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Friday, 31 August 2018

Frank Field and Trad Labour

I had a decent taste of Trad Labour in the People's Republic of South Yorkshire in the era of the miners' strike. The name was a joke, a pisstake of the Yorky Wolfie Smiths who postured and blustered and, like all empty pots, made much noise. The real heavy lifting was done by quieter Labour councillors and officers often drawn from the men that voters respected at work; pit deputies, mining and quarrying mechanical and electrical engineers, tutors at the local Tech, steel smelters, tool makers, railway engineers and the like. I liked those calm, confident men for whom nothing was impossible. They were committed to their class, to their county and to their country. They could coil a steel sheet as thick as your thigh, but it was the unexpected that fazed them. Emissaries from that there London came down to tell them not to say "Find us a cup of tea, will you, Pet" and similar things. They retreated into silence, and into the vacuum came Wimmin with green hair and Pronounced Views. 

I've never met Frank Field, but I like him. Just as I liked Tam Dalyell, whom I did know. Tam chaired the all-party Parliamentary Archeology group at the time of the Iraq war, and we enjoyed a lively correspondence on the dangers of damage to unique sites in Iraq by both sides, and I've kept a score of his brief notes scrawled on Commons compliments slips with which he encouraged, fortified and thanked those with whom he worked. 

It was no surprise that on the news of Mr Field's relinquishing the Labour whip yesterday, little Owen Jones proved his moral diminutiveness with a jejune, sulky, petulant Twitter post.

Well, I can guess the reaction of the Trad Labour lads I knew. They always had a very fine understanding of what was proper behaviour - and for a 76-year old MP who has represented his constituency since 1979, they'd know damn well that even his most bitter enemies in Parliament owed him gracious words. Field complained of Labour 'nastiness' and Jones has helpfully just proved his point.    


DeeDee99 said...

Frank Field is one of a too small number of MPs in Parliament over the past 40 years, from any Party, who really deserve the description "Honourable."

If he doesn't stand at the next election, he will deserve a seat in a drastically reformed House of Lords.

PS. And back in the '70s/'80s you didn't have to be one of the green-haired, wimmin brigade, to resent being told to "fetch us a cup of tea love" ..... if you weren't employed as the tea-lady, of course.

jack ketch said...

we enjoyed a lively correspondence on the dangers of damage to unique sites in Iraq by both sides,

I sense a story that could use the telling, if you haven't already? As to FF; did JC, as a backbencher, ever vote with his party??!

Raedwald said...

They haven't yet been wholly broken of the habit ...

Wildgoose said...

We don't say "Pet". (I'm born, bred and still reside in the southern West Riding, a.k.a. "South Yorkshire"). "Pet" is used much further North.

I think they say "Duck" around Leeds, they certainly do across the Pennines.

We say "Love". And yes, that includes one man to another, e.g. "Now then old love", or "Cheers mi love", etc.

For that matter, we "mash" tea. (This definitely includes Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as well, or at least the North Midlands).

And "Get kettle on" will be said by anybody to anybody. Nothing sexist about it at all, the ones saying it will have the same thing said to them.

DiscoveredJoys said...

I cherish Owen Jones (and Polly Toynbe, Will Hutton) because what they say is inevitably riddled with errors and reliably wrong. Whatever they say you know that the reverse is more likely - so I suspect that the risk of deselection was not the cause of Frank Field's enlightenment, merely one symptom among many.

Raedwald said...

Apols for dialect errors. The landlord of a pub in Mexborough once threw me out when I asked his wife for a roll. I'd never heard of a bloody cob. The women were generally cool, though; a young lady in a Doncaster nightclub once asked me solicitously "Is thy not wam? I'm fair sweatin, me" and won my heart.

Peter MacFarlane said...

R, your nightclub girl reminds of the all-time greatest chat-up line addressed by a friend of mine, to the lady who later became his wife, on the occasion of their first meeting - also at a dance: "You don't sweat much for a fat lass".

He was from Warrington, and she from Oldham - if that assists your dialect researches at all. And she wasn't fat at all.

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered why I used to vote Labour - pre Thatcher - and I think it was that I believed that Labour genuinely believed in nurturing and bettering I and the people around me.

It was always a bit of a stretch to believe that the internationalists and world socialists were in the Labour Party to help me.

Frank Field is the former, and Jones the latter.

Without realising it, Jones is contributing to Labour's demise.

dustybloke said...

Jones is one of those people empowered by the rise of the internet. The effete little people whose intellectual prowess and Twitter are an ideal match, 140 characters seemingly best suited to the bitchy, nasty comment.

One of those little men, without principles or morals, merely opinions which are easily swayed, as he tacks through life frantically to overcome his limitations.

First he liked Corbyn, then someone whispered the word "old" and he became a fierce critic, then he saw the old geezer was popular and is now a fawning toady. Truly a moral pygmy, star writer for the most hypocritical rag imaginable. A marriage made in heaven.

John in Cheshire said...

