Friday 5 November 2010

Celebrity Strikebreakers

What do Jeremy Vine, Andrew Collins, Emma Crosby, Chris Moyles, Aled Jones, Chris Evans, Andrew Neil, Terry Wogan, Simon McCoy, Mike Bushell, Peter Dobbie, Jake Humphrey, Fearne Cotton, Huey Morgan, Ian Payne, Geoff Dyer, Greg James, Scott Mills, Colin Murray, Paul Ross, Gaby Roslin, Steve Lamacq, Louis Theroux, Peter Kay and Bruce Forsyth all have in common? They either crossed picket lines or scabbed on today's strike at the BBC.

Some readers might remember Terry Wogan wishing pickets the "best of luck" during the last BBC strike ... before crossing them to do his radio show.

And judging by Chris Moyle's inclusion on this roll of shame, he's kissed and made up with BBC management. I'm at a loss to explain his
volte face. Just over a month ago Moyles was moaning on air about not being paid. Fast forward to November he's a-okay with management butchering his pension entitlement. What a twonk.

As for the rest of them, they will not be forgiven nor forgotten.

Plenty of people have had a bit of fun with celebrity scabwatch on Twitter earlier today. Comedians
Robin Ince and Alan Davies have covered themselves in a bit of glory for refusing to cross picket lines. In the open surveillance world of Twitter it has been funny to see some of the ire Davies has earned, such as from this Tunbridge Wells-type and this.

Andrew Collins, a broadcaster and someone I previously had down as a celebrity lefty has turned his Twitter stream into a tortured torrent of self-flagellation for crossing the picket line. Good. It's one thing for a Murdoch lackey like Brillo to cross picket lines, quite another for someone who sees themselves on "our side".

In a lame attempt to justify his actions (to himself as well as others) Collins has
tweeted "If I don't go in, I don't get a "day's pay", as I am self-employed, freelance holiday cover with no contract". As a writer, broadcaster, and currently on a successful tour, I'd wager most striking NUJ workers had more to lose than Collins. And then there's this: "Bectu advice: "We are not taking industrial action you should work normally but not do any work normally undertaken by striking NUJ members". What he fails to mention is the advice directly beneath: "If, however, as a matter of conscience you decide not to cross a picket line and the BBC attempts to discipline you then you will have the full support of BECTU." Oh dear.

We might live in a time when the cultural norms of the labour movement aren't as widespread as they used to be. But when anyone is facing a picket line they have a choice. They can respect the democratic will of the workers involved and aid them by refusing to cross. Or you can crap all over them and stand with management by going in. If someone - especially a celebrity - does not respect the action then they can't complain when they're taken to task for their shabby behaviour.

Update In the comments below, Modernity points to a more up to date list.


modernity said...


That's why we shouldn't put out trust in celebrity lefties, when push comes to shove they'll often go with the money...

I hope Billy Bragg boycotts Collins?

Anonymous said...

I am a socialist, an active trade unionist and I disagree with the post.

Non news staff are not 'scabs' by any sensible definition; they have crossed a picket line.

I agree that it would be ideal for there to be enough confidence for workers not to cross the picket line of any other group but we are nowhere near there at the moment.

For example, where I work we once had a strike and we would call those crossing it scabs; I did not however agree with calling delivery drivers going to the recieving section scabs; that section wasn't on strike.

Sure it would have helped to close the company down but I can see how a driver from another company (probably not with TUs) would rightly think 'if I get disciplined for not delivering what practically will these workers for another company be able to do for me?'

To expect people to be able to run before they are even able to take baby steps - and on their own - and to subject them to abuse if they don't, makes them less likely to support TUs in future.

Now I know people may argue that is anti-union, fundamentally opposed to solidarity etc but I think it is ultra-leftism. It would be like going to every worker or supplier or other company dealing a striking co and saying - ISP provider,
electricity generator, overall manufacturer worker - if you don't strike in solidarity, you're scabs. Indeed electrcity network workers, as there is generally someone on strike somewhere you supply, if you don't permanently strike to try and close down the striking workplace, you are permanent super-scabs!

As I recall Wogan did scab in a previous BBC strike, but unless he did NUJ work now (unlikely) then he's not scabbing. Although I may still condemn celebs - they can do as Davies, and will not suffer. It's just a BBC canteen worker etc, employed by a contractor, crossing a picket line to work, that I don't think shouldbe condemned

Anonymous said...

Hold on a minute. I respect the right of individuals to strike, but in the same way I respect the right (especially in this situation) for some to choose to work.

