February 23, 2004
Britain faces a week of university lecture chaos

My thanks to Andy Duncan of Samizdata for noticing that Britain's academics are, apparently, about to go on strike. Unless of course their employers back down in terror at their threat.

Now if I was a betting man, and had to guess the contingent of British society which still possessed the highest percentage of Marxoid buffoons, after the disastrous collapse of Marxism in Eastern Europe, I'm sure you wouldn't give me tremendous odds against it being University lecturers.

But what's really amusing is that they still think anyone at all, outside the ivory tower, cares enough about them to quake in their boots, at their threat of a three hour strike. Well, I've got some news for you dear Marxoid professors. The nation ain't going to be paralysed. Indeed, it's barely going to register at 0.001 on the Richter Scale. Worse than that, it's barely going to register at 0.001 on the Newcastle Brown Ale Scale, on your own campuses. Mine's a large one, and a deep-fried Pizza, please, stout yeoman of the bar.

Yeah. Ha ha. And indeed, if it's "humanities" lecturers and the like, then forget it. The nation will be able to endure being thus held to ransom indefinitely. But surely some university lecturers are actually doing valuable work, which their students appreciate and might actually miss. I can imagine some students and hence some universities actually wanting some lecturers to go back to work at once.

If this strike stimulates a national debate about which lecturers will actually be missed, and how much they will be missed, it will have done British higher education a great favour.

But as for those post-modernist literary wafflers, who have been telling themselves how essential they are for so long that some of them may even believe it, they are perhaps about to get a rude shock. Most people despise them, and would be happy for them to remain on strike for ever. Certainly I do and I would. I seriously doubt if they are so severely stupid as to expose themselves to this kind of public derision, but you never know your luck. Maybe some of them are that daft, and will make prize asses of themselves on Newsnight in the days to come. If I witness any such foolishnesses, I'll let you know.

More seriously, I think this is very good news. It signals that British universities are a-changing, and in a good way. Some lecturers are going to get paid more, and others less, and the lumpen mass of them is frightened.

As I say, good.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:01 PM
Category: Higher education