As ASLEF yesterday announced yet another round of strikes, all the while Britain’s railways continue to crumble, their union boss has met the same fate on the broadcast round. Mick Whelan appeared on the Today programme and was left fumbling when pressed on the reality of train driver pay. Nick Robinson pointed out that drivers had gained a 17% pay rise, in real terms, over the past decade. The national average is 1%.
Robbo’s charge that “you’ve been doing very well, Mr Whelan, haven’t you?” was met by a period of confused mumbling as the rail baron scrambled for a response. If Nick thought his drivers were doing well, wait until he finds out what Mick earns…
This all comes as new polling conducted for the New Statesman found support for strikes is strongly correlated with earnings. A strong majority, 52%, Oppose those earning over £50,000 going out on strike, with just 17% supporting them. The New Statesman conveniently includes a low estimate for train driver’s starting salaries in their article, of £24,000, this doesn’t account for their rapid rise upon qualification. Even the Guardian is happy to admit they do average over £50,000…
This morning the National Education Union is levelling for a slice of the strike pie – currently all the rage with their fellow public sector comrades. Ahead of a meeting between her and the Education Secretary today, Joint General Secretary of the NEU Mary Bousted popped up on the Today Programme to argue “Children are being harmed every day by the crisis of the workforce shortages in our schools”. When challenged about potential strike action, Bousted told listeners that harming children’s access to education because of strikes is the “last thing we want to do”. A seemingly new-found view within the NEU…
In the dying days of the pandemic – October 2021 – the union was still calling for the reintroduction of school bubbles and other practices that would restrict children’s access to the classroom, a time well after the final peak of the virus when deaths were down to 120 a day. A Bousted flush of a policy…
Two months later in December 2021, the NEU called for a ‘plan B’ for schools, which would have forced those with Covid contacts to isolate:
“Children who have a sibling or other household member with covid-19 should not attend school/college until they have had a negative PCR test – as in Scotland – in addition to the Government guidance of 10-day isolation on close contacts of confirmed or suspected Omicron cases.”
“Government to issue guidance to all schools and colleges on safe organisation of gatherings and meetings, including options for social distancing or virtual events, based on factors including local case rates, outbreaks in the school/college itself, quality of ventilation and space available.”
In January 2022, Bousted argued “The danger is we lift restrictions too quickly before the effects of returning to school are clear”. In other words, just this time last year the NEU’s attitude was to favour as many restrictions as possible on kids’ access to the classroom – far from such policies being “the last thing we want to do”. Forgive Guido for not buying the current line…
Mick Grynch has just given a train wreck of an interview on the Today Programme. As the country grinds to a halt thanks to the RMT’s rail strikes, the union’s ringleader hit the airwaves to explain himself, clearly expecting a slap on the back and a handshake.
Instead, when asked the most basic questions about declining support for the strikes and the average loss to members for picketing, Lynch threw his toys out the pram.
Asked how much it’s costing a union member to strike in terms of lost pay, Lynch fumed:
“…[You’re] pursuing an editorial line I’d read in the Sun or the Daily Mail or the Telegraph […] I find this a shocking stance that the BBC will take. You are just parroting the most right wing stuff you can get hold of on behalf of the establishment.”
To which host Mishal Husain gently replied: “They’re just questions“. This is the same Mick Lynch who sneered at GB News for not being “a proper outlet”. If even the BBC are too right-wing him now, who’s left? Novara?
Keir Starmer on the Today Programme this morning was asked if rejoining the single market would boost economic growth. He said:
“No, at this stage I don’t think it would. And there’s no case for going back to the EU or going back into the single market. I do think there’s a case for a better Brexit… Do I think […] that going back into years of wrangling, years of uncertainty? No I don’t…”
He also once again dismissed the idea of letting Corbyn stand as a Labour candidate at the next election. Looks like Sir Keir has chosen war with the Twitterati first thing on a Monday…
The markets may be relatively calm but Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Budget has fired up a media storm – Carnage, From Bad To Worse, Tories Soak the Strivers, Years of Pain, the Lost Decade are some of today’s headlines.
On the Today Programme this morning however, there in the vanguard of liberal opinion, Jeremy Hunt got a relatively easy ride from Mishal Husain.
The interviewer’s despondent framing of the situation began:
Another 500,000 people will be unemployed according to the official budget forecaster. At a time when anger over restraint in public sector pay is already feeding through into strikes, people are about to feel poorer and the country as a whole will feel poorer as the economy shrinks over the next year. Is the Chancellor’s plan – which he says will make the recession shallower – the answer?
And then, a characteristic kicker:
Do you accept that what you have done amounts to a raid on millions of working people?
Hunt, in his reasonable Radio 4 way, eased past that with his bit on inflation and the recovery after the recession ends and so Mishal Husain turned to “the vast swathe of middle-income Britain that will feel more squeezed now.”
The BBC has been working hard to maintain its record of failing to meet transparency standards. On this morning’s Today programme, the BBC invited CEO Dale Vince to discuss the Autumn Statement, introducing him simply as “The founder of the green energy provider Ecotricity”. Dale criticised the government before advocating for “100% green energy”. Nothing to do with his career interest in the renewable sector…
Dale is not just an eco-exec. He’s also a devout Corbynite. Dale has been pictured with Jezza and has described him as “inspirational”, “genuine” and “so real”. He’s also had some choice words for Boris, saying “up yours” to the “dodgy guy”. Of course, he has a right to a platform on the BBC, but he needs to be introduced properly so people are aware of his prior commitments.
To be fair to Dale, he’s transparent about his own affiliations, freely admitting to being a Labour donor. Shame the BBC can’t match his openness…