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Unite! All twelve of you!

May 16th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized by

historymanIn another post Ziggy has reminded me of today’s trade union march in Birmingham, designed apparently to lobby the government to “safeguard jobs.”

This morning I was rudely awakened by news of the event via Radio 4. Having a butcher’s on the same corporation’s website, I now note the following:

“The police said there were between 4,000 and 5,000 protesters.”

Four to five thousand?

Isn’t that 0.007% of the population? Isn’t that one in every fourteen thousand people?

Famously 1 million people protested against the war in Iraq.

Last night 14,479 people attended Milton Keynes Dons v Scunthorpe.

Last time my lot won the league (a much brighter occasion than today’s evilness) 250,000 people turned up to the parade.

Four to five thousand? Should this really have warranted front page news coverage?

8 Responses to “Unite! All twelve of you!”

  1. Paul Embery Says:

    Julian Harris is pursuing a rather silly line of argument here.

    First, the police are notorious for wildly underestimating the level of attendance at demonstrations, so you can bet that the actual figure was somewhat higher.

    Second, these days, when political activism has taken a downturn due to the public’s predilection for other distractions, it is something of an achievement to get any sort of demo off the ground, let alone one that attracts a few thousands.

    Third, those few thousands are not the upper limit of those who feel strongly about the matter. Their sentiments are probably shared by millions of others, who for a myriad of reasons didn’t go on the demo.

    Fourth, why is it wrong for the media to very occasionally allow ordinary Joe Public to set the agenda? Would Julian Harris rather it that a few political correspondents and BBC presenters determine solely which new stories are worthy of coverage and which are not?

    Fifth, playing the numbers game can be a bit facile. Perhaps the news organisations shouldn’t cover the Lib Dems’ annual conference, on the grounds that only a few hundred people are in attendance…

    Sixth, it’s about bloody time the media started reporting events in the trade union movement. Trade unions represent several million people in this country. Collectively, it is the largest voluntary movement in the UK. The much smaller Countryside and Taxpayer Alliances only have to issue a press release for the media to start fawning all over them. The Director General of the CBI need only scratch his bum, and it’s front page news. Likewise the Governor of the Bank of England. Who elected these individuals? And how many people do they speak for? Not nearly as many as the trade union movement. Can you imagine if the CBI called a demonstration and five thousand company directors attended? Would Julian Harris describe it as a non-event? Or is it just horny-handed, blue-collar, working-class people who he dismisses so contemptuously…?

  2. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    The point I was making was the unions shouldn’t be looking to the government to safeguard jobs.

    In fact anytime the government intervene in the market things are made worse.

    I’vew no problem with the unions representing worker rights but they shouldn’t be getting favours off government.

    However at least the unions get out & protest & how much Julian might belittle the actual numbers that turned out to demonstrate, the fact is more have turned out to demonstrate today then the number libertarians ever have.

  3. Jock Says:

    There were probably more in Burford today to be honest! I think they are completely daft organizing a trades union march on Levellers’ Day. Given the choice, and I didn’t have as I’ve been on duty all day, I would much rather pay homage to part of the history of British land campaigners and commune-ists than be seen alongside Digby Jones…:)

  4. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Truth is both the unions & the CBI get favours from government meaning the little man has no chance of honest representation

  5. Julian Harris Says:

    Paul, please, just “Julian” will suffice! We’re all on first name terms here, what? Thanks to all for taking the time to comment, too.

    First, in case there’s any confusion, I should stress that I wasn’t making the same point as Ziggy (even though I agree with it, entirely) – his comment in the earlier post simply reminded me of this event, and I was staggered to find that so few people had attended.

    I must say that in my experience of, shall we say, “public events”, the police tend to overstate numbers, and I thought this was widely accepted. But it is not hugely significant, so let’s move on.

    A few weeks ago, which I believe counts as “when political activism has taken a downturn”, seven times as many people marched for the “Put People First” protest. Can I also assume that political activism had taken its alleged downturn at the time when 1 million people marched to oppose the war in Iraq?

    Whichever way I look at it, I see an incredibly low turnout here (which was the only reason for the post). Also, a quick search for “trade union” on the BBC site finds seemingly endless pages of results, inlcuding an advert in the side panel for the TUC.

    Finally, I’m sorry to see a strange injection of class warfare creeping in here. Let’s say the CBI, for example, arranged a march in support “business bailouts”, and only 4,000 people turned up. If this still received front page headlines – yes, too bloody right I’d be writing about that as well. What have I ever written that suggests I’m somehow on the side of white collar workers “against” blue collar workers?

  6. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘shall we say, “public events”, the police tend to overstate numbers’

    They under estimated us with the Poll Taxes Riots 😉

    Didn’t they Ed?

  7. Julian Harris Says:

    Were they in Maggie’s pocket?

  8. rantersparadise Says:

    “Government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearsome master. Therefore, we should avoid it entirely, as we do all forms of combustion.”

    “Money that government touches spontaneously combusts, destroying the economy. Money retained by individuals grows the economy, even if literally burnt.”

    “All historical examples are tainted by statism, except when they favor libertarian claims.”

    “Private ownership is the cure for all problems, despite the historical record of privately owned states such as Nazi Germany, Czarist and Stalinist Russia, and Maoist China.”

    Stole these quotes but think they are rather apt for the tone of this post.

    I’m still waiting for those effective Liberal policies that will work and change the world! Indeed!

    Come save us! From our tyrannical government!