This is a little behind schedule, but on Monday Gary asked, "Are you striking today Ben? If not, how may people are at work with you. If so, tell us why you're striking."

In short, yes I was striking on Monday, so I have no way of knowing exactly how many people were in the office. However, from what I've heard and can guess, my section of the BBC News website was hit pretty hard by the action.

On a normal working day there should be approximately two dozen people on shift in our team over the course of the 24 hours. On Monday, their jobs were being done by maybe five or six staff, none of whom was a union member.

Whether it had much of an effect on the output as far as users are concerned, I'm not sure. On the internet, unlike TV and radio, it's much easier to paper over the cracks and present an illusion of normalcy. Of course, I could tell that we weren't doing everything we'd normally do, and that the staffing level could only provide a minimal service, but then I know what to look for.

As for our more senior siblings, the gogglebox and the wireless, it was clear there was something definitely rotten in Denmark: makeweight presenters standing in for household names, middle managers voicing tracks for tv packages - despite obviously not having been near a microphone in years, whole programmes replaced with highlights and fillers.

Of course, not every division is as highly unionised as news - journalists are nothing if not bolshy buggers - so there were certain offices and elements of output where the day passed without incident.

But still, I think people noticed.

So why were we striking? Well, it's basically because Mark Thompson - the director general, the top man at the BBC - plans to cut almost 4,000 jobs over the next three years. That's almost one in five of the UK public service workforce - a pretty big chunk in anyone's money. Thompson wants to plough the money that's saved through the cuts back into programme-making and improving existing services.

The unions want to negotiate certain issues, such as guaranteeing there will be no compulsory redundancies. The BBC also says it's happy to discuss certain issues, but the unions claim they are being talked at rather than with (in as much as I hate the neologism talking with, it's important to use it here to make the distinction).

If I was being completely honest, I'd say I wasn't initially wholeheartedly behind the strike. I've always thought industrial action on that scale is something akin to nuclear weaponry - mutually assured destruction, good for no one.

And I think that some of Thompson's plans will be good for the BBC. But then I work in one of the areas that stands to gain from the extra money, a growth area, and have the benefit of knowing that as far as anyone can make temporary assurances, my job and those of most of my direct colleagues are safe.

But a lot of people feel much more strongly about these job cuts than I do, and the fact is that eight out of ten union members who expressed a preference voted in favour of a strike. A lot of people (including some I know) are going to be hurt if Thompson's plans go through.

And that's why I joined a union. You shouldn't just be a member on the offchance that things go pear-shaped for you. It's about supporting those in a less fortunate position, regardless of one's personal fortune.

It's the least I can do to respect the decision of my peers, and honour the strike. It's the democratic way.

I just hope we find a good solution soon, so we can all get back to doing what we do best.


Have I done a bad thing?

On my way into work I noticed that the seat next to mine on the tube had an empty sandwich wrapper on it. Rather than one of the traditional Marks and Sparks plastic efforts, it was a very American-style open wrapper, enabling better access to the food within. It also seemed to contain the remnants of someone's lunch.

At King's Cross, with all other seats taken, I noticed a large-ish man angling for the seat. He was carrying a couple of bags, and quite clearly needed to take a load off. I assumed he'd see the wrapper and discard it, but no, he turned round and slowly lowered himself into the seat, seemingly oblivious to the lunch up his backside.

I stayed quiet, not wishing to be associated with the offending article should blame become an issue.

So I'd seen all this happen, had it within my power to prevent trouser spoilage, and chosen not to.

The question is, would I have done anything different had I failed to notice the bloke heading for arse-sarnie interface was carrying a rucksack emblazoned with the Manchester United shield?


Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour 12
Conservative -31
Liberal Democrat 50
UK Independence Party 11
Green 3

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

No suprise there then - just unfortunate that I'm traditional Labour by nature. What's a little worrying is the strong showing for UKIP - can't think what caused that. Aside from the fact that I was just a handful out in the office sweepstake to predict the final Labour majority (I said 63, the final tally clocked in at 67), it seems to have been a good result. A greatly reduced majority should help keep Blair's more maniacal leanings in check. Could Laura have been right when she said we'd elected something close to a socialist government? I hope so. Now we just have to wait and see.