The high-street retailer’s modern assortment of clothing focused on the previous miners’ leader reminds you of instances whenever employees were taken more seriously
Until this weekend, I innocently assumed which fashion designers drew their inspiration within the arty, the ethereal, the eternally wispy. Jean Seberg inside a Breton top, maybe, or Mick’n'Keef inside Marrakech. Until, which is, I discovered Burton’s hot collection devoted to Arthur Scargill.
Yes, actually. Together with Royal College of Art student Liam Hodges, the menswear store has introduced a line inspired by the previous boss of the NUM. After viewing documentaries regarding the miners’ strikes, plus scouring images of colliery-chic, Hodges came up with 14 pieces, including a green donkey jacket, naturally enough (for, ahem, £180), plus certain very natty bobble caps.
God knows what Barnsley’s many distinguished Marxist makes of being the topic of the clothing range – allow alone 1 flogged by Philip Green, whom could have received his knighthood for services to the tax-avoidance industry. However, interesting possibilities happen of additional figures from Labour’s black-and-white past being resurrected by the Gods of Fast Fashion. How lengthy could it be before you receive an Eric Heffer fair isle pullover, or Sogat deck boots? And who could resist the Mick McGahey pashmina slanket?
Yet anything interesting is going about here, plus it’s summed up whenever Hodges defines the appeal of the miners’ strike: “There’s merely anything regarding a band of individuals sticking up for what’s proper. I think I’m somewhat nostalgic.” This from a 24-year-old Kent boy, born perfectly following the Battle of Orgreave.
For the previous couple of years, men’s fashion has been full of these commercial wistfulness. Many of it is very laughable, including Marks & Spencer reporting a 75% jump inside sales of flat caps; or Shoreditch internet designers all togged up because when they have really surfaced from a Seattle log cabin. But those excesses are outweighed by the sheer amount of fisherman’s cagoules, brogues plus tweed which dominates the average excellent street about a Saturday. The big stores have caught on: both John Lewis plus M&S today stock “heritage” lines, sagging with twill trousers plus thick woollen cardigans.
I don’t imagine some of the twenty- or thirtysomethings wearing this stuff really like to swap their service-sector lifestyles for the pit. “You couldn’t see over 2 yards for dust,” because Scargill when reminisced regarding his early shifts for this paper. “I had to scrape the caked dust from my mouth before I might eat my sandwiches.”
But adopting the formula spouted by the Westminster classes for nearly all of the previous 3 years – that merely states: production bad, services advantageous, creative jobs ideal – doesn’t do it either. For 1, it overlooks the sheer work produced by industry: even inside its present shrunken state, production nevertheless delivers more full-time jobs than retail plus finance put together. And it ignores the pay plus job protection which unionised employees inside production secured for themselves.
Compare which with today. According to analysis by Howard Reed plus Jacob Mohun Himmelweit inside a new paper for the TUC, the proportion of the country’s money which went to employees inside the 90s plus noughties was far under what they earned within the 1950s all of the method to the early 80s of Scargill plus co. And take a look, too, at the conditions today about provide to the youngsters of those employees: endless internships, split shifts, outsourced plus agency function.
As average Britons have less effective and less well-remunerated, so that they have been encouraged to consider themselves less because employees plus more because customers. These are generally “aspirers”, inside Blair-speak, the “squeezed middle” appealed to by Ed Miliband. Such words never recommend which their audience is successful or which their labour is necessary to the working of capitalism. And God forbid which they ought to be deserving of force. No, the voters are today simply a demographic. Compare which with Harold Wilson’s Labour party, that guaranteed a “fundamental plus irreversible shift inside the balance of force plus riches inside favour of functioning persons plus their families”.
You could see the same trend even inside revolutionary politics. “We are the 99%”, which key phrase of the Occupy movement, appeals strictly found on the basis of demographics: the audience it seeks are those at the bottom of the modern pyramid scheme. To compare it with all the Communist manifesto’s rallying cry of “Workers of the globe unite!” is to find what is lost. Indeed, the last mainstream British politician to employ Marx plus Engels’ slogan was George Osborne this autumn, because he introduced his modern scheme to motivate employees to provide up their workplace rights for shares.
So the identification of ourselves because employees is today a bad joke to be damaged at Tory party meeting by an alumnus of St Paul’s. We are rather consumers with desires, or ambitious (for which read frustrated) consumers, instead of manufacturers with rights. We are expected to gorge ourselves with pricey electronics assembled inside China. As for industry, perfectly that’s anything you keep inside museums for weekend visits, or purchase at vastly inflated costs within the excellent street.
Still, wait till we see my fresh range of Bob Crow flat caps.
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