Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's good for the goose

Prime Ministers Questions today, and what a horrible thing that has become with the sneering public-school bullies on the government front bench. The topic of strikes was brought up in carefully placed questions by backbench lackeys with designs on a proper job, to which the Prime Minister said:
"Most of them did not vote for this. Only a quarter of union members backed industrial action"

Now. Some maths. Turnout at the last election was 65% - which wasn't bad actually, especially given the mess the Commons was in after expenses and all that. The Conservatives polled 36.1% of votes cast which means that 23.47% of all registered voters considered them their preference. That's less than a quarter. So by that logic, should the oft-mooted idea of making strike ballots illegitimate unless there's a minimum of 50% of registered voters back it - as opposed to a simple majority at present - then the same should apply when electing our governments. But wait, that was what AV was all about and who was the biggest voice against that? Oh yes, the Conservative party.

Also, the hated NHS bill wasn't in anyone's manifesto at the last election, so therefore absolutely NOBODY voted for that, but it seems it's headed for the statute book anyway. Yay for democracy!

Elsewhere in his denunciation of the rights of workers to withdraw their labour as a last resort in an industrial dispute, Cameron urged members to defy the strikes to avoid inflicting "pain" on hardworking people "who pay your wages". This is a common rhetorical ruse to make it sound like public sector workers don't pay tax and are all take, take, take. We don't "pay their wages", we pay general taxation, some of which goes towards paying for public services - things which are for the support and betterment of society - and those people who are paid to provide those services are also paying into the same general taxation pot. The completely unaccountable Taxpayers Alliance are big fans of this rhetoric as are many on the right, but the use of the pejorative figure, "The Taxpayer", has entered common parlance these days, as if everything that comes out of the public purse is the responsibility of a person rather than society as a whole. It's a cheap trick, but sadly it seems to work.