For Christmas present, greetings from Salut! Live and a tracklist without hits
On Sandy Denny’s birthday, we choose our favourite songs

At last: the Pitmen Poets singing The Workers’ Song. And how to resolve the winter of discontent

Just when I thought I had one solution to the failure of my attempts to showcase  Ed Pickford's noble anthem in appreciations of ordinary people, The Workers’ Song, as sung by the Pitmen Poets, a much better one popped along.

The song appears on Salut! Live’s folk album of 2022Bare Knuckle, and its treatment is finer - for me - than all other versions, many of them very good. That link takes you to the post where I lauded The Workers' Song as the stand-out track while regretting that I could not find a clip.

Bob Fox, part of the quartet, then sent me an audio file via We Transfer but I  couldn’t work out how to reproduce it here.  

If you follow this link to the Salut! Live Facebook group, you can then scroll down or enter a search within the group for Bob Fox and find a clip he has posted there. You don't have to join the group but I naturally hope you will.

I still want you to do that but can finally report that there is no need. Whether or not as a result of my gentle prodding, the track is newly present at YouTube. And here it is (with thanks to a former colleague, Michael Prowse, who let me know at Facebook that it had appeared).    

Pitmen poets - 1 (1)

 When I wrote about Ed’s song, bitterly criticising the Tory Government as I did so, one or two acquaintances took me to task.

How could someone who worked for the Telegraph for 29 years, and has a comfortable middle class lifestyle in semi-retirement, overlook the class war strategy of union militants out to destroy not only that Government but the system?

Well, I happen to think it’s a minority belief that politically motivated wreckers have a sinister agenda and have duped all those underpaid, undervalued and overworked people now resorting to strikes. And being middle class, whether or not you started life that way (my start, months into a life that began in Hove, was a council house in the North East of England), should not cause blindness to obvious injustice.

 While I have always voted Labour, I am no playground revolutionary or particularly on the left of the party. Where I think I am - left of centre - is nowadays seen by real lefties as Blairite, centrist, even rightwing.

I choose the causes I support with care as well as passion. But I do loathe the Government’s treatment of working people as much as I detest Brexit. 

The Education Secretary Gillian Keenan unintentionally made my point about the disingenuous efforts of Tories and their media toadies to heap all blame for disruption on the wicked unions and greedy workers.

Actually she made two points I’ve been pushing in print or on social media. On Nick Ferrari’s LBC show, she first said that of course workers were entitled to take industrial action before criticising them for doing so. As I have repeatedly pointed out, Tories always - or at least often - say the first of  those things. And without fail, they condemn each and every strike.

Secondly,she had even Ferrari laughing derisively at the mantra that wages were fixed in the cases of nurses and others by independent pay boards. Independent my backside. An averagely bright child at the primary schools Ms Keegan visits is probably perfectly aware of the role government plays in determining what those fearless and free boards decide.

Maybe the minister should listen to Ed’s lament about the lot of the working man.

Then she and her colleagues could accept the urgent need to negotiate meaningfully with people driven by woeful conditions, the cost of living crisis and stagnant pay to take the only real option open to them.

If that were to happen, the winter of discontent might be over in a jiffy. And in the spirit of the season, I’d the first to express appreciation of a belated show of decency and pragmatism.



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