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A Christmas Round-Up From Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge

A blog from the Musicians’ Union (MU) General Secretary Horace Trubridge, reflecting on the past year’s events and looking forwards to the next one.

A blog from the Musicians’ Union (MU) General Secretary Horace Trubridge, reflecting on the past year’s events and looking forward to the next one.

What a year 2018 is shaping up to be. Historians are going to be kept busy for many years to come recording and analysing all the political events of this year, and how they will shape the future of our country and its relationship with the rest of the world.

I think I should stop listening to radio phone-ins. I was listening to one on BBC Radio 5 Live a few mornings ago and of course it was all about Brexit.

The caller that completely wrong-footed me was the one who said that she had voted to Remain but she’d since changed her mind! OK, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and Brexit is without doubt the most divisive issue this country has had to face for many, many years.

But even so, with a plunging pound and the prospect – as I write – of a no-deal Brexit looking more and more likely, and all the chaos that will bring WTH?! That stands for What the Heck by the way, I’m using a politer version of the popular acronym.

Brexit will be bad for the music business

Whichever way you look at it, Brexit, and in particular a no-deal Brexit, will be bad for the music business. Touring will become more expensive, more complicated and admin heavy. Vinyl and merchandising will become more expensive. Fewer European artists will want to come to work in the UK and that’s just the beginning or our problems.

The effects on the UK economy, the banking system, the health service and overseas travel to name but a few of the areas of society that will be impacted are unquantifiable.

Democracy is not undermined by more democracy

The MU has given its support to the People’s Vote Campaign because we believe that democracy is not undermined by more democracy and in the light of all we know now the British people should be given the chance to change their minds about leaving the EU.

For me, the opportunity to be able to put a stop to our departure has become even more attractive with the news that we could remain in the EU on the very same terms that we had before, and we wouldn’t need the permission of the other 27 nations to do so.

This negates a crucial argument that the Leavers have been relying on, namely that if we were to remain it would be on less favourable terms than we had before.

That said, the opposition to a second (or third if you prefer) referendum is loud and widespread and so our hopes of being able to reverse this calamitous decision are fading fast. Perhaps our only hope is for a Norway style deal which would at least preserve freedom of movement.

Further updates from a full year as General Secretary

In other non-Brexit matters:

  • Many of you will have seen the work that the MU has done to raise the profile of orchestral musicians and shine a spotlight on the fantastic work that these musicians carry out in the community. As well as producing world class music many orchestral musicians are filling in the gaps in social care and there needs to be more acknowledgement - both verbally and financially - of this valuable work.
  • There is a crisis in instrumental music tuition in the UK and the MU has been highlighting this and calling for action from the Government to prevent a ‘class ceiling’ in our profession. As the MP Kevin Brennan has said, there is talent everywhere so there should be opportunity everywhere, and a failure to address the inequality in the provision of instrumental music tuition in the UK will have a profound effect on our industry over time.
  • 2018 hasn’t been all bad for the music profession, after years of lobbying we have seen the adoption of the Agent of Change principle which will help to protect our precious grass roots live music venues from property developers and there is now broad debate about what further can be done to preserve these precious cultural resources and encourage more venues to open.
  • The MU Supporter Scheme is growing and will prove to be a valuable lobbying resource in the future. Please encourage anyone who cares about the future of music in the UK to sign up as a supporter for free.

Finally, I’ve very much enjoyed my first full year as General Secretary. The job is not without its challenges, but we are blessed with a great team of staff and officials and a highly engaged and supportive Executive Committee.

Have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


Published: 14/12/2018
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