Martin Hannan: The fightback must start now

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The trouble with the public service strike tomorrow is that only public servants are coming out. What we should be having is a national strike with every working person in the UK downing tools for a day in order to tell the crass idiots running this country that we have had enough.

We have had enough of watching the rich get ever richer while the rest of us see our incomes dwindle – that’s if we are lucky enough to still be in a job.

We have had enough of a hypocritical coalition government going easy on the corrupt and greedy City while all benefit claimants are demonised because a minority are shirkers.

We have had enough of a sick Tory society that puts the acquisition of wealth by the boss class before the care of pensioners and the sick.

We have had more than enough of bankers getting bailed out by our money and then continuing to pay themselves obscene bonuses as if the banking crisis had never happened.

We have had a sufficiency of watching company after company abandon pension schemes without so much as a by-your-leave, leaving many millions without proper pension provision. That alone should be reason for a national strike.

As an SNP man, I’m glad the strike leaders chose St Andrew’s Day to come out, because November 30, 2011, may go down in history as the day the British people started to fight back against the elective dictatorship of the unthinking, unfeeling, posh public school elite. For this action will focus attention on a whole range of issues other than pensions – and CamClegg and Co will be found wanting.

Our economy remains in ruins thanks to voodoo economics calculated on the back of an Eton fag’s packet. Our defence forces are being seriously compromised, and the NHS in England is being secretly privatised – the UK Titanic is even now crunching the iceberg.

For a myriad of reasons we have had enough of this coalition government which is only in power because the LieDemons sold their birthright for a mess of pottage, or at least a few Cabinet seats.

I say good on the public sector strikers for taking action, and I suspect I am not alone in welcoming the fact that their strike is embarrassing CamClegg. “We’re all right,” they’ve been telling President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel, then along comes the biggest strike in decades to prove that, actually, Britain is far from alright.

For tomorrow’s strike is a demonstration of the extent of the deep unease felt by many if not most British people right now. People are heartsick already of the coalition and are seriously worried that their “them and us” society will fracture completely under their misguided rule.

When the riots happened in England earlier this year, I half-expected them to be much worse, with every town wreathed in smoke. I really thought whole areas would burn for weeks as ordinary people joined the disaffected youth in their inarticulate expression of rage at the system. But I forgot that the average English person is fundamentally decent and law-abiding, and that’s the only reason why the riots remained largely a localised inner-city phenomenon. The unease is still there, however, and won’t go away.

It’s middle England that CamClegg is hoping will turn against the strikers tomorrow, yet I detect no great groundswell of opinion against the strike, apart from the usual guff spouted by the editorials of certain newspapers – themselves now thoroughly discredited (and trust me, the Leveson Inquiry is only just starting to unravel the criminality and deceit practised by certain English tabloids).

There will be many people in the private sector who have swallowed the government line that these nasty public servants are hurting them. I say to those who vilify the strikers: what are you doing? What are you doing to protest against the lack of pensions and a crime against workers like yourselves, for this government is acting like criminals in breaking the word given by all previous governments that public service pensions would be honoured.

As a former local government worker, I can assure you that you got no choice about signing up to the pension scheme. You coughed up a percentage of your earnings each month, and in return you were promised a pension that was at least adequate.

It was part of what I call the public service covenant. I know of no police officer, teacher, health worker, civil servant or local government worker who took on their job for the vast money they were going to earn, because until recently, when councils started paying outrageous sums to nonentities with dreamed-up job titles, there were no massive salaries in the public sector.

For the vast majority of public servants, that is still the case. The unwritten covenant is that you serve the public in return for job security and the promise of a pension when you retire.

Along comes this toxic government and says no, we can’t afford it so we’re not going to honour the pensions we offered. How utterly outrageous is that? Imagine we all said “we can’t afford our council tax this year so we’ll just hang on to the money” – in essence that’s what this government is proposing.

The government is wrong, the strikers are right. It’s time to start the fightback.