Churchill’s Largess

I’m listening to the audiobook for Winston Churchill: The Last Lion by William Manchester on my tube rides, which I borrowed from Scottsdale Public Library’s Overdrive subscription and which I was inspired to do by this series of posts at AoM. Only on chapter one, I’m already floored by the resourcefulness of the man, but also his principles. When coalminers staged a strike during his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he broke it by founding an anti-strikers newspaper. Then, after he’d won, he sided with the miners, steering through parliament a campaign for better wages and safety standards. Noblesse oblige.

 That’s impressive as an approach to conflict. I dislike unions myself. A liberal in nearly every other matter, I just don’t see the point in education, where I work, of demanding higher wages from departments whose budgets shrink year after year. They give wage increases as often as possible. Nor do I appreciate striking or marching around as a means. Everything is hideous and undignified about the spectacle, from the half-felt chants to the ill-conceived signs. A letter-writing campaign I could see. Or a fundraising campaign to back sympathetic politicians, or a public art project to garner coverage and provoke debate. But not this “me$ me$ me$” which is basically a vocalization of what’s worst in all of us.

Anyway, Churchill has it right. Let them have better conditions; not because they demanded them but because it’s the wise, responsible thing to do.