How Blair failed the working man

Posted on 24 August 2010

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Alice Miles in the New Statesman (29 July 2010)

…demise of Trimdon Constituency Labour Club, the Sedgefield working men’s bar made famous by Tony Blair…

Now the (non-)working men of Trimdon and beyond cannot afford to buy a pint and they stay at home watching satellite television instead. The parallel between the rise of television and the decline of public spaces to meet in was first identified by Michael Young and Peter Willmott half a century ago. Studying the movement of working-class families from the East End to the suburbs, they noted the soaring rise in TV ownership in the suburbs. There was nothing else for the newly suburban families to do: Bethnal Green had a pub for every 400 ­people; the new suburb a pub for every 5,000. Families became isolated.

“The family sits night by night around the magic screen in its place of honour in the parlour,” wrote Young and Wilmott. “In one household, the parents and five children of all ages were paraded around it in a half circle at 9pm when one of us called; the two-month-old baby was stationed in its pram in front of the set.” The father proudly told the researchers: “The telly keeps the family together. None of us ever have to go out now.”

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Posted in: This England