Public sector strike and Jeremy Clarkson

Yesterday’s public sector strike passed off without much incident, and the talking point has not been the strike itself, but what Mr Clarkson said about the strike on a television programme. While many schools were closed for the day, the number was fewer than it had been anticipated, and the huge queues in Heathrow did not materialize. Britain did not grind to a halt or was closed to the visitors, and those on strike were able to air their grievances and demonstrate in numbers.

While what Mr Clarkson said on the programme was in an utterly appalling taste, but given his persona, perhaps it was to be expected, and more importantly, it takes the focus away from the pressing issues. This may be a media circus for today, or for a few days, but this is a sideshow. It is far more important to reach an agreement that would settle the disputes over the pensions for the public sector workers. There are little signs that the negotiating parties are close to coming to such an agreement, and surely this is the news that the media should concentrate on. At stake is not only what settlement on the pensions can be reached, but what kind of society Britons want in the future, and what the roles of the state and the public sector are in that society.