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Durham has become a land of zombies Politicians have left my people to die

"You probably have difficulty understanding the depth of this hatred" Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

"You probably have difficulty understanding the depth of this hatred" Ian Forsyth/Getty Images


May 10, 2023   7 mins

I was illiterate until my mid-thirties. I’m 57 now and my first book has just been published. It’s tradition for your publisher to deliver the first few copies from the printer’s press to the author. A local courier, James, delivered a box of 10 last week. It was a joyous moment, to see something stared at on a screen for over four years turned into an object that could be held, flicked through, something I could smell. However, that joy was short lived as James, the 54-year-old courier, was killed for the contents of his van one mile or so down the road two days later. His violent end didn’t even make the local news. Durham police posted on Facebook that two men had been charged with manslaughter and theft. Murders and all forms of crime have become common around here now. It’s the norm.

This didn’t happen when I was growing up. One of those men would probably have been welding in a shipyard and the other passing his father through the cage doors at the pithead of the village colliery as they changed shifts.

The ex-coalfield communities of Durham are ghost towns today, their once vibrant high streets boarded up and dead. I don’t believe there is a shop or business in my village or the surrounding towns and villages that has not been burgled at least three or four times. I have a letting office in the high street that was hit three times last year. The factory unit I run my building business from has its doors pulled off at least once a year: the last time, only two weeks ago. My brother owns the last pub standing and has a list of 46 crimes committed on his premises — from serious assault to car crime — none of which have ended in prosecution. Why? Because there was no investigation. Even the undertaker’s shop has had its doors kicked off in the middle of the night, for the sake of a Help the Heroes charity box. He had buried a veteran that day. The thieves took his hearse and ram-raided the local cafĂ© and made off with the till before parking the hearse in the North Sea. The dentist’s surgery, smashed up, the only remaining butcher cleaned out of meat in the dead of the night, a sandwich shop robbed and burned out, the hairdresser’s shop ransacked, the hardware shop constantly hit despite its owner taking most of his stock home every night in his van.

The last time my shop was robbed, I rang the police. I was put on hold for over one hour before being told, if I wanted an attendance, I would have to apply by email and at the present time it was taking them about three or four weeks to get an officer out. My friend and neighbour had his house burgled just before Christmas. The criminals took his children’s Christmas presents he’d hidden in his wardrobe, put them in his wife’s car and drove off. A few weeks later his wife spotted her car while doing the school run and followed it to the house of a known criminal. She rang the police and was informed after a three day wait that the case was now closed. My friend made an official complaint, which resulted in the police eventually visiting the address weeks later, only to report that the known criminal had proved it was his car despite my friend still having the original documents for the vehicle in his possession. Case closed.

Few around here contact the police anymore. That stopped years ago. Looking at my village and the surrounding towns and villages today reminds me of the film Shaun of the Dead. The untidy queues of dehumanised zombies shuffling into the steel-shuttered shopfronts of the only thriving businesses left, the chemists, have the place I grew up in looking more like a Forties death camp than modern day Britain. This new “underclass” go there twice a day, some three, to take their supervised dose of the taxpayer-funded legal high, methadone; a heroin substitute.

The ex-mining villages and towns of East Durham have the highest rate of people on sickness benefit in the UK, the highest rate of people on invalidity benefit and by far the highest rate of people who have been on invalidity for the longest period of time. The people around here have the lowest percentage of car ownership in Britain. The highest rate of unemployment. The lowest home ownership and believe it, if you can, over the last decade, while life expectancy for men around here has not gone up or down, for women it has dropped. This is the only place in Britain where the life expectancy for women is dropping. Another friend of mine is an undertaker in Hartlepool and told me that he now has just as many clients under 35 than elderly. My brother’s daughter was one. She was kicked to death for a drug debt of £50. She was 32, witty and highly intelligent.

I’ve heard many so-called experts over the years say it is difficult to link the social depravation and high levels of crime directly to Thatcher’s deliberate policies of deindustrialisation. All I can conclude from this is that there is no such thing as an expert.

A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields. Once coal was discovered, the villages were built immediately. My forefather’s bred for cutting coal. Then came Thatcher.

I left school in 1982, just as Thatcher was riding high on a popularity wave after single-handedly taking back the Falkland Islands despite never pulling on a pair of boots or leaving London. I was not taught anything at my comprehensive school that might have prevented me from going down the pit, on the contrary, I was only ever given the skills required for when I inevitably found myself at the bottom of that 1,500-foot shaft. As coal could not be cut by pen, it had been decided I and many around me should remain illiterate. I clearly remember a whole bunch of us going to our village colliery to sign up for a miner’s life. We were told to fill in application forms. The few writers helped the many non-writers and we were asked to return in exactly one month. We did but the gates were chained. The mine closed. The dole queue I joined the back of was four and a half million souls long.

The ship building industry was put to death soon after. British steel fell. British rail disappeared, British Gas gone, British telecom, still there, but belonging to someone else. The national Grid, chopped up and sold for a song. Even the very waterways, pipes, and drainage systems laid by our forefathers, snatched away. British aerospace with its airports, sold off. And last-but-not-least, our Royal Mail, snapped up for a fraction of its worth by wealth investors. Ours one day, gone the next.

Thatcher had been busy slipping through new legislation while the wider British public were glued to images of burned-out ships from her South Atlantic war. The miners could no longer be supported by any other group of workers. “Coming out in sympathy,” was banned by legislation so radical that even some Tories had the decency to abstain. The new laws ran rough-shod over hundreds of years of hard-earned worker’s rights.

I don’t believe any beast, person or group of people has ever survived having their heart ripped out and my community and surrounding communities are no exception.

It was like a political bomb went off on that day as we gathered, shocked and bewildered, at our pit’s locked gates, killing some, blasting some of us to the four corners of the world whilst leaving some poor souls blackened, lame and smouldering in the ashes. As for me, I left, travelling the world in search of a better life. “Deserting a sinking ship,” you might say. However, after coming back, years later, literate and witnessing not just a lack of progression but a shocking regression, I wrote a book that hopefully might create, at least some awareness, of what the poor souls here suffered, and the survivors are still suffering today.

We have seen a string of inert careerist politicians come and go since Maggie, each one as inept and bland as the last. The working people here have nowhere to aim their vote, their will unrepresented. It seems the trapdoor under the old likeminded and relatable working-class politician has snapped opened, leaving not only an empty stage but a gapping vacuum where no one new would dare stand. The majority here, who on-the-whole still consider themselves of the Left, feel neglected. They admire straightforwardness, bravery even, yet their beloved Labour party was and still is a coward.

So, as for now, the tsunami of poverty, deprivation, alcoholism, divorce, depression, and addiction to illegal and prescription drugs is still gathering momentum. “Bad life syndrome,” the local health workers are chastised for calling it here. Thousands of lives, lacking aim, opportunity, or fulfilment, treated with pills and powders.

Recently, NHS nurses have been striking over pay, but it doesn’t appear to me that they have any real public support. It seems the tortoise head of pan-bashers who made their trendy din of appreciation during the pandemic have retracted into the safe shell of their homes; their silence, deafening. The rail workers, the teachers, the university staff, doctors, ambulance drivers, healthcare workers, airport workers, civil servants, the post office workers and more have all been involved in industrial action this year — separately. Despite them all belonging to one much larger group. The working classes.

It is hard to believe one person in the top job could change the personality of a nation. From a once caring and united community-driven society to the fractured and divided, “I’m alright Jack, ‘loads ov money,” dog-eat-dog existence we are enduring today, but it happened. And it happened in my lifetime.

There is a new breed of politician today, claiming that British industries were put to death on grounds of the environment. This is completely untrue.

The way worker’s rights along with British industries were irradicated and the conscious effort it took to achieve this should never be forgotten. For a so-called developed nation to have treated and still treat its subjects with such contempt was, and still is, a disgrace and deserves no forgiveness. Margaret Hilda Thatcher died in the luxury of the Ritz Hotel, London, of a stroke in 2013. On the day she died and on the day of her funeral, nobody I know worked. We put up flags and bunting, flocked to our few surviving pubs, drank lots and danced into the night. You probably have difficulty understanding this depth of hatred and that I can understand. But if you had walked under my skies on the same pothole-laden paths as I, then believe me, you too would have drunk beer and danced with me long into those nights. And just to be clear, we did not celebrate because we were naïve enough to imagine that because of her death, things might now get better. It was spite.


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Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

 I was not taught anything at my comprehensive school that might have prevented me from going down the pit, on the contrary, I was only ever given the skills required for when I inevitably found myself at the bottom of that 1,500-foot shaft. As coal could not be cut by pen, it had been decided I and many around me should remain illiterate. 
Absolute nonsense, i’m afraid. You don’t spend a minimum of twelve years at school being prevented from learning to read, especially if you’ve got a reasonably able brain. You don’t learn to read of your own volition, perhaps because your mates aren’t bothering, it’s not “the thing to do”. Blaming your own self-inflicted illiteracy on “the system” signifies an ingrained-from-birth attitude towards thinking the world owes you something; it doesn’t. This seeps out into much of the rest of the article.
I have friends who live in the area. There are, of course, social problems which he describes and if the book he’s had published is based around this narrative i’ve no doubt it’ll attract attention and sympathy. But what he describes is tainted with the attitude, which my friends don’t have, that he’s been hard done by. Lest any readers take pity, let me just say that the people i know who live in the area lead perfectly good and fruitful lives.
The pockets of poverty he describes exist in many, many other places in the western world, where once thriving industries have vanished. The Durham area is no worse off than any of them. That mightn’t be much consolation for those captured in a cycle of deprivation, but they can’t be regarded as being a ‘special case’ or the responsibility of any one factor (such as Thatcher) that the simplistic narrative in this article portrays. Let’s not forget, for instance, that Tony Blair was the MP for a small Durham town, Sedgefield from 1983-2007, pretty much the period this article is concerned with. If those problems were of such concern to his constituents, i think he’d have known about it; or perhaps he too was content to let the area he represented drift.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

To be fair to the author, since he’s 57 and left school in 1982, he probably didn’t crack year 12. I teach trade & post-trade electrical and all my students have done Y12, and I have heaps of borderline illiterates in my classes. I suspect the education trends in the UK are similar to Australia, so it’s perfectly imaginable that too many youngsters in both countries get a rubbish education in wreading and righting.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

I generally had two or three borderline illiterates in my class when I was teaching philosophy to nice upper-middle class undergraduates at the Russell Group university where I did my PhD.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

The admission criteria are clearly wrong.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I’ve still got them in 2023.

Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Isn’t it the case that 10% of the human race have an IQ of 80 or below (perhaps more where people have learning disabilities) The US Army does not accept people with IQs less than 80, are we, therefore, surprised at the number of borderline illiterates?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Not at all. What surprises me is kids going through 13 years of schooling, getting straight A’s at A-level, and winning a place at a top university without being able to construct a grammatical sentence of their own language.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Not at all. What surprises me is kids going through 13 years of schooling, getting straight A’s at A-level, and winning a place at a top university without being able to construct a grammatical sentence of their own language.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

A few years ago I saw a sheet on a notice board at Reading University advertising remedial maths classes in the mysteries of arithmetic, percentages, basic statistics, etc. I suspect that it was aimed at the sort of people who had chosen psychology as a soft option and then discovered to their horror that it required number crunching. But if people can bluff their way into serious tertiary education when they are so unprepared, we are obviously wasting truckloads of money from age 5 onwards.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

The admission criteria are clearly wrong.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I’ve still got them in 2023.

Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Isn’t it the case that 10% of the human race have an IQ of 80 or below (perhaps more where people have learning disabilities) The US Army does not accept people with IQs less than 80, are we, therefore, surprised at the number of borderline illiterates?

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

A few years ago I saw a sheet on a notice board at Reading University advertising remedial maths classes in the mysteries of arithmetic, percentages, basic statistics, etc. I suspect that it was aimed at the sort of people who had chosen psychology as a soft option and then discovered to their horror that it required number crunching. But if people can bluff their way into serious tertiary education when they are so unprepared, we are obviously wasting truckloads of money from age 5 onwards.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

I generally had two or three borderline illiterates in my class when I was teaching philosophy to nice upper-middle class undergraduates at the Russell Group university where I did my PhD.

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The idea that Tony Blair (a Thatcherite) would have been at all bothered is laughable.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

Indeed. My point was regarding the complexity of post-industrialisation rather than the simplistic narrative the author puts forward.
The article is also an insult to the vast majority of people who live in the Durham area.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Don’t you be worrying about the people of County Durham. Apart from a very small minority they have seen with their own eyes, the reason I write!

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

I can only assume you write of Easington, Horden, Peterlee, South Hetton etc. as you have provided only anecdotes whereas most UnHerd pieces are littered with references.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

My father-in-law worked as a shipyard welder on the Wear but with a strong Methodist background his attitudes and morality were completely opposed to the attitudes depicted by the author as typical to the area. I have also met a number of former miners who have not succumbed to the malaise, ignorance and blame culture of which pockets can certainly be found in Durham but have made good.
My eldest son chose to go to 6th form college in Peterlee and still regularly sees friends whose backgrounds are undoubtedly working class but who do not share the attitudes described here even if some might share elements of the distorted political views that were fostered by a number of the teachers there.
Unfortunately the author seems to describe only a lurid segment of life in County Durham and his analysis of the causes are so partial and limited as to suggest greater enlightenment is unlikely to be found in his book.The article smacks of propaganda rather than a serious contribution to analysing the undoubted problems that do exist in the old pit villages or the reasons for the closure of the mines. It is a pity since the author has clearly turned his own life round so might have some Unherd insights to put forward.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I was born and brought up in Cumberland (Now happily restored from the dystopian creation of bureaucrat-knows-best, Cumbria).
Harold Wilson’s govt shut far more pits than Thatchers, that’s one of the most widely known, ‘little known’ facts, and despite being embedded in an early, and equally ubiquitous culture of pit villages, I find the author’s assertions unrecognisable.
My dad, a miner obviously, did not want me to go down the pit at any price, nor any of my brothers and sisters, and none of us did, not only because they were all getting shut, but because in the decade of the Beatles, Stones,Moon shots and what have you we had other ideas.
I don’t recognise his dystopian vision even though West Cumberland was hit every bit as hard in the 1960s as Durham was in the 1980s.
He needs to get out more.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Cumbria as a county actually made a lot of sense – just look at a map – Westmoreland despite its history, rather little!

Anthony chiverton
Anthony chiverton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I note with interest you points regarding HW labour government shutting more coal mines than Thatcher.

But you fail to mention the the mines that were shut down were mines with the worst conditions and were so unproductive that shutting them was a priority on health and safety grounds
.
You also fail to mention the 1974 plan for coal.

A tremendous leap forward in health and safety and new longwall mining technology.
All centred around a national grid to supply efficiency of electricity supply to a growing economy and the cheap supply of power to the masses.

In 1981 i was possible the last intake of a group young men into the coal industry into the North Nottinghamshire coal fields (Thoresby colliery)

I did my training at loundhall training college before setting upon my mining career of 28 years.
I worked in a coal mine that was modern and efficient and also very sade that produced over 1 5 million tons of coal per year.

I was well paid and only missed one year’s pay due to the fact I stood and fought in the great strike of 1984/5.

I left the coal industry in 2008 due to my knee injuries and looked for alternative work.

I found that work with the probation service in Nottinghamshire.

My job brought me into daily contact with the criminal fraternity.
Over the years I seen so many once proud communities and their mining stock fall into degrigation poverty and hopelessness.

These once proud communities are now waste lands which are over run with gangs ,drugs,prostitution ,violence.

I despair at the hopelessness of individuals who at the age of 18 have written their life’s off.

A comment and discussion with so many of these poor souls usually starts like this.

So charlie.how long have you worked for the probation service.
Ok ,I worked has a coal miner for 28 years before I started working for the probation service.

Wow you know my dad/ grandad worked at Hucknall/ the pits.
He says it was really hard work and dangerous, but he loved it and the money was great.
I wish I could of had a chance of working down the pit.

It’s soul destroying.

Thatcher and the tories distroyed communities for pure political gain.

We are now paying the price for evil act of political genocide on a section of the working whos only crime was to fight for a better future.

Feel free to try and convince me otherwise.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Cumbria as a county actually made a lot of sense – just look at a map – Westmoreland despite its history, rather little!

Anthony chiverton
Anthony chiverton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I note with interest you points regarding HW labour government shutting more coal mines than Thatcher.

But you fail to mention the the mines that were shut down were mines with the worst conditions and were so unproductive that shutting them was a priority on health and safety grounds
.
You also fail to mention the 1974 plan for coal.

A tremendous leap forward in health and safety and new longwall mining technology.
All centred around a national grid to supply efficiency of electricity supply to a growing economy and the cheap supply of power to the masses.

In 1981 i was possible the last intake of a group young men into the coal industry into the North Nottinghamshire coal fields (Thoresby colliery)

I did my training at loundhall training college before setting upon my mining career of 28 years.
I worked in a coal mine that was modern and efficient and also very sade that produced over 1 5 million tons of coal per year.

I was well paid and only missed one year’s pay due to the fact I stood and fought in the great strike of 1984/5.

I left the coal industry in 2008 due to my knee injuries and looked for alternative work.

I found that work with the probation service in Nottinghamshire.

My job brought me into daily contact with the criminal fraternity.
Over the years I seen so many once proud communities and their mining stock fall into degrigation poverty and hopelessness.

These once proud communities are now waste lands which are over run with gangs ,drugs,prostitution ,violence.

I despair at the hopelessness of individuals who at the age of 18 have written their life’s off.

A comment and discussion with so many of these poor souls usually starts like this.

So charlie.how long have you worked for the probation service.
Ok ,I worked has a coal miner for 28 years before I started working for the probation service.

Wow you know my dad/ grandad worked at Hucknall/ the pits.
He says it was really hard work and dangerous, but he loved it and the money was great.
I wish I could of had a chance of working down the pit.

It’s soul destroying.

Thatcher and the tories distroyed communities for pure political gain.

We are now paying the price for evil act of political genocide on a section of the working whos only crime was to fight for a better future.

Feel free to try and convince me otherwise.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I was born and brought up in Cumberland (Now happily restored from the dystopian creation of bureaucrat-knows-best, Cumbria).
Harold Wilson’s govt shut far more pits than Thatchers, that’s one of the most widely known, ‘little known’ facts, and despite being embedded in an early, and equally ubiquitous culture of pit villages, I find the author’s assertions unrecognisable.
My dad, a miner obviously, did not want me to go down the pit at any price, nor any of my brothers and sisters, and none of us did, not only because they were all getting shut, but because in the decade of the Beatles, Stones,Moon shots and what have you we had other ideas.
I don’t recognise his dystopian vision even though West Cumberland was hit every bit as hard in the 1960s as Durham was in the 1980s.
He needs to get out more.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

The headline (not written by the article’s author) is typically lazy, not bothering to differentiate between Durham and Co. Durham (or at least the parts that are under discussion here).

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

My father-in-law worked as a shipyard welder on the Wear but with a strong Methodist background his attitudes and morality were completely opposed to the attitudes depicted by the author as typical to the area. I have also met a number of former miners who have not succumbed to the malaise, ignorance and blame culture of which pockets can certainly be found in Durham but have made good.
My eldest son chose to go to 6th form college in Peterlee and still regularly sees friends whose backgrounds are undoubtedly working class but who do not share the attitudes described here even if some might share elements of the distorted political views that were fostered by a number of the teachers there.
Unfortunately the author seems to describe only a lurid segment of life in County Durham and his analysis of the causes are so partial and limited as to suggest greater enlightenment is unlikely to be found in his book.The article smacks of propaganda rather than a serious contribution to analysing the undoubted problems that do exist in the old pit villages or the reasons for the closure of the mines. It is a pity since the author has clearly turned his own life round so might have some Unherd insights to put forward.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

The headline (not written by the article’s author) is typically lazy, not bothering to differentiate between Durham and Co. Durham (or at least the parts that are under discussion here).

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

I can only assume you write of Easington, Horden, Peterlee, South Hetton etc. as you have provided only anecdotes whereas most UnHerd pieces are littered with references.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Don’t you be worrying about the people of County Durham. Apart from a very small minority they have seen with their own eyes, the reason I write!

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

There is only 1 person Blair has ever cared about.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

And yet, all of the locals would happily vote Labour, despite the contempt in which they were held by Bliar and his cohort.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

The only prize Tony Blair’s constituents won was a far from glittering box of wooden spoons.

Last edited 1 year ago by Christine Thomas
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

Being ‘bothered’ isn’t defined by whether you hold a whole set of leftist political views, whose results have just been so successful when put into application anywhere.

British industries were famously uncompetitive and dogged with industrial disputes in the halcyon days before Thatcher. The British people were also notably ‘unpatriotic’, if you like, in quickly switching to better quality foreign products rather than mediocre British ones.

The Left and the trades unions, along with mediocre management all have to take a big share of he blame for this, not just one demonised political figure who actually on the whole did hugely improve UK economic performance.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

Indeed. My point was regarding the complexity of post-industrialisation rather than the simplistic narrative the author puts forward.
The article is also an insult to the vast majority of people who live in the Durham area.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

There is only 1 person Blair has ever cared about.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

And yet, all of the locals would happily vote Labour, despite the contempt in which they were held by Bliar and his cohort.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

The only prize Tony Blair’s constituents won was a far from glittering box of wooden spoons.

Last edited 1 year ago by Christine Thomas
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Zaph Mann

Being ‘bothered’ isn’t defined by whether you hold a whole set of leftist political views, whose results have just been so successful when put into application anywhere.

British industries were famously uncompetitive and dogged with industrial disputes in the halcyon days before Thatcher. The British people were also notably ‘unpatriotic’, if you like, in quickly switching to better quality foreign products rather than mediocre British ones.

