DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Cynical unions ruin our sporting classics

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Cynical unions ruin our sporting classics

One of the most egregious and enduring fallacies of 21st century Britain is that the unions are the authentic voice of the working classes.

When grasping mill and mine-owners were exploiting the masses a lifetime and more ago, there may have been an element of truth in this. But no longer.

The antediluvian, bellicose and self-serving leaders of the RMT and Aslef now consider ordinary people the enemy.

How else to explain their horribly cynical decision to target the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Manchester City, the Epsom Derby and the Eurovision Song Contest with a fresh wave of rail strikes?

These iconic national occasions are woven into the fabric of the working classes. Many of the fans who will suffer when the network is vindictively brought to a crippling halt are the people the hard-Left barons claim to represent. It is beneath contempt.

The entrance to Paddington Station is deserted during strikes by Aslef and the RMT in February 2023 

Wembley Stadium will play host to the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United on Saturday, 3 June, as fans could be affected by upcoming train strikes

Many would have saved up for months to buy these tickets. Yet the unions couldn’t care less about the hardship they inflict.

These wreckers claim the walkout is over pay and conditions. Yet train drivers, whose average pay is £60,000, are among the most feather-bedded in Europe. By demanding unaffordable wage increases, these Scargillite militants have given away their real game. The unions are trying to engineer a political punch-up in a bid to destabilise the Tory Government they loathe.

Sir Keir Starmer, of course, is keeping a Trappist silence on where he stands on the dispute. But then he doesn’t want to antagonise Labour’s union paymasters.

Ministers, though, could do more, for instance by fulfilling the 2019 election manifesto promise to compel minimum service levels on strike day. With a majority of 80, the Government could introduce emergency laws tomorrow.

Their dithering must stop now. There’s only one way to defeat industrial blackmail – it has to be faced down, unflinchingly.

A duty to the regions

The Treasury has, under governments of all colours, seemed rather dismissive of policies that vastly benefit life outside the economic powerhouse of London.

Indeed, one might imagine the chancellery’s walls hung with maps which mark territory beyond the M25 with the unnerving words: ‘Here be dragons.’

To counter this impression, ministers have portrayed the decision to scrap duty-free shopping for overseas visitors as one that will boost the regions.

This tourist tax, they argue, will overwhelmingly disadvantage very wealthy foreigners and luxury West End retailers, while raising income that can be spent on the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

Ministers have portrayed the decision to scrap duty-free shopping for overseas visitors as one that will boost the regions. [File image] 

Yet this badly thought out scheme – which has made goods purchased here far more expensive for tourists – is actually hitting every corner of Britain. Manchester, York, Scotland and other destinations are suffering from fewer big-spending visitors, while those arriving for Eurovision in Liverpool are less likely to splurge.

Meanwhile, the high-end goods tourists come here to buy are often made by skilled workers for firms based far from the capital, often in the hardest-pressed regions.

With visitors opting to look for bargains on the Continent instead, these places are losing millions of pounds and jobs.

If the Government wants to keep the Red Wall at the election, ministers must wake up to the damage the tourist tax is doing. It is not levelling up, but levelling down.

  • Violent crime surging to record levels. Sex attacks spiralling alarmingly. Nearly 600 burglaries a day unsolved. And good luck if you want the thieves who stole your car caught. If ever our police needed to heed Home Secretary Suella Braverman – stop taking the knee and dancing with eco-warriors, and start catching criminals – it’s now. After all, that’s their job.

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