I wrote this post last week, but what with recent exam marking and not having a computer with me on my most recent trip, there was no time or opportunity to post it until now. The subject has rather gone off the boil, but it’s still relevant, so here it is.
I suspect the irony of the recent attacks on Labour by some trade union leaders has not been lost on many people. This is especially true given that Ed Miliband’s success in the leadership election owed much to the trade unions, who thought that he would be more sympathetic to their cause! How ridiculous then, that as soon as someone in the shadow cabinet (initially Ed Balls, but later, Ed Miliband himself), said something they disagreed with, they were immediately up in arms.
In the present economic environment, in the aftermath of the banking crisis, and with the world economy looking fragile, any government must exercise fiscal responsibility. Labour would simply have no credibility if a future Labour government didn’t show such responsibility, but some trade unions seem to have a problem with this. The difference between Labour’s approach, and that of the ConDems is simply that we wouldn’t make cutbacks at such a damaging pace that these would slow the pace of any future recovery. And we wouldn’t target those least able to withstand such cutbacks, including the disabled and unemployed, both of whom seem to be current favourite targets of this coalition government. The trade union leaders who think we can just carry on as if nothing had happened are clearly living in a different world to the rest of us. In an interview I heard some of yesterday, Ed Miliband said that it was important for the party to continue its association with the unions, because it keeps us grounded and in touch with working people. Of course this is true, but I sometimes wish that the leaders of some of the trade unions would wake up and smell the coffee, as the expression goes. It might make our alliance a bit easier.
In conclusion, I wanted to mention an excellent piece that appeared on LabourList last week, written by Andrew Lomas (@andrewlomas on Twitter), entitled ‘Why do we bother? Anyone who is having any doubts about their support for Labour, or even anyone who doesn’t see what we’re on about, should read this. It contains the following point about the Conservatives, which we would all do well to remember: ‘Conservatism, beneath the gloss, is a defence of privilege: it’s critical to remember this fact and see that every policy concession made on the margins is made solely with that defence in mind.’ All Labour supporters are truly in this together, and whether we are members, practising politicians or trade unionists, we would do well to bear this in mind, and remember what we are up against.