Cover image: NOW AND THEN: The Seaman’s Union on Ruperra Street, Newport - used with the very kind permission of the South Wales Argus
Before you shoot me, please note the quotation marks!
So who did say that?
During a recent email rant with a friend of mine, over not being able to get off a ship in the UAE, having already spent four weeks in quarantine - and despite the fact that Emirates are providing a limited number of repatriation flights to the UK - I mentioned to him that nothing had changed since the 1966 seaman's strike. We are still treated like the "scum of the earth..."
I remember, when I first started sailing at the tender young age of 16 years old, in 1974, being told by one 'hairy-arsed seaman,' that Harold Wilson was the one who had said: "Seamen are the scum of the earth."
My friend is at lot better than me, at British history of the 20th century. He informed me that he was not so sure about being able to attribute such a statement to Harold Wilson?
I then done a quick Google search, and, to be honest, I couldn't find any reference to Harold Wilson ever having made such an outrageous remark. What I did find, was this:
From Jim Dyer of Newport, in the South Wales Argus, in an article dated 27th September 2016 and titled:
NOW AND THEN: The Seaman’s Union on Ruperra Street, Newport:
Some ships rationed your fresh water so they could carry more cargo. And it did not help, when some titled lady from London told the press merchant seaman they are the scum of the earth. Who did she think brought her goodies home through torpedo infested waters? Donald Duck?
So, OK, it wasn't Harold Wilson then, after all... But, as we always say, at sea:
"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!"