Heavy weather: climate change divides the TUC


Much of the time, Trades Union Congress’ annual get-together is reminiscent of a revivalist meeting – true believers gathered in the certainty of salvation.  Nearly every motion is endorsed by unanimous acclaim, the General Council’s opinion on each proposition is received with earnest appreciation, and every speaker is generously applauded. […]

Rigged competition: how EU law works against freelances


“To know better your enemies is to better chances of your eventual victory”, wrote Sun Tzu in the Art Of War.  So an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter with one of the European Union’s competition tzars provided provided a rare chance to understand the frustrations placed in the way of unions working on […]

Camera wobble: Sky’s photo contest misses its subject

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“Taking a picture is to take away, not to put in, otherwise it is mediocrity”, the gruff Oliviero Toscani barked at a contestant on Sky Arts Master of Photography last week.  It is a gnomic gem he has dished it out, with slight variations, to many of the hopefuls competing […]

Bank failure: my involuntary Cam dip


  Reaching the riverbank in Grantchester, my instinct was to first test the water’s temperature. The grassy bank is nearly two feet above the lapping surface so I inched forward from a sitting position before fully committing.  It wasn’t to be. As my toes touched the stream, I slid involuntarily […]

World reports – IFJ Congress 2016

Marching with flowers in memory of Camille Lepage

VIEW FROM THE TOP “It would be an enormous privilege for you to be a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Congress Presidium” Jim Boumelha (then IFJ president) whispered in my ear. “Basically it means that you are completely in charge of congress, you could really make a […]

The stardust alien: from Hull to eternity

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I stopped listening to David Bowie a year ago.  My love for his music was undimmed but I had come to the conclusion that old tunes were crowding out the new – at least on my playlists.  I decided that, for a while at least, I would embrace the contemporary.  […]

Welcome news: unions’ agreement with global broadcaster


The pumping handshake before a roomful of international representatives appeared enthusiastic.  Flashlights popped and applause rippled around Geneva’s Press club.  Jim Boumelha, president of the International Union of Journalists and Mostefa Souaq, executive director of the Al Jazeera Media Network exuded satisfaction at a negotiation concluded (they are pictured above). […]

Roast Peanuts: how Charlie Brown introduced me to girls


mJune 1976 What I enjoyed about ‘Peanuts’ is hard now to say.  Charles Shultz’ strip cartoon appeared in The Observer’s colour magazine, which my parents bought on Sundays, and each week, I devoured the four-panel tale. Snoopy’s fantasy’s life as a pilot, Peppermint Pattie’s obdurate athleticism, and Charlie Brown’s fruitless […]

Conviction politics: Shrewsbury’s jailed strikers won’t be the last


 A febrile air of hope and opportunity runs through most of United We Stand – a dramatic exploration of the 1972 building workers’ strike and subsequent jailings.  Set against glam rock and rank-and-file radicalisation, the play explores how builders’ anger about pay, safety and casualisation pushed them to spread their […]

Poles apart: a war-torn-childhood classic resonates yet

Few childhood books made such a lasting impression on me as Ian Serraillier’s Silver Sword.  Nevertheless, until my daughter reminded me of the work, I would have struggled to identify the source of the themes that so impressed me. The story, aimed at readers from ten to their mid-teens, was […]