Lockdown – Rail Strike: no difference …



Today is one of those memorable calendar dates: 22-6-22, and not just because the days are now getting shorter. Not mentioned anywhere is that on this day in 1941 ‘Operation Barbarossa’ started, the invasion of Soviet Russia by Nazi Germany. ‘Tis better not to mention this date because people might ponder the parallels with the current situation in the Ukraine.

Back to ‘home news’. In case you hadn’t noticed: the railway workers went on strike yesterday. It’s all over the papers (link). Mr J seems to try and turn this into yet another ‘vote for me, I’m tough’ occasion while Labour is being depicted as out of Starmer’s control. He allegedly forbade his MPs to support this action but some of them actually went and did so anyway.

There’s one strange aspect to this whole event: our beloved papers aren’t giving us ‘guidance’ as to how we ought to think about those strikers. Are they goodies or baddies? There’s a bit of outrage about ‘Spanish practices’ reported in what used to be ‘conservative’ papers like The Times and the DM (link) while the ‘labour/lefty’ Daily Mirror howls about ’fat cats’ such as the ‘rail boss’ earning 30 times more than a train guard (link).

Yes, that’s bad and ought to be addressed. However, I cannot recall the Daily Wail nor the Mirror nor Labour in general moan about ‘Spanish practices’ or ‘fat cats’ when it’s about the huge sums ‘earned’ by all those managers running Our Sacred Cow. 

Meanwhile we’re told that there are plans to raise the state pension by 10%, or rather: the Treasury is planning to go back to the old Triple Lock system. I’m quoting this announcement because it puts in perspective the demand of the RMT which asks for a 7% rise (my emphasis):

“The Treasury said it planned to return to the system by which the annual state pension rises by inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent, depending on which is highest. The rise, which will come into effect in April next year, will be based on this September’s CPI, expected to be about 10 per cent. This will result in an additional taxpayer spend of £10 billion on state pension payments if inflation does hit 10 per cent, worth about £960 to an average pensioner. Pensions rose by 3.1 per cent this April, when inflation was running at 7.8 per cent, as the rate had been set the previous September.” (link, paywalled)

Wasn’t there a huge outcry at that time, from ‘workers’ and MSM editors alike, about the unfairness of that ‘triple lock’, about why pensioners should get such a ‘pay rise’ when workers didn’t?  The DT is gently pouring oil into the flames, writing:

“However, Downing Street has insisted that the working population should accept pay rises below inflation, which is expected to hit 11pc this year. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, on Tuesday stressed the need for “fiscal discipline” as they put on a united front in a private meeting of the Cabinet. But Number 10 figures struggled to explain why allowing pay to rise in line with prices would be inflationary if letting the state pension and benefits do so is not.” (paywalled link)

That’s so unfair, innit like: why should workers toe the Treasury’s line on inflation when pensioners are being promised ‘jam tomorrow’, after a year of trying to live with inflation! 

This begs the question: is this announcement a ploy by  the Treasury, BJ and Sunak, hoping to re-gain the votes of the despised ‘baby boomers’? Or is it, as cynical old me would suggest, a ploy to allow them to cave in to the RMT demands? After all, shouldn’t workers get that pay rise now while pensioners can wait? That would be fair, innit!

It would also justify pay rises across the public sector, ‘fat cats’ included. I don’t need to point out to you that even a rise of 10% on a low sum – e.g. £960 p.a. on those pensions – isn’t costing as much as one on incomes in the higher tens of thousands, never mind those well above £100,000 p.a. 

Here’s one other point which our eminent economic ‘editors’ and opinion piece writers seem to overlook: pensions and public sector pay comes out of our taxes – all taxes, VAT, ‘renewable surcharges’ and all that jazz included which pensioners also pay. In other words, all those ‘pay rises’ are nought but shuffling money from one Treasury coffer to the other and then taking it back.

So let me ask in all naivety: wouldn’t lowering taxes be more efficient and actually inflation-busting? Let me also ask why the PM appeals to strikers and the rest of us to ‘live within our means’ while the state is doing the opposite? Let me above all ask the dithering Starmer and the oh-so-lefty Labour MPs why they rail against ‘fat cats’ in industries but not in the public sector. I don’t expect an answer: there are far too many vested interests depending on ‘state money’ infusions, the money they receive thanks to the taxes we pay. 

Meanwhile, there will be more strikes, over 20,000 GPs are thinking of leaving, Mr Raab will present his new ‘Bill of Rights’ in the HoC today – tremble, you EU Court judges, don’t crease up laughing! – but for once, the Ukraine doesn’t seem to worry our MSM, nor do the tensions about Lithuania’s blockade of the Kaliningrad enclave.

Well, that’s only fair because the misery created by ‘our’ rail strike hasn’t made it into this morning’s international news, nor has the Commonwealth meeting in Africa. Perhaps the fact that Mr ‘e addressed them in a virtual meeting which was only attended by four (!) African heads of state out of 55 made it a ‘non-event’ (link), unworthy of wasting pixels on it.

There’s also the fate of those two American mercenaries captured by Russian soldiers. The ‘Russian State Propaganda Outlet’ RT reported yesterday evening  that the US ‘is alarmed’ about those two possibly facing the death penalty (link). That other ‘Russian State Propaganda Outlet’ TASS really emphasises those US worries this morning, reporting that the Russian ambassador in Washington has received no request regarding those two (link). Is the USA only doing what our own Miz Truss is doing, washing hands in innocence and never mind their having encouraged people to go to the Ukraine to ‘fight for our freedom’? 

I leave you with ‘news’ about a ‘race-hate assault’. A Polish immigrant was beaten up in London, right after he got off the coach, the DM informs us (link). The ins and outs of this assault are unknown, but know that it was ‘race-hate’. Perhaps it actually was ‘Russia-hate’? After all, there’s not much difference between spoken Polish and Russian, is there. And weren’t we encouraged by our fabulous MSM to hate all things Russian? So why is this now race-hate and therefore bad? Are there some crossed wires, somewhere? 

It wasn’t that hot yesterday, was it! The mighty brains in the newsrooms of the Westminster MSM must therefore be in meltdown for other reasons. Perhaps their ‘Whitehall sources’ weren’t available to give them ‘guidance’, thanks to the rail strike. Can our Westminster ‘journalists’ no longer work without having their hands held by mandarins?

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