Newspapers for and by the jobless in the early 1980s


 

After 1979, there was a calamitous rise in unemployment – especially among the youth. In northern cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle – a kind of dole culture took hold. You could be forgiven for thinking that not having a job was the norm while being in work was some kind of privilege.

Local authorities and trade unions funded unemployment centres. I recall the centre in Liverpool on Hardman Street with a pub attached at the back called The Flying Picket where you might bump into Alexei Sayle at the bar on some nights.

Some of these centres produced cheap newspapers for and by the unemployed. They would normally reflect the opinions of the dominant political group within the centre – often on the ultra-left.

Here are some examples – note the attack on the TUC for not doing enough for the unemployed. A common theme at the time was that the Labour Party and trade union leadership were sadly wanting in the face of the Thatcherite onslaught.

 

Jobs Express of 1981 – young people protesting for work


In 1981, the Jobs Express chugged across Britain crammed with jobless youngsters. Through November it went from Newcastle up into Scotland and then down south through the Midlands to Bristol and finally arriving in London. Some newspapers sneered at the political train claiming it was a socialist deception. But the labour movement embraced the Jobs Express and one private sector company – Swan National Car Rental – claimed to have been so ‘inspired’ by the train that it created 25 jobs on the spot. I reproduce the letter they issued at the time below.