Sunday, 3 July 2011
'Unaffordable' pensions and Dunkirk fetishism...
So, public sector workers are likened to Nazi Germany in 1940. Nice to see that the "Daily Mail" maintaining its usual perspective and attention to reality. Of course, it's not the case that Gove and the Tories are picking a fight with teachers; no, it's rather that the striking workers are THE ENEMY WITHIN. With the right-wing media, it is always Dunkirk, always the 'Spirit of Dunkirk' that is invoked to keep people in their place - in abeyance to the forces of conservatism, this time represented by the government. It is presumptuous in the extreme to use the memory of Dunkirk in such a way to quell dissent, and to imply that all involved in Dunkirk would have been against decent pensions for teachers.
The point is: the Tories and their media cheerleaders are as wrong on this issue as there are on so many others. Evan Davis exposes Franny Maude's distinctive interpretation of the National Audit Office's data. The Independent presents empirical evidence to cut the decetiful 'golden plated' myths to shreds:
Then there was Michael Gove's ludicrous call for parents to act as strike-breakers by stepping into the classroom to teach. Forgetting 'formalities' such as CRB checks and indeed whether the parents have any relevant training or knowledge. Presumably a working grasp of the philosophy of a Peter Hitchens or Toby Young is enough! Even the Cameron favoured pressure-group 'Mumsnet' disagreed with this, although one poll found 37% public support for the idea - neatly correlating with current levels of Tory support.
A trade unionist speaker at Thursday's strike rally at Grey's Monument in Newcastle upon Tyne made the excellent point that public sector pension provision is placed into stark relief by the tax-breaks given to private pension funds for the wealthy.
Fellow ex-Trinity Haller, Daniel Elton, makes the point that public sympathy is rather finely balanced and not conclusive either way, although Labour's leader has taken the absurd step of alienating an important section of his vote - as lamented by Alex Niven.
The most detailed arguments for the strike were given by Nigel Stanley of the TUC at False Economy; for instance this: 'So even before anything done by the coalition government or recommended in the Hutton Report, public sector pensions had been both reformed and made sustainable. This is not union assertion, but the hard-headed view of the National Audit Office.
On top of these negotiated changes, the coalition has made a further attack on the value of public service pensions by replacing the Retail Prices Index that has always been used to uprate pensions with the lower Consumer Prices Index. This will further reduce the value of public service pensions by 15 per cent – so we have a cut of 25p in the pound if you combine this with the negotiated changes.'
The right-wing media won't even engage in logical, defensible arguments to defend their position, they will insult and smear working citizens. I was personally proud to have gone on strike on the 30th, in order to oppose compulsory working until 68 to receive a state pension, plus significantly higher contributions. All within a context of zero job security, caused by government cuts which are an ideological decision. I could make the broader economic arguments about the wisdom of Osborne going down the Irish route, of course... A few people being mildly inconvenienced for a day is nothing next to significant redundancies being imposed on people who have not caused this crisis - or indeed when compared with the wider social impact of cuts on charities / vulnerable people / the majority in society who use public services.
These videos provide a taster of the issues at stake in Further Education Colleges, often forgotten in the media with its focus on schools and universities - though The Guardian give some focus here.