The Left and the trades unions, along with mediocre management all have to take a big share of he blame for this, not just one demonised political figure who actually on the whole did hugely improve UK economic performance.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I went to a really bad comprehensive growing up with a young single mother on an extremely rough council estate during the 1980s. I still find it pretty hard to describe what went on there, especially to people who went to good schools. Learning pretty much goes out the window when you are getting sucker-punched from behind by the class sadist, or a mental-case attempts to stab you in the eye with a soldering iron, or a group of lads are stamping on your face just for fun. The borstal depicted in the 1970s film Scum was only marginally worse than the school I attended.
Despite earning a doctorate degree and starting my own business, that place left an indelible mark on me: a kind of watchful paranoia that never goes away. The one good thing that came out of that experience was that it taught me how to fight.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

This is a comment on the local school where I grew up from a member of a more recent generation
I went there myself and left last year, and I have to say it’s possibly the worst school within Stoke. There were race wars every other week, there were gangs, weapons and drugs are often found, and certain areas of the school felt like ghettos with only a select race are within an area. Honestly, if you’re thinking about taking your kids there, don’t, and if your kids are already there, move them. Do not blame the teachers, most of the kids don’t want to learn as all they do is mess around, and do all that has been said above. I legitimately felt deprived going there, and ultimately let down, so please do not subject your kids to this utter joke of a school.
Read more at http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/stoke-trent-high-schools-fail-inspections/story-26053614-detail/story.html#8ZfmRHr7qhokuidk.99
 

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Excellent post. As a Headmaster of a tough school said to me ” If 25% of a class and the school are troublemakers, one is not involved in education but riot control.”
Those thugs you mentioned largely come from unskilled uneducated background and despise learning. They are not the sort of people employable in advanced engineering such such aircraft, misssiles, satellite or jet engine design and manufacture.
When Labour came to power in 1945, the politicians, civil servants , union leaders , teachers and academics were more or less ignorant of international trade and technology. The British Empire was a protected markey fro British companies yet Labour were ignorant of the fact that dismantling it would most impact un and semi skilled jobs in the UK.By 1963 The German Miracle had occurred yet the un and semi-skilled union leaders did nothing to upgrade skills. By 1968 British heavy industry was in massive decline partly assisted by the development of electronic control systems and the closure of the Suez Canal. The NCB could have been privatised or turned into a mutual society and turned into an international mining company such as British Gas. This would have meant the massive upgrading of skills and the creation of a cosmopolitan outlook by all staff
Those who understood international trade and technology largely worked abroad often in oil, mining, construction, chemicals, shipping and banking; when they pointed out the scale of foreign competition were at best ignored.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Such a frozen mindset also operated at top level management of big firms as illustrated by BP Chemicals still in 1980s monitoring its overseas sales statistics under such headings as British Empire, Red China, pre- Independence terms for African States and with EEU and EFTA nowhere to be seen.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

BP was described as the technical branch of the FCO.Shell appears to have been more discerning as were the mining companies, HSBC, etc. If one looks at post 1945, those with the get up and go tended to work overseas for a company. Those working in the UK who ended up running a company had spent it in the slower lanes.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

BP was described as the technical branch of the FCO.Shell appears to have been more discerning as were the mining companies, HSBC, etc. If one looks at post 1945, those with the get up and go tended to work overseas for a company. Those working in the UK who ended up running a company had spent it in the slower lanes.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The unions were responsible for not upgrading skills???!!! What planet do you live on? Unions were far more than organisations concerned just with pay and working conditions. They ran social clubs, provided education to apprentices, taught social skills and the values of commonality and solidarity. What they were NOT responsible for was investment. Since the 1890’s most major British companies paid out 95% of profits in dividends and set aside 5% for R&D. They still do. Britain runs a rentier economy. The corporations of that well known bastion of communism, the USA, invested 30% of their profits in development; as did Japan, Germany, France etc.It wasn’t the unions who decided what price to charge for products. The Mini-car, designed by an Italian, was the second biggest selling in history after the Volkswagen Beetle. The unions were blamed for the destrcution of the British Car industry. But in the early 70’s it turned out that EVERY single Mini car had been sold at a loss. Foreign competition won because the British owners of industry saw businesses as a means to line their pockets. In 1976 I worked in a factory on a machine built in 1928 and was tolod it didn’t need replacing or upgrading because “it does the job it was designed to, that’s a quality machine that.” The fact is was 50% slower than European competitors was of no consequence.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

The EETPU, the electricians union had a school to upgrade the skills of their members. Self employed craftsmen have to regularly update their skills, especially electricians. German unions understood a balance sheet and negotiated pay deals based on profits.
The frequent strikes reduced quality and prolonged delivery time. There is no point in investing in technology which reduces the employment of un and semi skilled workforce if the unions refuse to upgrade skills. When it comes to computer software, the cost of training the staff is often twice that of the licences. The frequent Spanish Practices and demarcation strikes made investing in new technology pointless. The result was that many of the best craftsmen, foremen, technicians, scientists and engineers went to work overseas because they were not prepared to have their lives run by some bloody minded shop steward who was ignorant of international trade and technology.
The basic evolution of technology is to move from un through semi to skilled workforce. We no longer build canals, make sails or transport goods in wooden ships. An architect I knew was called a scab because in the 1980s, as a draftsmen he learnt to use CAD.
The only union leaders who understood the need to upgrade skils such as Bill Jordon, Gavin Laird, Eric Chapple , John Lyons and eric Hammond were mocked by the trade unions leaders who represented the un and smi skilled union which in the 1970s made up 70 % of the TUC. NACODS did not sup;ort Scargill.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

There’s a lot of truth to what you say, but completely exonerating the destructive role of the trades unions – but also ‘wildcat’ strikes led by militant left wingers, who were endlessly on strike against nationalised industries under Labour governments, is going too far.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

It was the shop stewards of the un an semi skilled unions which most of the caused problems. There is massive difference in mentality between un / semi skilled and craft union where members have undergone 5 plus years of apprenticeship; namely in responsibility for quality, safety and planning.
The craft unions such as EETPU, NACODS and AEU understood technology evolved and skills had to be upgraded. However in the 1970s, 70% of the TUC were un and semi skilled. In Germany it is the better educated and trained craft unions who can read a balance sheet who influence industrial policy, not the un and semi skilled unions. In Germany pay is based on profit, not over time and people were expected to work extra hours if needed. In Britain overtime was distributed by shop stewards which gave them immense power. In Britain, due to absenteeism (Mondays and Fridays), strikes and indifference to quality, meant too many goods were faulty. Also Unions prevented people being sacked for shoddy work.
One of the reasons the for sucess if Japanese manufacturing was the very high quality of workmanship and short delivery times which cannot be achieved if there are strikes, absenteeism and indifference to quality. Khazen, continuous improvement is a state of mind which runs through much of Japanese society whether it is making swords or cars.
Much of British Industrial policy was formed by D Jay, H Gaitskill, H Wilson and the leaders of the un and semi skilled unions who knew nothing about international trade and technology and in particular, industry within the USA, Germany and Japan in th period of 1945 to 1951 and 1963 to 1970.
Frank Cousins( lorry driver and therefore semi skilled ) of the TGWU was Wilson’s Minister Of Technology. Perhaps if Frank Chapple of the EETPU had been Minister of Technology the decline in British Industry under Wilson would not have been so great.
By 1967, NCB Mining Engineers were leaving Britain because they saw no future in Britsh coal mining . If an organisation are losing the brightest and best, then it is in trouble.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

It was the shop stewards of the un an semi skilled unions which most of the caused problems. There is massive difference in mentality between un / semi skilled and craft union where members have undergone 5 plus years of apprenticeship; namely in responsibility for quality, safety and planning.
The craft unions such as EETPU, NACODS and AEU understood technology evolved and skills had to be upgraded. However in the 1970s, 70% of the TUC were un and semi skilled. In Germany it is the better educated and trained craft unions who can read a balance sheet who influence industrial policy, not the un and semi skilled unions. In Germany pay is based on profit, not over time and people were expected to work extra hours if needed. In Britain overtime was distributed by shop stewards which gave them immense power. In Britain, due to absenteeism (Mondays and Fridays), strikes and indifference to quality, meant too many goods were faulty. Also Unions prevented people being sacked for shoddy work.
One of the reasons the for sucess if Japanese manufacturing was the very high quality of workmanship and short delivery times which cannot be achieved if there are strikes, absenteeism and indifference to quality. Khazen, continuous improvement is a state of mind which runs through much of Japanese society whether it is making swords or cars.
Much of British Industrial policy was formed by D Jay, H Gaitskill, H Wilson and the leaders of the un and semi skilled unions who knew nothing about international trade and technology and in particular, industry within the USA, Germany and Japan in th period of 1945 to 1951 and 1963 to 1970.
Frank Cousins( lorry driver and therefore semi skilled ) of the TGWU was Wilson’s Minister Of Technology. Perhaps if Frank Chapple of the EETPU had been Minister of Technology the decline in British Industry under Wilson would not have been so great.
By 1967, NCB Mining Engineers were leaving Britain because they saw no future in Britsh coal mining . If an organisation are losing the brightest and best, then it is in trouble.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

In 1974 I was working on the Vandervells factory in Maidenhead (long since demolished to make way for a housing estate). The electroplating machines were made in the USA in the 1930s. But those were bought in the days of old Vandervell, an industrial pioneer. He was dead and the factory was part of GKN. Stirling Moss’s Vanwell racing car in British Racing Green was still proudly on display in the entrance hall of the admin office block. I guess that car is now in a museum or some wealthy American’s garage somewhere.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

The EETPU, the electricians union had a school to upgrade the skills of their members. Self employed craftsmen have to regularly update their skills, especially electricians. German unions understood a balance sheet and negotiated pay deals based on profits.
The frequent strikes reduced quality and prolonged delivery time. There is no point in investing in technology which reduces the employment of un and semi skilled workforce if the unions refuse to upgrade skills. When it comes to computer software, the cost of training the staff is often twice that of the licences. The frequent Spanish Practices and demarcation strikes made investing in new technology pointless. The result was that many of the best craftsmen, foremen, technicians, scientists and engineers went to work overseas because they were not prepared to have their lives run by some bloody minded shop steward who was ignorant of international trade and technology.
The basic evolution of technology is to move from un through semi to skilled workforce. We no longer build canals, make sails or transport goods in wooden ships. An architect I knew was called a scab because in the 1980s, as a draftsmen he learnt to use CAD.
The only union leaders who understood the need to upgrade skils such as Bill Jordon, Gavin Laird, Eric Chapple , John Lyons and eric Hammond were mocked by the trade unions leaders who represented the un and smi skilled union which in the 1970s made up 70 % of the TUC. NACODS did not sup;ort Scargill.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

There’s a lot of truth to what you say, but completely exonerating the destructive role of the trades unions – but also ‘wildcat’ strikes led by militant left wingers, who were endlessly on strike against nationalised industries under Labour governments, is going too far.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

In 1974 I was working on the Vandervells factory in Maidenhead (long since demolished to make way for a housing estate). The electroplating machines were made in the USA in the 1930s. But those were bought in the days of old Vandervell, an industrial pioneer. He was dead and the factory was part of GKN. Stirling Moss’s Vanwell racing car in British Racing Green was still proudly on display in the entrance hall of the admin office block. I guess that car is now in a museum or some wealthy American’s garage somewhere.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I suspect that in every country there is a certain percentage of people who simply cannot be educated above the most basic level. In the past there were jobs for such people performing very simple, repetitive tasks in factories etc.
As most of our manufacturing has been upgraded to highly skilled work or outsourced to low wage economies there are very few jobs for such people – emptying bins is one of the few left I imagine.
So we now have a permanently unemployed underclass who turn to crime on the assumption that it pays better than an unskilled minimum wage job even if you can get one – not easy with a criminal record.
What to do with these people who make up the bulk of the criminal class and prison population is a huge problem that no government of any political stripe has been able to solve.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Such a frozen mindset also operated at top level management of big firms as illustrated by BP Chemicals still in 1980s monitoring its overseas sales statistics under such headings as British Empire, Red China, pre- Independence terms for African States and with EEU and EFTA nowhere to be seen.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The unions were responsible for not upgrading skills???!!! What planet do you live on? Unions were far more than organisations concerned just with pay and working conditions. They ran social clubs, provided education to apprentices, taught social skills and the values of commonality and solidarity. What they were NOT responsible for was investment. Since the 1890’s most major British companies paid out 95% of profits in dividends and set aside 5% for R&D. They still do. Britain runs a rentier economy. The corporations of that well known bastion of communism, the USA, invested 30% of their profits in development; as did Japan, Germany, France etc.It wasn’t the unions who decided what price to charge for products. The Mini-car, designed by an Italian, was the second biggest selling in history after the Volkswagen Beetle. The unions were blamed for the destrcution of the British Car industry. But in the early 70’s it turned out that EVERY single Mini car had been sold at a loss. Foreign competition won because the British owners of industry saw businesses as a means to line their pockets. In 1976 I worked in a factory on a machine built in 1928 and was tolod it didn’t need replacing or upgrading because “it does the job it was designed to, that’s a quality machine that.” The fact is was 50% slower than European competitors was of no consequence.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I suspect that in every country there is a certain percentage of people who simply cannot be educated above the most basic level. In the past there were jobs for such people performing very simple, repetitive tasks in factories etc.
As most of our manufacturing has been upgraded to highly skilled work or outsourced to low wage economies there are very few jobs for such people – emptying bins is one of the few left I imagine.
So we now have a permanently unemployed underclass who turn to crime on the assumption that it pays better than an unskilled minimum wage job even if you can get one – not easy with a criminal record.
What to do with these people who make up the bulk of the criminal class and prison population is a huge problem that no government of any political stripe has been able to solve.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I can imagine it is perfectly possible to spend upwards of 12 years in such a school and learn next to nothing. They are regarded as holding pens basically not places of learning.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

