If you think this is bad Mark, things can get alot worse…..

People who caution Mark Serwotka to stay quiet on the eve of an election forget one fundamental thing; Serwotka doesn’t care about the Labour Party and its electoral fortunes are of no concern to him. One can reasonably argue that the same may not be true for his members who, should Serwotka’s remarks find their fruition in the election of a Conservative government, will have a chance to experience the difference first-hand. As I have said before; nothing obliges union leaders to subordinate themselves to Labour’s electoral health but you get the feeling in Serwotka’s case the attack was deliberately timed to do as much damage as possible.

Serwotka told the NUT:

“I have to say to you this, that if you judge a government by how it behaves as an employer, this is the worst government in the history of this country,” he said.

“I tell you why. Not because I have any illusions that David Cameron is going to be better, he’s going to be dreadful, but the facts speak for themselves.”

He went onto say:

“I can tell you absolutely that even though I worked on the frontline under the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, all of our members tell us there has never been a worse time to be a civil servant than under the current Government.”

Serwotka recognises a Conservative government will be ‘dreadful’ yet can only solve this problem by calling for united strike action. In other words, he has no *political* answers to those listening on the conference floor so, his grandstanding ends up meaning little more than cheap propaganda points for the Daily Mail, Telegraph etc. He may well be familiar with the term ‘useful idiot’ given his politics; that is what he has made himself. The problem for Labour is that Serwotka’s words are more damaging as a poison demoralising our core vote. Also, the problem is that they speak to a truth that the relationship between the unions and Labour is no longer strictly speaking healthy, in fact, it’s actually borderline abusive.

 Many people would not advocate the things I do nor go as far as I would like; however, there has to be a recognition even from those who feel themselves on the ‘right’ of the party that the balance has shifted to the point where it is actually now very one-sided. This is not healthy for the Party and it’s something that will have to change; for example, on the unions we are no longer even prepared to stand up for the tenants of basic democracy. Fissuers in the relationship between labour and the unions cannot be allowed to become fault-lines.  They have to be healed; for the electoral health of the Party in both the short and the long-term.


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About darrellgoodliffe


3 responses to “If you think this is bad Mark, things can get alot worse…..”

  1. jim jepps says :

    Darrell, I think you’re missing a couple of obvious points.

    Firstly on the fissures between Labour and the unions. The PCS is not and never has been affiliated to the Labour Party. The general sec. of the PCS has always been someone independent of political affiliation. He’s not a ‘useful idiot’ because the world does not revolve around the Labour Party, he’s sticking up for his members, which is after all his job.

    Secondly, the Labour Party has laid off tens of thousands of PCS members and has formal plans to lay off tens of thousands more of them. If it wanted the PCS to care one way or the other whether it got re-elected then whinging about Mark’s attitude to the government is the wrong way to go about it. Labour in government has shown total contempt for PCS members and they have been very moderate in their responses considering.

    Lastly, what Mark has said is the truth as he sees it. The majority of his members agree with his approach and he has been one of the handful of truly effective trade union leaders in a difficult period, increasing the size of the union whilst others shrink.

    Criticising someone (and calling them an idiot) for telling the truth and doing their job by sticking up for their members because it is inconvenient for a failed government is not a particularly principled position. My recommendation to Labour members is to listen to the PCS and other unions a little bit more whilst criticising them a little bit less.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I was refering then too the fissures with the unions that are affiliated with Labour like Unite. I have no problem with Mark sticking up for his members but what I see here is a rather one-sided blindness to the problems a Conservative governement would cause further for his members. Because Mark lacks any clear political answers he ends up being a propaganda tool for the right-wing press to demoralise the core Labour vote and give the electoral adavantage to the Conservatives or worse, in some areas, the BNP.

    Does that mean he shouldnt be allowed to speak, no I dont think it should but he is entitled to be questioned on what concrete political answers he has or else he is in danger of making himself what I describe. Now how, concretley, would a Conservative government make things better for PCS members?

    In terms of Mark’s facts, I think alternative figures could be rustled up to prove growth in other areas. I am all in favour of listening to the unions but what Mark has done will alienate Labour members for obvious reasons; especially when he makes inflammatory comparisons to Thatcher; the day before an election is due to be called. In making these remarks Mark has not only damaged himself but also his members interests but made the dialogue you want to see much, much harder.


  3. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Incidentally, I and others probably would have listened more had Serwotka had a singal; solitary, positive policy to advocate. This is my whole point; there is nothing there but Labour bashing and nothing positive in what is said at all.


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