I have just arrived home from gloriously sunny Newcastle, where for the past few days I’ve been attending the Delegate Meeting of the National Union of Journalists as one of four delegates from Lewisham. It doesn’t take much to imagine what happens when several hundred hacks assemble in a confined space with ready access to copious amounts of alcohol.
A public report on the Delegate Meeting will have to wait, and, indeed, may never be forthcoming. All I will say in this brief tale of journalists at play is that the meeting went fairly well, all things considered, with the manoeuvrings of the NUJ Left faction (i.e., SWP) largely defeated.
The trots narrowly succeeded in getting a motion passed that censures the National Executive Council for its handling of the union’s financial crisis, but otherwise the conference proceeded with little in the way of factional infighting. However, there was one particularly ugly incident in which Guardian journalist Hélène Mulholland mis-used a point of order to denounce SWP member and Financial Times hack Dave Crouch for attacking her personally and publicly via Twitter. Whatever the root cause of the dispute between Mulholland and Crouch, the conference grandstanding made both middle-aged and middle-class parties look like petulant teens. As a first-time delegate at an NUJ conference I was pretty fecked off with this behaviour.
Newcastle city itself I saw little of during the conference, bar the 20 minute walk between our hotel and the civic centre conference hall. The Geordies are a lovely people, but with a bevvy down their necks they have a tendency to go seriously loopy. Saturday evening saw drunken fights and paralytic rolling in the the streets as early as 19:30. Lewisham town centre is by comparison a scene of genteel bourgeois domesticity.