This is a comment on the local school where I grew up from a member of a more recent generation
I went there myself and left last year, and I have to say it’s possibly the worst school within Stoke. There were race wars every other week, there were gangs, weapons and drugs are often found, and certain areas of the school felt like ghettos with only a select race are within an area. Honestly, if you’re thinking about taking your kids there, don’t, and if your kids are already there, move them. Do not blame the teachers, most of the kids don’t want to learn as all they do is mess around, and do all that has been said above. I legitimately felt deprived going there, and ultimately let down, so please do not subject your kids to this utter joke of a school.
Read more at http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/stoke-trent-high-schools-fail-inspections/story-26053614-detail/story.html#8ZfmRHr7qhokuidk.99
 

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Excellent post. As a Headmaster of a tough school said to me ” If 25% of a class and the school are troublemakers, one is not involved in education but riot control.”
Those thugs you mentioned largely come from unskilled uneducated background and despise learning. They are not the sort of people employable in advanced engineering such such aircraft, misssiles, satellite or jet engine design and manufacture.
When Labour came to power in 1945, the politicians, civil servants , union leaders , teachers and academics were more or less ignorant of international trade and technology. The British Empire was a protected markey fro British companies yet Labour were ignorant of the fact that dismantling it would most impact un and semi skilled jobs in the UK.By 1963 The German Miracle had occurred yet the un and semi-skilled union leaders did nothing to upgrade skills. By 1968 British heavy industry was in massive decline partly assisted by the development of electronic control systems and the closure of the Suez Canal. The NCB could have been privatised or turned into a mutual society and turned into an international mining company such as British Gas. This would have meant the massive upgrading of skills and the creation of a cosmopolitan outlook by all staff
Those who understood international trade and technology largely worked abroad often in oil, mining, construction, chemicals, shipping and banking; when they pointed out the scale of foreign competition were at best ignored.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I can imagine it is perfectly possible to spend upwards of 12 years in such a school and learn next to nothing. They are regarded as holding pens basically not places of learning.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

‘But what he describes is tainted with the attitude, which my friends don’t have, that he’s been hard done by.’
This I think is an important point. The author uses the term, ‘working class,’ but there really is no working class now, at least not in any sense of the term that my grandparents would recognise. Too often now the term ‘working class’ is used as little more than a moral, ideological and political appeal. As an empty association with over romanticised, salt-of-the-earth horny handed sons of toil, done in by Fatcha. If you pay a mortgage, drive a car or go on overseas holidays then you are not working class in any classic sense. The class system is not self-cert.
Nowadays we have an underclass, an overclass, a comfortable class (largely made up of those who got the sweet end of the property market) and a coping class. The issue with the public sector strikes is I think not so much about pay restraint necessarily, rather that people who are in work and on wages that are far from low are now in a grisly place where they are coping rather than really comfortable. Whilst I have some sympathy, it’s hardly a condition unique to the public sector.
Almost certainly the UK would have seen some level of deindustrialisation with or without Thatcher. Would an alternative economy have been put in place by another PM? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll never know. My own deindustrialised home town did have new things come along at the right time, but it is hard to escape the feeling that was the result of good luck rather than good leadership by anyone.
What the coping class need is the stability that has gone. We saw this played out at the EU referendum where easy-living comfortable class types saw the EU as a playground and a source of tenants for the BTL. The coping class saw wage arbitrage and headaches. Sadly, as the article says, it’s probably too late for the underclass. But working class is a bygone age.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, and mechanics are working cclass

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

My electrician is spending £18k on his daughter’s wedding (in Greece), and is greatly cheered up after discovering that one of his two offshore bank accounts will let him deposit the cash here and take it out there without charging a huge commission. How working class is that?

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago

‘My electrician,’ that must be nice

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

The Electrician I Am Paying To Do Some Work For Me, if you prefer. See also: my GP, my Librarian etc

Chris Bradshaw
Chris Bradshaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

In all of your bad-faith responses, this is the worst. Grow up.

P N
P N
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

You do realise it’s illegal to do your own electrical work unless you’re a qualified sparky? So nearly everyone has someone they can call “my electrician.” Maybe you do your own dental work and hair cuts too?!

Your article has lazy Mackem written all over it. I’m reminded why the North East rivalry runs deeper than just football. My old man was right to tell me never to employ a Mackem. A Geordie would never have written such a poor me article.

Last edited 1 year ago by P N
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

The Electrician I Am Paying To Do Some Work For Me, if you prefer. See also: my GP, my Librarian etc

Chris Bradshaw
Chris Bradshaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

In all of your bad-faith responses, this is the worst. Grow up.

P N
P N
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

You do realise it’s illegal to do your own electrical work unless you’re a qualified sparky? So nearly everyone has someone they can call “my electrician.” Maybe you do your own dental work and hair cuts too?!

Your article has lazy Mackem written all over it. I’m reminded why the North East rivalry runs deeper than just football. My old man was right to tell me never to employ a Mackem. A Geordie would never have written such a poor me article.

Last edited 1 year ago by P N
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Very.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

That’s what I thought.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

That’s what I thought.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

But particular class membership is not just about income but education and culture.
So poorly paid employee of art gallery is middle class and your electrician is not….

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago

‘My electrician,’ that must be nice

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Very.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

But particular class membership is not just about income but education and culture.
So poorly paid employee of art gallery is middle class and your electrician is not….

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Otherwise known as “The salt of the earth”.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

My electrician is spending £18k on his daughter’s wedding (in Greece), and is greatly cheered up after discovering that one of his two offshore bank accounts will let him deposit the cash here and take it out there without charging a huge commission. How working class is that?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Otherwise known as “The salt of the earth”.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Of course, the working class still exists, but as you suggest, split into 2,3, or even 4 different types now, but working class is still the overarching umbrella term for them all. The term is used to simplify debate, but there have always been huge income disparities and ambitions between those at both ends of the spectrum, exacerbated in many instances by where you live.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, and mechanics are working cclass

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam Hill

Of course, the working class still exists, but as you suggest, split into 2,3, or even 4 different types now, but working class is still the overarching umbrella term for them all. The term is used to simplify debate, but there have always been huge income disparities and ambitions between those at both ends of the spectrum, exacerbated in many instances by where you live.

Rob Kirton
Rob Kirton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I was raised in County Durham at the same time as the author, going through the same state education system. I have been fortunate to move around the country to a few other places, deciding to return to County Durham over 20 years ago. That decision was based upon being able to have a quality of life not afforded to me elsewhere in the country. I still live and work there.
The picture the author paints, is one with which I am familiar. However, not one typical of the life lived by the majority of us Durham folks.
The title of the article “Durham has become a land of zombies” is a lazy one. It should more accurately be “Like elsewhere, parts of Durham are occupied by zombies”. The author appears to have spent more time in self pity rather than self reflection, caring only to present a case of victim hood. They have a book to sell, and I suspect want to sell it to others of an equal disposition. i.e. playing to their audience.
The reasons for industrial decline in some sectors and the growth of others is worthy of honest examination, and deserves a well balanced study. Unfortunately, having a chip on both shoulders does not qualify.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Kirton

I agree the title was the only bit I didn’t write ✅

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Kirton

So you had to move away to find fame and fortune, just like the author and myself, but have now returned, for the cheaper housing, yet patronisingly accuse others of playing the victim, a very typical attitude of new money Durham FOLK!

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Kirton

To be fair, seems to me the author has not chosen to offer yet another nauseating account of how I made good by pulling up nonexistent bootstraps, loudly proclaiming their current elevated status due to a virtuous combination of talent and hard work – the ‘clever me’ syndrome by-passing teachers and other helpful facilitators on the way ‘up’.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Kirton

I agree the title was the only bit I didn’t write ✅

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Kirton

So you had to move away to find fame and fortune, just like the author and myself, but have now returned, for the cheaper housing, yet patronisingly accuse others of playing the victim, a very typical attitude of new money Durham FOLK!

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Kirton

To be fair, seems to me the author has not chosen to offer yet another nauseating account of how I made good by pulling up nonexistent bootstraps, loudly proclaiming their current elevated status due to a virtuous combination of talent and hard work – the ‘clever me’ syndrome by-passing teachers and other helpful facilitators on the way ‘up’.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I would not normally bother to comment on a story like this yet felt compelled to. Last month I went on holiday to Edinburgh. I live in Coventry, so its a long drive. I therefore decided to stop the night at a hotel in Durham. Had this not been the case I would have read the above article and assumed it to be a dystopian hell hole. To call this piece a tissue of outright lies doesn’t even come close. I found Durham to be a beautiful city full of high end restaurants and independent shops. The city centre has fared far better than many others. A vast area of the waterside has been completely redeveloped with massive new buildings and public spaces. Had I not visited for myself I would never have realised just how twisted by hatred, self pity and the worst kind of class tribalism this “author” really is.
Policing is problematic in many places. Pockets of deprivation and poverty exist everywhere. Even the worst areas of Durham look like Knightsbridge compared to what I’ve seen in Blackpool and Coventry. It’s fascinating the lies some adults will tell themselves, in order to continue believing the prejudice and hatred they were immersed in as children. Deindustrialisation has happened all across the developed world. More manufacturing jobs were lost under Blair than Thatcher. She may be a tempting hate figure, but you’d have to be fundamentally dishonest to pretend that these inevitable changes would not have happened under any government, just as they did in every other western economy.
The author unintentionally reveals the problem himself. He was brought up in a community that did not value education, that saw a life down the pit as not just inevitable but desirable. You can scream into the void, longing for a rose tinted past that never existed all you like. No leader can uninvent online shopping, close supermarkets or bring back the butcher, baker and iron monger. Let alone make coal production remotely relevant or profitable.
Quote: “A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields. Once coal was discovered, the villages were built immediately” No one has the right to route themselves and every future generation to the spot, then demand that high paying work be provided to them as a matter of entitlement. To paraphrase one Norman Tebbit. If there are no jobs and no future “get on your bike” and move…

Rob Kirton
Rob Kirton
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Adam, the only credence I would give the author is that they are most likely describing one of the villages in the former East Durham coal fields, though I have noted it is unnamed. Durham City is a grand place, and there are many fine towns in the county where a good and prosperous life can be had. Why folks who have been “left behind” are still in a disadvantaged position is worthy of discussion and action. As you have already said “The author unintentionally reveals the problem himself.” I don’t suspect their book will provide any answers.

