The various strikes that have happened over recent weeks, are taking place today and are planned for later this week could easily have been the the latest in example of the worrying modern phenomena of Meism. Meism is the unhealthy delusion afflicting large swathes of the population whereby everything is viewed through the prism of individual self-interest. Of how a particular thing affects me, how I feel about it. No matter how far removed from someone’s actual lived experience – or in fact precisely how far removed it is – the more people appear to want to make it all about them.
It could have, were it not for the fact that millions of working Britons, who depend on tax credits and food banks to survive, are themselves facing the same higher prices and lower wages that the strikers are striking over. They recognise that one day in the near future it might be them, and they won’t want people crossing picket lines. That the strikers are just like them, face the same challenges they face, have to cope with the same privations they do, want the same change they do. But as Basil Fawlty said, “It’s not the despair that kills you, it’s the hope.”
Which brings us neatly on to Stinking Richy and Liz unTrustworthy. During a quick-fire round of questions on the televised debate on Monday, both were asked if they’d ban strikes on ‘essential public services’ Without hesitation they both said “Yes”, so at the very we can expect the definition of ‘essential public services’ to be massively widened to include nanny’s and massage ’therapists’, to name but two. Why this should come as a shock – although not to massage ‘therapists’ – to anyone who’s been paying attention to governmental introducing legislation to better suit their aims is a mystery.
In 2015, the Conservatives passed a law that for a strike to be legal, not only would 50% of the unions electorate have to have voted, but of those that did, 40%would have had to voted for strike action. Of course, it wasn’t seen as brazen hypocrisy that a government that had only managed to secure the support of 36.9% of those that had voted, were keen to hold others to a higher standard than they had failed to meet. Remember the quote used about Hitler that as relevant to Thatcher? Using the letter of the law to subvert it? No surprise then, when faced with growing unrest amongst public sector workers because of derisory pay offers well below the rate of inflation and a cost of living crisis, the government recently introduced legislation which made it easier for employers to hire scab labour agency staff.
Actually, it isn’t a cost of living crisis. That’s just something that the media have concocted, which newspaper editors and TV bosses can commission earnest and sincere articles and programmes about, safe in the knowledge that their comfortable salary’s will protect them from the reality that their stories unearth. No, it’s a cost of existing nightmare, not a cost of living crisis, because no-one who depends on food banks and goes without meals so their children can eat, buys their clothes from charity shops and can’t afford to pay the bills, is living are they?
So good luck the rail workers that are going on strike. Here’s hoping it causes travel chaos on the railways, resulting in loads of empty seats at the Commonwealth Games, long delays in getting to and from work and generally inconveniences as many people as possible. No-one goes on strike hoping that things will continue as before, that nobody notices. What’d be the point of that? The only people who don’t agree with strikes are those that will never have to go one.