Strikes: monsters that are almost extinct

Flipchart Rick shows here that the Tories are trying to whip up a panic about a non-existent threat. Of course, by urging further action against the unions, Tebbit is deliberately trying to whip up the same scares that partly propelled Thatcher to power: industrial militancy, the ‘Winter of Discontent’, Arthur Scargill and the Miner’s Strike, and all the other bogeymen of the trade unions the Tories trot out. Tebbit weirdly sees himself as standing up for the underdog against the big boys and bullies. You could make out the case that he needs the spectre of militant trade unionism as much for his own self-image as for those of his party. Without the threat of the power of the unions, the Tories look very much like bullies themselves, picking on the poor, the weak, the helpless.
Which is exactly what they, and what they’ve always been. And it’s why the unions were formed in the first place.

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

After he wisely cautioned the government against further trade union legislation a few years ago, Norman Tebbit changed his tune in the Telegraph earlier this week. In a piece which summoned up the ghost of militancy past, he backed proposed new laws on strike ballots and warned of “irresponsible minorities of trades unionists in the public services engaged in blackmailing their employers into pay rises or other concessions”.

I’ve discussed the legal aspects of strike ballots at length on here. Whether or not they are irresponsible, a minority of union militants can’t force a majority to take industrial action. Lord Tebbit knows this because he was a member of the governments that put a stop to the closed shop, mass picketing and the disciplining of union members for refusing to strike.

A lot has changed since the 1980s. As luck would have it, the ONS released the latest data on labour disputes…

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