So from an opinion poll published a couple of days ago, we find that 61 percent of people in this country supported today’s strike:
An opinion poll commissioned by BBC News suggests 61% of people believe public sector workers are justified in going on strike over pension changes.
The poll indicates greater sympathy for the industrial action among women – at 67% – compared with men, at 55%.
Younger people, it also suggests, are considerably more supportive of the strikes than pensioners; almost four in five 18 to 24-year-olds back the action, a little under half of over-65s do.
So what next?
Well, all the above would suggest that the country is indeed disintegrating – but, in this case, along generational lines. Whilst statistics from today would suggest that some of the different nations of the Union continue along their separate ways:
- Department for Education figures suggest 62% of England’s 21,476 state schools were closed, with another 14% partly shut
- In Scotland just 33 of the 2,700 state schools were open, according to local authority body Cosla. In Wales, more than 1,500 out of 1,776 schools shut. In Northern Ireland, about two-thirds of the 1,200 schools closed
And whilst Cameron chooses to posit the battle in terms of the language of power – for him the above data translates into a “a damp squib” – Brendan Barber comes across in quite a different way:
Barber, the country’s most senior trade unionist and the lead negotiator in the dispute with the government, does not really conform to what he called Gove’s “silly 70s cliches” about belligerent union leaders. “Now and again I can thump a tub,” he said with a smile, when asked about his tactics for the day, “but I don’t think it’s unhelpful if I come across as reasonable, because I think I am reasonable. And when reasonable people begin to feel so angry and disappointed about the problems they are dealing with, other people should respond to it.”
The people who are really living in the past are not the trades unions – forced as they have been to update and renew like no other British institution as a result of the continued and persistent imposition of new laws and regulatory frameworks over the last three terms of New Labour. No. Those who would have the future truly back in the past are those Tories looking to rerun Thatcher’s destruction of a very English socialism – only the socialism they are looking to destroy is actually rather beloved by most the people who inhabit these isles.
They talk about trades union leaders itching for a fight – when what they really neglect is the following reality: they’ve opened up so many fronts in the battle to remake the Britain they despise that trades union leaders are going to be the least of their worries.
Think about that new generation of voters waiting to be energised – four out of five young people who not only support the rainbow coalition of #occupy movements but also find themselves lending their considered approval of specific and well-organised actions such as today’s strike.
No. This is not the winter of unruly and power-hungry discontent.
This is the autumn of quite reasonable and widespread despair.
There’s a big difference, Mr Cameron. And it makes a big difference too.
“Damp squib” indeed … what a foolish excuse for a leader you are!