Political ping-pong on Jarrow remarks

Robert Goodwill MP who has been criticised for his comments by Tony Randerson. below, regional officer for Unite
Robert Goodwill MP who has been criticised for his comments by Tony Randerson. below, regional officer for Unite

A SCARBOROUGH trade union official has hit out at the town’s MP after he criticised protesters emulating the Jarrow March.

Robert Goodwill made national headlines over the weekend when he branded the participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs Jarrow March 2011 as “an insult” to the original 1936 marchers.

Tony Randerson, regional officer for Unite, said Mr Goodwill’s comments amounted to “an unwarranted attack” on the youngsters, who he joined when they walked through Hull recently.

In the original Jarrow March, 207 men walked almost 300 miles to London in protest against extreme poverty in the north and mass unemployment.

National newspaper reports stated that many of the 2011 marchers had given up after a few days, due to sore feet or because they needed to sign on for benefit claims, while the 16 remaining original protesters were getting lifts in coaches.

But Mr Randerson, who lives in Ashville Avenue in Scarborough, described the young protesters he met as “tremendous” and said they had been “totally committed” to the cause.

He added: “I did not see Mr Goodwill at this march. I sincerely believe he has not been anywhere near these young people. Clearly he has attained the information on which he based these vile comments on third or fourth hand reports.

“I am not aware of any other MP from any party coming out and attempting to rubbish these young people.

“Scarborough is an unemployment blackspot, where well-paid skilled jobs are for many just a distant memory.

“Instead of criticising these marvellous youngsters he would be better employed lobbying his own ministers to put manufacturing back on the agenda so people can get back into skilled occupations.”

Some of the remaining protesters on the current march have also criticised Mr Goodwill’s comments, but the MP stood by his remarks yesterday.

“The original Jarrow marchers had cross-party support,” Mr Goodwill told the Evening News.

“They marched to London, wore their boots through and put up with privation.

“These guys have a minibus and a number of them have dropped out. They are really falling short of the memory of the Jarrow marchers who genuinely did represent the spirit of their age.

“That determination and resolve has not manifested itself in this re-enactment. I don’t think in 70 years time these people will be in the history books. In fact, I’ll be surprised if anyone remembers them next week.”