Monday, 7 May 2012

Boris and his simplistic numbskull followers

I shall return to the travails of Mr Clegg at some stage when my blood pressure has dropped.  Suffice it to say that the re-invention of the Coalition is about as good an idea as putting Michael Howard in charge of privatising the blood banks.

What gets me, more than anything else, at the moment, is the contemptible gullibility of the 51% of those who bothered to vote amongst the London electorate.  During the twelve months leading up to the re-election of the Bouffant Buffoon you would have to be both stupid and credulous not to work out that the media, particularly but not exclusively the oligarch's evening shit-sheet, had an agenda purely designed to put Johnson back into City Hall, by whatever means possible.  Labour didn't help themselves by both allowing Ken Livingstone to run again and then playing along with the Tory agenda, but the real fault lies with the uncritical coverage that Boris recived in the campaign.

Johnson's record in office has been risible - for the most part implementing policies that were initiated before his first election, and making grandiose pronouncements when he's not doing the myriad of other jobs that pay well and are undoubtedly worthy of scrutiny over the next four years.  The cronyism that allowed such imbecilic exemplars as Brian Coleman to flourish on the teat of municipal subsidy (sadly now diminished through the common sense of the electorate in Camden and Barnet), and the glib, half-arsed pronouncements on areas such as the Tube unions and an expensive folly of a bus should have been a warning sign that all is not well within the Tory cranium.

I seem to recollect that, four years ago, Johnson claimed that he would negotiate a no-strike deal on the Tube.  Since he and his lickspittle minions have not deigned to meet any of the union leaders, this is a promise with about as much credibility as an "Evening Standard" editorial.  The effectiveness of the policy will be reaped over the next few months.

Johnson is a fanatical Thatcherite whose bumbling exterior hides an extremely unpleasant, ambitious and ruthless arrogance.  So far, so Tory.  Yet his appeal clearly crossed party boundaries, playing the fool and making homely pronouncements about the state of the world is designed to appeal to the middle-class, self-lobotomised and generally paranoid.   So, for a little treat, I shall take you on a journey into a mindset where logic and altruism go out of the window.

The "Standard", as I have mentioned previously, regards anything to do with the Tube unions as an affront to its agenda.  So it's always alleged greed, and self-interest that gets the headlines, and then the below-the-line comments form knuckle-brained, semi-literate rightists whose world-view is as simplistic as their spelling mistakes.

This year, London is being forced to host the Olympic Games, and don't we know it.  In order to give the transport infrastructure the chance even to cope with the unwanted mass of victims of corporate hubris, staff will be expected to work harder, longer and much more flexibly.  Principally, surprisingly, this won't be train drivers, but the staff needed to assist, corral and navigate the herds of sport-obsessed ingenues who will be clogging the urban arteries.  With events possibly running three hours late, public transport will be required to run into the small hours and then start up again with minimal delay.

For this, the unions have expected both payment and incentive.  Since Boris decided to get rid of 800 posts on the Tube, being economically illiterate, before the Games even began, his pool of flexibility is reduced and therefore, through classic economic logic, union bargaining positions have been very strong indeed.  So for the flexibility, unpredictability and disruption to their lives, transport workers are getting bonuses, contingent upon changing their shifts, giving up holidays and not going sick for the duration of the public spectacles.  A trade union that achieves this is doing its job, and earns its members' subscriptions.

So the Boris apologists draw attention to the "phenomenal" salaries paid to Tube drivers, and promise "driverless trains".  Quite apart from being a side issue, I for one would not wish to be over a hundred feet below the streets of London without a fully-trained, competent staff member on board.  We hear paranoia about terrorism, but front-line Tube staff worked with a passion and a will on the day of 7th July 2005.  Without a driver, there is no immediate control over several hundred souls, careering along in several hundred tons of metal, and potentially victims of all sorts of catastrophe.  So Boris thinks he'll score a few points by promising to remove drivers.

Now, inductive reasoning and common sense would suggest that you will still need to have a member of staff on trains to reassure the punters, but they won't call them drivers - and the safety requirements for automation would probably cause the system to break down day-in-day-out.  Yet still the toadies bought his line, and his feeding the politics of envy and malice.  Knowing how hard it is both to be selected for training as a driver, and the high drop-out rates given the combination of skills required both to deal with the unusual and the monotony of the routine, this is the kind of cretinous dog-whistle.

Sadly for Boris, and his voters, Tube staff have the power to disrupt and demonstrate the impact that the absence of a public transport service has on a major city.  Sometimes they are too ready to use this, or their leaders pretend to be.  So we end up with small-minded idiots pressing their noses up against the window and sneering and objecting.  Sadly, the law of the economic jungle that they promote at all other times applies here.  If a group of workers can grab sensitive parts of your anatomy and squeeze they will, especially if you treat them with contempt and idiocy.

However, the remedy that Boris puts forward, and his hysterical myrmidon chorus repeats, is to smash the unions.  This is back to the feudal, petty-bourgeois myth that Thatcher peddled in the 1980s, and beloved of her children who are now in positions of power and influence.  Rather than asking why unionised workers are successful in defending their interests, the capitalist narrative suggests levelling-down is all that the proles deserve.  This is fed to the unwitting dupes through apologists in the media whose owners and senior managers have similar political and financial imperatives to the Johnson crony machine.

Sadly, most people would not miss strikes preventing the propaganda from the BBC or the "Evening Standard", whereas the absence of the Tube would cripple London for residents, commuters and businesses alike.  So to the people who whinge about Tube staff, and they are strongly correlated with Boris's supporters, their illogical complicity in being stuffed and pushed around is risible, and would be funny if their lame and selfish posturing had not lumbered the rest of London and the wider UK with four more years of a calculating, unpleasant confidence-trickster.

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