Letter from the editor: Spare a thought for those thrown out of work


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The Independent Online

This letter was never intended to be much more than a gentle conversation with i readers about the week. But, this has been no ordinary seven days.

Neither awesome Novak Djokovic nor tragic Princess Charlene commanded the headlines. Even the magnificent Harry Potter premiere was overshadowed. Instead it was a week in which a placid nation stirred from its apathy to rise up against news of the phone hacking of first poor Milly Dowler, and then the phones of dead soldiers and their families; when MPs Chris Bryant and Tom Watson grew in stature; Hugh Grant emerged as a most unlikely champion to put the hacking press to the sword, and the Murdochs acted with decisive brutality to shut a century-old institution, the News of the World - like it or not, for a long time Britain’s most popular paper.

I know from our mailbox that some i readers are happy, gloating even, over its demise. I beg to differ, and not just because I have friends there who know about as much about phone-hacking as, well, I do. To my mind, 200-plus people have been thrown out of work, a friend of mine for the second time in two years. They are paying for mistakes made by people either unknown to them in the past, or way above their pay grades in the present. As ever, there are so many ordinary human stories behind the headlines.

Talking of which, I have family in Derby. This week, Bombardier, the train manufacturer there, said it was to lay off staff at its plant; 1,429 of them.They are victims of mistakes either by politicians or bosses way above their pay scale too, as the £1.4bn Thameslink contract went to Siemens in Germany instead. No one would dream of gloating over these job losses. In Wapping and Derby, hundreds are now consumed with worry about their futures, not least paying the staggering fuel price hikes buried in Friday’s bad news bin.

So, behind the revenge agendas and point-scoring, just spare a thought for all those people who have woken up being out of work this weekend. See you on Monday in cheerier vein.