Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fear, loathing and collective panic

As the 'wildcat' strikes continue, here's a few links to make sense of what's going on.

Johann Hari's analysis in the Independent finds us nodding in agreement. Like we said on Sunday, it's not the bankers who are being pilloried, and nor are the "market fundamentalists", the tax avoiders or the greedy corporations. "No", says Hari, "It is a few immigrant workers, living in hostels. They are the only people who have seen a British protester outside their door in this depression."

Ministry of Truth confirms what everyone suspected. Don't trust the 'British Wildcats' website as it's a front for the BNP. Take a look and it'll dawn on you within seconds.

Unite clarify their position on the strikes, proposing a three-point plan which would include "an investigation into the practices of contractors and subcontactors in the engineering and construction industry".

A Very Public Sociologist argues that, in spite of the danger raised by chauvinistic slogans, "it is the job of socialists to intervene with our arguments", and resolve the strikes "in a positive directions".

Quite an uphill task. Because at the Daily Mail they're manipulating the dispute like there was no tomorrow. They know the foreign workers at Total are going to be shipped back at the end of their temporary contract, yet their headline reads "PAYING THE PRICE FOR DROPPING OUR GUARD ON IMMIGRATION". Hear, hear. Immigration. In the Daily Mail.

Back to reality, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian takes a swipe at the unions for not standing up for "the casualised and the contracted out" while "displacement of jobs and depression of wages has been happening all decade among the cleaners, carers, caterers and agency workers, many of them women". New Labour were no better, perpetrating the myth that "globalisation is good" - except, only for those at the top. "In the last few good years official figures show that 80% of earners saw very little real extra growth, with most winners in the top 10%", she writes.

George Galloway knows best of course. In his words, "despite attempts to confuse and misreport, the wildcat walkouts [are] about decent jobs, available to all". Have you seen any banners saying that though? Because so far it's been a load of "British this and British that". But if you have photographic evidence that what we're writing is bollocks, please do come forward.

In the meantime, fair play -for once- to London Mayor Boris Johnson for not trying to score cheap political points. In an article for the Telegraph, he asks: "How would we feel if some of the hundreds of superb British engineering consultancies were suddenly told that they were not welcome in China, or Italy?", adding: "what kind of British industry do the protectionists think would emerge? Some sort of crazy autarkic system in which we tried to substitute imports with home-made PlayStations and home-made shoes and brassieres once again produced in the cotton mills of Lancashire?"

David Aaronovitch in The Times dubs it "Fabricated fear and loathing in Lincolnshire", adding that the strikes were "based on half-truths and distasteful protectionism". Sue Carroll in the Mirror is an example. "Italian and Portuguese labour continues to be hired on the cheap.", she writes. It's false. They are being paid the same.

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