RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Mick Lynch is the poster boy for the current wave of strikes… But being working class mean actually going to work
We are the working class and we are back, declared railway union leader Mick Lynch to a cheering crowd of public sector strikers in Whitehall.
He sounded less like a tribune of the people and more like one those old-school football hooligans chanting: ‘Chelsea are back, Chelsea are back, Allo, Allo!’
Looks like one, too, with his shaven head and permanent air of being up for a ruck.
Lynch is the ubiquitous poster boy for the current tiresome wave of politically motivated strikes aimed at bringing down a democratically elected Conservative Government. He’s an unlikely role model for teachers and civil servants, most of whom would never consider themselves ‘working class’ in a month of Sundays.
More like the Working From Home class, since they’d rather spend their days sitting on their sofas eating Hobnobs than standing in front of a class of snotty-nosed kids or actually serving the public by turning up at the office and doing the jobs they are paid for.
‘Mick Lynch sounded less like a tribune of the people and more like one those old-school football hooligans chanting: “Chelsea are back, Chelsea are back, Allo, Allo!”‘
As one Tory minister observed of the mass pickets outside various government departments, there hasn’t been this many civil servants in Whitehall since before the start of lockdown in March 2020.
Lynch’s performance was a parody of miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, circa 1984, another Che Guevara wannabe who thought, that through a combination of strong-arm tactics and his own brilliance, he could mobilise industrial muscle to trump the will of the majority at the ballot box.
Lynch’s rallying cry was hilarious, or would have been were he not doing his best to bankrupt the country and bring misery to millions of non-union members struggling to go about their daily lives. He claimed, preposterously, that ministers were ‘trying to ban the working class’.
And on he droned: ‘Our message is, sod this, we demand, and we are united. We will not be divided on the basis of who we work for. We will not be divided on the basis of our belief, or the colour of our skin, or the part of the country we come from.’
Meet Mick Lynch, a modern-day Jimmy Pursey, from the 1970s punk band Sham 69. If the kids are united, they will never be divided! It was sentimental drivel, straight from the Wolfie Smith songbook. Yet the desk jockeys, pen-pushers and school teachers, none of whom have ever done a hard day’s manual labour in their lives, lapped it up.
‘More like the Working From Home class, since they’d rather spend their days sitting on their sofas eating Hobnobs than standing in front of a class of snotty-nosed kids or actually serving the public’
They imagine themselves as horny-handed class warriors, manning the barricades against the evil Tory toffs. They get a vicarious thrill, especially the women, aligning themselves with the genuine article like Lynch.
I’ve seen it all before. My dear old mate, the late Brian Nicholson, former dockers’ leader, even into his 60s was always surrounded by gorgeous, pouting Guardianista women half his age.
During Scargill’s strike, convoys of posh birds would cram into the VW Golf convertibles Daddy bought them and travel North from London on a quest to sleep with a real-life coal miner.
The same dopey breed were out in force again this week, in their Himalayan hats, waving their Socialist Worker placards and hanging on Lynch’s every word, like groupies laying siege to Mick Jagger’s dressing room.
Mick Lynch is their very own noble savage. He’s stubbornly working class, despite earning the kind of six-figure salary package to which most people who consider themselves middle class can only aspire. Yet if money is the metric by which class can be judged, then train drivers on an average £65,000 a year are well above the middle-class median.
But still they want more and are striking again today and practically every other day in the foreseeable future until they get it.
‘Meet Mick Lynch, a modern-day Jimmy Pursey, from the 1970s punk band Sham 69. If the kids are united, they will never be divided! It was sentimental drivel, straight from the Wolfie Smith songbook’
They are being aped by staff at everything from the Foreign Office and the DVLA to the Passport Office and the Department of Work and Pensions, all of whom have convinced themselves they are part of the downtrodden proletariat.
Someone should explain to them that before they can identify as working class they actually have to do some work. But for the past three years, at least half the civil service have been WFH, which generally involves doing SFA — Sweet Fanny Adams, apart from walking the dog and strolling down the pub for a swift lunchtime pint or three.
HEY, TEACHER, LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE
We should perhaps be less worried about teachers going on strike and more concerned about what they get up to when they’re in the classroom.
Indoctrination seems to come before education these days in some schools, where militant teachers are determined to push a ‘woke’ agenda.
There are widespread reports of even primary school children having their heads filled with notions of ‘white privilege’ and the evils of the British Empire.
Teaching union the NEU is so pro-Palestinian it might just as well be twinned with Hamas. They’ll be making pupils wear intifada headscarves next, instead of traditional uniform.
Now we learn that a mum is suing a school in South London for forcing her four-year-old son to take part in a LGBTQUERTY+ Pride parade.
She shouldn’t have to take matters into her own hands. Politics has no place in the classroom.
Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone.
Any pretence of public service has been flushed down the gurgler. So-called public services are run entirely for the benefit of those who allegedly work in them, not the public they are supposed to serve.
Where did this unwarranted, self-pitying sense of entitlement come from? As I never cease pointing out, practically no one in the public sector lost a penny during lockdown.
Even the railway workers now pleading poverty were paid their full wages for the duration despite running skeleton services, as the Government pumped in £13 billion in subsidies to keep the network open.
Civil servants drew their full salaries, with those based in Whitehall still receiving generous London weighting allowances, averaging £4,500 a head, to compensate them for the high cost of commuting and working in London — even though they weren’t.
Now that Covid is over, they’re still not back to normal. And this week their union leader, Mark Serwotka, announced that even if the Government gives them more money, they have no intention of returning to their offices.
No, the public sector has been insulated against the harshest effects of the pandemic, unlike the self-employed and those who work for private companies.
In May 2020, a couple of months after the first lockdown, I wrote that we were most definitely not all in this together.
Virtually everyone I knew in the private sector, from directors down, had agreed either to emergency pay cuts or a long-term pay freeze to help their employers make it through the difficult months ahead.
Despite the furlough scheme, many of the self-employed and small business owners fell through the safety net and were left stranded without any income.
Meanwhile, those in the public sector now demanding double-digit pay rises had to make no such sacrifices. With their guaranteed salaries, job security and gold-plated pensions, on top of all the money they’ve saved not having to commute into London every day, they’ve never had it so good.
They should be counting their blessings. Instead they have come to believe that their cushy new lifestyle is a divine right and the world will always owe them a living. Time for a reality check.
Look, it’s not ideal, but a below-inflation increase isn’t the end of the world, especially as energy prices are falling. Everyone is having to make economies these days. So why should rail workers, teachers and civil servants receive special treatment?
And spare us the emotional rhetoric about ministers grinding down the ‘working class’. The real working class are those who get out of bed every day to go to work — the delivery drivers, the corner shopkeepers, the plumbers and electricians, who don’t have the luxury of WFH or the industrial strength to try to force someone else to pay their bills.
Those gormless pickets bouncing up and down in Whitehall this week should realise they are being manipulated by revolutionaries like Lynch and Serwotka.
And if the Working From Home classes really want to consider themselves working class, they could always start by actually going back to work.
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