Wednesday 20 July 2011

Where's Ed? Labour leader accused by NUJ of ignoring strike over jobs at his local paper

Labour leader Ed Miliband is being criticised by the NUJ for ignoring a strike by local journalists in his own constituency while concentrating on attacking the Murdoch empire.

The indefinite strike involves job cuts, including that of the post of editor, at the Johnson Press-owned South Yorkshire Times, based in Mexborough in the heart of Miliband's Doncaster North constituency.

NUJ official Lawrence Shaw, who covers the north of England for the union, writes on his blog about the Labour leader: "Well OK, we know where he is. He’s on the Murdoch-bandwagon. And, to be fair, who can blame him? Not many people disagree with him on dismantling the media empires at the moment.

"But he’s entirely ignoring another major media crisis. One within his own constituency."

Shaw adds: "Labour MPs, even shadow ministers, have already been supportive. John Healey who represents the neighbouring constituency to Ed has voiced his strong support for the NUJ’s position calling for the company to think again about the cuts.

"But Ed has said nothing. Replied to no direct communication from the NUJ, or any of the members who have contacted him in relation to this dispute.

"Ed doesn’t have to agree to the NUJ strike action, or turn out on a picket line. But as a politician in the spotlight who is going for the jugular of the biggest beast on media ownership, why is he not also taking the opportunity to attack the companies, and their systems of private debt, that are largely destroying our fragile local newspaper industry?

"His abject failure to even comment on a crisis taking place on his doorstep lead me and all NUJ members involved to the conclusion that his grand talk about media ownership is little more than posturing. If Ed really cared about sorting out the media in the UK, he would address more than just Murdoch’s empires and the national papers."
  • The striking journalists have the support of former world darts champion Dennis "the Menace" Priestley who joined the picket line at the South Yorkshire Times' Mexborough office. He said: "I am very concerned the newspaper will lose its local identity in this move. I'm a loyal Times reader".

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