Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mabon and the parable of the sinking boat.

Most people who read this Blog will (I assume) be familiar with William "Mabon" Abraham (14 June 1842 – 14 May 1922) who was a Welsh trade unionist and Labour politician, Firstly as a Liberal, then as a Lib-Lab and then somewhat reluctantly Labour MP from 1885 to 1920.

Although an MP for 35 years, it was as a trade unionist that Abraham is most well-known. He was a somewhat moderate voice believing that disputes should be solved through dialogue, which drew him into conflicts with younger and more hard-line political figures.

He has somewhat of a parochial attitude and reflecting his nonconformist background would often refer to a form of parables.

One of these reshows  his viewpoint.

A colliery owner and trade unionist went on a outing in a small rowing boat The colliery owner (strangely) was rowing. In the middle of the lake the boat sprung a leak. The owner began frantically rowing for the nearest shore. It soon became evident that they would not make it and sink. The owner turned to the union leader and pointed out that if he assisted in the rowing then they might make it and be saved. The Union leader replied “Why it’s not my boat?”.

This was given by Mabon as an example for cooperation between union and management bit I think the story may have gone further.

The Union leader agreed to join in the rowing but despite their joint efforts it soon became evident the boat would sink.The owner then pulled out a lifejacket put it on, pointed to the distance where there was another colliery owner rowing on the lake and said “I’m sorry but I’ve only got one lifejacket and with it I can reach the other boat where there is probably only room for one more anyway. So I’m afraid you going to drown and I’m sorry that I didn’t keep the boat in god repair which is the reason why we are sinking.

Next Tuesday’s budget will undoubtedly lead to claims that we are in the same boat, but I bet some will be given lifejackets and will be able to rely on their friends to aid them.

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