How to tell if your best friend is secretly a trade unionist

You’ve had your suspicions for while: sure, you’ve known Jeff since you were both impoverished former miners’ sons in a comprehensive northern pre-school, but recently he’s become radicalised. He’s started spending a lot of money on placards and you thought you saw a leaflet about The Worker under a throw pillow at his bedsit.

Sure, you might not think it’s important to know whether Jeff is into supporting workers’ rights, but, as I always say, it’s better to be sure about these things. 

Live in doubt no longer, friends. Here is the ultimate guide to figuring out if your BFF is secretly well into workers’ rights.

Do they…

love the colour red?

The angle symbolises the subjugation of the working classes; also, I will take literally any opportunity to post this picture.

…because, if so, it’s a bad sign. Red is the universal colour of the left wing (except in America, where it’s the universal colour of caring more about gun rights than women’s rights #politics).

If Jeff has spurned his emerald blazer in favour of a claret harrington, that could be a sign that he’s started leaning to the left, as it were.

constantly talk about overthrowing the mill owners?

…it’s a subtle one, but expressing an unending, edging desire to hoist the local landowner by his own petard may imply a corollary desire to unionise. There’s a saying in my line of work: if Jeff goes on and on about taking back power from his employer, he might be into unions. It’s not a very catchy phrase, but it has served me well.

insist on sitting on the big shared table whenever you go to the local roastery?

‘Roastery’, as I understand it, means ‘cafe with a particularly strong coffee smell’. Wishing to share space with one’s fellow man is as sure a sign as any of unionist tendencies. (I mean unionist as in trade unionist, not as in believing in a united Ireland. Jeff, like all English people, is completely ignorant about the whole Irish situation and does not feel qualified to comment. That said, this is also a sign of being that kind of unionist, too.)

always want to watch Billie Elliot?

Bonus points if they openly weep when the miners are all forced into the service industry. There’s a deleted scene from the movie where Billie Elliot’s dad starts working in a Hungry Horse and, honestly, it’s deeply, deeply moving.

wear obnoxious socks?

This one is a bit less obvious, but my extensive research has uncovered an undeniable link between wearing expensive, geometrical socks and supporting trade unions. The facts don’t lie, friends. They don’t know how. I think it’s because that style of sock originated in Sweden, AKA the country with the most aggressive labour unions in Europe. Sure, Jeff might not explicitly draw your attention to his footgloves, but he’s wearing cropped jeans for a reason, and it’s not so all the ladies can appreciate the curve of his ankle.

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