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Clarkson

Yesterday’s strike – a message that mattered?

We’ve just had the biggest public strike in Britain in years. I was expecting some intelligent debate about it in the media but no, what everyone wants to talk about are the comments from that reliable rent-a-gob, Jeremy Clarkson.

Jeremy, to anyone who doesn’t yet know, suggested that all strikers should be shot in front of their own families. It was an opinion made in jest, spur of the moment and very typical Clarkson, tongue in cheek, but has provided plenty of fodder for the tabloid press and radio phone-ins today.

I’ve run many a discussion show over the years and am fully aware that it is important to book someone who you are secretly hoping will be terribly opinionated and indiscreet. There is indeed a certain cynicism that creeps in when you’ve been doing the job for a while where it is tempting to deliver the most entertaining speaker to the audience rather than the argument. Jeremy is a dream guest in that respect and I’m sure part of the reason that he was booked on The One Show last night was because they knew he would say something outrageous about the strike.

Having the words come from the mouth of someone earning a telephone number salary just adds to the controversy.

If public sector workers have a good argument to make, it’s about time they made it clear. The Mail was definitely out to discredit public sector workers as it sent journalists and photographers to shopping malls yesterday to interview strikers. Bad publicity all round but few would be concerned about how they spent their time on strike if it seemed like there was a good case.

It seems to me that public sector workers are becoming demonised for daring to strike.

There is real anger about the cutbacks we are all facing but I’m not sure many people want to live in a divided society of them and us. Those of us in the private sector have struggled with employment and pay rates since 2008 and have learnt that we need to be more adaptable. While we are arguing about public sector versus private sector pay, nothing has changed at the top of society. There is still a huge disparity between the income of the super-rich and the rest of us. The banking crisis hasn’t changed this.

Unless public sector workers present a better case for their industrial action, the politics of envy will take over and the government won’t have any ‘wiggle room’ to offer a compromise.

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