Kevin R
Kevin R
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Anyone familiar with the area will tell you that Durham city, with its cathedral and ivory league university, is a world away from the former pit villages described by the author.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

“No leader can uninvent online shopping, close supermarkets or bring back the butcher, baker and ironmonger. Let alone make coal production remotely relevant or profitable” Why not ?
“To paraphrase one Norman Tebbit. If there are no jobs and no future “get on your bike” and move
” Many did this in the 80s, but can’t now, due to the high cost of housing. Plenty of Southerners moving up here though for the cheap housing.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

“Why not?” Is this sarcasm? What exactly are you proposing? Should we ban internet access? Tax online shopping out of existence? Tax everyone the better to subsidise loss making mines, so they can produce an environmentally destructive product for which there is no market? Selfish and entitled don’t even cover it. What you are basically saying is “Stop the world I want to get off”. Good luck with that.
Oh, and claimants of housing benefit are about as mobile as it’s possible to get. I know people in this position who have moved hundreds of miles to find work.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago

“Why not?” Is this sarcasm? What exactly are you proposing? Should we ban internet access? Tax online shopping out of existence? Tax everyone the better to subsidise loss making mines, so they can produce an environmentally destructive product for which there is no market? Selfish and entitled don’t even cover it. What you are basically saying is “Stop the world I want to get off”. Good luck with that.
Oh, and claimants of housing benefit are about as mobile as it’s possible to get. I know people in this position who have moved hundreds of miles to find work.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

He is talking about County Durham, which is a very different proposition, though why he didn’t make this clear I don’t know.

I understand that the city also has its issues, particularly the dominance of the university, over the rather small town itself.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Very glad to read your comment, as friends of mine have relocated to County Durham in the last year, and the picture painted by the author suggests they unwittingly moved into hell!
The other point I picked up, repeated in your final paragraph, was that ‘A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields.’ That is quite an admission, although he failed to realise it. The ‘work’ arrived in the area, followed by the people. Twas ever thus. Work then left the area when it was displaced by cheaper sources of the commodity being produced. Again, the pattern has been repeated for as long as human history has been recorded. The difference this time was that the workers did not leave. Perhaps because a basic pittance was provided to avoid mass starvation, which is what has always threatened the unemployed before?
This isn’t an argument to remove, reduce or time-limit help for the unemployed: heaven forbid! But it is a request for recognition that ‘the dole’ is not, ever, enough for a meaningful life. Margaret Thatcher didn’t make the coal mines unsustainable, or Britain’s other heavy industries. Maybe the unions had a hand in that; certainly, lousy management and a complacent expectation that British goods would always have a ready market were largely to blame. But the Thatcher government WAS responsible for the abrupt closures, and the total lack of suitable alternative employment, in Co. Durham as well as for, say, Corby’s transplanted Scottish steelworkers. These communities, to a greater or lesser extent, are still blighted by the experience almost two generations on.

Rob Kirton
Rob Kirton
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Adam, the only credence I would give the author is that they are most likely describing one of the villages in the former East Durham coal fields, though I have noted it is unnamed. Durham City is a grand place, and there are many fine towns in the county where a good and prosperous life can be had. Why folks who have been “left behind” are still in a disadvantaged position is worthy of discussion and action. As you have already said “The author unintentionally reveals the problem himself.” I don’t suspect their book will provide any answers.

Kevin R
Kevin R
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Anyone familiar with the area will tell you that Durham city, with its cathedral and ivory league university, is a world away from the former pit villages described by the author.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

“No leader can uninvent online shopping, close supermarkets or bring back the butcher, baker and ironmonger. Let alone make coal production remotely relevant or profitable” Why not ?
“To paraphrase one Norman Tebbit. If there are no jobs and no future “get on your bike” and move
” Many did this in the 80s, but can’t now, due to the high cost of housing. Plenty of Southerners moving up here though for the cheap housing.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

He is talking about County Durham, which is a very different proposition, though why he didn’t make this clear I don’t know.

I understand that the city also has its issues, particularly the dominance of the university, over the rather small town itself.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam 0

Very glad to read your comment, as friends of mine have relocated to County Durham in the last year, and the picture painted by the author suggests they unwittingly moved into hell!
The other point I picked up, repeated in your final paragraph, was that ‘A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields.’ That is quite an admission, although he failed to realise it. The ‘work’ arrived in the area, followed by the people. Twas ever thus. Work then left the area when it was displaced by cheaper sources of the commodity being produced. Again, the pattern has been repeated for as long as human history has been recorded. The difference this time was that the workers did not leave. Perhaps because a basic pittance was provided to avoid mass starvation, which is what has always threatened the unemployed before?
This isn’t an argument to remove, reduce or time-limit help for the unemployed: heaven forbid! But it is a request for recognition that ‘the dole’ is not, ever, enough for a meaningful life. Margaret Thatcher didn’t make the coal mines unsustainable, or Britain’s other heavy industries. Maybe the unions had a hand in that; certainly, lousy management and a complacent expectation that British goods would always have a ready market were largely to blame. But the Thatcher government WAS responsible for the abrupt closures, and the total lack of suitable alternative employment, in Co. Durham as well as for, say, Corby’s transplanted Scottish steelworkers. These communities, to a greater or lesser extent, are still blighted by the experience almost two generations on.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

You are wrong, these large pockets of deprivation ARE the worst in in the UK. The figures are sourced and are in the book. I have spent four years on this book and unlike yourself I am very careful what I say. The title of the article (which is Unherd’s contribution) is I agree unfortunate as it is only certain parts of Country Durham that are in this state! Buy the book and try and get past the cover, it might serve you well

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

As I pointed out above:
Quote: “A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields. Once coal was discovered, the villages were built immediately” No one has the right to route themselves and every future generation to the spot, then demand that high paying work be provided to them as a matter of entitlement. To paraphrase one Norman Tebbit. If there are no jobs and no future “get on your bike” and move…
Your ancestors did exactly this. Ask yourself, where did they come from? Why did they move? What would their lives have been like had they sat on their backsides, moaning that a long dead leader had not brought paid work to their front door?
PS: I have lived in Jaywick near Clacton on Sea. I’ll know exactly what poverty looks like. Jaywick is the worst of the worst. Far poorer, than the poorest pit village. Growing up poor is not a choice. Sitting around wallowing in self pity is. You are the people you surround yourself with.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

The worst district in terms of deprivation in the whole of the country (England, not the UK) is actually situated in the town in live in. So YOU are wrong, and i’m very careful what i write, rather than basing my words on outright prejudice and distortions.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The English Indices of Deprivation 2019 (IoD2019)

Statistical Release

“The most deprived neighbourhood in England according to the IMD2019 is to the east of the Jaywick area of Clacton on Sea (Tendring 018a). This area was also ranked as the most deprived nationally according to the IMD2015 and IMD2010. Neighbourhoods in Blackpool then account for eight of the ten most deprived neighbourhoods nationally, with the Anfield area in the centre of Liverpool (Liverpool 019C) making up the ten most deprived areas in England”

Neighbourhoods, districts, counties, areas. We can split the stats anyway you like. Quibbling over irrelevant detail and competing in the oppression Olympics, it does nothing to change my original point. If there is no work where you live. Move your backside and find some.

I grew up in a town with a large population of first-generation Muslim migrants. They had far fewer advantages than the people of County Durham. Most had arrived with little more than the clothes they stood up in. They lived in the worst part of town, often two or more families sharing one house. They had no education, barely spoke a word of English and were bullied and rejected by everyone. For 30 years they lived like crap and worked like dogs. They now live in big houses, in the better parts of town, behind wrought iron gates. Most have block-paved drives and a couple of Mercs parked outside.

Meanwhile the same entitled and resentful locals walk past sniping about dam foreigners coming over here, taking all our housing. That or inferring some kind of tax fraud was involved. Not once does it occur to them, that perhaps this is an example to emulate. It’s always easier to blame everyone else for your own shortcomings…

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The English Indices of Deprivation 2019 (IoD2019)

Statistical Release

“The most deprived neighbourhood in England according to the IMD2019 is to the east of the Jaywick area of Clacton on Sea (Tendring 018a). This area was also ranked as the most deprived nationally according to the IMD2015 and IMD2010. Neighbourhoods in Blackpool then account for eight of the ten most deprived neighbourhoods nationally, with the Anfield area in the centre of Liverpool (Liverpool 019C) making up the ten most deprived areas in England”

Neighbourhoods, districts, counties, areas. We can split the stats anyway you like. Quibbling over irrelevant detail and competing in the oppression Olympics, it does nothing to change my original point. If there is no work where you live. Move your backside and find some.

I grew up in a town with a large population of first-generation Muslim migrants. They had far fewer advantages than the people of County Durham. Most had arrived with little more than the clothes they stood up in. They lived in the worst part of town, often two or more families sharing one house. They had no education, barely spoke a word of English and were bullied and rejected by everyone. For 30 years they lived like crap and worked like dogs. They now live in big houses, in the better parts of town, behind wrought iron gates. Most have block-paved drives and a couple of Mercs parked outside.

Meanwhile the same entitled and resentful locals walk past sniping about dam foreigners coming over here, taking all our housing. That or inferring some kind of tax fraud was involved. Not once does it occur to them, that perhaps this is an example to emulate. It’s always easier to blame everyone else for your own shortcomings…

Elaine Speight-Burton
Elaine Speight-Burton
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

You write as I heard my dad speak – I could hear the language that my dad spoke – he was from Durham, my mam from Yorkshire- we emigrated to Australia in 1965- but to hear him in written ‘standard English’ – I am back there and see, feel, know the loss- the heart and soul that was ripped out of community, place, being
and the pain
of that wound,
raw, angry, gnawing
and yet

My dad

My dad
was a survivor
he knew
education
for us
as for you
and us all

a way to
connect with others
no wonder they’re
so scared of
people coming together
we might just
make a difference

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago

Your family emigrated to Australia in 1965, you say? If so, how did your father experience that loss, which happened twenty years later?

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
1 year ago

Your family emigrated to Australia in 1965, you say? If so, how did your father experience that loss, which happened twenty years later?

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

I tend to see both sides of the argument going on here, but if your statistics are as accurate as I presume they are then there is certainly a case that your neighbourhood (obviously not Durham City) can claim to be experiencing the extreme end of unforgivable deprivation. When the police won’t come to a burglary and the roads are full of potholes then perhaps your next crusade should be an entirely justifiable tax strike. Why pay for what you do not receive?

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

As I pointed out above:
Quote: “A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields. Once coal was discovered, the villages were built immediately” No one has the right to route themselves and every future generation to the spot, then demand that high paying work be provided to them as a matter of entitlement. To paraphrase one Norman Tebbit. If there are no jobs and no future “get on your bike” and move…
Your ancestors did exactly this. Ask yourself, where did they come from? Why did they move? What would their lives have been like had they sat on their backsides, moaning that a long dead leader had not brought paid work to their front door?
PS: I have lived in Jaywick near Clacton on Sea. I’ll know exactly what poverty looks like. Jaywick is the worst of the worst. Far poorer, than the poorest pit village. Growing up poor is not a choice. Sitting around wallowing in self pity is. You are the people you surround yourself with.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

The worst district in terms of deprivation in the whole of the country (England, not the UK) is actually situated in the town in live in. So YOU are wrong, and i’m very careful what i write, rather than basing my words on outright prejudice and distortions.