It should be a personal decision of conscience - I think it is disgraceful to demonise those who have worked and I'm disgusted at the unpleasant and personal abuse that has been thrown around on the Internet about people such am Emma Crosby and Andrew Collins.

I we are to respect the right to strike then we should equally respect those who choose not to.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify - are you talking about Peter Kay the comedian?

Phil said...

Good grief, second anonymous treats the world as if it's a great hands-around-the-campfire sing-along. Get real.

Phil said...

First anonymous, I'm quite aware of the difference between scabbing and crossing a picket line. That's why the people listed were said to have "either crossed picket lines or scabbed on today's strike at the BBC." Open your eyes and ye shall see.

Whether socialists should condemn those that cross picket lines is a tactical call. Persuasion, on the whole is much better at this stage than condemnation.

But I reserve the right to take the piss out of a whinging talentless oaf like Chris Moyles, and a "lefty" like Andrew Collins for not respecting picket lines.

James said...

Thanks for this, very useful

I have to say not crossing a picket line was a principle that was instilled in me as a child as much as saying please and thankyou.

While I understand that some workers are in too vulnerable position to not cross a picket line, I hardly think any of those on this list are in that position

Would be interesting to see the opposite list, the celebs who support the action by not scabbing/crossing picket lines

Anonymous said...

So if Collins went to BECTU, as someone with no contract of employment (having refused to cover for someone who was not actually striking) what advice and support could it give when he got no further work from the BBC?

I approve of Alan Davies' decision but he has that luxury. Robin Ince, again I applaaud, but I really don't think the gig he turned down is a major source of his income. NB: I've no idea of Collins' financial situation but I suspect that he's not earning the sort of cash that the article implies.

SamG said...

I am with James, scabs the lot of em.

Though I expect to see celebrity strikebreakers on our TV screens by the end of the year!!

And if Andrew Neil is now one of the workers, I may have to rethink which side I need to be on.

And lastly Chris Moyles is a talentless shit who should be begging in the street to supplement the income he gets for being a talentless shit.

modernity said...


If you wanted any further evidence of the decline of socialist thinking then look at your first Anon's comments.

The basic tenet of solid trade unionism, is that you do NOT cross a picket line.

modernity said...

Funny, I left a comment on Andrew Collins's blog to ask if he'll be scabbing again?

Shock, the comment got deleted :)

It's all talk from the likes of Collins, that's what celebrity lefties are often like, talk...

Robert said...


Apparently, this is a good site for the co-ordiantion of anti-cuts campaigns.

E10 Rifle said...

Collins could at least have sought advice and support from the freelances within his own union

No excuse whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Who pays these "journalists" salaries and pensions???

The only SCABS are those intent on fleecing the license payer.

The man in street has NO SYMPATHY for this selfish and ideologial cause.

Phil said...

So says some anonymous tool on the internet. As it happens the Stoke picket line had bus drivers honking in support, passersby wishing them the best, local civil servants come down showing support, and postal workers refusing to cross their picket lines. Is that "man in the street" enough for you?

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what somebody does vis-à-vis a picket line when not directly involved in the strike depends upon various things.

The best thing would be for everyone to respect the picket and not enter the workplace.

Next to that would be for people not involved in the strike to go into work, but to refuse to do anything that would normally be done by the strikers; this would be worked out by the various unions on site. In such a situation, activists in the non-striking unions could join the pickets and not go into work (I've done this myself when my own union wasn't on strike), and try to encourage non-striking union members to do the same.

However, care must be taken that this does not lead to victimisation, especially if one's own union does not support the strike. This would have to be discussed beforehand.

I think in the case of the BBC strike that those notables who crossed the picket lines were making the point that they didn't give a monkey's about the journalists. A top telly personality who refused to cross the picket would be announcing his or her support for them, especially if he or she appeared with the pickets on the telly. And I doubt that, even in today's situation, the BBC management would dare victimise a celebrity for doing this.

Dr Paul

Phil said...

I have to say of all the picket lines I've been on over the years, the only time I've experienced striking workers being abusive towards scabs or people crossing their line was when they gave pickets a mouthful to start off with.

modernity said...


This is a good link, you might update the post with it?

Matt Wardman said...

Disagree with you fundamentally on this one, Phil.

May have a post coming on.

Anonymous said...

Nemone is not just a scab, she has friends in Bristol and her fellas name is called Adam, the scumbag that stole tickets from the listeners is called Adam he gave them to his friends in Bristol