I specifically planned not to write anything overtly ‘political’ on here, firstly because there are enough places you can read about whatever your favourite flavour of politics is, and secondly because politics is generally drier than a nun’s sex life… and less than half as fun to write about.
But then I went and did a silly thing and spent 2011 continuing to live in England, working for the public sector. For this I am very sorry and take full responsibility. Clearly what I should have done is got a job in the private sector – there are loads of them about, and they’re all really great you know. Call Centres, for example, are a particularly good use of precious time: a day in which I don’t phone up at least one seventeen-year-old college girl, sweet-talk her into trusting me through a careful mix of well-aimed vocal flirting and slick sales tricks, then con her into buying cancer insurance, is a day wasted.
Alas, I only work for a Local Authority, an Authority that wastes tax payers’ hard earned money on paying me to do the admittedly unimportant job of bringing in lots of revenue… revenue which is in turn wasted on helping ‘benefit scum’ (single parents, disabled people, elderly people, the terminally ill) keep some semblance of a roof over their lazy, commie, terrorist heads. They make me sick, waving their grubby little twenty-page claim forms, waiting for weeks for their first payment under the constant threat of eviction, shuffling around in ugly poverty. Shame on them for being born poor! And shame on me for helping them! Sometimes I’d like to take me outside and shoot me in front of my entire family. I make me sick…
So, when those smart government people decided it was a good idea to cut public sector pensions, cut everyone’s benefit and generally make everything rubbish for anyone too stupid to have been schooled in Eton and raised in a castle, I of course understood their reasoning. There’s a big hole in the nation’s accounts made by a ‘wunch’ of well-meaning bankers, and so it’s clearly the responsibility of us wage-slave plebs (our parents aren’t even royal for God’s sake!) to fill the cash-void with money we would only have wasted on things like housing, clothes, food, kids, education, prescriptions, heat, water…
But by this time I had worked there too long; I was already half way over to the dark side. Motivated by a mixture of selfish greed and a complete disregard for proper neo-liberal values, I tore my laminated Thatcher-in-a-bikini pin-up from my bedroom ceiling, yelled “DEATH TO THE WEST!” at the top of my drug filled lungs, and joined the nearest union.
“Let’s go on strike just for the hell of it!” said the union. So we did.
Thousands of us marched through Brighton, waving flags and cheering, throwing bricks through grocery store windows, kicking old ladies and punching kittens. Like the ‘we are the 99%’ lot in London, our goals were clear: “Death to the Queen!” we chanted. “Resurrect Stalin! Murder the rich and harvest their wine-pickled internal organs to trade on the Black Market for crack and child-porn! More terrorism now! Cancel Downton Abbey! Nuke Israel!”
* * *
Obviously that was all lies. Well, most of it. The truth is, I went on a real strike with my real union (Unison), thousands of people turned up, and we pretty much blocked off Brighton’s main roads for several hours in a protest over pensions. As anyone likely to read this is most probably aware, the stated reason for striking – the completely unnecessary and unfair cuts to pensions – was for most union members only the tip of the ‘issues iceberg’.
And I’ll admit that I was cautious about striking. And I argued with other union members and colleagues for weeks before deciding that striking was the right thing to do. And I still think that it was. And, under similar circumstances, I’d strike again. And it was all a great big success. And we all gave ourselves a big pat on the back because we’d made it into the national news. And people were supporting us. And we all said: “If we have to strike again in 2012, so be it… it’s crap to lose yet another day’s wages, especially with the cuts and stuff, but it’s all worthwhile!” And the union leaders urged solidarity, and we chanted “solidarity!” and waved our flags in unison…
Then, just a few days ago, the union leaders just sort of went:
“Uh, guys, we’re just gonna say ‘yes’ to the government, right? Because, uh, even though we basically used a load of rhetoric to fire you up and get you to miss out on money and stuff, right… remember that? It was fun wasn’t it? Did it make you feel sort of important, like you could achieve something? Aww, bless you, you’re all so cute!”
“Go on…”, we replied.
“Well, we… erm… we got the government to agree to do pretty much exactly what they wanted to do in the first place, right? Because, uh… um… because there’s this, like, deficit and stuff, yeah? And Ed Millibland is kind of our friend and stuff. Or something. And, like, blah, blah, blah, mumble, mumble…”, said the leadership.
“[incoherent angry shouting!]”, we replied.
“But, er, well done on the strike and stuff,” the leadership continued. “It was good, wasn’t it? We’re all really proud of you here at Unison head office, I can tell you! Give yourselves an official pat on the back from us. We’re still just going to sell out all your efforts though. Hope you don’t mind? Remember: we’re all in this together comrades! Solidarity!”
You get the idea.
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