Sunday, 15 August 2010

Two Jags and the posh git

John "Two Jags" Prescott; Brian "Many Taxis" Coleman: you'll only spot the difference when they open their mouths.

I'm speculating as to why might be a particularly good time for David Cameron to pull strings and see Brian Coleman gets the push. Of course, Coleman has his fingers in so many pies, it will be hard to extricate him from all of them. I'm sure he won't go quietly - there will be gravy on the floor before he leaves!

But now might be an opportune moment, before he can cock up a really big issue. I'm talking, of course, about something like... the dispute with the London firefighters.

The last time that the Government was in dispute with firefighters, Labour was able to deploy John "Two Jags but I've a Hull accent and still maintain I'm working class" Prescott against the FBU. Prescott was the Deputy Prime Minister, in charge of negotiations, and always happy to explain why the firefighters didn't deserve an average salary of £30,000. (I don't know what Prescott was on at the time, but he was doing pretty well for himself.)

For all his working class credentials, however, he was unable to impress the firefighters. The chatroom air was blue whenever anyone mentioned Prescott's name. In fact, he was almost as unpopular as the then general secretary of the union, Andy Gilchrist.

Jump to 2010. Who, basically, is in charge of the London Fire Brigade, and behind the scenes of the "negotiations" with the FBU? Brian Coleman. In many ways, he is the spitting image of Prescott, who clearly likes his dinners almost as much as Coleman. But there are some obvious differences (just a few!). Coleman does not have a trade union background; he is not now and never has been a member of the working class, as is evidenced, among other things, by his plummy accent.

He is personally arrogant in a way Prescott is not; and he clearly hates, just hates, the FBU. With Prescott you never got the sense that any of it was personal or even ideological; he just had to face down the union, or Labour's business-friendly image would be tarnished.

Prescott had several factors on his side in the dispute with the FBU; Coleman has practically none. Firefighters already despise him. Anything he says or does in a dispute with the FBU is only going to inflame (ahem) the situation. If Prescott got the firefighters' goat, how much worse are Coleman's pronouncements going to sound to firefighters' ears in an all-out battle?

If, like me, you witnessed the astonishing support the firefighters had during their, in fact, fairly short campaign in 2002-3, you would realise that a full-blown dispute with them is something the Tories will want to AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE! Braziers on the forecourts of London's firestations as winter approaches? With the Tories trying to push through enormous cuts, and impose a pay freeze (or, as it was known in the 1970s, "wage restraint") on public sector workers. That would have to be the Tory-Lib Dems' absolute worst nightmare.

So, I'm sorry Brian, I think your days really are numbered.


Anonymous said...

Some of us remember the Firefighters Strike of 1976!

Rog T said...


Thanks for reminding me of that. One of the many reasons why I found myself so disillusioned with Labour that I left the party. I wish I'd made a list of them all as my faith was eroded.

By the way, I'm not going to go into it here, but I suspect you are wrong about Brian Coleman never having been from the working classes.

Citizen Barnet said...

It's not where you start, it's where you finish, Roger. And Brian finished... in the middle. It's a very uncomfortable place for some; as I said in an earlier post, such peoiple are desperately anxious not to be forced down into the lower orders, but sometimes, some fatal flaw in their character makes it impossible to avoid. Or they are just the victims of great social upheavals such as severe recessions.

Coleman has proved able to keep and enhance his social position, but the very characteristics he has used to do that may well be the characteristics that undo him in the end. In that he is the classic Shakespearian tragic figure... or the clown.

(Is that pompous enough for everyone?)

Rog T said...


He's a sponging reactionary talentless twat. He has many excuses but none excuse him or his behaviour.

Begone revolting man

Mrs Angry said...

Vicki: whatever Coleman is, he is not posh or plummy. Have you not heard him speak? He aspires to be one of the 'great and good' but sadly is just a lower middle class boy from NW London. More of a Tebbit than a Cameron, in fact. I'm not sure which is more objectionable: the working class Tory made good or the aristocratic Tory slumming it in shirtsleeves and no tie.

Mrs Angry said...

Forgot to say he always reminds me of a minor character in a nineteenth century novel, Dickens or Trollope maybe. As you say, his character is its own undoing.