The media coverage of this week’s public service industrial action provides us with further evidence that the value base of society has changed and continues to change. If the strikes are as successful as the Unions intend, we are facing the biggest day of public service disruption for decades. The knock-on effect on the private sector will also be evident. So, you’d think we’d be having wall to wall coverage about how the withdrawal of a huge range of important front-line services will impact on the lives of families throughout the land. Instead, the main story so far (certainly on the BBC anyway) seems to be about the disruption to the poor travellers stranded at Heathrow airport and the threat of illegal immigrants pouring through unmanned border points like a scene from the charge of the light brigade. The BBC reporters stand faithfully outside the airport terminal speculating about what all this may mean despite the fact that many ordinary people in this country would struggle to locate Heathrow on the map, never mind be contemplating their next flight from there. Yet they have to make plans this week for their children being home from school, their hospital appointments being cancelled, and their social care services being withdrawn. I was so relieved on Saturday morning when the BBC news channel interviewed someone from the NHS Confederation who, despite a considerable effort to reassure us that contingency plans would kick in on the day, at least acknowledged that it might be a bit difficult! Until then I thought I was missing something.
Written by Tony Garthwaite, WIHSC Senior Fellow