The government are plotting another round of regulations on unions’ industrial action rights, if today’s Daily Mail article “Tories plot to curb unions to prevent second winter of discontent over spending cuts” is anything to be believed.
Winter of discontent? That sounds pretty serious – apocalyptic even. We haven’t had one of those since the 70’s – no wonder the Government are spooked.
But what’s this? Consulting the Daily Mail’s own search engine, we seem to have already experienced a ‘spring of discontent’ this year, oh, and a ‘summer of discontent’. And they confidently predict an ‘autumn of discontent’ to match the currently threatened ‘winter of discontent’.
Wow. We must have been militant of late.
And it gets worse. Last year, we apparently had a ‘winter of discontent’ and a ‘summer of discontent’. In 2008, as well as a particularly heavily covered ‘summer of discontent’, the Mail also identified, you guessed it, a ‘winter of discontent’.
2007 had to make do with Daily Mail headlines on a ‘summer of discontent’ and an ‘autumn of discontent’, whilst 2006, 2004, and 2002 only suffered ‘discontent’ during the ‘summer’.
Luckily Daily Mail headlines found all seasons perfectly content throughout 2005 and 2003 (well, 2003’s Daily Mail ‘summer of discontent’ was caused by above inflation fare rises rather than mass walkouts and the dead lying unburied in the streets). Which presumably made up for the ‘winter of discontent’ suffered in 2001.
So, that’s 14 discontent seasons out of the last 40 (covered in 40 separate articles – 21 as headliners – from the Daily Mail archive), giving us an overall ‘discontention ratio’ of 35%.
Zoinks! Sounds like days lost to strike action must have been at an all time high in recent years. Thank heavens we’ve got the Daily Mail to point all this out for us.
That ‘x of discontent’ list in full : 2001: Winter – 2002: Summer, Summer – 2004: Summer, Summer – 2006: Summer, Summer – 2007: Summer, Summer, Autumn, Summer – 2008: Summer, Summer, Summer, Summer, Summer, Summer, Summer, Winter, Winter, Winter – 2009: Summer, Winter, Winter, Winter – 2010: Spring, Summer & Autumn, Spring, Spring, Spring, Autumn, Spring, Spring, Spring, Spring, Spring, Spring, Spring, Winter, Winter (this is of course not counting the entirely unrelated “Anna Wintour of Discontent” and “Jeanette Winterson of sapphic Discontent“)