Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wherein the British Conservative Party, Just Like the Republicans, Spreads Irrational Fear and Creates a Crisis

Britain has an employment problem. Yes, there's high unemployment, and it's getting higher. And they certainly have an immigration problem - both illegal and legal. Their employment problem's been poodling along for about eight years now, and it concerns the legal immigrants. Oh, and it was created by a Labour government, who should have known better. (And the Brits say the Americans don't understand irony).

The problem is this: Back in 2004, the European Union opened membership to seven countries who'd been part and parcel of the old Soviet bloc, amongst the Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A lot of people from countries already in the EU, sounded an alarm. These new EU citizens would have the right to work in any member country without a work permit. Many people, in Germany, Italy and France (and let's not forget that the EU was created solely for the benefit of bettering France and Germany), were worried that an influx of workers from the old Eastern Europe would flood into Western European countries seeking employment. Businesses being businesses and in the business of making money, would snap these people up - basically, because they would work for lower wages than the citizens of the Western European countries.

So places like Germany, Italy and France imposed limits on the number of legal immigrants they would allow into their own countries - you have to look after your own first, right?

Did Britain, then under the leadership of that nice Tony Blair? In a word, no. There were no immigration limits set, although Blair anticipated that not more than 500,000 per year would arrive, and that they'd only be interested in doing the jobs most Brits wouldn't touch - things like cleaning and waiting tables and the like.


They came in millions and they were hired in millions, to such a degree that they were hired in preference to Brits. They spoke the language better, they were more polite and they worked harder for less. So wages were driven down. And the result was that around 500 foreign workers per day found work in Britain last year whilst unemployment amongst British workers rose.

In some instances, British workers are made redundant in order to employ legal foreigners.

Another good thing businesses like about the Eastern bloc legal workers is that they are totally disinclined to join a union of any sort - and that's ironic too, especially for the Poles, who were led from behind the Iron Curtain by, yes, a trade union leader.

The Easter holiday is upon us here in the UK. Not for any religious reason, but it signifies the beginning of the holiday season, proper. The schools shut on Friday for a two-week holiday, the weather's been high and hot enough for the Brits to parade pasty fish-flesh about for all and sundry to see, and people will, naturally, take to the roads.

So, about a week ago, the trade union UNITE, which covers professional haulage drivers, started making noises about tanker drivers, those who ensure that gas stations are provided with fuel for which people pay the equivalent of nine dollars a gallon, threatening to go on strike over the Easter holiday. The reason? More and more oil firms were cutting costs and maximising profits by hiring (legal) foreign drivers - people who don't speak English and many of whom, whilst experienced drivers, know nothing about this particular part of the industry. The union cited Health and Safety measures as a means for striking.

Now, the Conservative governnment, headed by that nice David Cameron and that roly-poly, little bat-faced boy, George Osborne - neither of whom has ever worked a day in their lives and neither of whom have any sort of warm, fuzzy feelings about unions or, really, workers in general, decided to meet the possibility of a strike head-on in inimitable (modern) British fashion.

They panicked.

You see, about ten years ago, there was a similar tanker strike in the UK, which actually happened, and gas stations actually did run out of fuel. So, rather than have that terrible occurrence occur again on their watch - the last time, it was on Tony's - they wheeled out the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, in order to give the country, via the media, a little common-sense pep talk.

(Right ... keep in mind that "Conservatives" plus "common sense" plus "British people" all put together in one bag and shaken, not stirred, equals potential catastrophe.)

Francis Maude is as patrician as that nice David Cameron and fat boy frat boy George Osborne. His name sounds it, and he looks it. He's from the aristocracy - the old aristocracy. If he were Virginian, he'd be a paid-up charter member of the FFV (First Families of Virginia). If he were from New York, he'd be a Rockefeller or a Roosevelt or even an Astor. Somewhere along the line, he's probably related to the Queen and Dubya Bush. In short, like that nice David Cameron and Georgie-Porgie-Pudding-and-Pie, he's never worked a day in his life. And were he standing behind Mitt Romney when Mitt said he wasn't overly concerned about poor people, Francis would have fucking kissed Mitt.

So, out comes Francis, full of beans and British confidence, and advises, advises people to take precautions in the event that the wicked, evil union calls a strike. First, they should always be prepared. Fill up their cars, and as the gas gauge hits half-a-tank, pull in and fill up again. And, secondly, dig out a jerry can and fill that up. Keep it either in the trunk of your car or in your garage in case there is a strike and the gas stations run dry.

Now, considering the sheepability and low level of critical thinking amongst the peasants British public, this was the equivalent of waving a red flag to a bull - especially some wise wag in the British media reckoned the strike would start on Friday, just as the schools shut and people began the great British migration over the Easter holidays.

Panic! Panic! Horde alert! Greed alert! Every man for himself, and I'm-all-right-Jack-fuck-you!

