chapter  4
40 Pages

The social roots of the revolt

Meet John. He is 64 years old and was born and raised in Nottingham, where he worked for many years as a skilled machinist in the famous Raleigh bicycle factory. John started as a line worker when he was only 15 years old. ‘I was never much for school, left as soon as I could. I knew Raleigh were hiring, you could walk straight into a good job in those days.’ John prospered at the factory and, within a few years, he was supervising a team of ten. ‘That was how it was back then. You didn’t need certifi cates. Work hard, show you can learn, and you’d make your way.’ But in 2003, John was made redundant as the last factory was shuttered. ‘They said something I didn’t understand about European regulations, and that we couldn’t compete with the Far East. They’d work twice the hours we could, for a tenth of the money.’ When John turned 50, he found himself unemployed for the fi rst time in his life. ‘I don’t blame the company, they did their best, treated me fair, gave me a good pay-off . But when I went looking, there was no work.’