Wednesday, 2 November 2011

From Jarrow to Barnet (via Hatfield): march against unemployment

The Youth March for Jobs, recreating the Jarrow march of 1936, has been on the road since 1 October. The original Jarrow marchers, unemployed men from north-east England demonstrating against the lack of jobs, finally arrived in the capital via Barnet. And that is what the 2011 march will do tonight. They are due to reach the Spires shopping centre in Barnet at 5.30pm.

The Barnet Alliance for Public Services and Barnet trades council have arranged to meet them. We'll walk down to the Greek Cypriot Community Centre, Britannia Road, N12 with them for a reception from 7pm. If anyone is free this evening, I would encourage you to join us, either at the Spires or at our meeting.

The Youth March for Jobs is organised by the Socialist Party. I disagree with some of their politics and methods of organising. This march nevertheless offers a chance to highlight a serious problem: youth unemployment.

The Barnet Alliance is currently preparing a third issue of its Our Barnet newspaper. If all goes to plan, it will include a feature on some of the problems of young people in Barnet: it is not just young people from the north-east of England who are struggling to find work - good work - these days.

Finally, on the subject of the original Jarrow march, I would recommend a Radio 4 programme made in 2008 by Michael Portillo (!) where he explores the march in the wider context of the time. In fact, it was a late example of the Hunger Marches, which, in general, were far less polite affairs than the Jarrow march. Think less of footsore men coming cap-in-hand, and think more of occupations and riots! The programme doesn't seem to be available now to listen to on the BBC website, but I hope it will be repeated soon.

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