Sunday, June 09, 2013

Save the NRM

I don't often do politics on this blog, but today I'm making an exception.

It seems that there is a bit of a hole in the funding of the Science Museum in London. Thanks to government cuts, there is a 10% gap in funding and according the BBC, the Director Ian Blatchford has suggested that this could be fixed by closing one of the northern museums in the group. That means either the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, National Media Museum in Bradford or National Railway Museum in York.

Obviously, every city potentially affected is up in arms.

Access to the museums is free at present, apparently this is partly the cause of the problem. It seems that we can't afford free access to museums in these straightened times.

What we can afford is to feed out MPs in the cheap. Rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips and Béarnaise sauce in the Palace of Westminster - £2. In other words we subsidise MPs (Salary £60K plus expenses plus any other side-lines) by £5.93 every time they sit down to eat a steak lunch.

On the other hand, if they prefer Haddock and leek fish cake with tomato and dill cream, we chip in £5.13.

Personally, I like a nice desert to finish off a meal so what about Chocolate and orange torte, coming in at under a quid thanks to our generous help with £1.56.

You think the problem is that they didn't get a descent breakfast? I don't know why not with prices like these:
Oh, and don't worry, the drinks are as subsidised as the meals.
So, basically, we have a group of people earning over twice the average salary in the UK and they are under the impression that feeding themselves cheaply (cost £8,823 per MP and Peer) is a better idea than allowing everyone else to see, and be inspired, by engineering excellence.
Personally, and this is my blog, I think they are wrong. The country is in a financial mess but what will get us out of it is people developing and making things. Adding extra inches to Eric Pickles or John Prescott's waistlines isn't going to help anyone unless the new pairs of trousers they buy to deal with this are phenomenally expensive.
Now, I can see that this campaign is partly scaremongering. Ian Blatchford sees cuts in his budget and threatens to kill off something people care about. There are other options to solve the problem, re-introduce admission charges for example. I know it's not nice and personally I'd hate to see this happen, but if you have to pay, at least there is something to pay for.
I also note that he is suggesting closing a northern museum. That's a dangerous move as none of our political masters gives a toss about anything outside the M25 and so would probably be quite happy to see all three venues shut down.
Hopefully this is just scaremongering then, but just in case, can I direct you over to the York Press "Save the NRM" petition. Signing it will make a point, even if it's one that will probably be ignored.
More practically, an e-mail to your local MP will also register your unhappiness with the situation. You can find their contact details on the TheyWorkForYou website. If you are thinking, "Well that won't do any good.", you're probably right, but not writing to your MP definitely won't.
Oh, and bear one thing in mind. The NRM have a hostage. It's got 4472 on the cabside. I would hope that there are photos being taken as we speak with men wielding cutting torches next to the Flying Scotsman. People get funny about certain steam engines. They raised the money to restore it - how much of a fuss can you generate by threatening to scrap it and so George Osbourn can have a nice, cheap, lunch.

(Hat tip to Guido Fawkes for the dinnertime figures and menu)


Iain Robinson said...

A great and timely post, Phil. I have been worried about the National Slate Museum in Llanberis for similar reasons. I would happily pay to get in - I know that it is an egalitarian gesture to offer free admission, but we don't really value anything we get for free - and the NRM is priceless. As for those bloody Westminster menus and the crooks that eat are damn right, I'm emailing my MP.

Mark said...

I think this is a very good reason for a politically themed post. Petition duly signed.

lnrmodels said...

This definitely gets my blood boiling on a Monday morning..."let's close one of the Northern Museums to keep us alive", you get get lost right now!

I've been to the NRM many times, and, apart from the horrendous parking charges, I'd gladly pay rather than see a part of our amazing heritage be lost forever.

Rob Waller said...

I was listening to this man being interviewed on the wireless one afternoon last week on this subject and I have to say I was struck by the way he responded to questions about why the future of London Science Museum wasn't up for discussion too, suggesting that such an idea was unthinkable despite the Capital city being rammed with museums. The economic and cultural domination of London will kill off the rest of the UK outside a 50 mile radius of Londinium if we are not vigilant.