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Round and About
We're into the third week of the national Pathfinder dispute and starting the 10th week overall. At last the creaky wheels of the PCS press team are going into action. Though handicapped by being headed by HANSON we've actually now gone beyond the left weeklies which are largely read by their supporters within the union. Some reasonable articles have appeared in the Mirror and the Evening Standard and some smaller news items in the rest of the ex-Fleet Street pack.
Last week MARK SERWOTKA was put in charge of the national negotiations. At a civil service unions tea and sandwiches meeting at No. 10 - arranged long before the strike. TONY BLAIR said the dispute was a matter for the new Department and not the Government. Though MAREK was promised a one-to-one meeting with the Departmental supremo to explore the possibility of fresh talks reflecting rumours of some misgivings amongst the mandarins over the handling of the strike by their own management team. Those talks about talks have now resulted in a return to the negotiating table.
TONY of course is far too busy these days bucking for a Nobel Prize or the Congressional Medal of Freedom in tribute for his sterling work in the Middle East and Afghanistan to trouble himself with the Pathfinders. Or so it would seem
It is clear that the reports in the national media have not gone down well with Millbank who, after all, one way or another drew up the crackpot screenless office proposals in the first place. Other wheels have been turned by people with far more experience in spin than poor old HANSON.
The first shot's been fired by POLLY TOYNBEE in The Guardian last week. This sad old dame - one of Lord Owen's forgotten "mould-breakers" of the 80's SDP - is now a cheerlessleader for New Labour and all it stands for. Her article repeated Management's propaganda uncritically to the point of suggesting that most "staff" welcomed the proposals while claiming that the "hard left" leadership of the union was manipulating the dispute for its own hidden agenda.
FATGUTS is following his Master's footsteps though he doesn't possess half the cunning of a RAMSBLADDER. Nor is he likely to get the reward he dreams of in next year's elections, let alone from a grateful government which will be hard pushed to find a harmless sinecure for BARRY when he goes in a few months time.
The Moderati have historically held their grip on the clerical grades through the support of many BA workers who saw them as the lesser of two factional evils. Now the rumblings of discontent are being heard.
Although many blame JANICE GODRICH for not cancelling her holiday to attend the crucial NDC vote which was won by the "peace at any price" lobby, their anger at GODRICH is nothing to what being said about BUNTER and his mates now.
Some are calling for re-engagement with the other factions in the union. Others talk about forming a new one to work with LUNITY or ME FIRST. All of this is music to LORD UNDY'S ears.
NOSFERUNDY has suffered some major defeats this year. LANNING lost and BARRY got his extra months. JAMES came in for some stick within his own camp but he's stuck it out - despite moving out of his old base on promotion. His game plan, the destruction of the Moderates, moves forward again.
By continuing to support the action UNDY, DONNELLAN and SARAH JONES hope that they can achieve a breakthrough in the administrative grades. And while they also recognise that this is unrealistic in the short term, any substantial disaffection with the MODS can only benefit ME FIRST in the long haul for control of the union. Whatever happens they can't lose. A swing to LUNITY can only weaken the Moderati but it cannot give LUNITY a majority. All the left can hope for is a much increased bloc on the new NEC.
Of course they will have to have something to show for it from Management to give to the troops. A victory or at least a good draw is required and that means more pressure on the shop-floor as well as the bargaining table.
So, farewell then ROB LEITCH