It's the moral tussle over the public sector strikes that everyone's talking about. Are they right? Are they wrong? Are Tories monsters? Or are the public sector workers the true bastards ruining the country?
Every hack we know is scoring easy coin forcing themselves into a clear (yet controversial) position on either side of the argument, appealing to your overactive senses of indignation in the process. So we created two journalists out of thin air to wrap the warm blanket of self-righteousness around you and whisper in your ear: "It's okay, baby – it's the world that's wrong."
THESE STRIKERS ARE LIVING IN CLOUD CUCKOO LAND
Bob Johnson Yet again, Britain's public sector workers are out on strike. Yet again, images of closed schools, empty JobCentres and ghostly libraries are dredging up painful memories of the Winter Of Discontent. We all remember those events that scarred a generation: rubbish piled up in the street, the dead going unburied, rubbish piled up in the street, the dead going unburied, and the dead going unburied and rubbish piled up in the street. I remember when my own mother went unburied that month, we were forced to throw her body onto the local refuse pile, only to find that the binmen were on strike, and she couldn't be collected until a week on Tuesday. They were harrowing times indeed, when the nation teetered on the brink of anarchy. And it should be patently obvious to all concerned that we're being driven back to that ice age by today's reckless union behaviour. And yet, their fatcat TUC bosses expect us to believe that these people are the hard-done-bys of Britain. These people ought to get into the private sector for just one day to see what the real world is really like. Pretty soon they'd conclude that, bar the golden hellos, the golden goodbyes, company boxes, share options, company cars and opportunities for promotion, it's a much more hard-nosed, less airy-fairy environment. I can tell you, at the age of 30, I would've killed to have the sort of pension benefits your average care worker now enjoys, had I not already been a partner in my father's law firm. Of course, if only the fruits of their labour were up to the mark, we might sympathise more. Yet what they produce for their inflated wage remains woefully substandard. Children who can't read. Patients who die. Forms that are supposed to be stamped in 'column A' that end up stamped in 'column B'. We are the ones paying the taxes so that these embittered socialists can teach our children that Joseph Stalin was a basically noble man who made a few mistakes, that the British Empire did bad things, that Arabs invented numerals. Now, they are compounding this claptrap by the bad example they are setting by heading out on strike. “It's OK for us to try and cheat an extra three percent for ourselves,” the message is, “But it's not OK for you to try and cheat an extra three percent for yourself in Monday's Geography test.” With that sort of attitude, it's no wonder our children now feel that stabbing each other is an appropriate way of saying hello.
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THE STRIKES ARE BRITAIN'S OWN ARAB SPRING
Boris Crow Nurses. Teachers. Picture them educating your child. Picture them attending to your sickbed. It seems obvious from these two images, does it not, that nurses and teachers are inherently much better people than, say, plumbers, shipping clerks, salesmen or shopkeepers, and ought therefore to be much better rewarded? Well of course it does. They are workers. Yet as usual, the heartless Tory government have shown themselves to be nothing but heartless Tories when it comes to this matter. They are heartless. Utterly heartless. These arrogant multi-millionaires have got it into their heads that just because they got the most votes in a general election, they have the right to make marginal savings to the public purse. They seem to have forgotten that Britain is a democracy, but now, like the martyrs of Tahrir Square, we're rising up to throw off their yoke. This reckless gang of champagne-quaffing Lord Fauntleroys don't seem to care or even understand that, this Christmas, many of my hard-working members are going to have to go home to their children and explain to them that they can't have that Xbox Kineckt they wanted for Christmas, because daddy's got to pay three percent more per annum into his pension contributions from 2013, so they'll probably have to settle for a new Wii instead. It sounds dramatic, but believe me, this is exactly the sort of choice public sector workers are being forced into making in these dark times. Featherbedded private sector workers simply haven't known heartache until, like me, they've looked into a child's eyes and said: “Daddy's going to be retiring at the age of 68 in 2027, Jimbo. Not the age of 65 in 2024 as we'd all originally thought.” “But can't daddy go on the sick and take early retirement anyway?” my youngest replied when I told him this heavy news. “No,” I said, “No. Because those heartless Tory scum have decided to introduce laws so that you have to prove that you're sick before you can go on the sick and get early retirement.” He frowned, and looked away, clearly wounded that his dear old dad had been put in this place, with heartless Tory George Osborne's bootmarks already visible upon his neck across a widening class divide. Of course, it's all very well for Osborne – he's so rich he can probably afford to buy his kids a Kinect, a Wii and a Playstation. For the man in the street, the realities of life are far harsher, as the Chancellor swings his axe across all but the most rudimentary and bare bones of public sector services. Just within my own family, I know that if my wife didn't have her salary as the assistant youth development co-ordinator for community plurality in Tower Hamlets, we'd have real difficulty making ends meet. We have negotiated with the government in good faith. We appealed to their sense of reason by pointing out that we were definitely 100% right on this one. Yet they took all of that and threw it back in our faces by saying that we should make a lower offer. Their position utterly fails to take into account the fact that public sector workers often do quite difficult jobs. And if it weren't for the guaranteed employment, strict timekeeping, and above average wages, there'd be no one there to do them. Mr Osborne, heed the unions' warning. If the government isn't careful, we could be headed back to a Winter Of Discontent scenario: soliloquies from Richard III on every street corner, Plantagenets remaining unburied, Princes remaining imprisoned in towers, The War Of The Roses coming to a dramatic head. Nobody wants that. It's about time the government did the sensible thing and gave us all more money.