There are those who merely dislike Trades Unions, and then there is the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, tame gofer to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog. Master Cole hates Unions with a passion, a passion born out of a deadly combination of pig-ignorance, ideological prejudice, and old-fashioned petty jealousy. Nothing, but nothing, about Unions would ever benefit him.
I don't need to care about trade unions, cos I'm on telly!
After his political heroine Mrs T died last year, he was swift to kick anyone of opposing opinion, especially if they chose to be called Polly Toynbee and work at the deeply subversive Guardian: “Polly on C4 says Maggie will be remembered for her ‘demolition of the trade unions’ like it’s a bad thing” he sneered. The Cole attitude to those withdrawing their labour was equally uncompromising.
“Striking is the definition of throwing a strop. It’s selfish and dangerous and should be treated like a child’s tantrum” he asserted. Ellie Mae O’Hagan asked him “how do you square that with the fact that most of your modern working rights were won by trade unions?” James Ball mused “I occasionally wonder if trade unions murdered [Cole’s] entire bloodline or some such. There’s an unusual amount of hate there”.
Such was Cole’s irrational hatred of anything union-related that Laurence Durnan at Political Scrapbook, who has a moderately cordial relationship with the flannelled fool, teased “I might do another piece relating to trade unions today. [Cole] should set his knickers to ‘twist’”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point. And there was one union which Cole detested above almost all others.
That was the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU). In another exchange with Durnan, he was unequivocal: “FBU is not the Fire Brigade. They’re the people that put lives in danger by stopping the Fire Brigade”. As the Fire Service is overwhelmingly unionised, that’s weapons grade bullshit – but typical. Then he played the victim: “Oh look, FBU dirty tricks picked up on. Got hounded for pointing that out earlier”.
It got worse: “The FBU are not a trusted source. They are agitators with an agenda to push. Get a grip” was followed by “FBU get fingers burnt”, a characteristic slice of Fawkes blog knocking copy. And then he returned to his flat yesterday evening to find that, well, the FBU’s members might have their uses after all. “Er, so my flat is on fire” he observed on crossing Lambeth Bridge.
There has been, by sheer coincidence you understand, no FBU bashing since then, although Cole has confessed to prior knowledge of starting a fire. Whatever next? He’ll probably find out that London’s cabbies are a more reliable guide to the capital than Ron Hopeful from Uber with his Prius and satnav. And then, who knows? Maybe he’ll discover that Underground staff are hot on passenger safety. Like his.
After all that, he might just grow up. But that will still take some time to achieve.