Thoughts of an Indecisive Man: Public Sector Strikes and the Gummerment

2 Dec

Matt Webb


If you were to ask me about my political leanings, I would probably make some non-committal noises and quickly start pointing out things in the surrounding area. “Isn’t that Michael Barrymore?” I’d ask while pointing to someone’s back 100 yards down the road.  “Look at that bird; I think it’s a kingfisher!”

My problem is that I am pretty much capable of simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing with everyone at all times. I believe that the country should be governed by someone that knows their business and is capable of doing the job to the benefit and satisfaction of the majority. In short, I’m a Liberal Democrat. I firmly believe that someone should be making some decisions, so long as it doesn’t have to be me (and when I do have to make decisions, the consequences can be dire.)


This makes me feel rather awkward when I see people getting up in arms about things like the recent public sector protests. Lots of people have been very angry about it, one way or the other. I work for a private sector company, but my office building is shared with a London Borough Council, so on Wednesday morning I had to battle my way through a horde of between 20 and 30 middle class, middle aged ladies handing out leaflets. What hellish creatures they were. Just by looking at them I could tell that they wanted to turn the country into some kind of militant communist hippy love-nest.

Still, I summoned up all of my courage and ploughed through while muttering something about working in private industry and therefore having to entrust my pension to investment bankers.

After a difficult morning pretending to work in front of my computer, I ventured outside to get some lunch, expecting to be hounded again by these wicked harridans. They were no longer there. It turns out they’d gone shopping.

Now, I’ve never been on strike, but I’m almost certain the idea of striking is to make a strong point about a cause in which you believe fervently. If you go on strike because you don’t mind losing a day’s pay if it means you can get a head start on your Christmas shopping, I think you run the risk of people not taking you too seriously. It seems to me that striking should involve a lot more fist shaking and cries of “Oi! You!”

On the other hand, if I worked in the public sector and was presented with this situation then I would very likely have done the same thing. In fact, I applaud those women for getting up early and being at the office in time to wave their leaflets at me. If I had been in their shoes, I would probably have said, “Hurrah! Day off!” and enjoyed a cup of tea in front of Jeremy Kyle.

As a die hard member of the “don’t make me do hard things” brigade I think the important thing now is that the government makes their decisions and stands by them. Sure, they’re not really the government a lot of people wanted. And sure, they’re making some unpopular decisions. But do you know what? They inherited a turd. They inherited a turd and now they have to dress it up pretty and make it dance for us. And once they’ve decided what they’re going to make it wear and choreographed it’s little dance, they’d better make damn sure they stick with their decision. Because there’s nothing more difficult than trying to change outfits on a living shit that doesn’t know if it’s doing the tango or the paso doble.*

And that, at one o’clock in the morning, is what I think of the public sector strikes and the Gummerment.

*award winning metaphor


2 Responses to “Thoughts of an Indecisive Man: Public Sector Strikes and the Gummerment”

  1. ellie December 2, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    BUT BUT BUT…. The coalition didn’t win a majority of the vote. The majority of people didn’t vote for them, so they don’t represent the views of most people. Also, they’re pretending its economics, but its not, it’s ideological- there are ways to reduce the deficit/increase GDP that don’t involve tearing the state, public sector, NHS and cultural and social institutions apart. So. But yeah, it is a bit weird when people on strike go shopping.

  2. Webbo December 2, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Yes, this is true. They could scrap Trident and save the £90billion that costs (so I’m told.) Who exactly is threatening us with nuclear attacks just at the moment..? That would be no one.

    And yes, it’s a minority government. But we’re stuck with them now. That was where I was going with my dancing turd thing. This is the government we have whether we like it or not. I believe we should be allowed to protest etc, but I also believe that the government in this current situation need to make their decisions and stick by them. When you’re talking about cutting public spending you are always going to have people that are negatively effected by it and will therefore protest the decision. But if you change your mind about your decisions every time people protest then nothing will ever actually change because you’ll never enforce your policies long enough for them to have an effect. That’s what I think anyway.

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