If I fell through a hole in time and travelled back 45 years. If I then looked out of my bedroom window across the field behind the lane with no name and beyond the field behind the field behind the lane with no name, not only would I have upset Mrs Edson’s daughter, but I would have seen the winch wheel of a pit stack.
Had I then gone downstairs and beyond the rear door of San Tor, tootled down the lane with no name and onto the corner of Church Street and Common Road I would probably have been able to see one of the largest collieries in the UK stretching out in the distance before me. There would have been power stations, winch houses, the constant drone of colliery activity and the like.
I would probably have seen a constant pedestrian traffic of orange overalls walking down the hill into Grimethorpe wherein those wearing the overalls would probably have stepped into a cage and travelled deep below the ground for a day of mining. In fact, had I gone to any number of places around the neighbourhood I would have seen similar sights of industrial activity. Trains and lorries laden with coal bound for the steel mills and power stations that peppered the vista.
I would have seen people milling about; doing their daily business with smiles upon their faces asking after neighbours and discussing Morecambe and Wise or some such. These same people would have been unaware of the devastation they would face over the next fifteen years or so. When their livelihoods were taken away from them by a government leader bent on revenge for the winter of discontent. A way to quell the voices of discontent and the socialism which threatened their brave new world.
Spin forward through time once more and where there was employment, there is but social decay in the shape of unemployment, bigotry and drug use. Houses that once were grand now look tatty and unkempt. Parades of shops that once boasted green grocers, fishmongers and butchers now stand boarded up and empty or populated by takeaways and offices of antidrug and employment building social enterprise groups. The contrast is vast.
Travel to Liverpool 30 years ago and similar sights would have been seen, instead of coal miners you would have seen dock workers. Sheffield and Doncaster, steel workers. Newcastle, ship builders. The Midlands, motor industry. An industrial past so memorable yet so long gone. All gone. Thanks to the brave new world instigated by the Thatcher and perpetuated by the Blair governments.
Sure, industry would have struggled to compete with low cost foreign imports. It was a natural shift from production to service industries. However the speed in which the transition took place was so swift that few were prepared for the following years. This wasn’t 100 years ago, this was twenty to thirty years ago. Heck, even during my education traditional jobs such as butcher, baker, factory worker and the like were still discussed. Now, most of these jobs don’t exist.
Who to blame? The governments? They were the ones that set this passage in motion. The people? Reluctant to pay more for goods produced on home ground they would prefer cheaper imports to paying to maintain other peoples lives. Nobody? A natural transition that occurred as predicted by Marx? I can only speculate.
But what is clear is that since the industry was taken away very little has been put in place since. Sure Liverpool’s main industry now is education and tourism. Sheffield’s it could be argued is sport and culture. But places like the Midlands and Barnsley remain places difficult to find work in. Even the brief respite of call centres which have since been outsourced overseas only provided negligible difference.
As the population continues to grow unsustainably. The economy will continue to falter. Socialist ideals such as national health care and education now too expensive at current prices will require more and more funding. The future is bleak, the future is most certainly not orange. Taxes need to increase. With increases in taxes, salaries will need to be increased. As salaries increase so will the drain on GDP. Inflation increases, held off artificially by government backing supermarkets and industry will surge and rocket, things will be bad.
Let’s think about a pie. Mmmmm pie. It is a nice pie. We all want a slice of this pie but some want bigger slices than others because they think they deserve a bigger slice. So to cater for the demand on pie we bake a bigger pie. But then people say that they want a piece of the pie that is comparative to the slice they think they deserve. The circle continues.
But let us go back to South Yorkshire and look around.
Think of the seaside town that is no longer popular with tourists. The once grand and splendid arcades now shuttered or populated by pound shops. The streets of dilapidated guest and boarding houses now multi occupancy dwellings inhabited by ne’er-do-wells, the down at heel and misguided immigrants. Pensioners wander the streets or sit outside once proud homes dreaming of times past when the new housing estate was once the local lido. Think of how this once popular place was alive with people happy and at peace now degraded, it’s heart ripped out by cheap foreign holidays. Then consider this seaside town land locked. You might now be imagining somewhere similar to Grimethorpe, Goldsthorpe, Mexborough and the like. Once proud pit villages populated by hard working proud people with facilities to cater for them provided by the pit owners.
Take the pit away and these places become that landlocked seaside town. The streets once burgeoning with shops now boast 1001 curries, kebabs and tanning salons. The schools once constructed in an age when architects considered the art of the building design instead of functionality now empty, burnt out or demolished. The churches whose congregations once boasted over 200 parishioners per service, now guarded by razor wire and awful looking grills to protect the already damaged stained glass windows. The pit itself, long cleared away, the ancillary buildings few of which remain are but depots for reclamation yards or meeting places for drug addicts and the destitute.
This is the brave new post war post industrial England. Sure there are sleepy villages, vibrant cities and bustling market towns in well to do areas, but for every Harrogate, there are many more Grimethorpes. These deprived areas like a rot will take a lot more than money, social schemes and the like to treat. With the decline goes pride, with pride lost there is little but apathy, with apathy comes decay. The wealthy international companies know this and they feast on the decay with their burger shops, their big name brand supermarkets, their “you must buy this because you need it” attitudes. Sucking the communities dry of the wealth which is then sent south or overseas and not reinvested in the local communities. We really only have ourselves to blame.
Cross posted to stegzyblogspot.