Every now and again, the British tabloid press manages to excel itself with a story so bonkers, so artificial, and contrived it threatens to put the Daily Mash writing team out of business. Previous winners of this award go to “Radioactive Paedo on the run”, followed by “Asylum Seekers eat royal swans” and finally “Grand Theft Auto Rothbury”, the (nonexistent) video game about Raoul Moat’s massacre in the midlands.
Recently SSY has noticed another candidate for this award – a story circulating the press that the trade union ASLEF is planning a strike on the day of the royal wedding, jeopardising the newlywed’s celebration. Even though it’s unlikely Kate and Prince William will be getting the tube on their special day, this story has managed to tick several boxes for Daily Mail readers – Trade Unions = evil, Royal Family = national treasures.
London’s Mayor Boris Johnson called for members of the public to bombard the union wi messages asking them to cancel their strike on the big day. New Labour leader “Red” Ed Miliband said he was “appalled” at the thought of a wedding day strike – so much for his “trade union paymasters”.
The reality behind the cleverly orchestrated anti-trade union and royalist spin was that ASLEF’s executive hadn’t even discussed the possibility of striking on the Royal Wedding. Given that the Wedding day is a national holiday it makes little sense for drivers to strike – there’s a lot less disruption than if they struck on a working day.
The smears that were directed against ASLEF were made for three reasons – the first was to divert public anger from the Tories capitulation to the bankers on the issue of their outrageous bonuses. Boris Johnson and David Cameron wrote in the Sun about how unions were holding the country to ransom – aren’t they getting unions confused with bankers?
The second reason was to justify a tightening of the UK’s already restrictive trade union laws. Thatcherite laws have made the UK the hardest place in the EU to be a trade unionist, but the CBI and the Tories think it’s not hard enough. They want to make strikes illegal unless over 50% of union members take part in the vote and vote to strike.
As it stands now, for a strike to be legal all it needs is a majority of members who vote – so you can have strikes where only 50% of the unions members vote, and of that 50% a majority are in favour of strike action. The bottom line is that when a trade union calls a strike it does so based on whether or not it thinks it will have enough support among the membership – if very few members take part in a ballot it’s not a good omen for a strike, but ultimately it should be up to the union if it wants to call a strike even if it’s members don’t seem enthusiastic about it.
If the Tories introduced the principle that a majority of the electorate have to vote in Westminster elections for MP’s to be considered legitimate there would be almost no MP’s elected. It’s the same con as the first devolution referendum in 1979 – a majority of those who voted did so in favour of setting up a Scottish Parliament, but their vote was ignored because the turnout wasn’t high enough.
The third reason the strikes have been slandered is one that there’s not been as much coverage of in the press – it’s because of the sickening idea that the Royals are somehow better than us, and everyone in the UK should join in celebration at how fantastic their lifestyle is, as if they’re some kind of impartial national ambassadors who only want what’s best for us.
When one guy wrote to his MP making the legitimate point about how much these benefit junkies are taking from the taxpayer for his wedding, his MP told him to “get a life” – when it comes to the Royals MP’s clearly just throw their artificial, sterile, pre-packaged nicey nicey responses out the window and just hit back wi rudeness and spite. Maybe it’s because the Royals themselves are basically MP’s on a massive scale – unaccountable wi an expenses cheque and second (and third and fourth) homes dotted all over the country.
expect lots more Royal tat like this
And like MP’s, the Royals are very reluctant to let the plebs see what they get up to – they’ve been granted special exemption from the freedom of information act, so we know even less about what they do wi our money. The Independent covered some of the things they didn’t want us to know,
*In 2004 the Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a public relations disaster. Royal aides were told that the £60m worth of energy-saving grants were aimed at families on low incomes and if the money was given to Buckingham Palace instead of housing associations or hospitals it could lead to “adverse publicity” for the Queen and the government.
*A “financial memorandum” formalising the relationship between the sovereign and ministers set out tough terms on how the Queen can spend the £38.2m handed over by Parliament each year to pay for her staff and occupied palaces.
*The Queen requested more public money to pay for the upkeep of her crumbling palaces while allowing minor royals and courtiers to live in rent-free accommodation.
*As early as 2004 Sir Alan Reid, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, had unsuccessfully put the case to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for a substantial increase in the £15m-a-year grant to maintain royal buildings.
*The Palace planned to go ahead with refurbishing and renting the apartment of Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace after it had lain empty since her death in 1997.
*A letter exchange revealed a tussle over who has control of £2.5m gained from the sale of Kensington Palace land. Ministers said it belonged to the state, while Buckingham Palace said it belonged to the Queen.
Whilst the rest of society is facing cuts, there’s no such demand placed on the monarchy – while they will face a cut in civil list payments for their upkeep, in return they will be funded from the Crown Estate, which is worth £6 billion. This will make Prince Charles the richest King in the history of the UK when he takes on the job.
The Royal Family are a bunch of overpaid parasites who only exist because their Crown Powers make it very handy for various British Governments to bypass parliament. Enough parts of society are tailored for their own private interests – ie Freedom of Information exemptions and the handover of the Crown Estates. Even though the story was a sham, trade unions shouldn’t be bullied or made to feel ashamed for discussing strike action on the Royal Wedding – we aren’t all in it together with the Tory Cabinet and we’re certainly not all in it together with the monarchy.