Sunday, November 27, 2011
Just a quick note. The political class knows that this strike is going to be huge. For a while, I detected an attempt to play it down, to say that it wouldn't be as big as planned, or to suggest that it would be welcome because the disruption would drive people into the arms of the coalitions and its cuts agenda. But the results from all of the unions have been unambiguous. In most cases, the vote for strike action has been in excess of 80%, and in all cases over 70%. That's an overwhelming mandate for a fight, right across the organised core of the working class. Now the stories of the scale of disruption anticipated are starting to pile up. Worse, the government fears that the strike itself will harden the attitude of the workers, making it more difficult for the union bosses to sell them a duff deal. Now, mark this. Labour, whose leader has repeatedly turned his rhetoric against the strikes, is starting to sound a slightly different note. Alan Johnson, the leading Labour right-winger (and a likely successor to Ed Miliband) came out and defended the strikers, saying: "If they can’t [strike] over an issue as important as their pensions then what can they take industrial action over?" Now, the shadow chancellor Ed Balls has felt compelled to add his "huge sympathy" for the strikers, and blamed the government. The political class are beginning to take note: as Mark Serwotka points out, this is the beginning and not the end of the struggle, but Britain will be a very different place on the day after November 30th.