Thursday saw humongous queues at gas stations across the land, some with lines forming five miles deep. The British public, ever so keen to look after their own asses (sorry, arses) but not too keen on looking after their neighbours (which is why they elected Cameron), not only filled up their tanks, but also filled up one, two, three, even four jerry cans to keep in reserve because they were oh-so-sure the strike would start on Friday.

As the queues formed, no one noticed that gas stations, one by one, surreptitiously began raising gas prices. Please keep in mind that the majority of money figured into gas prices here, goes to the government in taxes, so somewhere in the bowels of Number 10 Downing Street, that nice David Cameron and Georgie-Boy are smiling over the sums as the tills ring up a melodious note. And the Great British Public are too knee-deep in panic to notice.

(Cue the Whiffenpoof Song for the Brits - the chorus totally applies to them):-

By Friday, the government was backtracking quicker than the late Michael Jackson could Moon Walk. By then, the union kept saying that it had no plans to strike before Easter and (get this) if the government had been clued up, they'd have known that a union has to give ten days' notice before striking in order to allow negotiations in hopes of avoiding such a measure.

But the Conservative government isn't clued up about such things as unions and ordinary people and such. After all, it's only been a week since the top 1% here got a major tax cut.

So, immediately, that nice David Cameron understood the situation, he duly sent Francis Maude out again, this time with a different message:-

"Don't panic! Don't panic! I'm in charge now!"

But it was too late. The queues returned Friday morning. According to a snippet of conversation I overheard today as I waited for an order of fish and chips for my husband, a young man who worked in a large gas station near Croydon in Surrey (on the outskirts of London), related that the queues outside his establishment on Thursday stretched for three miles. The business cleared £20,000 (about $30,000). By Friday, he said, his boss had imposed restrictions. Five people worked the tills, three manned the forecourt. Punters could only buy £40 worth ($60) of fuel, and no jerry cans could be filled. In many instances, physical fights broke out on the forecourt. A business which normally stayed open until 10pm, had to close at 6pm. They'd run out of fuel.

That was the story all over. The husband and I ventured into London today. In times of crisis or bad weather, the husband, like all Brits, has an insatiable need to travel. The gas station at the top of the hill onto the motorway ("interstate" to civilised people) to London was limiting fuel purchases to half-a-tank. I knew, I'd have to have more fuel if I hoped to return home this evening. It was in Hythe, along the South Coast where I live, that I made that purchase. I stopped at five fuel garages between that point and London, and there was no fuel. Admittedly, some stations were taking on emergency deliveries, after that nice David Cameron had to issue emergency plans allowing tankers to travel the roads during the weekend (and which also meant oodles of overtime for the drivers). Just outside my destination in London, I found a garage with fuel.

But my inconvenience was minor, amidst all this cacophony. And here's a singular tale of British greed, hording and lack of common sense.

In the wake of Francis Maude's idiotic advice to stock up on gas in jerry cans the way people stock up on non-perishables in inclement weather, a lady in Yorkshire filled up several jerry cans of fuel and brought them home. Her daughter, suddenly, realised that she was low on fuel but was so skint that she didn't have the means to go queue at a service station in order to buy gas, so she called Mommy Dearest to see if she had any spare fuel going.

Well, of course, she did, she's a mother, isn't she, and, of course, she's there for her totally unindependent twentysomething daughter. Never fear, Mommy would just transfer some fuel from a jerry can into some other container and Miss Junior could pick it up and put it in her tank right then and there.

So Mommy, decides to decant the fuel from a jerry can into something else ... in her kitchen. Specifically, whilst she's cooking dinner. You can read about what happened, as only Rupert Murdoch could write about it, here.

But I can understand if you don't want to honour Murdoch with a hit, so suffice it to say, there was an explosion, a fireball, and the woman is in hospital with 40% burns, whilst people are calling for Francis Maude to resign ... because, you see, if Francis Maude hadn't told this lady to stock up on jerry cans, she wouldn't have panicked and ... well, you get the picture. One example of lack of common sense is being blamed for another example of lack of common sense. I mean, who the hell mucks around with gasoline in a kitchen while you're cooking?

And after all this is said and done, there are still queues at gas stations, the (immigrant) drivers are having to work around the clock on a weekend to re-supply all the fuel garages, that nice David Cameron will wipe the egg off his face, throw it at Francis Maude and sack him, whilst hoping that the people stay mad at this situation long enough to enable him to carry on dismantling the National Health Service. After all, if the Brits can't get on the road during a holiday period, there'll be hell to pay, so make them mobile and carry on fucking up the health system.

And in the midst of all this, George Galloway won a by-election in which the Conservative Party got so few votes, it lost its deposit.

In case you don't know what a holiday period is like in Britain, here's a good example why the pumps must belch fuel ...

1 comment:

  1. This story makes Bush sound palatable.