Chris Moncrieff: Ministers can't stand idly by over strikes

IS there a dastardly conspiracy emerging designed to rob thousands of people of joy at Christmas and replace it with misery and frustration?

When are Ministers going to get to grips with the train strike?

One is compelled to this view because of the multiplicity of trade union activities over the festive period, which appears to cock a snook at any idea of peace and goodwill and, indeed, renounces it.

We have the now-notorious strike on Southern railway, which could spread elsewhere. We have British Airways cabin crews going on strike, and action by Virgin Atlantic staff, plus disruption by baggage handlers which threatens to be widespread through British airports, and a walk-out by Post Office workers.

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All of which could destroy Christmas travelling and other plans. The word “bloody-mindedness” has been used to describe militant, hard-line trade union barons over these activities.

It is understandable that the Government is reluctant to enter the fray – but how can it stand idly by while all this industrial mayhem – creating massive damage to the economy, among other things – is going on all around them?

Surely the time has now arrived for Ministers to devise some tough, even heavy-handed legislation to protect innocent people from being bullied in this way.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and others should pause for a while from their Christmas celebrations, and get down to the drawing board without delay.

WHAT on earth possessed former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to attack the Prime Minister because she owned a pair of leather trousers costing £995? Was it spite, because Theresa May had sacked her from the Cabinet; was it cattishness or simply stupidity – possibly a combination of all three?

Why shouldn’t the Prime Minister wear what she chooses in her own home without busybodies rebuking her for it?

It all rebounded on Morgan because she was caught sashaying around with a £950 designer handbag. So much for her rhetorical question “What can I say to the people at Loughborough Market?” in her constituency about the trousers. They would probably tell her to mind her own business.

Unsurprisingly, she pulled out of the TV programme Have I Got News For You, no doubt fearing an on-screen mauling from Ian Hislop and his colleagues. But her absence was marked by the empty chair filled instead by an expensive handbag. She really did get her comeuppance.

It is reminiscent of the occasion when Lord (Roy) Hattersley, Labour’s portly former deputy leader, once pulled out of the programme. His empty chair was occupied by a tub of lard, drawing attention to Hattersley’s renowned hearty appetite.

NIGEL Farage, the former Ukip leader, claims British Cabinet Ministers have been banned from talking to him. If this is true, it represents the height of pettiness and stupidity. For heaven’s sake, they are all supposed to be on the same side, batting for Britain, even if they have different ways of going about it.

Or is it pure jealousy because Farage is a buddy of, and knows, Donald Trump far better than any member of the Government, Theresa May included?

Farage has said he wants to be a bridge between the British Government and the incoming US administration. But there appears to be a fat chance of that happening. As Farage has said, the British attitude towards him is “petty, small-minded and tribal”.

During the Blair regime, his officials made it difficult, indeed well-nigh impossible, for political reporters to meet Cabinet Ministers. That did no one any good. And yet politicians are constantly preaching about the virtues of “transparency”. It makes you want to weep.

EU grandees gave Theresa May the cold shoulder at the recent summit in Brussels. This behaviour was insolent, infantile and a public disgrace – the action, as one correspondent put it, of bully boys.

The fact the referendum in Britain went the wrong way, as far as they are concerned, is certainly no excuse for behaving like vengeful schoolboys.

On top of that unsavoury episode, there is talk they will at some stage be demanding £50bn from Britain. I hope that eventually common sense will prevail, but if it does not, I trust the British Government will tell them to take a running jump.