Louise Raw is Director of the forthcoming Matchwomen’s Festival, Saturday July 6th 2013
Politicians tend to use history in the manner of the proverbial drunk and the lamp-post – more for support than illumination.
The Tories are particular offenders, claiming ownership of their mythical version of the British past, a muddle of green and pleasant landed gentry, scones, warm beer, the Queen and Winston Churchill.
It is in this tradition that David Cameron has gone all Posh Robin Hood on us and announced that he wants to ‘spread privilege’.
This, of course, makes no sense on several levels; not least because privilege is by definition unfair and exclusive, a golden ticket available only to the elite, often dependant on accident of birth.
Brendan Caffrey plunders the British Social Attitudes archives for evidence of changing attitudes towards unions.
The British Social Attitudes Survey has been asking questions since 1983 about a wide range of social and political issues. There has been a regular series of questions about trade unions. Here are some interesting examples.
Question: Are Trade Unions well run?
47% thought that they were in 2009, as opposed to 24% in 1983. This is clear evidence of an improving perception over 26 years.
The Spirit Level, Unions and an alternative economic policy
Over 100,000 copies of the book “The Spirit Level” have been sold and its authors Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have spoken at over 600 lectures and events all over the world.
Trade unionists are instinctively sympathetic to research that finds the greater the income equality in a country the better it is for everyone. What I have always found to be more fascinating is that the more equal societies tend to have higher densities of trade union membership and influence. Where you have stronger trade unions you find better pay and greater social benefits for the many.
I think the empirical research underpinning the Spirit Level is compelling but a weakness (which its authors’ acknowledge) is how do we actually bring about greater equality?
Today we will take to the streets [again] to raise the roof and to show support for a future that works and not a future of uncertainty.
But in my more lucid moments I begin to wonder what is that we can say is a future that works and what does this future look like? Read More…
Brendan said that though this was his last visit as General Secretary, he would continue to take an interest in Labour Party Conference in the future
General Secretary of the TUC Brendan Barber has said Ed Miliband may speak at the ‘A Future That Works’ mass demonstration in London 20 October.
Speaking to Politics.co.uk at Labour Party Conference he said “October 20 will be a very big day, we are going to see, I am sure, a huge number of people rallying behind the TUC banner calling for a change of course in the management of our economy. That will obviously be a lot of trade union members but as on our previous major demonstation last year we will see a lot of people from the wider community who are now realising how off-course our economy is, how far away it is from a real recovery, and what the prospects are for austerity stretching way out into the future. This isn’t just short term pain, this is a strategy that is going hugely wrong. So we’ll get big public support I think, and I expect to see Labour supporting that call.”
“There will be a lot of people from Labour supporting us in lots of different ways on that day and that will be very welcome and important. We’ll see nearer the time exactly what the position is regarding speakers from Labour – Ed Miliband may speak and that will be finalised shortly.”