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Jerry Hayes

How Malcolm Tucker might have dealt with milk snatching & why Cameron won’t want to always be the man from Del Monte.

August 8th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Imagine the scene at another time with another government. Malcolm Tucker is sitting at home having a leisurely breakfast whilst drawing up lists of ministers he is going to maim and torture. The phone rings. “The fucking bitch has done what? Get her now!” Another phone rings. “Anne do you know where your boss is? No. Well, I’ll tell you. He was meant to be having time at home with his beautiful daughters, instead he’s having his balls beaten with a rusty hammer with the Chief  whip pulverising his prostate. Why? Because some mad cock minister has put forward some fucking fuckwit proposal to steal milk from young kids. Do you know what that makes our Prime Minister look like?  Margaret fucking, milk snatching, fucking, Thatcher.  Have you ever stood in a wind tunnel up to your knees in dogshite with pig’s piss raining from the sky? No?  Well, unless you kill this mindless bollocks you will be praying for it. Don’t know what to say? You’re a bloody woman. Say you’ve got your period or PMT, or what ever it is that makes you go mad and kill your fucking husbands”. He slams the phone down and rings another. “Jamie, who’ve we got on Marr?  Jesus! Fucking two brains baldy, dissembling, Willetts!  Tell him to kill this shite. Yes .Kill! kill! Kill!  What do you mean there’s no fucking phone signal?  Those evil, shitty, fucking bastards at the BBC!  Get me that twat at Culture, I’m in the mood for a shout.”

Of course, it would have been nothing like this in the Cameron government. A panicky call from a press officer and a languid thumbs down from the PM before Simon Hughes could rush to a microphone. Then back to the kedgeree.  But eyebrows must be being raised as to why nobody at the DOH seemed to notice that this could have been a defining moment for the government, what ever Labour supporter has been praying for; a sobriquet smashing though the windows of Downing Street,  ”Cameron Son of Thatcher”. Back to the eighties. But it wouldn’t be firing up the Quattro, it would have been stoking the flames of political hell. Yet, with a  speed and ruthlessness that would have made an African dictator blanche,  the prospective policy was aborted; slaughtered before it was even born.

Andrew Lansley is a shrewd operator. Simon Burns, a former Whip,  is no fool. Even poor, gaminesque,  Anne Milton is a former nurse and member of the Health Committee. Why didn’t any of them see that this was a disaster waiting to happen?  And shed a tear for little Andy Burnham who lost his big moment to shine. He’ll claw something out of it, but it won’t be much. He will look even more hang dog and dejected. You almost expect him to whimper, “if you don’t vote for me it will like strangling the Andrex Puppy”.

But there is a very serious lesson to be learned here. Lansley and his team have such a massive job at DOH,  there is a danger of  them not seeing the wood from the trees. They need to be left to get on with the job of the largest reorganization of the NHS since it was created. There are going to other “milk snatcher” timebombs. What they need is an experienced hand to filter through, or at least think through the implications, of each proposal. That’s not weakness, just practical politics. The reform of the NHS could be a shining monument to the Coalition. It is important that it doesn’t become a cracked tombstone in a graveyard of expectations. David Cameron will not relish being the Man from Del Monte every time a Minister falls asleep at the wheel of a Red Box. But how appropriate that Britain’s best known gripe water is called Milton and the the Department of Health is known as DOH. How delightfully Homer Simpson.

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Who of the coalition is going to be brave enough to offer the hand of conciliation & consultation to the Unions? And who will be courageous enough to take it?

August 7th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

I have a horrible sinking feeling that the Coalition is going to do something really, really, stupid. A theme seems to be emerging from somewhere in the bowels of some manic right wing think tank, some nursery of adolescent pipsqeakery and foolishness, that the government is considering banning public sector workers from striking. The whistle is being blown, but so far the dogs are not responding. But it won’t be long before the hounds of hell from the Mail and the Sun will be let loose on the unions. They will be biting, scratching, slavering  and howling for the blood of Bob Crow and all those who want Britain dragged back to a Winter of Discontent. I can fully understand that the unions must fight for the jobs of its members. But strikes, disruption and chaos is a blunt and largely ineffective weapon. Did the action of UNITE do anything to assist cabin crew workers? Of course not. The public turned against them. Has Bob Crow’s interminable threats and disruption achieved anything of  substance for his members?  In his dreams. Will causing misery and mayhem save one single job when Osborne’s axe swings? Not a chance. That’s why it was so cheering to see Unison’s press release today, urging consultation over the tectonic changes that will soon engulf the NHS.  Radical change is inevitable in all areas of the public sector, but it has to be properly managed with sensible, candid, dialogue between management and Unions. There has to be something that has been so sadly lacking in Britain’s woeful history of mismanaging industrial relations; trust. Andrew Lansley would be very foolish indeed to spurn Unison’s perfectly reasonable request. But it won’t be easy.  This autumn could be an historic opportunity for government and unions to show to the public that they can thrash out  deals that are fair for both workers and right for the economy. But I fear that it may not work like that. The TUC conference will be stuck in the time warp of its past. Fight the Tory cuts it will shreik. Close down schools. Wreck the transport system. Smash the state. And all of this will play into the hands of those who want to finish the job that Thatcher started.

There is nothing new in a non strike agreements for public sector workers. But agreement it has to be. The Unions are going to have to be given something in return. Any thought of passing a law to impose it would be suicide for the Coalition. I’m not even sure that such a bill could pass through Parliament. And if it did?  Hefty fines? Imprisonment?  Bankrupting the Unions?  Only one thing would be certain, political martyrdom and the army called on to our streets to restore order. The politics of the asylum.

What Cameron has to do is adopt the approach of Jim Prior in the seventies. Oh, the right and the red tops will call him weak and bringing back the bad old days of  days of beer and sandwiches. Heffer and Hitchens will sneer from ivory towers that the vulgar business of solving industrial problems is not a matter for government. Well, with the public sector facing its biggest upheaval there has got to be cooperation. But do the Unions have the cojhones and common sense to seize the opportunity and embrace the challenge?  I hope so, as there are legions of public sector workers terrified at the prospect of being thrown onto the scrapheap, with a dull dread of how they will pay for Christmas.  And this is where Iain Duncan Smith could play a key role. The last few years has shown him to be a man of vision and understanding. He must shout the message which goes back to the days of Harold MacMillan, that government must be like a game of snakes and ladders. They must provide the ladders of opportunity and the nets to catch you in hard times. To pick you up, dust you down and put you back on that ladder of work and self esteem. So who is going to be brave enough from government to address the TUC Conference in September offering the hand of conciliation and consultation? And who is going to be courageous enough to face off accusations of Quisling and traitor and take it?   This will be the real test of whether this is the New Politics or just a reheated dogs dinner of the old, in shiny new bowl. Just don’t send in the Minister responsible for Industrial Relations. It’s Chris Grayling.

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