Christmas wrapping-up: Goodbye blogging

Avid readers of this blog (err, my mum, Jerry Hicks, a few people who used to support Les Bayliss) may have noticed I’ve not updated it much recently. Mainly that’s because I’ve left Tribune magazine and started a new job in financial reporting. Unlike Tribune it’s full time and hard work, so I’ve much les time on my hands to get in touch with trade unionists and blog about industrial stuff and politics.

So I’ve decided/been forced to mothball this blog, at least for the time being. For the next few weeks I won’t even attempt to update it regularly. There isn’t time, I’m afraid. The update I wrote today will be the last one for a while, if not forever.

But before I go, there are a few thing that need saying and can be safely said here. I started this blog in mid-2008 in a desperate attempt to get more reader than the low-circulation pages of Tribune would allow. But if that was selfish, then hopefully the way I have written it hasn’t been entirely so: I have tried, quite hard sometimes, to tell the truth about things which don’t see the light of day often enough. That’s especially the case with trade union politics. The demise of industrial reporting means journalist aren’t reporting and scrutinising trade unions in the way that their members or the public deserve.

I have quite enjoyed writing the blog. I am grateful to everyone who has read it for reading it. And I’m particularly grateful to people who’ve read it and then come forward with information and assistance with my stories. You know who you are. Your generosity is touching, and I offer big thanks. How couldn’t it be? I can’t offer anything in reward, and indeed I shouldn’t, so more often than not I think this has been a selfless act [update – on their part, I meant]. As a journalist I am humbled by people who give those precious nuggets of info with no thought of reward. I won’t try and name names, partly because some people might get into trouble if they were so named. That’s one of the problems with internal trade union politics especially, and politics generally.

Most of the people I’ve met in trade unions and politics have been either okay or nice; some have been exceptionally nice, cheerful, kind, sunny, helpful and so on. They’ve made life more worth living. A small number however have chosen to be hostile, or even malevolent. I mean they’ve tried to get me into trouble for no good reason. The reason, as far as I could make out, was that I was writing things which didn’t agree with the PR line they were trying to enforce and they saw it as their (paid) job to squash anyone who threatened that line. Sometimes this has been actually scary. Again, a problem with internal union politics, though that doesn’t wipe away personal responsibility. But spare a thought for the people who have to deal with that all the time, and not just because of a blog. Not everyone involved worked for a union either.

And I won’t mention the MP who upset me a bit by texting me in fury, called me “disgracefull” [sic] and said “please do not speak to me again” over something I wrote he found unhelpful. (Oh all right, it was Jon Cruddas. To be fair, I’m sure he was under a great deal of stress at the time – but I had not misreported him.)

These people didn’t get, or didn’t want to get, that I am not interested in helping the Labour Party, the TUC, Ed Miliband, or any of those trade union general secretaries through my journalism. That’s the difference between journalism and PR. This may sound obvious to you. I can assure you that it is not obvious to them.

Anyway, that’s a wrap, for now. Diehard fans can check this blog again in mid-February by which time I’ll have hopefully made my mind up what to do with it. I don’t want to abandon industrial affairs: it’s been far too stimulating and fun.

Again thanks to all my readers and those who’ve helped out. I’ll not forget. And since ’tis the season to be jolly, even if you’re out of work or otherwise feeling the pinch, I’ll leave you with Christmas wrapping of a different kind. When not obsessing about unions I obsess about music, and this is one band I like a lot. Merry Christmas! (Even you, Jon).

Update, 21 January: Tribune editor Chris McLaughlin has been in touch to say that some people took the comment above about Tribune being a ‘low circulation’ magazine to signify that it was in financial difficulty, or otherwise in trouble. I’m sorry if anyone took it that way; that wasn’t my intention, nor did I want to put the magazine down, so I’m happy to set the record straight and say so. For the record also, Chris tells me that it’s inaccurate to call Tribune ‘low circulation’. However I stand by what I’ve written.

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5 Responses to “Christmas wrapping-up: Goodbye blogging”

  1. John Gray Says:

    Hi Rene
    Now I may live to regret this of course but I hope you change your mind and keep posting on trade union matters. You are quite right that there is not enough reporting on trade unions. We also I think tend to live in our own union silos and bubbles so it is good to find out more about what is going on elsewhere in TIGMOO.

    PS nothing wrong with upsetting folk from time to time:)

  2. Steve Miller Says:

    you forgot to mention one supporter of Len McCluskey.

    Good luck with the new ventutre but hope you do find time to continue blogging once things settle down

  3. Disappointed Says:

    You’ll be missed. Hopefully you will return in February and not too much will happen before then.

  4. Hugh Roberts Says:

    To be in the vanguard of the movement is an honour and a glory and frankly I was astonished to read that you were thinking of not wanting to record or comment on the struggles we will meet in 2011. So think again comrade and I look forward to reading you in February. Failing that I will send you the Kathy Kirby CD someone sent me for Xmas – that’s real malevolence !

    • René Lavanchy Says:

      Hi Hugh, well, as I’ve explained above I’m unable to actually be in the vanguard of the movement – I’m doomed to watch it from a discreet(ish) distance. But it has been fun and something of a privilege to write about the subjects I’ve written about. I will indeed think hard about this blog; recent events suggest it can still cause a bit of controversy even though it’s very scarcely read. As for Kathy Kirby – do your worst, I dare you. It may come back into fashion you know. Everything does, in the long run: skinny ties, recessions, moustaches, fifty per cent income tax rates…

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