It appears that a number of events are planned this wekend in Hanley to “celebrate” the sinking of the Titanic.
It is a 100 years on the 15th April since the great unsinkable ship sank. The events that led to the tragedy are well known. And the whole grotesque mismanagement of that night leads me to conclude that the sinking is a particularly vivid illustration of the class struggle.
In the 50s film of the sinking “A Night To Remember”, Lady Cosmo Duff Gordon – whose party occupied Number 1 lifeboat to themselves – turned to her secretary, Miss Francatelli as the ship sank, and said, “There is your beautiful night-dress gone.” And there too went the three Skoog children, the four young Paulssons and the eleven members of the Sage family of Cambridgeshire. All in third class, and all beneath the notice of this latter-day Marie Antoinette.
Worse, they were locked out of the lifeboats so that the rich might live while the poor died. This is not a view of history that would suit, say Julian Fellows. For him, the class system was never so heartless as that. It might confer privilege, but it also demanded responsibility to those who were poor.
A recent report however has rather questioned the view that the lower class passengers were locked below. Taking this common perception to task, the Daily Mail revealed that papers on display at the Public Records Office proved that “the scene in the film Titanic in which third-class passengers are locked below decks”is a myth”.
So it’s all right then. But the figures are difficult. As the Mail admits, in first class over a third of the men, almost all of the women and all the children survived. In second it was less than 10 per cent of the men, 84 per cent of the women and all the children. But in steerage 12 per cent of the men, 55 per cent of the women and less than one in three of the children survived. Analysing the figures shows that – despite the strict “women and children first” policy – a greater proportion of first class men survived, than of third class children.