Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Internationale

Local government workers have voted to go on strike, or, more accurately, some local government workers, very far from a majority of them, have voted to go on strike, and the world is chorusing that they are being irresponsible. If they or anyone else receives a rise over 2 per cent, disaster will follow, prices will go up, council tax will go up and we will all be doomed. Again, and as I said before, it is always the poor bloody infantry that gets the shitty end of the stick. Profits continue to rise, enormous wealth for those at the top of the economic pyramid continues to grow, yet is the those who struggle most who have to pay and suffer when the economic world goes tits up. I ask again, why can’t the pain be shared about it? Why can’t our economic masters share a bit of the pain for a change? Who is responsible for all this anyway? Not the bloody school caretakers, that’s for sure.

Not that I am for this strike, because I am not, for three reasons. First, Unison cannot seriously claim a mandate for this action, given the very low turnout and the extremely close result of the ballot; second, they have no chance of achieving anything like a significantly improved offer; third the Tory media will have a bloody field day and the next election will be handed to the Tories on a plate. I include the allegedly leftist, allegedly impartial BBC in this, their reporting of the ballot yesterday was shameful both at breakfast time and at teatime: both of the reporters clearly believe that the canard about decent wages for poor folk equates with misery for all of us is an economic fact, not a matter of smug opinion.

Not that Heather Wakefield, the Unison rep covered herself in glory; she came across as extremely arrogant and seemed to say that the low turnout and close result was irrelevant, as she knew what members truly felt. Given her evident omniscience, I wonder why they bothered with a ballot at all. I don’t know who was speaking on behalf of the union in the morning, but he just came across as being as thick as a plank.

So, who do I hate so far, let’s see: well, every capitalist and apologist for capitalism everywhere for a start, then there is the union, and the big media, including the BBC and several BBC reporters, especially the berk on 5 live breakfast, with his estuary English and schoolboy smart arsery; the Tories and , oh yes, nearly forgot: New Bloody Labour, who are ignoring history at their peril.

Back in the seventies we had a period of governance by Labour and it wasn’t a particularly glorious time, which the big media are already reminding us of, and, again, the poor bloody starvlings (that's us!) got the shitty end of the stick. The unions agreed to be restrained in their pay demands, and for a few years they stuck to the agreement, until, not unreasonably, they decided that the poor worker deserved a bit of jam on his bread, and asked for a fairer share of the pot. The government decided to act hard, and there was a series of strikes, accompanied by lurid headlines and then we welcomed in dear old Maggie for 18 years of sheer joy and happiness.

It’s happening again, after all those years of Thatcher and pay deals of 0.5 per cent we all welcomed New Labour and anticipated a fairer deal. Well, we haven’t had one. We have never come close to catching up and our annual rises have barely covered inflation, all this time. Now, the economy has gone tits up, because the bankers have fucked up, and New Labours natural inclination is to let those who suffer most pay the heaviest penalty. I don’t know where new labour keeps its finger these days, but it certainly isn’t on the pulse.

Funnily enough, there is an big article about Richard Layard, the happiness guru in todays Guardian. It is a wide ranging discourse but it touches on the notion that continually seeking economic growth isn't necessarily a good thing, because the evidence suggests that it leads to misery, rather than happiness, which, in a roundabout way, reminded me of some stuff I read years ago about the equality gap causing social dysfunction. The greater the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, the greater the chance of profound social disharmony.

Stuff it, I'm off to live in Bhutan.
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