Monday, 17 July 2017

Middle Without Muddle

These days, and perhaps always, what you think of public sector pay is what you think of whether or not there ought to be a secure middle class.

There now barely is one in the private sector, where even the well-paid are thoroughly precarious, and are thus unable to exercise the middle class's traditional and necessary role in social, cultural and political affairs.

If private sector pay and pensions are rubbish, then make them better. In order to do that, you may have to join something called a trade union.

Of course, there are always a Henig in the woodpile, trying to cut the pay of Teaching Assistants while daring to occupy the platform of the Durham Miners' Gala (bigger than Glastonbury, let the BBC and the rest of the London media take note).

Simon Henig's presence of that platform recalled Sam Watson, who conspired with Hugh Gaitskell to have Aneurin Bevan (a fellow miner) expelled from the Labour Party, who collaborated with the National Coal Board in closing Durham pits, who opposed all local strikes, who instructed local officials to support the management in sacking men for absenteeism, and who thus made the Durham miners the lowest paid in the country, so that it took the strikes of 1972 and 1974 to restore wage parity throughout the coalfields.

Watson got away with it all because he was a CIA agent, and there is also a room named after him in the Knesset building, which is not the kind of honour that is conferred on a casual acquaintance.

But here in the county where he was known in his day as "the Commander-in-Chief", he is almost completely forgotten now, and his name is abominated by the few who remember it.

The Henig in the woodpile, indeed.

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