Mayor Johnson

Channel 4’s Confessions from the Underground is propaganda

Listening to Labour luvvie, actor Richard Wilson, doing the narration on tonight’s Channel 4 “documentary” Confessions from the Underground immediately set my alarm bells ringing. Many people on Twitter instantly spotted that this was effectively an hour long advert for RMT’s Bob Crow.

It didn’t take much digging around on Google to get to the bottom of it.

Narrator Richard Wilson is a committed Labour activist, see his Wikipedia entry. He is reputed to have narrated their audio manifesto for the last election and got involved in Ken Livingstone’s scaremongering around the Freedom Pass in the run up to the previous mayoral election.

The Executive Producer Peter Dale is an Associate Fellow (whatever that means) at the left-leaning thinktank IPPR. He founded TV production company Rare Day which made the film.

Producer Katherine Haywood also writes for socialist magazine Red Pepper.

Dale’s company is such a congenial environment for Labour people that ex-Labour cabinet minister James Purnell took a job here when he left Parliament in 2010.

The dishonest and polemical nature of this film makes it clear that it is not a conventional documentary. The background of those involved confirms that this is propaganda. No more. No less. Consider this show part of Labour’s London election campaign.

8 replies on “Channel 4’s Confessions from the Underground is propaganda”

Is it not a matter of public record that they’ve lost 800 frontline staff over the last 2 years?

How can they justify doing this and simultaneously putting fares up above the rate of inflation, all when passenger numbers are rising?



I am not sure of the numbers but certainly the programme last night used this figure. The context is that LUL employs 19,000 (presumably after the 800 have gone), see here. That is 4%. Not exactly decimation! A piece of context last night’s piece of socialist realism failed to give of course.

The reason transport fares are going up is that the government have cut TfL’s budget and the Mayor has rightly decided to keep up the existing investment programme. To curtail it would have been hugely wasteful and detrimental to London’s long term future. Boris’s has taken a hard decision and will have to live with the consequences. Boris’s offer to London is pretty good really and Boris’s cost to Londoners has gone up less quickly than Ken’s, see Andrew Gilligan piece from yesterday. Considering Ken was ramping up the cost of Ken in relatively good times Boris’s record is easy to defend.

The only way that Ken can offer to cut fares is by cutting investment, borrowing more or raising the precept. He is too much in the union’s pockets to really have a go at costs. It remains to be seen if Boris will once the Olympic gun is no longer pressed to his temple.


Do you really think that this is Labour propaganda? I am a Station Supervisor on the Underground and I can tell you that every staff comment on the programme is spot on. Contrary to Mike Brown’s and TFL comments , stations are left unmanned due to staff shortages. These my not be in underground sections but they are unmanned all the same. We also have targets to meet contrary again to TFL’s response. I have the paperwork and memos to prove it.
When I am told by a line controller to watch the next train go over an obstruction and call him if there is a derailment because he would not get the current switched of so I could remove said obstruction from the live rail in the rain do you think this is politically motivated also?
I woould also like to say that most of us have a passion for the job but we are increasingly feeling jaded and demotivated. Yes we are well paid, yes we do get a decent amount of leave ( although we work extra hours each month to accrue this) but we are also having to deal with an increasing amount of disgruntled customers, an increase in violence while our managers are telling us to do better with less staff, closed ticket offices at the same time as trying to keep the service running and giving customers wrong information because again contrary to tfl statements we are measured on the information going out which must match that of the NOC ( National control centre) otherwise we get marked down and miss set targets. We then get a ‘carpeting’ by our managers.
I and my colleagues want to say a big thank you to Channel 4 for highlighting our plight



I am sure that the programme was an accurate portrayal of some people’s experiences. It was not though a rounded picture and therefore ended up being propaganda.

