Here come the rantin’ lads

Anyone looking for the shorthand of this post should refer to Doubting Thomas‘s comment on the earlier post, below. For those who prefer the scenic route …

It’s Topic 12ts297 all the way from 1976. If you’ve got an original, keep it, frame it, put it in the safe deposit …

It turns up regularly on eBay, with decent folk sharing their happiness and making a decent profit on their initial investment. One can acquire an electronic placebo from iTunes. A warning, however: another fine recording, Along the Coaly Tyne (a compilation of Louis Killen and Johnny Handle), uses the same cover image.

A Malcolmian aside

It took Malcolm a while to identify the source of that image.

It seemed remarkably akin to Ford Maddox Brown’s Work, the far better-known — and contemporary — depiction of Hampstead High Street from Greenhill. Stand at that spot, look up the hill, ignore the fashions, tarmac and traffic, and not a lot has changed.  Even the dogs are dressed very like that whippet in the foreground.

Fortunately a full explanation of Iron and Coal by William Bell Scott is on line, thanks to Andrew Graham-Dixon’s site reproducing a review (dated 28th November 1989) he did for the Independent:

William Bell Scott, a little known Victorian painter who was uncharitably remembered by Algernon Swinburne as an ‘imbecile, doting, malignant, mangy old son of a bitch’, is both the discovery of this show and the creator of its centrepiece, Iron and Coal: The Nineteenth Century. This is an impressive if somewhat ungainly painting and probably the most strident piece of Novocastrian propaganda ever painted. A quartet of broad-shouldered foundry workers raise their hammers high, bashing something unseen but doubtless major into shape. Scott’s picture has, itself, a sort of piledriving thrust: every detail is significant, hammering home just how modern, how up-to-the-minute Newcastle was in 1861.

At lower right you find a technical drawing of a passenger locomotive of the latest design, then in production at Stephenson’s engineering works (the setting for Scott’s picture); next to it you find what the catalogue identifies as a seven-inch breech-loading Armstrong gun, also Made in Newcastle and a great success in the Crimean War; the background is a tangle of telegraph wires and ship’s masts, picturing Newcastle as a buzzing, humming metropolis, Victorian capitalism’s capital city. Scott was cavalier with topography and various other things besides (there were no telegraph wires in Newcastle at the time), but then he had a point to make: there is no Tyne, so to speak, like the present.

Tell it like it is, Algy baby!

Then look at the image on wikipedia, and spot the difference:

There’s another, fuller analysis of the painting on the Images of Industrial Revolution site, which seems to indicate that wikipedia and therefore the image used by Graham-Dixon are at fault.

Still ranting

Along came the Whisky Priests [volume and sensitivity alert!]:

Killen and Handle must be held responsible for what they kick-started.

And so to Doubting Thomas’s point

Which is undeniable.

Let’s have no quibbling here: privatization has been a total, unmitigated disaster for anyone outside the investing classes.

What it didn’t do is denationalize: it internationalized (which amounts to “anyone but British”). Large swathes of Malcolm’s public transport, rail and bus, come courtesy of DBahn — that’s German National Railways. His electrical supplier (irrespective of to which corporation the account is paid) is EDF energy — that’s Électricité de France (gas bills included). London’s main airports are run by BAA, which is owned by Grupo Ferrovial of Madrid. Thames Water is an agency of the Macquarie Group of Sydney, Australia.

All are answerable only to the markets and the limp regulators.

This particular gripe grew out of the patent lies that the water industry have been peddling about security of supply. Get this:

In recent years companies have invested heavily in better connections between their own supply zones and also in cooperation with neighbouring companies where cross-boundary connections are the most cost-effective way to secure supplies for all.

It’s not as though nobody knew what was happening:

Hotter, drier summers will mean that flows will fall. More water will evaporate. The water mains will come under greater pressure, breaking more frequently as London’s soils dry out, and so further contributing to the loss of water. Put this all together and a London drought is a very real and rising risk.

The result (and only yesterday):

Ms Spelman said after the summit: “Drought is already an issue this year with the South East, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall.

‘Use less’

“It is not just the responsibility of government, water companies and businesses to act against drought.

“We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.”

Is it fair to blame the ConDems for a chronic problem?

By no means, except:

“The Tory-led government is out of touch with the pressures facing families – the fact that it has postponed its long-awaited Water Bill means that there will be no action to tackle unsustainable water usage or to help households facing rising water bills for at least another two years,” [Mary Creagh, Labour’s shadow environment secretary] said.

If that refers to the Flood and Water Management Bill, it’s been in daft form for nearly three years. But, of course, Lansley’s NHS privatisation must take priority and parliamentary time.

The gentleman on the far right has an objection?

— Yes, indeed. Surely you must admit that water quality has improved since privatization?

True. Very true. Mainly because of catching up (or not) with EU standards. Small issues like cryptosporidium apart. And not forgetting stuff like this (in the National Audit Office report on Tackling diffuse water pollution in England, July 2010:

In 2009 only 26 per cent of water bodies in England met the required levels of water quality under the [European] Directive’s more demanding classification system.
The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (the Department) and the Agency do not expect that all English water bodies will achieve these levels by 2027 as it may be disproportionately costly or not technically feasible for some water bodies. Although the Directive does allow for these reasons, if the European Commission does not accept the case for these particular water bodies, it could take legal action against the Government. If such action were successful and the United Kingdom did not comply with the judgement, there is a possibility that it could face considerable financial penalties.

Not so much rage or rant against the machine. We’ll be retching against it.

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1 Comment

Filed under air travel., BBC, Britain, Conservative Party policy., culture, democracy, economy, Europe, folk music, health, London, politics, Tories.

One response to “Here come the rantin’ lads

  1. Doubting Thomas

    The fatuous point about water quality is just that. Does anyone really believe that a publicly owned water servcie would not have met the standards sooner and at less cost?

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