One might think that, with so much information available online, newspapers would caution their hacks and pundits to make an effort to check their facts before their readers do it for them, and decide not to take them on trust any more. But that thought would be misplaced in the case of those labouring in the service of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail.
And it isn’t only Littlejohn and Mad Mel you have to watch out for, as the humourless Stephen Glover has demonstrated today, in a piece laying into anyone who might be even thinking of resorting to industrial action. Glover, apart from the obligatory Mail snark at the BBC, riffs on comparing the 70s to today, and how the decline in trade union membership means he is right.
Just to get readers in the mood, Glover tells that “most of those on strike do not produce anything”, while shivering in his very draughty glasshouse. He also keeps his spirits up by reminding us “The country did not grind to a halt” as if that had been the intended consequence of the action. It didn’t “grind to a halt” in the 70s either, notwithstanding what happened on Fleet Street.
But it’s the whoppers that you have to watch here, and there are some big ones: “public sector workers ... earn 25 per cent more than their equivalents in the private sector, according to a new study” asserts Glover, but the “new study” is not signposted. And, as Full Fact has pointed out, the ONS estimated that “public sector workers’ wages were 7.8% higher under a like for like basis”.
Moreover, Full Fact notes that “when only those employees educated to degree level are compared, public sector workers enjoy a ‘premium’ of 5.8%”. So much for Glover and his fictitious 25%. And he fares no better on inflation, claiming “annual inflation of more than 20 per cent” in the 70s. Annual inflation exceeded 20% for 13 months in 1975-6. And for the other 107 months, it didn’t.
Then, just to round off, Glover talks of the “winter of discontent” and then describes unions “which stood ready to challenge Lady Thatcher in 1979”. His memory must be on the blink: the Tories egged on the unions that winter, took advantage of the disruption to help them into power, then settled all their pay claims once in office, thus sending inflation back over 20% in 1980 (see chart).
But the objective of writing the piece – to further demonise public sector workers at the order of Paul Dacre – has been met, so that’s all right, then.