Are we about to see a summer of discontent?

By Chris Rogers July 5, 2016 3:26 pm

Yesterday, amidst much celebration, NASA managed to place a probe in Jupiter’s orbit. It spent five years getting into position and now it will look down on the largest planet in our Solar System.

But, it makes you wonder, what would the inhabitants from another world think if they looked down on us at this point in time?

Chances are, they would think it was chaos. British politics is, in what is perhaps the biggest political understatement of the past fortnight, in a state of flux. We’ve lost or are losing so many political heavyweights and party leaders that Tim Farron, who was only elected Lib Dem leader last year, is now positively a veteran of party leadership.

And, to top it all off, could we also be about to see a summer of discontent in the form of further public sector industrial action?

Ordinarily a teachers’ strike would be front page news. It says everything about the state of post-referendum Britain that it’s been relegated to an afterthought. But many teachers are out on strike today demanding increases in school budgets before the start of new academic year.

Added to this is the news that junior doctors have rejected the Government’s revised contract – resuming an industrial dispute that at this point probably haunts the nightmares of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The junior doctors have already staged a series of high profile walkouts that included a withdrawal of emergency care. The questions on many lips this afternoon will be, are we about to see doctors out on picket lines again and what will that mean for patients?

Meanwhile, there are continued industrial disputes over transport – including of course the much belated introduction of an all-night Tube service in London.

It remains early days post-referendum. But the re-emergence of public sector workers’ disputes could mean one of two things. It could serve a unifying force for a Conservative Party deeply divided during the referendum – a last hurrah for David Cameron to bring his back benches back together to tackle dissention within public services. Or, it could be the start of a series of protracted disputes nurtured in a period of political procrastination in which the Government is unwilling to take action until a new PM and Cabinet is in place.

The second option will likely only add to the continued post-referendum ructions. If this was Jupiter, goodness knows what we’d be thinking looking down from above.

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