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Strike a light

The following point may seem obvious, and my apologies to you in advance if it is, but it did wake me this morning, at around 5am. Which is unusual for me, because at that time in the morning, before my first cup of tea, I normally have the mental capacity and memory attention span of a small flea. A particularly unintelligent flea. A flea, perhaps, in desperate need of a government initiative.

It’s because of all these strikes we’ve been having recently, within the foaming shores of these sceptred isles. We had a paralysing Firemen’s strike, in which 17,000 soldiers, with 50-year-old equipment, unflappably replaced 55,000 strikers. We’ve just had a catastrophic government Civil Service strike, in which I was unable to claim state benefits for almost two whole days. And we’re currently enduring a calamitous state-owned University strike, where a bearded lecturer called Kevin, at the Friedrich Engels College in Newhaven, is refusing to deliver his annual keynote lecture on the philosophy of Schopenhauer. It’s been hell, it really has.

In some ways you could imagine that British industrial relations are heading down the same pan they headed down in the late 1970s. But wait! None of these strikes are actually industrial. In fact I cannot remember, for the life of me, the last serious strike which occurred, at all, in the industrious wealth producing private sector. There may have been the odd Spanish practices walkout in previously nationalised industries, such as British Telecom or British Airways, but a question formed in my mind, this morning, when by all that is great and good in the world it should have been dreaming about Penelope Cruz instead.

Have British strikes, to all serious intents and purposes, become an exclusively public sector phenomenon?

Are British strikes the last refuge of incompetent non-tax-paying public sector ‘key workers’, who wish to hold Britain’s wealth-creating taxpayers to ransom via the coercive hand of their idiot socialist friends in government? And is the public sector exclusivity of these strikes yet another testament to the enduring genius of our very own Joan of Arc, political saviour, and English heroine, Margaret Hilda, the Baroness Thatcher?

Your country is plagued by strikes and you want rid of them. Solution? Get rid of the public sector. Job done. Problem solved. Another instrumental Thatcherite lesson for politicians everywhere.

Baroness Thatcher. We truly are not worthy.

14 comments to Strike a light

  • Rob Read

    Please don’t use the term Public-Sector it’s not accurate, use the term coercion-funded instead.

    Maybe we have to work so hard in the private sector we can’t contemplate the risk of damaging our employer and thus our salary? Whereas our coercively funded “friends” (the pacifists with guns) tend to only do damage so the more they strike the less damage they can perform?

  • Andy Duncan

    Hi Rob,

    It appears as a Hoppe disciple, I’ve been out-Hoppe’d! 🙂


  • Alan Peakall

    IIRC, Nigel Lawson also expressed distaste for the term ‘Public Sector’ – on the grounds that it is the sector of the economy on which the State erects signs saying ”Private. Keep out.”.

  • Dan McWiggins


    You’re right. You Brits aren’t worthy. Mrs. Thatcher was the best thing that had happened to you folks since the end of WWII. She, damn near singlehandedly, brought you back from the edge of the abyss. I was in the UK in 84 during that classic showdown between her and Scargill. She showed the kind of guts that won Britain an Empire and made it once a major world power. If it wasn’t for her I suspect that on this side of the pond we’d have completely given up on you lot.

    Things in the UK now look too damned much like they were in the 60’s and 70’s–political pygmies running a nation sleepwalking its way into oblivion. If you folks don’t find someone who can apply the same kind of 440v cattle prod to your buttocks that Thatcher did, this time you’ll get there, via the EU.

    It’s a sad thing to look at Britain and think it’s best days are behind it.

  • Lorenzo

    Anybody who thinks the UK has gotten as bad as it was in the ’70 clearly was not there… Ok, I was’t there either but rest assured Maggie’s work has not all been undone. There are litterally hundreds of thousands of (non-striking for the most part) people working for formerly nationalised industries, tens of thousands of homowners that bought their coucil estates homes, the tax rate is still low by European standards and nowhere near 70’s levels. And so one could continue for quite a while but at least one more is called, the unions are just shaddows of their former selves for which we should all be eternally grateful the Baroness Thatcher.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I think the term “Government-sector” would be better than “public sector”. By extension, there are lots of cases where one can accurately replace the word “Public” with “Government”:

    Government schools

    Government health

    Government property


  • Rob Read

    Ted we could then replace the word Government with the word Poor.

    Poor schools

    Poor Health

    Poor Property.

    The frightening thing is they would all be accurate but people think the way to fix the “poor” bit is to have MORE government!


  • If one wishes to satirise the shortcomings of British university education, I am sure that there are better examples than the philosophy of Schopenhauer.

    Whilst Schopenhauer is a gloomy idealist and a miserable git, his philosophy is nevertheless illuminating, and therefore worthy of study in any non governmental institution. Schopenhauer is not a good example for demonstrating the tendency of public sector academics to overintellectualise all forms of human activity with inconsistent jargon modelled on what they perceive to be the language of reason, natural science. Better examples would include any of the works of Terry Eagleton or some of the more obscure contributions prefixed as “studies”.

  • Mark

    It seems to me that in the US, as is the case evidently in the UK, the only strike that affects anyone except for the strikers anymore are public (ie government-run for you shandy-drinking types) school teachers’ strikes. Coincidently, our standard of living is higher than ever? Will the Frogs ever see the light?

  • Cydonia


    “the tax rate is still low by European standards and nowhere near 70’s levels”

    True of higher rate income tax, but not true of the tax rate as a whole. As a percentage of GNP, taxes in the U.K. during the 1970’s were actually lower than they are now (source: http://www.taxfreedomday.co.uk/technical-appendix.htm)

    2. Phillip, surely the best example would be the structuralists such as Lacan, who were so memorably eviscerated by Sokal and Bricmont in their wonderous book “Intellectual Imposters”.


  • Cydonia,

    I believe the structuralists as the heirs of Levi-Strauss would fit the jargonistas .


  • Wasn’t there that petrol-drivers thing back in, what, 2000? When they weren’t delivering the goods and were making a mess of the motorways?

  • Andy Duncan

    Jackalope writes:

    Wasn’t there that petrol-drivers thing back in, what, 2000? When they weren’t delivering the goods and were making a mess of the motorways?

    There are some links here to that.

    It wasn’t so much of a strike, more a tax revolt, which many people in the UK cheered on, until their petrol-guage needles started heading towards empty.

    Most of the people involved were self-employed lorry drivers, and a few self-employed farmers, who blockaded various petrol/gasoline oil processing depots with their wagons to stop petroleum company employees driving their tankers out, in protest at the 85% tax the government steals, on diesel and petroleum fuel supplies.

    So not really a ‘strike’, in the Marxist sense of oppressed industrial proletarians revolting against their evil top-hatted capitalist slave-masters. More of a peasants’ revolt directed straight at the heart of government.

    There’s an interesting PDF article by Stephen Berry of the Libertarian Alliance, on this, you may wish to read:

    The Peasants’ Revolt – Year 200

    I think we’re going to see quite a few more such tax revolts, in Britain and Europe, before we finally see the back of social democracy.

  • Jonathan L

    Your country is plagued by strikes and you want rid of them. Solution? Get rid of the public sector. Job done. Problem solved. Another instrumental Thatcherite lesson for politicians everywhere.

    Isn’t it a shame that this simple yet effective approach is not more generally understood.

    Without Maggie, we would have gone belly up.