Monday, 9 February 2009

A Ragpickers' Economy

This toxic hulk is what is to provide work for the once-proud shipbuilders of the North East. Two hundred of them can risk their health, their lives, and that of their families and neighbours dismantling and disposing of a French decommissioned aircraft carrier.

Not build a new aircraft carrier for the French or, for that matter, the English navy. The French aircraft carrier order has gone to French shipyards, the English aircraft carrier order has been cancelled by New Labour's puppet regime. England could have le dernier cri in aircraft carriers supplied by United States' builders for around 15 billion pounds. But there are banks to be 'bailed out', bonuses to be paid, interests to be satisfied.

It could be seen as a judgement on Hartlepool. After all, their voters actually returned a toxic Mandelson to the House of Commons. Now even a twice-disgraced, ermine-clad sneak has no further use for their industrial skills or even their votes. They are abandoned to pick over Europe's industrial and democratic detritus.


Anonymous said...

You're right about the new carriers and so so right about Lord Mandelbum, but it's only fair to point out that shipbreaking is a perfectly honourable trade, and also that everyone agrees this is the best-qualified company to do it.

The alternative, I believe, is for Indonesian children to do this job with hand-tools and no environmental precautions at all.

Caronte said...

"A perfectly honourable trade", Anon?
In Mao's China, yes, for there shipbreakers "served the people" just as much as shipbuilders. But in a market economy today there is lower status, lower technology and lower wages in breaking than in making anything. We cannot pretend to be in China in the 1970s.

What is worrying is just how fast skills can be forgotten and lost forever, and especially the ability and vision to combine the labour of people with different skills. This makes decline irreversible.

hatfield girl said...

The de-skilling of the north and east of England has always been misrepresented. The highly skilled, that is the men who served seven year apprenticeships and were the driving force of manufacturing and industries there all left in the Depression. They migrated to America, the old Commonwealth and south to the new industries that required their engineering skills. What was left behind were the semi-skilled, the unskilled, a few service industry and retail personnel and the coal miners (these last were regarded as a group wholly set apart from and the boilermakers, brass founders, steel works engineers, train builders etc. that left).

When the coal miners pretended that their workers were the skilled working class that was just communist inspired propaganda. They weren't skilled and they were facing technological change that demanded the cessation of their industry.

It wasn't the angels in marble who denounced and demonised the hyper liberalism and deconstruction of the wartime command economy in the later 70's and the eighties, it was this semi-skilled und unskilled rump clothing themselves in the history, the achievements, the skills, and the working class virtues of people who had picked up and left a generation before. One of the least attractive aspects of Labour faux history is the pretence that working people only support Labour. Skilled and competent working people are not in the least inclined to support Labour. And the north east is not full of betrayed skilled workers at all. The work those who are left there are capable of is, as we now see, ship-breaking - unskilled labour - not ship building, a sophisticated, multi-trade engineering undertaking.

roym said...

spot on about the ease with which money is spun out of the ether to disappear down the next drain, but havent the carrier deals been signed? at least two smaller bits of work have already gone to two yards in devon and teeside.

i think anon makes a fair point too, and that maybe we should give Able a fair crack at winning this kind of business and getting on with it (in a regulated manner) instead of looking down our noses at it.

sadly the UK decided not to compete with countries such as S.Korea who were subsidising shipbuilding from scratch post-war. nevertheless we still have shipyards here, its not all doom and gloom.

ps. not a fan of coal miners then?!

hatfield girl said...

Roym we have our differences, clearly. I cannot bear the Labour party in its current manifestation. It is a combination of fabian authoritarian do-goodism to the 'working classes' and a bunch of lying, trade unionist communist statists who want an apparatchik's life style.

Skill has become a dirty word (the second group have been working on that since at least my father's day) and replaced by a homogenous class known as working. There is a greater gap between a miner and my grandfather or father, than there is between my grandfather and father and Quintin Hogg and David Cameron. No, not a fan of the miners because they allowed communist propagandists to lie for them.

Horrified I watched a BBC programme about providing 'skills' for the unemployed. This consisted in cutting lengths of expanded foam and wrapping them round joists and pipes in a mock-up of a standard roof space.

Just how much contempt are you willing to have proffered to you by a one-eyed Scotch idiot?

roym said...

we're not a million miles apart, maybe my glass is half full? and this is no labour party thats for sure.

but what is this patent nonsense that all "properly" skilled people who can strip down a steam engine blindfolded are worthy and everyone else is a trotskyite halfwit? those are some sweeping class statements.

Ive said before Im no brownite, but surely the titular Disreali-ism is just as contemptuous and has more than a touch of presumption about it.

"There is a greater gap between a miner and my grandfather or father, than there is between my grandfather and father and Quintin Hogg and David Cameron"

What is to be done about this growing divide? It mustnt carry on. What can one do as an indvidual? and what is society to do to ensure freedoms, education and enlightenment for all?

ps, my friend has joined the fabians recently, when i challenged him to this he concurs with your description. what a bunch of self-serving pr@ts!

dearieme said...

"the once-proud shipbuilders": oh come off it. I heard the News when I was a child, witnessing the idiots closing down their own industry by their antics. Did they all suppose they had some god-given racial advantage at building ships?

hatfield girl said...

Comes before a fall, Dearieme. Even now they think they're God's gift to the UK.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

"The world-beating British firm that has undertaken the recycling of a French aircraft carrier should be lauded, says Christopher Booker."

"Able has won the respect of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who have both commended the expertise with which it plans to break up the Clemenceau. Far from acting responsibly only thanks to the eagle-eyed regulators of the Environment Agency, Able 's success rests on being as careful as possible with both its workers and the environment, knowing what it is doing rather better than any official jobsworth. "

OK, the link is too long, go to and search 'christopher booker', it will be top listing for week or so.