The Prime Minister described yesterday's strike as a "damp squib". Though I don't support the strike and I think it was more a case of chest-beating by the trade union leaders who want to parade as the leaders of the Labour movement, filling the void left by the Labour Leader Ed Moribund, the fact was that a large number of public sector workers did fail to turn up for work. Whilst the levels of support claimed for it by the union bosses are well off the mark, so was Cameron's description.
I hear that many reluctant strikers used the strike as a day off to go Christmas shopping at the Metrocentre. I know of one who didn't want to strike, voted against it, but felt obliged by the closure of the council he works for to remain away from work. He went with me to Durham instead to buy chicken food for my hens!
Yesterday I went to Gateshead to take photos of the start of the union procession. I was surprised that the Council had willingly allowed its property to be used as the gathering point of the march. Nevertheless, the march assembled in Gateshead Civic Centre car park. As the photos below show, it was not crowded.
People were shipped in from all over the place to boost numbers. As the photo below shows, they came from as far as Manchester. I saw coaches from the Borders and Teeside as well.
And so the March heads off to Newcastle.
This dog tried to make a point:
Hopefully the protester who held this poster managed to get out of the way before the vehicle went past (was it driven by Jeremy Clarkson?)
Wherever there is a protest, "Socialist Workers" latch onto it.
I thought this was meant to be a protest against creating sustainable pensions. (I also saw people protesting against violence in Syria, a very noble cause but not relevant to the issue. Nevertheless, it helped to boost numbers.
Hexham Labour Party decided not to follow the advice of Ed Moribund and turned up with a banner containing an essay. I could take their message more seriously if Hexham Labour Party hadn't run such a vile, homphobic campaign against me when I was Lib Dem candidate in the constituency in 1992.
This guy brought his fishing rod.
The impression I have is that the union activists and enthusiasts were the vast majority of people on this demonstration. Where were the ordinary union members, those reluctantly on strike? They were treating it as an unpaid day off and were making the most of it to beat the Christmas queues in the shops. The North East has a higher than average proportion of the workforce in the public sector. Even though people were shipped in from as far as Manchester, the question has to be asked, why only a few percent of the public sector taking part in this demonstration?
The unions have a reservoir of support within their own ranks but yesterday's action has already drained some away. There are only so many times people will be prepared to lose a day's pay. It's interesting to note that the union bosses won't call an all out strike, just "days of action". If they have any sense, they will reach an agreement with the government before their reservoir has drained.