30 years ago today Prime Minister James Callaghan reached a deal with the TUC to end the abhorrent strikes that had crippled the country in the ‘Winter of Discontent’. I believe it is important to mark this date and remember just how bad the country was at this time whilst looking at how close Brown is to dragging us back to those terrible days.
That ordeal was inflicted upon the nation by the Labour governments, and on occasion Conservative governments, inability to bring the unruly unions in to line. Industrial strife hit record levels and with unemployment creeping past the two million mark, on its steady course to 3+ million, industrial strife is likely to continue. Mr Brown, a keen historian, will be well aware of all the negative comparisons between 2009 and 1979.
He’ll know that Mr Callaghan decided to play long, waiting until he called a general election. He could have gone to the country in October 1978, but decided to give his economic policy time to work – knowing that he could wait until October 1979 until he had to call a poll. But in the end events moved away from him, and he lost a confidence vote in the Commons in March 1979, meaning he had to call a general election. The rest as they say is history.
We can consolle ourselves with on thing: As bad as this recession is were it not for a certain Prime Minister the unions could be ripping this country apart as they did in 1979. Thank god we have legislation restricting their action because without it what is already a bad situation could be turned in to a living hell as it was in 1978-9.