the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Let the Games begin!

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.

More Bullocks!

In my last post I made the bold claim that most of the ills that beset our country now have their origins in the pursuit of free market economics, not just pursued by Mrs Thatchers Conservative governments, but caught and accelerated past easily. Here, I’ll try and convince of that proposition. Successive governments have, to varying degree’s followed her example, but without her example would they have?

Or, if Thatcher had lost the Falklands War and then the 1983 general election, would Britain have been a less divisive place? Not just rich/poor, but North/South, black/white, a country where everyone felt that they were part of a much larger whole, not merely stuck in a hole that was not only getting deeper but fuller with people just like them.

In his magisterial biography of Hitler, “ Hitler: A Study in Tyranny”, Alan Bullock used a line to describe Hitler, which I’ve never forgotten because it neatly summed up what Thatcher was doing to the unions in the 1980’s. “He used the letter of the law to subvert the law’.  Thatcher changed laws to better suit her political aims, then engineered a situation – the miners strike of 1984 – where she could use them. Anyway, here are but two of the  ills that plague modern Britain, and I’ve used them to illustrate how Thatcherism has lead to this sorry state.

Higher fuel prices? The crushing of the miners, de-regulation of the  energy market under the Conservative chimera of ‘competition’ which lead inexorably to the privatisation of energy companies eventually resulting in foreign ownership, increased bills and ever increasing profits. OK, a war in Ukraine didn’t exactly help matters, but the groundwork, the heavy lifting, had been done under Thatcher decades earlier.

Low wages, zero hour contracts and the gig economy? Using legislation to not only weaken the power of the unions but also strengthen the hand of the employers, using the fear of unemployment to induce workers to accept lower wages, longer hours, and worse conditions. Again, Thatcher.

Are you beginning to spot a pattern here? Change the law – especially labour laws – in favour of business by suggesting that the government is ‘cutting red tape and encouraging innovation’. Or ‘giving businesses the best possible chance to succeed’ Minimise state participation while extending the involvement of the private sector. Proof that Mrs. Thatcher was the worst thing to happen to Britain since the creation of the workhouse.

In my last post I I called Rishi Sunak ‘Richie Sunak’ This was my mistake and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.

It should, of course, have been Stinking Richy.