The show mentioned 800 job losses without talking about the context of the overall workforce of 19,000 or the excessively generous terms and conditions under which they are employed. Why didn’t the show spell these out if it was really an objective exposition of what it is like to work on the Underground? Of course that would have destroyed the whole show. Most workers look in askance at Tube staff Ts and Cs. Such generous Ts and Cs would wreck the economy if they were more widely available.

Underground fares have gone up above inflation under both Livingstone and Johnson and customer numbers have gone up but TfL just keeps spend, spend, spending so it never gets ahead. TfL and its workforce have not got the first idea of how to control costs.

From the customers’ point of view they get a service that has been blighted for years by the modernisation programme, a service that costs more and more every year whilst their incomes are static or falling. Most workers are having to do more with less so they will not be impressed by this extended whinge from Tube workers. Add to that the repeated strikes they have seen (another factor the show failed to mention) and it is no wonder they get a little bit shirty with Tube staff. It is not right that they do but it is understandable.

Edward would you like to share with us the length of your working week, the number of holiday days you get and confirm that you and your partner get a free all zones travelcards?


Phil in reply to your answer. As I mentioned yes I do get a great numeration for my work. I work shifts which include a straight seven working 2300hrs to 0700hrs and then a shift working a straight 0700-1500 hrs. My other shift is 1500-2300 for six days. I get one weekend of a month. As for free travel for myself. As I am expected to travel and work at other stations yes I do get free travel on the Underground .Unlike yourself I cannot claim expenses. My wife does not have a free travel pass.
I agree as do many of my colleagues that the fares are too high , too complicated and the customer is not getting value for money. Why should a customer be forced to buy a ticket from a machine because LUL have cut staff and hours that ticket offices are open. The staffing issues are also having an impact in that stations are being left unmanned although this is in open sections contrary to tfl statements. Station staff are being taken out of these open section station to make up the minimum numbers in the underground sections.
Because the staff at stations always have customers safety and their own forefront in thier minds the job does become stressful .
Because at stations we rarely get any correct information regarding service which we can rely to customers ( again because of targetted info performance ie our information must match that which the national operartions centre is broadcasting) customers do get angry and upset and take it out on the first member of staff they see( if there is one!) Those no doubt that reported assaults are on the increase and staff do feel very vulnerable especially if they are on their own. Not even Police officers work alone these days.
I like you choose to work where I do and as mentioned before I am very passionate about my work. I am also ashamed and disheartened that because of cuts and restraints I and my colleagues cannot give the service our paying customers need and are paying for.
What I took from the programme was issue many of my colleagues are having to deal with and also that the customer is getting short changed and some safety issues are being overlooked not a whinge that we want to work less.


All I can say to channel 4 is shame on you for such irresponsible journalism and I am so disappointed in you for such a one sided, inflammatory programme. I too work for LUL and whilst i do not deny that the show may reflect the opinions of a number of frontline staff, why not provide a balanced perspective of what makes such a complex system work? LUL employs the best engineering and safety professionals through a rigourous competency based recruitment process. These professionals are working tirelessly to not only keep thousands of existing hundred plus year old assets working safely but to construct new stations, track, escalators and so on, that London should be proud of.
This programme has done nothing but scare the millions of LU passengers who, will suffer delays which LUL must work harder to minimise, but whose safety is always a priority. You have also done a huge disservice to the rest of the LUL workforce who have watched this programme with dismay and disbelief at how it ignores all the great work they do. We have problems, but we have many more successes on a daily basis.


Phil -800 staff out of 19,000 doesn’t look like much on the face of it, but when you bear in mind it’s 800 frontline staff out of a pre-cut total of more like 6,000 it becomes a bit more of an issue.

As for generous terms and conditions, let’s have a nice little comparison of LUL/nursing/police/etc etc terms and conditions vs those of bankers eg Rob Diamond or Network Rail people

Also see this in today’s news -perish the thought there is any connection *************


oops – pls amend my post if you can – I have just read that the Network Pail ppl have said they won’t be accepting bonuses this year.


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