Fraser Nelson

Striking out

Striking out
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I have just ran into the striking teachers, placards aloft as they try to extort even more money from the taxpayer by closing a third of English schools today. Three things struck me.

1. One placard said "2.4%=Balls. 10%=NUT". I wonder which of those two pay rise figures the public would consider more reasonable?

2. Their chant was a demand for "fair pay". Yet the gap between teachers' pay and the (lower) figure of the average worker has soared under this government to record highs. One may argue the pupils have lost out from the last ten years of Labour government. But not teachers.

3. Another placard read "tell the truth about inflation". Here they have a point. Brown's calamitous decision to use the CPI index when Britain thinks in terms of RPI means there is now no trust in inflation data. This makes pay bargaining much more difficult. As so often, Brown was too clever by half. He is paying the price for fiddling the figures.

Thatcher and Blair were both lucky in their enemies. Brown has not been, so far. The teachers pay claim is outrageous; if they keep up this fight, Brown will lose no political capital in refusing to budge. This is one area where he really cannot afford to do a u-turn.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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