Unions will unleash bitter class war in their alliance with the bourgeoisie

Fierce social divides are emerging between the ‘winners’ of lockdown and those who are losing out

The season of good will is definitely over. Now that the monolithic shutdown is being replaced一本道理不卡一二三区 in an experimental, higgledy-piggledy way, there is plenty of scope for contentious division, particularly when the problem is one to which nobody can have definitive answers.

一本道理不卡一二三区And division is what makes it possible for opposition forces - both official and unofficial - to get back into the game. Which is fine: free societies need open disagreement. Enforced unanimity is for totalitarian governments, not democracies. So what war correspondents would call “the uneasy truce” is breaking down.

The regions and the unions and the political lobbies are making it clear that they are distinguishable entities with their own constituencies. If their interests collide with government judgement, all the better - which is to say, all the more newsworthy.

The population at large seems rather bemused but is inclined to tolerate these confrontational forays so long as they present themselves as driven by concern for Public Safety which is becoming a pretty tortuous concept. If you have a morbid sense of humour, you might have been amused by the teaching unions trying to explain why they wanted classrooms closed indefinitely when that is so clearly exacerbating the problems of just those disadvantaged pupils who - in another political context - would be their special concern. It is all very confusing, as everybody keeps saying. But the government doesn’t appear any more incoherent than its critics.  

One of the more bizarre outcomes of this historic episode is that a whole platoon of left-wing union leaders are resisting any relaxation of the lockdown and thus putting themselves on the side of the privileged classes: the educated parents who can provide their children with a home life that makes formal schooling less essential一本道理不卡一二三区, the professionals who can comfortably carry on their careers from home, the technologically equipped and competent whose work and social contacts continue quite seamlessly.

The latest figures show that 44 percent of the population is now working from home. Most of those are getting at least 80 per cent of their usual earnings but with far fewer outgoings. These people are having a “good lockdown” in the way that some fortunate members of a previous generation were said to have had a “good war”. The big difference is that the lucky ones this time have a great deal in common: they are almost entirely middle class, have higher education qualifications, and are in professional jobs which can be adapted to suit these changed circumstances.

What we are seeing is not so much a new class system as a revival of the old one, just when we thought we had arrived at the end of it: over the last decade or two, skilled tradesmen have been earning as much as young professionals (much better to be a plumber than a graduate nurse), and many of the old social divides have been breached by popular culture and improved state education.

Well, forget about that for the foreseeable future. The people who work with their hands or whose physical presence is required to do the job, are losing out big time. Not only are their livelihoods taking a disastrous hit for the duration of the present emergency, but they are getting into the sort of longer term financial difficulty from which they might never recover - especially as their productive lives are likely to be less flexible than those of university graduates who can adapt to new occupational paths without much difficulty.

Obviously, the trade unions and Leftwing activists were going to find grounds for attacking whatever the (Tory) government decided to do next but how on earth did they get here? How absurd that they should now be embracing a position which is so deeply detrimental to the very people they were committed to defend.

一本道理不卡一二三区The great mass of the industrial proletariat may have faded into the mists of history but there are plenty of the less fortunate who need to be spoken for: the children who desperately need schooling to give them half a chance in life (as the heads of academy schools angrily pointed out last week), and the adults who need to go back to work if their jobs are to survive. (Just a thought: perhaps this new union orientation is all part of the Islington-isation of the Left.)

There may be an ironic retribution coming, of course. Some of those middle class parents who are now so complacent about their own and their children’s futures that they want the lockdown to be preserved until all semblance of risk is abolished, might discover that they are, in fact, unemployed when the government subsidy of their income is finally withdrawn.

一本道理不卡一二三区But even as the news narrative changes and the risk of irreparable damage to the economy is taken seriously, this strange political alliance remains: militant unions which once spoke for what was known back in the day as “the organised working class” are now obstructing the return of working class jobs and defending the interests of people they would once have dismissed as “bourgeois liberals”.

Mind you, there is some evidence that this new orthodoxy is confusing even to its own followers. I saw a spokesman for one of these left-wing lobbying outfits tie herself in knots in a broadcast interview last week: she insisted that all their opinion-testing showed that people were still too frightened to go back to work and, she added, that was understandable when you saw all the thousands of people crowded onto rush hour trains last week. Wait a minute…

一本道理不卡一二三区The language of the Left was once - if you can remember that far back - about class war. More recently, it was about social justice or “fairness”. For a generation we have argued about whether there should be equality of opportunity (as the free market Right believed) or equality of outcome (advocated by the Left). Almost nobody with a modern social conscience would have supported moves that blatantly favoured people who already had huge advantages over those who had none. This is new territory. I hesitate to think where it is going to end.

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