This evident in his careers as journalist, Mayor of London, MP and Prime minister and writ large as Foreign secretary.

So in considering the condition of our trade as to Boris:  The man who “thought nothing of concocting stories” and who makes true the accusation concerning journalists “if you  haven’t got a story … make one up!”