Thursday 30 June 2011

To Strike or Not to Strike? That is the Question.

When Labour released the winner of it's public poster campaign during the 2010 election I had a massive facepalm moment.

Of all the messages they could have chosen, making David Cameron look like the anti-hero of a popular cop-drama did not strike me as well thought through.

David Cameron as Gene Hunt on poster

Today, I'm wondering just which crystal ball the designer had at his disposal. We've had month after month of Thatcherite policy announcements and now we get the Tory Holy Grail of a Strike.

Without strikes, the Tories flounder like fresh caught ells, thrashing around with no-one to blame for their disasters. The divide and conquer of setting the "deserving poor" against the "undeserving" the "immigrants" against the natives, the strong against the weak, the rich against the poor, gain little traction without the great, evil sceptre of picket lines to scare us with.

They don't negotiate seriously, because they need to set us against each other. From the first day lost to strikes, George Osborne will start to blame his economic disasters on ordinary people. The "wrong kind of snow" will become the "wrong kind of public" and positions harden around the country. "Do you support the strikers?" "Did you see those scabs?" "Bloody Unions" etc etc until battle lines are drawn in every working-men's or country club in the country.

Well, it's really not difficult. My 6 year old asked me about the schools closing a few days ago. He asked me why. I took off my rose tinted specs and tried to explain as fairly as I could.

I explained that teachers believe they're being asked to work longer for less money but to pay more. He thought for a minute, then asked me if David Cameron was doing it too. I said no. He said that wasn't fair. I told him life wasn't fair and people were getting older and living longer and we just had to find more money for people's pensions.

He, however, was fixated on MPs and the Prime Minister. "Does everyone have to pay more, work longer and get less Mummy?" I said that no, this strike was about teachers and other people who work for us. He didn't think that was fair either. "Well, they should make everyone do it or no-one at all" was his confident reply.

"But why are they striking Mummy? How does that help?" I said that they felt the government weren't listening to them and going on strike meant that people came together to show the government how important the jobs they do are, just in case they've forgotten. I tried to explain that strikes were the very, very last resort.

He pottered off and came back a moment or two later frowning. "Are my teachers striking Mummy?"
I replied, no dear, I didn't think so. He frowned more. "Why?" "I don't know dear, people don't like to close schools, they think children are too important."

In childlike innocence he told me that "teachers are important too though aren't they Mummy?"

(Hubby was loitering in the background to make sure there wasn't a trace of partisan reply...)

"Can you make me one of those badges Mummy?"

"What badges dear?"

"The one with a J and a 30 on it that you've made for your Labour people?"


" I want to wear it to school on Thursday."

"You do? But what will you say if a teacher asks why you're wearing it? You're 6 dear, they'll just think Mummy made you wear it. If you want one you have to understand why you're wearing it!!"

(Said with the breezy assurance of one who still takes a teddy to bed.....)

"Oh, I'll just say I'm wearing it because I wish they were striking too. Well, until David Cameron gets the same pension as them, anyway, then it'd be fair wouldn't it Mummy?"

What could I say? It's so easy without the nonsense of Westminster and politics isn't it?

I still don't know if I'll let him wear his badge today. He won't remember what day it is, he's 6. But I'm tempted. Because our children shame us with their simplicity. Perhaps it wouldn't do any harm to remind teachers that even a child of 6 can see that their situation is unfair and is willing to take one tiny step to support them.


  1. But the Unions are striking before negotiations have completed, which is unreasonable. The strike is not in direct proportion to the negotiations, they are jumping the gun.

  2. Oh Sue,
    This has made me cry... thank him, please, tell him he is right and has helped me feel better and to see he has made one teacher know that she is doing the right thing today. You may or may not tell him he has reminded another Mommy of her children who oberserved the miner's strike on their TVs when policemen hit the strikers, and said to me, " Mommy, why is the policeman hitting that man with a stick?" I said "I don't know , darling." I don't know why Ed M hasn't supported me today. But that your son has done, and the outh of the country means so much. Thank you for sharing. XX

  3. Wow :) as a teacher and mother that made me cry. In a good way. As I am caring for my amazing but different son I only work part time. And don't work on a Thursday. I was torn about what I would have done had I been contracted to work today, could I cross a picket line? Be a scab? Or lose half a weeks wages when we are having a financially sticky moment ( understatement). This has given me even more to think about. Particularly if there is further strike action. Xx

  4. We should all Support the public sector workers..
    And get rid of this idiotic Government as it is not fit for purpose...

  5. Sadly it will take more than strikes this time round. No one appears to understand. What we are facing is unprecedented SHTF time. Even the massive six million strong strikes scheduled for this autumn along the more forceful tactics of Greece or Egyptian strikes will not do it. Facts are the EU and the USA are both on the verge of major collapse with nothing foreseen to be able to avoid it. Perhaps a revolution or war? It did take less to trigger these in the past. I do hope I am wrong.

  6. What a lovely son you have! He's right of course. Did you let him wear his badge in the end? I hope you did! And thanks for posting this :)

  7. what an amazingly insightful child you have (followed a link from bofb)

  8. [QUOTE]Curious? said...

    But the Unions are striking before negotiations have completed, which is unreasonable. The strike is not in direct proportion to the negotiations, they are jumping the gun.[/QUOTE]

    It's not jumping the gun jumping the gun would be if the government were honest and honourable which they are not and never have been in my lifetime

    What you are seeing from the teachers should be expected you cant enter into life long careers of impotence only to find a unsupportive government down the line

    The conservatives dont like teachers anyhow only private ones in which you pay as you go as they have had

    if the government fully had there way their would only be private schools only so the public need to think on this government will try it's best to undermine anyone who steps in it's way and always punish any sign of weakness or week people

  9. WellI was in birmingham yesterday and was talking to some union reps. They were very worried when I mentioned the workprogramme. The wrry is that they will use the workprogramme to break strikes, they drawed parallels with america and the factit had been used in america to break strikes.

  10. Brilliant, quite simply brilliant.

  11. Looking in here occasionally. I did wonder what this had to do with spoonies, and then I read the article in a BBC site about housing benefit and remembered that the coalition attack is on all weaker or supposed weaker sections (except the section your son pinpointed - the MPs themselves).

  12. This is simply one of the most hate filled blogs I have ever read. - Ed Miliband