Time warp?

Time warp? Image: Shutterstock.com/DaveColman

AMID a cost of living crisis, tensions with Russia and the threat of blackouts, the UK’s metaphorical return to the 1970s is now complete with the prospect of a Christmas of strikes.

Yes, between rail, air, and hospital workers striking, it looks like we’re well and truly back in 1978.

And if that’s true, will the same Thatcherite response that (whether you agree with her methods or not) battled the strikes of the late 70s and early 80s work for Rishi Sunak this time?

And what really are the options for a strike-free Christmas this year?

 

  1. Pay everyone more

Mmm, bit of a problem here.  While few but the most hardened would agree that paramedics and nurses should be significantly better paid, the looming recession combined with major public debt makes this one unlikely.  Plus, the government would have a job persuading anyone to agree that train drivers should get any more money (not necessarily because they don’t like train drivers, just because everyone hates train delays.)

 

  1. Change the laws around industrial action

Certainly very Thatcher-y but unlikely to be popular, especially in those former red wall seats the prime minister will now be trying so very hard to hold on to.  The red tape here will also be a sticking point.

 

  1. Deploy a national smear campaign painting the strikers as a bunch of irresponsible Christmas-ruiners

The cheapest, and frankly quickest, route, although possibly not the most ethical. On the plus side for Rishi, given how most people feel at the prospect of a train and plane-free Christmas social media is already doing most of the work here.

 

  1. The sensible option

Sit down together and actually work something out.  Given that Rishi Sunak has so far seemed to try to avoid the heavy-handed rhetoric of his short-lived predecessor, opting instead for more measured debate, this could be the way to go.

 

It certainly might save Christmas.

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Written by

Sally Underwood

Sally Underwood is a former aide to several former cabinet members and now contributes her views on Parliament’s ever-changing shape in her column for the Euro Weekly News.

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