Elaine Speight-Burton
Elaine Speight-Burton
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

You write as I heard my dad speak – I could hear the language that my dad spoke – he was from Durham, my mam from Yorkshire- we emigrated to Australia in 1965- but to hear him in written ‘standard English’ – I am back there and see, feel, know the loss- the heart and soul that was ripped out of community, place, being
and the pain
of that wound,
raw, angry, gnawing
and yet

My dad

My dad
was a survivor
he knew
education
for us
as for you
and us all

a way to
connect with others
no wonder they’re
so scared of
people coming together
we might just
make a difference

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

I tend to see both sides of the argument going on here, but if your statistics are as accurate as I presume they are then there is certainly a case that your neighbourhood (obviously not Durham City) can claim to be experiencing the extreme end of unforgivable deprivation. When the police won’t come to a burglary and the roads are full of potholes then perhaps your next crusade should be an entirely justifiable tax strike. Why pay for what you do not receive?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

As a natal Northumbrian I can sympathise with much of what the writer says. But northerners do often need to be reminded that not everything that’s wrong is the fault of those b@stards down south.

Sure, Thatcher played a part in promoting the over-centralisation and destruction of local democracy that has caused these problems – but so too has the passivity, fatalism and lack of entrepreneurial energy of the population.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

To be fair to the author, since he’s 57 and left school in 1982, he probably didn’t crack year 12. I teach trade & post-trade electrical and all my students have done Y12, and I have heaps of borderline illiterates in my classes. I suspect the education trends in the UK are similar to Australia, so it’s perfectly imaginable that too many youngsters in both countries get a rubbish education in wreading and righting.

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The idea that Tony Blair (a Thatcherite) would have been at all bothered is laughable.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I went to a really bad comprehensive growing up with a young single mother on an extremely rough council estate during the 1980s. I still find it pretty hard to describe what went on there, especially to people who went to good schools. Learning pretty much goes out the window when you are getting sucker-punched from behind by the class sadist, or a mental-case attempts to stab you in the eye with a soldering iron, or a group of lads are stamping on your face just for fun. The borstal depicted in the 1970s film Scum was only marginally worse than the school I attended.
Despite earning a doctorate degree and starting my own business, that place left an indelible mark on me: a kind of watchful paranoia that never goes away. The one good thing that came out of that experience was that it taught me how to fight.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

‘But what he describes is tainted with the attitude, which my friends don’t have, that he’s been hard done by.’
This I think is an important point. The author uses the term, ‘working class,’ but there really is no working class now, at least not in any sense of the term that my grandparents would recognise. Too often now the term ‘working class’ is used as little more than a moral, ideological and political appeal. As an empty association with over romanticised, salt-of-the-earth horny handed sons of toil, done in by Fatcha. If you pay a mortgage, drive a car or go on overseas holidays then you are not working class in any classic sense. The class system is not self-cert.
Nowadays we have an underclass, an overclass, a comfortable class (largely made up of those who got the sweet end of the property market) and a coping class. The issue with the public sector strikes is I think not so much about pay restraint necessarily, rather that people who are in work and on wages that are far from low are now in a grisly place where they are coping rather than really comfortable. Whilst I have some sympathy, it’s hardly a condition unique to the public sector.
Almost certainly the UK would have seen some level of deindustrialisation with or without Thatcher. Would an alternative economy have been put in place by another PM? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll never know. My own deindustrialised home town did have new things come along at the right time, but it is hard to escape the feeling that was the result of good luck rather than good leadership by anyone.
What the coping class need is the stability that has gone. We saw this played out at the EU referendum where easy-living comfortable class types saw the EU as a playground and a source of tenants for the BTL. The coping class saw wage arbitrage and headaches. Sadly, as the article says, it’s probably too late for the underclass. But working class is a bygone age.

Rob Kirton
Rob Kirton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I was raised in County Durham at the same time as the author, going through the same state education system. I have been fortunate to move around the country to a few other places, deciding to return to County Durham over 20 years ago. That decision was based upon being able to have a quality of life not afforded to me elsewhere in the country. I still live and work there.
The picture the author paints, is one with which I am familiar. However, not one typical of the life lived by the majority of us Durham folks.
The title of the article “Durham has become a land of zombies” is a lazy one. It should more accurately be “Like elsewhere, parts of Durham are occupied by zombies”. The author appears to have spent more time in self pity rather than self reflection, caring only to present a case of victim hood. They have a book to sell, and I suspect want to sell it to others of an equal disposition. i.e. playing to their audience.
The reasons for industrial decline in some sectors and the growth of others is worthy of honest examination, and deserves a well balanced study. Unfortunately, having a chip on both shoulders does not qualify.

Adam 0
Adam 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I would not normally bother to comment on a story like this yet felt compelled to. Last month I went on holiday to Edinburgh. I live in Coventry, so its a long drive. I therefore decided to stop the night at a hotel in Durham. Had this not been the case I would have read the above article and assumed it to be a dystopian hell hole. To call this piece a tissue of outright lies doesn’t even come close. I found Durham to be a beautiful city full of high end restaurants and independent shops. The city centre has fared far better than many others. A vast area of the waterside has been completely redeveloped with massive new buildings and public spaces. Had I not visited for myself I would never have realised just how twisted by hatred, self pity and the worst kind of class tribalism this “author” really is.
Policing is problematic in many places. Pockets of deprivation and poverty exist everywhere. Even the worst areas of Durham look like Knightsbridge compared to what I’ve seen in Blackpool and Coventry. It’s fascinating the lies some adults will tell themselves, in order to continue believing the prejudice and hatred they were immersed in as children. Deindustrialisation has happened all across the developed world. More manufacturing jobs were lost under Blair than Thatcher. She may be a tempting hate figure, but you’d have to be fundamentally dishonest to pretend that these inevitable changes would not have happened under any government, just as they did in every other western economy.
The author unintentionally reveals the problem himself. He was brought up in a community that did not value education, that saw a life down the pit as not just inevitable but desirable. You can scream into the void, longing for a rose tinted past that never existed all you like. No leader can uninvent online shopping, close supermarkets or bring back the butcher, baker and iron monger. Let alone make coal production remotely relevant or profitable.
Quote: “A little over 100 years ago there was nothing here; just fields. Once coal was discovered, the villages were built immediately” No one has the right to route themselves and every future generation to the spot, then demand that high paying work be provided to them as a matter of entitlement. To paraphrase one Norman Tebbit. If there are no jobs and no future “get on your bike” and move…

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

You are wrong, these large pockets of deprivation ARE the worst in in the UK. The figures are sourced and are in the book. I have spent four years on this book and unlike yourself I am very careful what I say. The title of the article (which is Unherd’s contribution) is I agree unfortunate as it is only certain parts of Country Durham that are in this state! Buy the book and try and get past the cover, it might serve you well

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

As a natal Northumbrian I can sympathise with much of what the writer says. But northerners do often need to be reminded that not everything that’s wrong is the fault of those b@stards down south.

Sure, Thatcher played a part in promoting the over-centralisation and destruction of local democracy that has caused these problems – but so too has the passivity, fatalism and lack of entrepreneurial energy of the population.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

 I was not taught anything at my comprehensive school that might have prevented me from going down the pit, on the contrary, I was only ever given the skills required for when I inevitably found myself at the bottom of that 1,500-foot shaft. As coal could not be cut by pen, it had been decided I and many around me should remain illiterate. 
Absolute nonsense, i’m afraid. You don’t spend a minimum of twelve years at school being prevented from learning to read, especially if you’ve got a reasonably able brain. You don’t learn to read of your own volition, perhaps because your mates aren’t bothering, it’s not “the thing to do”. Blaming your own self-inflicted illiteracy on “the system” signifies an ingrained-from-birth attitude towards thinking the world owes you something; it doesn’t. This seeps out into much of the rest of the article.
I have friends who live in the area. There are, of course, social problems which he describes and if the book he’s had published is based around this narrative i’ve no doubt it’ll attract attention and sympathy. But what he describes is tainted with the attitude, which my friends don’t have, that he’s been hard done by. Lest any readers take pity, let me just say that the people i know who live in the area lead perfectly good and fruitful lives.
The pockets of poverty he describes exist in many, many other places in the western world, where once thriving industries have vanished. The Durham area is no worse off than any of them. That mightn’t be much consolation for those captured in a cycle of deprivation, but they can’t be regarded as being a ‘special case’ or the responsibility of any one factor (such as Thatcher) that the simplistic narrative in this article portrays. Let’s not forget, for instance, that Tony Blair was the MP for a small Durham town, Sedgefield from 1983-2007, pretty much the period this article is concerned with. If those problems were of such concern to his constituents, i think he’d have known about it; or perhaps he too was content to let the area he represented drift.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

There is a lot in this essay one could easily take issue with, for example blaming Thatcher for railway privatisation (which is factually untrue), but the easiest one to focus on is this: you are blaming the state for your parents’ refusal to have you educated in basic literacy? Even in the 1980s over a decade of school was basically mandatory.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

My old man was a coalminer. My mother was a ‘housewife’. Despite enjoying only rudimentary educations themselves, they made sure I could read before I even started infant school.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dee

Same here, my dad bought us a set of children’s encyclopaedias by the week from the tallyman. Great investment!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dee

We caught our daughter reading Jane Eyre under the covers very late one night when she was eight.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Craven
Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dee

Same here, my dad bought us a set of children’s encyclopaedias by the week from the tallyman. Great investment!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dee

We caught our daughter reading Jane Eyre under the covers very late one night when she was eight.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Craven
John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

My old man was a coalminer. My mother was a ‘housewife’. Despite enjoying only rudimentary educations themselves, they made sure I could read before I even started infant school.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

There is a lot in this essay one could easily take issue with, for example blaming Thatcher for railway privatisation (which is factually untrue), but the easiest one to focus on is this: you are blaming the state for your parents’ refusal to have you educated in basic literacy? Even in the 1980s over a decade of school was basically mandatory.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago

As per the picture, the trouble with hate is that it rots the soul and twists the mind. There can therefore never be a recognition of precisely why Thatcher acted the way that she did, the damage that socialism has done, across the world, and the catastrophic effects of union power on this country.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

There is no mention of Arthur Scargill and his refusal to compromise.

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
1 year ago

or the fact that Harold Wilson closed more mines than Margaret Thatcher.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago

Or the fact that, when mines closed under Wilson, there were other jobs to go to, cleaner, safer, and in many cases, better paid. Most of the mines that closed were exhausted of coal, and most miners were happy to leave and work in a factory, in 1984, especially in the North East, this wasn’t the case. The fact the unions in the 60s allowed mines to close, also dispels the myth, that the unions were unreasonable, and stuck in the past, reluctant to embrace change. Get your facts right!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

In the 1960s the NUM was run by Joe Gormley who warned of the danger of the minings electing Arthur Scargill; he was correct.
The NCB could have been changed into an international mining company such as British Gas if it had been run by people who understood international trade and technology.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

In the 1960s the NUM was run by Joe Gormley who warned of the danger of the minings electing Arthur Scargill; he was correct.
The NCB could have been changed into an international mining company such as British Gas if it had been run by people who understood international trade and technology.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago

Or the fact that, when mines closed under Wilson, there were other jobs to go to, cleaner, safer, and in many cases, better paid. Most of the mines that closed were exhausted of coal, and most miners were happy to leave and work in a factory, in 1984, especially in the North East, this wasn’t the case. The fact the unions in the 60s allowed mines to close, also dispels the myth, that the unions were unreasonable, and stuck in the past, reluctant to embrace change. Get your facts right!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

Indeed. The Miner’s Strike was really an attempt to oust the government; trade issues were very much secondary. The government fought back accordingly, having learned the lessons from Heath’s humiliation, and was the better prepared.

