Strike While the Iron is Hot


Stephen Irvine, 18 June 2012

If the audacity can be excused, dear friends, I shall begin by enlivening my own limited powers of expression with a few chilling words from the master, using the following passage from 1984:

The nightmare had started…. There were times when his nerve so forsook him that he began shouting for mercy even before the beating began… Sometimes he was beaten till he could hardly stand, then flung like a sack of potatoes on to the stone floor of a cell, left to recuperate for a few hours, and then taken out and beaten again.

IDS socks it to the scrounging scum

With a suitably black undercoat applied to my canvas through Orwell’s dystopian vision, I attempt to paint the picture of these last couple of weeks, a time in which a chill has settled around Sour Times HQ, leaving your humble scribe feeling like Winston Smith whilst waiting for the inevitable date with his torturers. Wracked by nightmares and terror, I too await that day when I shall be taken down to The Party cells to receive a larruping to eclipse all others, a fitting end to an existence spent clinging on to sanity in an increasingly mad and maddening world.

My feeling of impending Orwellian doom certainly wasn’t helped this week as plans were announced to further alienate the proles by stripping the lowest paid workers of their usual salary top-ups via tax credits if they take part in industrial action. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wasn’t holding back with the Newspeak, claiming that the way the current benefit system compensates workers and tops up their income when they go on strike is “unfair and creates perverse incentives”.

Bear in mind that this benefit only extends to people earning less than £13,000 a year, and it seems hard to believe that there is a ‘perverse’ underclass who are ever-eager to get out on the picket line, smiling to themselves at their own cunning as they claim top-ups on their wages while frivolously standing around a flaming bin wearing a donkey jacket.

No. This is nothing to do with a greedy mob needing to be stopped, and everything to do with Thatcherite politics aiming another expensive Italian leather shoe into the bollocks of those with nothing. Emerging from his Two Minutes Hate at Tory HQ, IDS said “Striking is a choice, and in future benefit claimants will have to pay the price for that choice, as under Universal Credit, we no longer will.” Even the name ‘Universal Credit’ has a nasty kind of Big Brother-esque ring to it, and these are bullying tactics of the worst kind, as that choice IDS spoke of is ripped unceremoniously from the greasy mitts of the country’s poorest people.

Cunning workers coin it in while on the picket line

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne certainly seemed to believe that if there was hope, then it lay with the proles, siding with them in emphatic fashion as he decried “David Cameron’s “out-of-touch government”, who were, in his eyes, planning on “starving people back to work.” Following closely behind Pastygate, it seems Cameron and his snooty cronies won’t be happy until a whole raft of the underclass are famishing to death in their own squalor.

To further borrow from Orwell’s narrative, it is certainly poignant to note that “the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty.” Now, if that doesn’t sum up this government then I don’t know what does, with dinosaurs like IDS shamelessly attempting to turn us against our worse-off comrades with divisive spin about the intentions of those on the most paltry of incomes.

I’d better wrap it up there anyway; David Cameron is babbling away on the telescreen again and I know I can be seen and heard at all times, with my continuing participation in the charade of conformity becoming increasingly unconvincing. I know I have very little time left, but I am an insignificant individual – what of the proles, what hope is there for them against this Party and its masochistic mechanics of misery?

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