THIS week has been ‘One Nation week’ on the blog site LabourList and it is just over a month since Ed made that feted conference speech. There can be little doubt now that it galvanised the troops and stimulated thinking. With one little phrase Ed was able to offer a critique of the existing social order under the Tories, whilst simultaneously offering the hope of a better one under Labour.
Such duality of purpose is the sweet-spot sought by practically all political neologisms – which probably explains the perennial popularity of a phrase first conjured up by the 19th century Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. Yet the ‘One Nation’ concept is perhaps best understood as putting into poetry the prose of Ed’s previous three big interventions.
The ‘Squeezed Middle’ described the problem; that living standards are in decline and have been for some time. Between 2003 and 2008 disposable income fell in every UK region outside of London as the proceeds of growth simply did not reach the pockets of ordinary working people.
‘Responsible Capitalism’ provided the aspiration, outlining a vision of the fairer, more equal society we wish to build.
Finally, ‘predistribution’ outlined Ed’s political methodology, his process of creating change in a tough economic climate.
Despite the derision with which it was greeted in some quarters of our movement, it is this last point, ‘predistribution’, that is most significant for Trade Unions. Read More…
The price of a successful political action is a constructive alternative. That is a golden rule of democratic politics. There comes a point in the public argument when people turn round to us and ask what we would do differently. The message sent out from Saturday’s march was mixed. While the message of ‘A Future that Works’ is a great one it is still unclear what it means. It is absolutely clear what the March was against, cuts in the public sector, it is also clear that the solution, spending more money, does not resonate with the public to the same degree. It is seen as dogmatic rather than constructive, sectional rather than for the common good. We have the right slogan but not the right position to back it up.
Belfast, London and Glasgow have seen huge demonstrations against austerity organised by the TUC.
Unions21 distributed thousands of postcards to encourage people to write to friends and family about their positive experiences from the day.
Ed Miliband’s speech in Hyde Park can be read here, and watched here.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said in his speech:
‘It is fantastic to see so many people here today from every part of our community, all utterly determined to build a better, fairer future for our country. ‘We have a stark and united message for the government. ‘Austerity isn’t working. It is hitting our jobs, our services, our living standards.
Within the trade union and labour movement, we know that this Government is busy doing everything it can to wreck the country. Ok, they may not see it like that but from where I’m sitting there is no other explanation for their unashamed attacks on the NHS, employment rights, comprehensive education, pensions, the list could go on.
But sitting in our red-flag-flying-fortresses recognising this government for what it is doesn’t achieve anything. It doesn’t stop them in their tracks, doesn’t stop the stealth privatisation of the NHS, doesn’t stop people who have worked for a company for 729 days from being dismissed with no explanation given, and doesn’t stop pensioners having to work until they drop.
The reality is that there simply aren’t enough of us for that. The Labour Party has almost 200,000 members and there are around 6.4 million in the wider trade union movement (with, one would hope, significant overlap between those two). Compare this with a voting public of over 45 million, of which over 17 million voted for the coalition parties.
Captain SKA’s debut release ‘Liar Liar’ achieved chart success, critical acclaim and was featured on BBC’s Newsnight program. His subsequent singles include: What’s the Point of Nick Clegg? and new release ‘U.S Healthcare Explained’
This Saturday I’m very proud to be hosting an Official After-Party for the TUC’s #Oct20 ‘A Future That Works’ demo at Kings College London.
This event is particularly special for me as it brings together acts who have all come to prominence during the coalition era, artists whose work has been shaped by austerity. This is also a very special event as the After-Party has been directly supported by the TUC, who in sponsoring it have made a political music event at a large central London possible.
Everyone understands the government’s attempts to privatise the NHS could endanger lives as private companies seek to maximise profit at the expense of human life. Although life may not be at risk as the governments legislation in education hits home, as schools become less accountable, employ unqualified teachers and vocational subjects are marginalised. The life chances of working children are being destroyed for generations to come. Education is not broken, that’s just the Liberal Democrat election pledges. The Tories are blatant in their disregard for our children’s life chances.
This ideological attack on society, on privatising our schools is far worse than the attacks on NHS. The Coalition’s attacks on education are regressive and socially divisive. Did you know that Michael Gove our Secretary of State attended the two most recent international summits on education for the international leaders on behalf of the UK? Never made the press did it, that would expose the lie, our education system is not broken.
A future that works has to work for all sections of society. It is quite clear that the Government’s current approach miserably fails this test.
According to the Labour Force Survey, unemployment among young people aged 16-24 stands at just under 22 percent. This is a staggering figure when you consider that it has almost doubled from its figure just five years earlier immediately prior to the beginning of the Great Recession. But this figure also hides some key differences for different ethnic groups. If a young person is white, there is a one in five chance that they will be out of work. If they are Asian, this prospect rises to over a quarter. For young people from the black community, there is an astonishing 50 percent chance that they will be unemployed.
Today’s Prime Minister’s Questions ended with David Cameron name-checking the national demonstration on Saturday, calling it the ‘most lucrative sponsored walk in history’, referring to the affiliated unions’ donations to Labour on behalf of their members. The new media response included a tweet from Dr Eoin Clarke, who drew attention to Conservative donations from private healthcare companies.
Demonstrations against austerity have swept across Southern Europe in recent weeks, and on Saturday the marches for a Future that Works will take place in the UK.
While Europe burns with anger at austerity, David Cameron fiddles. But his efforts confuse, rather than satiate, his backbenches – and reveal little more than a flawed conviction that further deregulating one of the most liberalised labour markets in the developed world is required for our economy
Cameron is politically trapped in a party that is increasingly agitated by UKIP and is without a coherent strategy either for European growth or maximising British influence within an evolving union, but we should not deny the depth of problems facing Europe. Greek society disintegrated following its economic collapse and even the future of Greece as a democracy now no longer seems certain. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU seems grimly ironic in this desperate context.
Throughout the day at the national demonstration for a Future The Works Unions21 will be distributing postcards to encourage people to write to friends and family about their positive experiences.
There’s nothing like a hand-written card to express a personal message. If you can join those handing them out, or if you’d like to receive some through the post for free, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.