Dave and Gordon compete over beer and sandwiches…
Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have been assiduously courting the trade unions. Brown went first with a ‘peace summit‘;
“Gordon Brown sought to soothe trade union anger by hosting a three-hour meeting at Chequers to reassure 15 union leaders that forthcoming cuts in public spending would not lead to wholesale job losses in the public sector.”
It doesnt take a genius to work out why union leaders might be a wee bit concerned about massive public sector job losses considering it easily constitutes the most ‘union friendly’ sector of the economy in generally hostile climbs. Massive public sector job losses would, of course represent a disaster for the newly unemployed but would also do the same for the unions who are already taking a hammering membership-wise due to the recession.
For his part no doubt Brown wants to avoid the oft-threatened but rarely delivered split between the unions and Labour becoming a reality. I doubt it will; neither of them is in a particularly strong bargaining position and one needs the other more than ever. Cameron would no doubt encourage the move and, weary of the electoral calcula, at least wants to avoid the impression of a return to the class warfare rhetoric of the Thatcher-era;
“David Cameron has opened talks with the unions over how to tackle the cost of public sector pensions and pay, he said in an interview with The Telegraph.”
Trade Unions have their place in a democratic society and the right to strike and withdraw labour is as inviolable as the right to protest in a democracy, at least it should be.
However, at a time when we are looking to increase our support amoung traditional Labour supporters it is worrying that Next Left can correctly observe;
“when one looks at the trajectory of party policy over the past fifteen or so years, there is a clear gradual loss of radicalism on ownership issues. One of the basic demands of the old Liberal Party was for schemes to promote co-ownership and co-determination in industry. In 1992 the Lib Dems fought the general election on the traditional Liberal platform of introducing workers’ participation in firms’ decision-making. In 1997, this commitment was weakened to one of ‘participation and consultation’. In 2001, the notion of consultation replaced that of participation. And in 2005? For the first time since the 1920s, if not before, the Liberals fought an election on a manifesto which contained no commitment whatsoever to introduce or promote co-ownership or co-determination.”
If we are serious about ‘progressive party’ tagline then now is not the right time to lose that radicalism….