If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 19 March 2010


Ah, isn't it wonderful to visit the past now and again? British Airways strike going ahead, rail strike on the cards. It's Tony Woodley and Bob Crow instead of Jack Jones and Arthur Scargill, but the script is the same.

Network Rail's "reckless gamble with rail safety", according to Bob Crow. (It's always about safety, even when the strike is about pay.)

Tony Woodley accused BA of "wanting a 'war' with the union". (It's always 'wanting a war' when the other side don't back down like they are supposed to.)

Yeah, yeah. Those of us who lived through the 1970s have heard it all before. It was depressing then, and it's depressing now. My greatest concern is that there are people who will vote at the forthcoming election - anyone under 40, basically - who have not lived through this kind of thing before, and think it's just how things are, or that somehow this is a one-off.

It isn't. It's what happens when trades unions get a sniff of weak government and think they can get away with it. We have been mercifully free of it for around 20 years now, but anyone who can remember the constant strikes and work-to-rule 'action', with the airwaves full of this or that chippy Scouser talking about 'management intransigence' or 'subordination of workers' rights to the greed of over-fed capitalist shareholders' will remember how utterly miserable it was to switch on the news every night and find that the first three items were on the latest industrial action - i.e. what goods or services we would be doing without next.

Whatever you think about Mrs Thatcher, a least she put a stop to that. Are working people less well-paid or have fewer rights as a result? I don't think so.

It's great to be back in the 70s again. I think I will put on my brown cords and tank top, tie back my ponytail, and put a disc of Gilbert O'Sullivan on the gramophone.

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