Following the breakdown of 11th-hour crisis talks, the nation is bracing itself for what could be a drawn-out strike by a section of the community that feels increasingly undervalued.
For some, the effects will be felt as soon as the strike begins tomorrow morning, as Dave the train driver, who usually turns up come snow, leaves or industrial action, stays at home. Mail will arrive late as Dave the shorts-wearing postie stays in bed and leaves it to his colleagues to muddle through. Elsewhere, the effects will build up more gradually as photocopiers go un-mended, marketing initiatives are missed, and Dave-less groups of blokes show less inclination to support their local pubs.
‘A significant aspect of the problem is that it’s not a typical workplace dispute along traditional bipartisan lines,’ said a spokesperson for the conciliation service ACAS. ‘Daves pervade our national life at all levels, from chief executives to lab assistants and beyond, but especially in the unglamorous supporting roles. Without their common sense and willingness to get on with things, life would soon grind to a halt.’
Dave Davidson of the National Association of Daves said it was more about recognition than money. ‘We Daves are taken for granted, even mocked,’ he said. ‘The Dave channel on TV is typical of the way people see us. In recognition of our contribution to society we are looking for immediate pay parity with Jameses and Jeremys, and our own day off on 1st March, St David’s Day.’
Davidson said that the effects of the strike would be intensified because of the preponderance of Daves in the 30 to 60 age group. ‘These are the people in positions of power and responsibility, that make things tick,’ said Dave. ‘The under-30s doubtless have great management potential and seriously good inspiration, but without experienced Daves to put their ideas into practice they can look very silly.’
While yet another national strike could be bad news for a beleaguered Gordon Brown, he is said by insiders to be secretly pleased that the strike will have little effect on his almost Dave-free cabinet, taking only Dave Miliband out of action.
Over at the Conservative Party’s Millbank HQ the problem is more acute. Any hopes that Cameron would buck the national trend were dashed when he told reporters: ‘I’m out with the rest of them. I’ve had quite enough of all this “Dave this, Dave that” piss-taking. You can get on with the election on your own: see how far a George and a William will get you.’