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
1 year ago

or the fact that Harold Wilson closed more mines than Margaret Thatcher.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

Indeed. The Miner’s Strike was really an attempt to oust the government; trade issues were very much secondary. The government fought back accordingly, having learned the lessons from Heath’s humiliation, and was the better prepared.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

That’s what says in the book!

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

Capitalism has done, and is doing, terrible damage across the world. Not least to the world itself.

It has failed, just as socialism did.

Britain in the 2020’s is even drearier than the trade union Britain of the 1970’s.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Real Socialism has never been tried in the UK, so I can’t see how you can say it failed. The nearest thing we’ve had to it was the period 1955-75, and you won’t find many working-class people who lived through that period who would deny that it was a fantastic time of social improvement on many fronts

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago

It is a shame your comment got only down votes. I was born in South London in 1955 and remember that period as generally very good. Most of my school friends lived in good quality council housing on well managed estates with very little crime or vandalism. There was hardly any homelessness.
I attended a well run comprehensive that got plenty of investment. We had a fully equipped theatre and I had riding lessons as a sport option. My teachers took full advantage of the many free art galleries and museums in London. They also regularly took us to the theatre – I saw Olivier, Plowright, Alan Bates, Ian McKellen, Diana Rigg, Vanessa Redgrave on the London stage for free.
I went to university for free all expenses paid. Of course nothing is free and the tax payer provided my education.
I am well aware that as a boomer I belong to the luckiest generation.
When I left school there were plenty of jobs to be had.
My friend left school at 15 with no qualifications but easily found work as a receptionist and remembers being able to leave one job in the morning and find another in the afternoon.
Boys at my school found work on building sites in the long summer holidays during the 70s London building boom and made a killing. Many of them arrived at school in the cars they had bought with their holiday wages.
Of course it could not last. In many ways we were living in a fool’s paradise and Thatcher was a necessary corrective. But for a while life was good. Plenty of jobs, a good education to be had for those willing to put in the effort, decent free health care and well managed public housing. Very little real poverty or deprivation.
I knew a widow with three primary age children who lived in a council flat and managed well enough working as a playground assistant in term time and looking after my sister and I in the school holidays. Nobody in her household went hungry or was in any way deprived. She was exactly the kind of person – decent, law abiding, hard working – that council housing was intended for.
We never needed to run a car because London public transport was affordable, plentiful and reliable.
Most important of all my parents were able to buy a lovely semi-detached 3 bed in a leafy road in 1966 on very modest incomes. That house proved a gold mine for our family.
It was recently put up for sale in a rather dilapidated condition and the asking price was a little shy of a million pounds and I couldn’t help noticing that what were once very nice houses on either side have had extra floors added and are now really unsightly but no doubt making a fortune for their owners.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago

It is a shame your comment got only down votes. I was born in South London in 1955 and remember that period as generally very good. Most of my school friends lived in good quality council housing on well managed estates with very little crime or vandalism. There was hardly any homelessness.
I attended a well run comprehensive that got plenty of investment. We had a fully equipped theatre and I had riding lessons as a sport option. My teachers took full advantage of the many free art galleries and museums in London. They also regularly took us to the theatre – I saw Olivier, Plowright, Alan Bates, Ian McKellen, Diana Rigg, Vanessa Redgrave on the London stage for free.
I went to university for free all expenses paid. Of course nothing is free and the tax payer provided my education.
I am well aware that as a boomer I belong to the luckiest generation.
When I left school there were plenty of jobs to be had.
My friend left school at 15 with no qualifications but easily found work as a receptionist and remembers being able to leave one job in the morning and find another in the afternoon.
Boys at my school found work on building sites in the long summer holidays during the 70s London building boom and made a killing. Many of them arrived at school in the cars they had bought with their holiday wages.
Of course it could not last. In many ways we were living in a fool’s paradise and Thatcher was a necessary corrective. But for a while life was good. Plenty of jobs, a good education to be had for those willing to put in the effort, decent free health care and well managed public housing. Very little real poverty or deprivation.
I knew a widow with three primary age children who lived in a council flat and managed well enough working as a playground assistant in term time and looking after my sister and I in the school holidays. Nobody in her household went hungry or was in any way deprived. She was exactly the kind of person – decent, law abiding, hard working – that council housing was intended for.
We never needed to run a car because London public transport was affordable, plentiful and reliable.
Most important of all my parents were able to buy a lovely semi-detached 3 bed in a leafy road in 1966 on very modest incomes. That house proved a gold mine for our family.
It was recently put up for sale in a rather dilapidated condition and the asking price was a little shy of a million pounds and I couldn’t help noticing that what were once very nice houses on either side have had extra floors added and are now really unsightly but no doubt making a fortune for their owners.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alice Rowlands
Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Sudo Nim

I second that.
Based on experience of socialism in first 27 years of my life.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Sudo Nim

I second that.
Based on experience of socialism in first 27 years of my life.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Real Socialism has never been tried in the UK, so I can’t see how you can say it failed. The nearest thing we’ve had to it was the period 1955-75, and you won’t find many working-class people who lived through that period who would deny that it was a fantastic time of social improvement on many fronts

Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

There is no mention of Arthur Scargill and his refusal to compromise.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

That’s what says in the book!

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

Capitalism has done, and is doing, terrible damage across the world. Not least to the world itself.

It has failed, just as socialism did.

Britain in the 2020’s is even drearier than the trade union Britain of the 1970’s.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago

As per the picture, the trouble with hate is that it rots the soul and twists the mind. There can therefore never be a recognition of precisely why Thatcher acted the way that she did, the damage that socialism has done, across the world, and the catastrophic effects of union power on this country.

Claire Pellew
Claire Pellew
1 year ago

I went to school in the 80’s with a friend who’s father was brought up in a Welsh mining town. His father wanted a different life and made the choice not to go down the mines, for this he was ostracized by his family and his community and never spoke to them again. I was brought up in a northern working class family who placed no value at all in education, especially for girls. To have any kind of aspiration was viewed as ‘getting too big for your boots’. What happens to people as children is not their fault but how they deal with it as adults is. Yes the community was devastated and it all happened very quickly but how long can you argue that your life was ruined because your father/grandfather lost his job. I sound harsh, but we all have choices. The community itself has to accept that it had some part to play in the outcome. It’s very sad.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire Pellew

It’s not just your father losing his job though is it. It’s thousands of fathers losing their jobs at the same time, which then has a knock on effect on almost every other business in the town putting thousands more out of work. It decimated entire areas, with absolutely no effort gone into replacing those jobs that were taken away

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

In which case “thousands of fathers losing their jobs at the same time” was a huge hint to move elsewhere and get jobs rather than expect the State to provide.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

That’s very much it. However, some people have that ‘get-up-and-go’ mentality and others simply don’t. The idea of moving away from their hometown to a different location literally terrifies them. I now live in the rural US South. In my town there are people who’ve never seen the sea despite living only 40 miles away from the nearest beach. While poverty may be to blame, there is a certain kind of poverty thinking which is about the mental limitations people place on themselves. This mentality is also to be found in places like the article above describes: a kind of intellectual stagnation that leads to depression and other such disorders.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Such a great comparative example. You are right to highlight the idea of a poverty of thinking, which is most always also a poverty of aspiration. Life always has been a tough battle against circumstance for most people.

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie K

I disagree with your sentiment. My greatest regret of the current British system is that you are expected to move for work. What happened to place, family and community?

When the best and brightest of an area leaves, what remains?

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

When there are no suitable jobs for the best and brightest, what would be the point of remaining?

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dee

Lets all move to London then, and live in tents

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dee

Lets all move to London then, and live in tents

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

What is forgotten is that the great communities of the pit villages of the North East were created by families who moved from other parts of the country or Ireland. For the most part they were not local.

Their descendants now expect work to be brought to them. Some work was brought to the North East through subsidies and concessions such as the Nissan factory outside Sunderland but it is unrealistic to think every pit village could have attracted its own Nissan. The families needed to take a leaf out of their forefathers book and move to find work. Their forefathers had to leave communities behind that they probably would have preferred not to have done if the work could come to them.

I made the move North for work and have not regretted it. In my business one of the firms in Newcastle has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the world dealing with an international clientele. It is not all gloom and doom in the North East.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Since Thatcher many have moved away to find work. Mnay of those who did were the more enlightened in those communities, exacerbating the situation due to a brain drain. Many young people now go to Uni and never return. Nevertheless, you can’t expect everyone to move away, house prices and rents in the places where the work is, won’t allow that.

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Thanks for that, I live in Sunderland and work for an international company in County Durham.

I generally disagree with subsidies but implying the NE get more than elsewhere is a farce.

I speak to people daily with their own businesses who are struggling to hire in a worker driven market. The NE is not lacking business, it is lacking competency.

I went to University and in my final year rember speaking to people about jobs. “I have applied here, I have applied there” they would say, “Where are those companies” I would ask, no one even cared.

I have read about booms and revolutions where people would move for work but this for me is not and should not be the norm. This was about surving not about 20% more and a better night life.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

Your third paragraph resonated with me. Competency is often the outcome of attitude. 

A friend told me he employed foreign workers in his restaurants in and about Sunderland because they had both the right attitude and skills. I have experienced bizarre behaviour from native born staff in Sunderland restaurants that lack the basic skills of say an Italian waiter. That said one of the best places to eat good food at a very reasonable price in both Sunderland and Peterlee are at the catering College restaurants. I am not sure where the staff end up.

I am not certain what your next paragraph is saying. Were your fellow students applying for work locally or elsewhere and what did they not care about?

Why do you feel that it should not be the norm to move to where employment is rather than expect businesses to move to where you are? My youngest son was lucky to find a job ten minutes from where he lives but is equally prepared in order to secure career advancement to move elsewhere if that is needed. The idea fostered by Ronnie Chambers that everyone needs to move to London for work and live in tents is an absurdity.

Of course there have been periods in the past when economies were largely agrarian where families lived for centuries in the same small village but moving today is infinitely easier than in the past.

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I was saying that rather than need to move for work, they simply have no notion of home. No predisposition to look for work near home.

Moving for me would be a last resort, I am not equally prepared but realistic. I don’t expect work to come to people, I just feel it fairly available.

I don’t know anything about you but I have conservative instincts. Similar distinctions have been drawn by many authors between, as David Goodhart put, Anywheres and Somewheres. I suspect I am far closer to the somewhere than you. Closer than most people perhaps.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

Thanks for that clarification. I entirely understand a preference for staying where your friends, family and roots are but a lot of students deliberately chose to go to University to experience something different to their family surroundings and friends – to widen their experience and then move on to establish roots elsewhere.

As you say it is a matter of temperament. I was happy to uproot myself to move to the supposedly dismal North East whereas my wife would be reluctant to leave the North East even for the lure of the attractions of the more prosperous South.

What I think is an error is to expect employers and government to pander to the preference of those who want to stay. Such an expectation involves an element of narcissism. Employers might move their business to an area that had a pool of employees with the right attitude and willingness to acquire the relevant skills but that should not be an expectation. It is up to the stayers to make the establishment of local work attractive to potential employers. Nissan found enough employees with the right attitude, but the attitudes displayed in the areas described by the author can have little attraction to potential employers.The more they rail against Thatcher the less attractive they will seem.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

I am afraid the world belongs to the anywhere people. My brother-in-law had a very successful career because he was willing to move across the country several times in order to better his situation.
I was just incredibly lucky to find work in one of the most beautiful parts of England and to be able to settle here because there are plenty of jobs to be had.
Back then house prices were sensible. I could never afford to live here now if I had not bought my house back then.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

Thanks for that clarification. I entirely understand a preference for staying where your friends, family and roots are but a lot of students deliberately chose to go to University to experience something different to their family surroundings and friends – to widen their experience and then move on to establish roots elsewhere.

