THE prospect of a national strike that could bring the already limping UK grinding to a halt is another psychological blow to businesses and homes struggling to balance the books.
The call by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for Jacob Rees-Mogg to instigate a cull of 90,000 civil servant jobs, to return to 2016 numbers, prompted a strike threat from unions and a new wave of uncertainty for the country.
Once again, it’s not something that has to happen. Much like Brexit. Or Channel 4. It is something that has been manufactured. Created and championed by the current Conservative UK Government Cabinet.
With Mr Johnson looking as if he is careering headfirst towards inevitable catastrophe, the current Cabinet appears to be hell-bent on trashing anything and everything that gets in its way or that might help keep Big Dog in the job for another week or two.
It’s heartbreaking to watch once great institutions like the Passport Office and the Border service, previously pillars of reliability, reduced to dysfunctional departments in a flailing administration that now looks to be nought but a plaything of the privileged who have little use for its services.
Businesses are already struggling as we move out of the pandemic, increasingly stymied by the ever-surfacing “unseen” Brexit barriers, an energy crisis being exacerbated by global unrest and cost-of-living turmoil complete with stagflation and recession dead ahead.
Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hussein-Ece tweeted: “Trying to remember why we had fewer civil servants in 2016… We didn’t have the Brexit Dept. How many now work there?”
The move was derided by senior backbench Tory, Tobias Ellwood, as a dead-cat policy, or a distraction.
He tweeted: “I’m beginning to believe there’s a ‘Dead Cat Committee’ in No. 10 spewing out a regular drumbeat of sensationalist headlines.”
I’m beginning to believe there’s a ‘Dead Cat Committee’ in No.10 spewing out a regular drumbeat of sensationalist headlines.
It’s not about numbers, but outputs & productivity – the engine driving wider inspirational policy objectives that thematically sit together as a vision. pic.twitter.com/JIX4hfQeE4
— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) May 13, 2022
Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, said the proposal represented “an outrageous act of vandalism on our public services.”
“Through Brexit, and then the pandemic, we have never been more reliant in peace time on our civil service,” he said.
Mr Rees-Mogg was given a free platform by Andrew Neil on his show on Channel 4 this week. Mr Neil feigned outrage, trotted out bluster, waved his hands in the air, but didn’t mention Brexit once. He didn’t even refer to Mr Rees-Mogg by his correct title, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency.
Brexit has been trending on news social media platforms every day for a fortnight. Northern Ireland is in limbo because of Brexit. The trade war threat with Europe is because of Brexit. Some commentators predict Brexit’s impact on Northern Ireland could now be the catalyst that will bring the collapse of the Union.
So, lashings of theatrics from Mr Neil. Not so much in the way of scrutiny.
Meanwhile, there is an alternative narrative offered, points out business editor Ian McConnell in his Called to Account column this week.
Elsewhere, the struggles of an historic Scottish retailer this week hammered home the scale of the challenges facing the economy, deputy business editor Scott Wright opines.
Also this week, Kristy Dorsey focuses on the Glasgow studio pioneering sports video content at break-neck speed.