2023-01-24 10:00:31

Dont keep calm and carry on: how Britain got a furious new attitude

Logo The Guardian
The Guardian
By Zoe Williams

I was cycling through Walton-upon-Thames in Surrey earlier this month, when I went past some striking ambulance drivers on a GMB picket line. Its hard to signal your support on a bike, particularly when you dont have a bell. Happily, every passing car was honking, every single one. Yet this was the affluent home counties, and ambulance drivers have, historically, been the least popular people to go on strike. You dont call an ambulance unless you really need one, so its hard for people to imagine the ambulance driver who isnt essential.

When the BBC has a day-by-day planner to show whos on strike; when three of the least radical professions on earth are withdrawing their labour (physiotherapists, meteorologists and driving instructors); when youre planning a night out with an eye on whether the trains are running, you might expect that public support for industrial action would be at an all-time low. The opposite is true: support for striking nurses and ambulance workers is running at 66% and 63% respectively. Almost three times as many people blame the government as blame the unions. Union hardship funds are raising hundreds of thousands of pounds from general donations. Resistance is back, and its organised; it has support, dignity, solidarity. It is taking shape in union action, and answered in civil society, with the Dont Pay campaign and Enough Is Enough. The creed of flag-waving stoicism, belt-tightening for Britain, with all its paraphernalia, its scones, bunting, mugs and allotments, has fallen apart. Nobody wants to keep calm and carry on.

Continue read on theguardian.com

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