Where's Dennis Skinner in all of this? He's usually mouthing off about something or other but seems uncharacteristically quiet; doesn't he have an opinion about how the commies in his party are treating the few good men and women who are still there?

Thud said...

Field was my M.P. not so long ago, not sure I'd have voted for him but at least I understood what he was and I knew he wasn't my enemy, something that could not be said of most of his colleagues.

Anonymous said...

DeeDee: Frank Field is one of a too small number of MPs in Parliament over the past 40 years, from any Party, who really deserve the description "Honourable."

Whole heartedly agree.


Fred said...

The reassuring thing about Owen Jones is that he will be ritually humiliated and lynched by his own ilk in due course. No need for the rest of us to be involved.

Poisonedchalice said...

As a life-long Conservative voter, I can say that if Labour was full of "Frank Fields", then I would become a Labour voter. But it isn't; Labour has filled up with nasty Nazis and people full of self-entitlement, none of whom know anything about the northern shires. Quite honestly, just how shite do you have to be to be viewed as much worse than our current cabinet?

Sackerson said...

@John Cheshire: I think Dennis Skinner is another being targeted by Owen Jones' heroes.

John Vasc said...

The really bad news is that FF - who yesterday announced he would sit and stand as a Labour Independent MP, is now talking of possibly 'over the next few days' deciding to resign as an MP. A by-election would certainly bring some creature of Corbyn into the seat. And some of the recent brexit votes (e.g. the ERG amendments on a customs union, Northern Ireland border) have been very close indeed.
Don't do it, Frank! Keep bu99ering on!

anon 2 said...

Thank you Wildgoose at 07:44! Bein' a Barnsley lass misen, I knaw tha's reight!

One of the delights of my life occurred during my late study of Old English - in which I discovered how closely our s/w Yorkshire upholds the early language. "On Ilkley Moor bar t'at" is a case in point, the "bar/baer" being OE for 'bare/naked of'.
Our beloved dialect does us proud :)

jack ketch said...

how closely our s/w Yorkshire upholds the early languageS

I am led to believe by those what know about such things that the Yorkshire dialect(s) preserve as much, if not more, Old Norse as they do OE. 'bar' might, I suppose , not knowing anything much about ON (OE is my thing) just as easily come from the ON 'berr'? No doubt 'bar'(york.), 'baer' and 'berr' are all cognate with *bazás.

Wildgoose said...

@Jack Ketch (and anon 2), Yes, we have more Norse in our dialect, e.g. the Norwegian word for "jumper" is, drum-roll, "jumper". I've no idea where Southerners get "sweater" from.

And "claggy" (sticky) is cognate with the Danish word "klag" for "sticky mud".

Heavy rain is "sile", e.g. "it's siling it down".

"Starved" is freezing cold.

No idea where "mither" (to moan) comes from.

We also have "pikelet" rather than "crumpet" and many more.

As for Raedwald getting into difficulties with his inappropriate suggestion to the Mexborough landlord's wife, there are plenty of other choices. Not just "cob", but also "bread cake", "bread bun, "bap", "barm cake" as well as "tea cake" in Barnsley. In Rotherham/Sheffield a "tea cake" has currants, but not in Barnsley.

Although I suppose asking to see the Landlady's "baps" would have been just as bad as asking for a "roll".

John M said...

Jones' numerous obnoxious appearances since Wednesday have been interesting for a couple of reasons; one is that he has (as you say) been an absolutely obnoxious dissembler and bully, talking over interviewers and shouting down his debate opponents as he desperately seeks approval from the mobs at Momentum who still detest him.

The second point is that it is Jones who is out there in the media doing all this stuff. Apparently none of the Corbynites in the Labour Party who seem so keen to persecute Frank Field appear to actually have the balls to do it publicly, and that starts with Jezza Corbyn (who usually likes the sound of his own voice but has clearly gone to ground rather than showing any actual leadership) and trickles down his entire weaseley cabal of chums.

For example where is Diane Abbott to defend her longtime colleague as he faces expulsion for highlighting the anti-semetism in the party?

Anonymous said...

All would be sorted if, at the next Labour Party Conference, Tom Watson accidentally sat on Owen Jones at their dinner break. After dinner preferably - for maximum effect.

Anonymous said...


I have noted that Tom Watson has been on a bit of a weight reduction regime.

Maybe the continued comparison to Napoleon in Animal Farm has got under his very thick hide.

It's a worrying sign - for Corbyn and us - when the leadership is losing its grip and somebody like Watson is upgrading his appearance.

Balanchine said...

I can attest that Frank Field is indeed a good man. I once had occasion to write to Frank Field when he was a Minister with regards promoting a new set of Stamps when I was a Postmaster, he very graciously took time out of his day to send a very personal letter and signed the set of stamps for me. Not many in his position would even bother to reply I am sure.

Anonymous said...

Take the zionist crap out of the IHRA definition and Jezza can sign up.
It’s a trap and Komrade Korbyn is wise enough not to fall into it.
The time is rapidly approaching when criticism of Israel’s murder of Palestinians
will be called anti-semitic.