Sunak’s plan to introduce a new law to force strike-prone industries, such as the railways, the NHS, and the postal service, to supply minimum levels of service during strikes, or be forced to sack workers, is a classic divide-and-conquer tactic.
“Divide et impera” said Philip II, King of ancient Macedon, referring to his successful military strategy. It means ‘divide and conquer’ – i.e. to make a group of people disagree and fight with one another so that they will not unite and fight back as one. The same strategy was later utilised by, amongst others, Roman ruler Julius Caesar, and French emperor, Napoleon. Now, over 2,300 years later, our glorious leader, ‘dishy’ Rishi Sunak is trying the same trick.
The idea is to turn working-class people hampered by the inconveniences of strikes against those carrying them out, thus deflecting criticism and blame for low pay and poor conditions away from the government.
Making a mocha-ry of workers’ rights
Right-wing press complicity in this strategy can already be seen taking hold. Take, for example, the alleged plight of a poor coffee shop owner, whose story was reported in the mainstream press last week. Let’s call him ‘Coffee-shop Bob’.
Coffee-shop Bob explained how his shop, which was established shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic of early 2020, and which location is a mystery – presumably it’s on a train station platform somewhere in the UK – let’s call it ‘Trumpton station’, is in jeopardy – because of the train strikes.
Trumpton Coffee Shop has been closed for four weeks now, says Bob. He complains that (paraphrasing) “Its had a massive effect on the business which is now at risk. I’m working class so I don’t have ‘loadsamoney’ lying around, and so far, the strikes have cost us over forty grand… mate.” He goes on (clearly exaggerating his plight, his working-class credentials, and his circle of friends) “We know all the other businesses around here, and they all say that if the strikes continue, they’ll have to close too.” As if. He doesn’t say precisely which businesses he has been talking to but it clearly isn’t the local funeral director, Tesco local, Kwik Fit, or the many other businesses around Trumpton which will no doubt survive the impact of a few train strikes.
Here’s the best bit of Sunak’s plan
When asked how he felt about striking workers, he
replied (paraphrasing) “We support their right to strike.” Really? I feel a ‘but’ coming on… “But we (who is this ‘we’?) just want those who ballot to think about us.” Lol. Think about us? And who is this ‘us’ that coffee shop Bob wants strikers to think about before voting to strike?
“the small businesses that are suffering a financial loss”
So summing up – coffee shop Bob’s position is that before low-paid, harshly-treated workers vote to strike, they should consider and put his and his imaginary mates’ financial situations first. Even, before their own. Because in his opinion, it’s ok for them to go on strike, as long as it doesn’t affect him. FFS. With working-class people this thick, no wonder Sunak thinks he can get away with it.
Leader of the opposition, Sir Keir ‘but‘ Starmer, who was sitting rather uncomfortably atop a nearby fence when we spoke to him said, ”We’ll look at what they bring forward, but if it’s further restrictions, then we will repeal it.”