Thursday 16 June 2022
Tony Blair once literally ran away from a film crew in order to evade questions about a rail strike. But the present Labour Leadership has topped that and is actively on the other side, with Wes Streeting having apologised for his expressions of sympathy a week ago, expressions that in any case no one had believed.
This is not about people's need of public transport for work or anything else. At national and local level, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Right have all spent well over a decade destroying bus services, for which they all have a particular disgust, agreeing with Blair's favourable quotation of Margaret Thatcher that any adult on a bus had failed in life.
Egged on by the Opposition, the Government is going to throw vast sums of money at breaking this strike. That money, which is clearly there, ought to be used to settle the dispute instead. But it will not be, because the objection is unambiguously to the suggestion that the beastly little common people might be paid anything at all.
Their "demands" are "unreasonable" compared to what, exactly? They are "already overpaid" compared to whom, exactly? Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, on £585,000? His Chief Financial Officer, Jeremy Westlake, on £415,000? The Secretary of State for Transport, on £71,673 over and above his MP's salary of £84,144, giving a total of £155,817? A Member of Parliament, on £84,144 plus gargantuan, self-certified expenses? The Editor of The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, or The Sun? A columnist or a leader writer on any of those titles? Who, exactly, and why, exactly?