National day of strike action: a winter of (puerile) discontent?

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Irrespective of your views on the rights and wrongs in today’s national Public Sector strike, and whether or not you actually feel like “we’re all in this together”, as the government would want us all to believe, the strike is actually unlikely to result in much more than this; a grotesque enhancement and continuance of the puerile and immature divisive mentality in our society…

The have not’s are even more angered about the have’s, the north is yet further removed from the south and as for those who provide the services we all need, the Public Sector, they are being castigated and further alienated from their Private Sector brethren.

Most of the arguments, in numerous forums on the issues, along with any perceived or expected outcomes from the strike boil down to; little more than jealousy, personal greed and the usual liberal dose of self-centred self-importance. These are all traits that are at the root of and the mainstays of the situation we have arrived at today.

But are these continued social and class arguments really valid any more OR, are we simply doing what we always tend to do, Worshiping the God of Cash?

In a recent BBC Radio 4 program The Class Ceiling, Polly Toynbee* attempted to explore how possible it is to move up through British society… In short; Who gets to break the ‘class ceiling’? But does class really matter any more? If so, what does Britain’s ‘real’ class system look like today?

Getting on in the world is a priority for many but is social mobility such a good thing or, as important as many perceive it to be? Philosopher Mark Vernon says thinkers like Kant have mulled over such questions for centuries (see here). There are also many who continuously raise questions around the viability of the “narrow social elite” who run our country (see here).

Top Labour politicians are less posh than the Tories or the Lib Dems but they are increasingly middle-class, Oxbridge-educated and have done nothing but politics…(

Polly argues that; while deference is long gone, and Prime Ministers have swapped ties and titles for first name informality, Britain’s class system is still going strong. Whether or not there is actually any need to break through that class ceiling is a matter of opinion and one which is (arguably) an “ever-more-pressing question.”

Boris Johnson (then a Conservative MP) previously described Toynbee and here views by saying; she “incarnates all the nannying, high-taxing, high-spending schoolmarminess of Blair’s Britain. Polly is the high priestess of our paranoid, mollycoddled, risk-averse, airbagged, booster-seated culture of political correctness and ‘elf ‘n’ safety fascism.”

Last night, on the eve of what is (arguably) a ‘monumental’ day of ‘public opinion’ and anger, I watched BBC Newsnight (see BBCiPlayer clip).

Jeremy Paxman started with a wholly appropriate “Woe, Woe and thrice Woe” comment to set the tone. As the program continued, the usual inter-party juvenile blame game rhetoric was evident. Danny Alexander returned to his mostly Muppet stance and tried to Beaker his way through the issues, answering little.

I also found it hard to comprehend how and why, the show chose to draft in yet another ‘expert opinion’ from an theorist.  Professor Mariana Mazzucato may be European (Italian-born), but she is a thinker who spent most of her mainly academic life in the USA. Don’t we need some reality in the mix? Why do we continue to take cognisance of and value their views? Isn’t it a case that; many of the economic problems we face today were actually born out of the financial and commercial raison d’être developed by her like in the United States?

Personally, I’m not convinced this continuous and unrelenting ‘class war’ type of argument is such a good thing for our country or society. Neither is it the important issue that so many suggest… Many of those who continue to argue the toss in this manner are often simply motivated by their own personal or political agenda, and a good measure of greed.

I also have to agree with Paxman’s comment about looking for answers to actually find the ultimate solution… It’s mostly a vain attempt to find a £1 coin at the bottom of a septic tank!” An excellent analogy compounded by the fact; most of those actually doing the searching often aren’t prone to getting their bloody hands dirty in the first place, especially when they can avoid it…

By the way, whilst you’re having a pop at the public sector, please spare a thought for those who aren’t on strike (because it’s against the law), but are still serving you in your time of need, despite their own financial concerns for their family!

*Polly Toynbee is a columnist for The Guardian. She was formerly BBC social affairs editor, columnist and associate editor of The Independent, co-editor of the Washington Monthly and a reporter and feature writer for The Observer.

One thought on “National day of strike action: a winter of (puerile) discontent?

  1. Am I on my own or was today just a bonus Christmas shopping day for many of those public sector strikers? If you ventured out on the High Street did you pass any picket lines as you had to force your way through the throngs of shoppers? Did you spend 15 mins. queuing for your lunch which normally takes 2 mins? Could you find a free seat to eat your lunch or were they all taken by bags of pressies? Am i a cynic? Slainte.


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