As you say it is a matter of temperament. I was happy to uproot myself to move to the supposedly dismal North East whereas my wife would be reluctant to leave the North East even for the lure of the attractions of the more prosperous South.

What I think is an error is to expect employers and government to pander to the preference of those who want to stay. Such an expectation involves an element of narcissism. Employers might move their business to an area that had a pool of employees with the right attitude and willingness to acquire the relevant skills but that should not be an expectation. It is up to the stayers to make the establishment of local work attractive to potential employers. Nissan found enough employees with the right attitude, but the attitudes displayed in the areas described by the author can have little attraction to potential employers.The more they rail against Thatcher the less attractive they will seem.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

I am afraid the world belongs to the anywhere people. My brother-in-law had a very successful career because he was willing to move across the country several times in order to better his situation.
I was just incredibly lucky to find work in one of the most beautiful parts of England and to be able to settle here because there are plenty of jobs to be had.
Back then house prices were sensible. I could never afford to live here now if I had not bought my house back then.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It is better then to be an anywhere person than a somewhere person. Happy to up sticks and follow the work. Loyalty to one’s roots then seems a recipe for a wasted life.

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I was saying that rather than need to move for work, they simply have no notion of home. No predisposition to look for work near home.

Moving for me would be a last resort, I am not equally prepared but realistic. I don’t expect work to come to people, I just feel it fairly available.

I don’t know anything about you but I have conservative instincts. Similar distinctions have been drawn by many authors between, as David Goodhart put, Anywheres and Somewheres. I suspect I am far closer to the somewhere than you. Closer than most people perhaps.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It is better then to be an anywhere person than a somewhere person. Happy to up sticks and follow the work. Loyalty to one’s roots then seems a recipe for a wasted life.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

Your third paragraph resonated with me. Competency is often the outcome of attitude. 

A friend told me he employed foreign workers in his restaurants in and about Sunderland because they had both the right attitude and skills. I have experienced bizarre behaviour from native born staff in Sunderland restaurants that lack the basic skills of say an Italian waiter. That said one of the best places to eat good food at a very reasonable price in both Sunderland and Peterlee are at the catering College restaurants. I am not sure where the staff end up.

I am not certain what your next paragraph is saying. Were your fellow students applying for work locally or elsewhere and what did they not care about?

Why do you feel that it should not be the norm to move to where employment is rather than expect businesses to move to where you are? My youngest son was lucky to find a job ten minutes from where he lives but is equally prepared in order to secure career advancement to move elsewhere if that is needed. The idea fostered by Ronnie Chambers that everyone needs to move to London for work and live in tents is an absurdity.

Of course there have been periods in the past when economies were largely agrarian where families lived for centuries in the same small village but moving today is infinitely easier than in the past.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Since Thatcher many have moved away to find work. Mnay of those who did were the more enlightened in those communities, exacerbating the situation due to a brain drain. Many young people now go to Uni and never return. Nevertheless, you can’t expect everyone to move away, house prices and rents in the places where the work is, won’t allow that.

Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Thanks for that, I live in Sunderland and work for an international company in County Durham.

I generally disagree with subsidies but implying the NE get more than elsewhere is a farce.

I speak to people daily with their own businesses who are struggling to hire in a worker driven market. The NE is not lacking business, it is lacking competency.

I went to University and in my final year rember speaking to people about jobs. “I have applied here, I have applied there” they would say, “Where are those companies” I would ask, no one even cared.

I have read about booms and revolutions where people would move for work but this for me is not and should not be the norm. This was about surving not about 20% more and a better night life.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

When there are no suitable jobs for the best and brightest, what would be the point of remaining?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Sonny Ramadhin

What is forgotten is that the great communities of the pit villages of the North East were created by families who moved from other parts of the country or Ireland. For the most part they were not local.

Their descendants now expect work to be brought to them. Some work was brought to the North East through subsidies and concessions such as the Nissan factory outside Sunderland but it is unrealistic to think every pit village could have attracted its own Nissan. The families needed to take a leaf out of their forefathers book and move to find work. Their forefathers had to leave communities behind that they probably would have preferred not to have done if the work could come to them.

I made the move North for work and have not regretted it. In my business one of the firms in Newcastle has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in the world dealing with an international clientele. It is not all gloom and doom in the North East.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Bray
Sonny Ramadhin
Sonny Ramadhin
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie K

I disagree with your sentiment. My greatest regret of the current British system is that you are expected to move for work. What happened to place, family and community?

When the best and brightest of an area leaves, what remains?

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Mental disorders are even commoner in places like London that are full of “get up & go” people.

John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I’d say London contains a majority of people with no hope and dead-end jobs. The fortunate few are just that – fortunate.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Dee
John Dee
John Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I’d say London contains a majority of people with no hope and dead-end jobs. The fortunate few are just that – fortunate.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Dee
Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

True, some of those problems existed in mining areas even when the mines were going at full throttle and there was full employment. Mining was brutal and made many people behave in a certain way, different from almost every other type of worker. However, being able to work was the crux of the matter, and people generally just bobbed along from day to day. Being unable to work, exacerbated those problems, and the house of cards came crashing down, in these once self-sufficient communities.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Such a great comparative example. You are right to highlight the idea of a poverty of thinking, which is most always also a poverty of aspiration. Life always has been a tough battle against circumstance for most people.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Mental disorders are even commoner in places like London that are full of “get up & go” people.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

True, some of those problems existed in mining areas even when the mines were going at full throttle and there was full employment. Mining was brutal and made many people behave in a certain way, different from almost every other type of worker. However, being able to work was the crux of the matter, and people generally just bobbed along from day to day. Being unable to work, exacerbated those problems, and the house of cards came crashing down, in these once self-sufficient communities.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

You are eager to destroy towns and communities.

Capitalism hasn’t brought new life to the area. It never will.

Should Durham be depopulated then ?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Towns and communities arise from the people in them. If the people within them are affected by lack of employment and opportunities (as laid out in the article) then the towns and communities lose their original reason for being.
Can the towns and communities reinvent themselves? It’s been done, but not by people content only to be discontented.

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

In County Durham, the powers that be realised this in the 1950s, when Labour controlled councils, packed with radical Socialist thinkers, implemented the much-maligned Category D policy, a policy of moving people out of ex-mining villages into New Towns with new housing and new jobs. It worked quite well. Where are the radical thinkers of today?. It can be done, could be done if modern-day politicians with no real understanding of what its like to live on the other side of the tracks experience, weren’t obsessed with lining their own pockets

Ronnie Chambers
Ronnie Chambers
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

In County Durham, the powers that be realised this in the 1950s, when Labour controlled councils, packed with radical Socialist thinkers, implemented the much-maligned Category D policy, a policy of moving people out of ex-mining villages into New Towns with new housing and new jobs. It worked quite well. Where are the radical thinkers of today?. It can be done, could be done if modern-day politicians with no real understanding of what its like to live on the other side of the tracks experience, weren’t obsessed with lining their own pockets

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

That does seem to be the consensus on here. Which means that the place where the author lives and others like it would presumably end up as deserted ghost towns and eventually be reclaimed by the wilderness which has happened to certain parts of Detroit which are now empty of people and rapidly turning back into prairie and becoming home to cougars, wolves, coyotes and black bears.
I think it really is a tragedy that communities are destroyed this way but it has always been the way of things – go where the work is or stagnate.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Towns and communities arise from the people in them. If the people within them are affected by lack of employment and opportunities (as laid out in the article) then the towns and communities lose their original reason for being.
Can the towns and communities reinvent themselves? It’s been done, but not by people content only to be discontented.

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

That does seem to be the consensus on here. Which means that the place where the author lives and others like it would presumably end up as deserted ghost towns and eventually be reclaimed by the wilderness which has happened to certain parts of Detroit which are now empty of people and rapidly turning back into prairie and becoming home to cougars, wolves, coyotes and black bears.
I think it really is a tragedy that communities are destroyed this way but it has always been the way of things – go where the work is or stagnate.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

That’s very much it. However, some people have that ‘get-up-and-go’ mentality and others simply don’t. The idea of moving away from their hometown to a different location literally terrifies them. I now live in the rural US South. In my town there are people who’ve never seen the sea despite living only 40 miles away from the nearest beach. While poverty may be to blame, there is a certain kind of poverty thinking which is about the mental limitations people place on themselves. This mentality is also to be found in places like the article above describes: a kind of intellectual stagnation that leads to depression and other such disorders.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

You are eager to destroy towns and communities.

Capitalism hasn’t brought new life to the area. It never will.

Should Durham be depopulated then ?

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

In which case “thousands of fathers losing their jobs at the same time” was a huge hint to move elsewhere and get jobs rather than expect the State to provide.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire Pellew

It’s not just your father losing his job though is it. It’s thousands of fathers losing their jobs at the same time, which then has a knock on effect on almost every other business in the town putting thousands more out of work. It decimated entire areas, with absolutely no effort gone into replacing those jobs that were taken away

Claire Pellew
Claire Pellew
1 year ago

I went to school in the 80’s with a friend who’s father was brought up in a Welsh mining town. His father wanted a different life and made the choice not to go down the mines, for this he was ostracized by his family and his community and never spoke to them again. I was brought up in a northern working class family who placed no value at all in education, especially for girls. To have any kind of aspiration was viewed as ‘getting too big for your boots’. What happens to people as children is not their fault but how they deal with it as adults is. Yes the community was devastated and it all happened very quickly but how long can you argue that your life was ruined because your father/grandfather lost his job. I sound harsh, but we all have choices. The community itself has to accept that it had some part to play in the outcome. It’s very sad.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
1 year ago

This Pip (bet he wasnt called that at school!) is the real problem with the NE. I am a born and bred, still live here, NEasterner. He is a typical “i hate the pit but you closed it you swine wah wah its everyone’s fault but ours” type.
Despite “I’ve heard many so-called experts over the years say it is difficult to link the social depravation and high levels of crime directly to Thatcher’s deliberate policies of deindustrialisation. All I can conclude from this is that there is no such thing as an expert.” the economic fact was that Scargill and his commie b@tches made australian coal, floated at great expense across several oceans, more economic than the stuff dug 2 miles down the road. the miners closed the pits. same re the shipyards where relatives of mine worked in the 20s and 30s; old fashioned, high cost, always striking and delayed piles of you know what that no-one with a brain would ask to build a ship. they closed themselves.
But no, “then came Thatcher”. This guy is a joke. The bit about the Falklands and Thatcher “single-handedly taking back the Falkland Islands despite never pulling on a pair of boots or leaving London” sums him up: chippy as eff, low intellect, victim complex, needs an excuse, wants a handout, convinced that his sense of humour is incredible and unique. Oh yeah, its unique all right.
I cant wait to not buy the book.
PS it was his father and mother and his fault he didnt learn to read until he was 102 or whatever. not Thatcher’s. but if he wants to blame someone, between 65 and 79 (when he went to primary school and secondary) it was mostly Labour that was in charge: 4 labour governments no less. Go cry about them. And 96-2010?? Labour. wah wah! You’re an embarrassment to my people.

Pip Fallow
Pip Fallow
1 year ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

What a nitwit!
‘You’re an embarrassment to My people!’ Who are YOUR people? There can’t be another one like you!’ I say in the book I’m pleased the pits are gone! But best you don’t buy it

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Pip Fallow

And your answers to his points as opposed to ad hominem statements?

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 year ago