Captain Moonlight: Sympathetic public

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The Independent Online
COMMENTATORS cast around to explain the success of Jimmy Knapp and his striking signalmen in securing widespread public sympathy despite stopping the trains every week. A good case cannot be enough. Perhaps, they speculate, pointing out that he is the same age as Cliff Richard, it is Mr Knapp's rumpled features and gruff refusal to smile and sound- bite. Perhaps. But what they seem to have overlooked is Mr Knapp's customary backdrop, the stained glass tribute to his union which dominates its Unity House headquarters. How can you not trust a man with white and wispy hair who appears on your screen in front of this?

Commissioned for the new headquarters, it was designed by John Lawson of Goddard and Gibbs, the London stained glass-makers, and unveiled in 1983 by Michael Foot. That is Puffing Billy, up at the top, above the Stirling Single and beyond the Forth Bridge. The Taff Vale judgment, awarding damages against the union for strike losses, was a landmark in the rise of the Labour movement. Dogs collecting for railway orphans were a common sight at stations; it was customary to stuff them when they died so they could continue the good work.

What chance do Bob Horton and Railtrack have, faced with this? He has a former Labour Party PR, Lesley Smith, heading his team, but he insisted on calling her Catherine in front of the Lobby the other day for some reason. Rumours persist that urgent media training is under way. Get yourself some stained glass, Bob.

(Photograph omitted)