It was heard to escape Danny Alexander's voice yesterday if you had a Television or a radio switched on at newsbroadcast times. Danny is the Westminster Government's front man in their efforts to make Civil Servants work until they are 66, pay more into their pension schemes and receive a pension based on their average earnings instead of final salary. Danny certainly got around yesterday and he certainly sounded confident on both the radio and television. It continues today in acres of newsprint:
"Yesterday the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander provoked fury by warning public sector workers it would be a "colossal mistake" to reject a deal that was the best they could hope for." More on the independent site.
The unions (or at least some of their leaders) are up for a fight. In that same Independent article we have Dave Prentis being quoted:
"Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, made the comments as furious unions threatened to walk away from talks over coalition plans to require most public sector employees to work longer and pay more for less generous entitlements in retirement.
He told the Guardian today: "It will be the biggest since the general strike. It won't be the miners' strike. We are going to win." "
This observer feels that the Unions could be walking into a bigger trap than the one that Arthur Scargill fell into in 1984. Danny sounded upbeat and confident and it seems the Government are willing to have a rumble too. The Unions should be careful what they wish for, maybe some of the LibDems might not have the appetite for a prolonged battle but the Tories certainly will. The miners strikes of 73/74 toppled Heath but as we all know the paradigm shifted with Magaret Thathcher in 79 and the next time round the Tories were ready. If there is prolonged, unpopular union unrest then Cameron could go to the country just as Heath did in 74 on the issue of who runs the country and the result might not be very pretty at all - a Tory government with a majority and a mandate to go far beyond anything the present coalition may be contemplating. If such an election were to happen then voters in Scotland might turn to the SNP in huge numbers if Labour looked liked losing. Remember the huge spikes in SNP support in the two elections in 1974 when the SNP won 22 and 30% of the vote respectively.
A return to 1926? No, a re-run of 1984/5 maybe, at a push, if the rank and file have the bottle and are willing to gamble on losing a lot more than Danny is proposing at the moment. The times they may have a changed and we might have a lot more technology lying around but there certainly is a a bit of retro feeling creeping in after the first year of Cameron rule in Westminster. All we need now is a punk rock revival to really set the scene.