Saturday, 17 September 2011

Miliband must change not the trade unions



“There are cuts that the Tories will impose that we will not be able to reverse when we return to government,” declared Ed Miliband. “And getting the deficit down means rooting out waste too.”

I think such sentences, a string of words and affirmations made in his address to the TUC congress just this week gone are indeed an indication that Labour under his leadership, will sit on the sidelines whilst workers in the public sector take industrial action in defence of pensions, jobs and of course services.

It is not rocket science - Miliband had and has no intention of supporting workers in struggle, he did not go to deliver a fraternal brotherlike address to the representatives of Britain's Trade Union Movement, and from a leader of a party that was originally founded to represent and bring about change and give voice in favour of working people. No not at all, in no way was that his intention, he cashed in his chips, and he went to congress to speck to the city, to the bankers and financers of the political economy, he went to say ‘look under me capitalism will always be safe’. 

It could have been any Tory mouthing off and spouting on about waste and deficit, but it wasn't, it was a Labour Leader that relied and owes his very position to the many trade unionists who gave him their support during his successful leadership bid, without whose support he would not have been elected as Labour Leader a year ago. 

And just what brass-neck cheek he had, to tell those assembled, that they had to change; and its this part of his speech that stands-out more than anything to me, let’s have a look at it:

“But in truth, strikes are always the consequence of failure. Failure we cannot afford as a nation. Instead your real role is as partners in the new economy. But, as you know better than I, just 15 per cent of private sector workforce are members of trade unions. You know that you need to change, if that is to change. 

So it is hardly surprising then, that on Tuesday Miliband was heckled and jeered as he delivered this his first speech to the TUC. 

However let us be clear here, and always remind ourselves, that strikes are the result of conflict, a conflict that is as old as capitalism itself, a conflict that will never change so long as a small minority own and control all the worlds wealth and resources so as to continuously extract profits, and always at the expense of workers pay and conditions - that wont change ever, so its a bit rich to say that workers and their democratic organisations must change instead. And if indeed only 15 per cent of the private sector workforce are currently unionised, then that is the direct result of Thatcherism and her anti-union legislation, but also we have to say and regrettably above all else, the refusal of New Labour to reverse such legislation or the extensive programme of privatisation of the Conservative governments between 1979 and 1997. All the utilities and enterprises privatised by the Tories not only remain in private ownership but working people are now forced to pay very dearly for them as the recent hikes in the cost of Gas and Electricity has clearly demonstrated, and this coming winter will be ‘hell and hardship’ for many. So I suggest that we do need change, but Miliband is looking in the wrong direction - do something about fuel poverty and the ever rising cost of food in the shop's would be a good start. 

So whilst I am on it now, let me say that the change that is required, is from a party that when in office last, did nothing to reverse the steep cuts in taxation introduced for the very rich by the Conservatives, coupled with the continuing failure to do anything effective about the big increases in rewards given to the top ‘fat cats’ of industry, and this has simply meant the perpetuation of the Thatcherite legacy of gross inequality. 

The change that was required then and is desperately needed now, was to attack and if you like yes, change the inequality that continued to widen in Britain even under New Labour, and now of course getting far worse under this present government and regime.

Do you know I could go on and on, about what Labour should have done when they had the chance for change, but I will only get myself wound-up thinking about it, and no more so than that of welfare reform which under them was not seen as a means of extending and improving social provision against the hazards of life, deprivation and poverty in retirement but as a way of saving money. They extended means-testing and paved the way for what this government is doing right now. Millions of our children were allowed to live in poverty whist they used the statistics as a play thing, but they failed to change a thing, and now Miliband thinks he has a clean sheet of paper, that he can come to the TUC and lecture us about change, when there still is a whole pile of agglomerated  rubbish from the Blair era that needs burning comrades!”

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