Monday, 10 February 2014

Labour in danger of forgetting basic principles

With state education and the NHS in the same boat, sadly being steered towards disintegration, with a few failings exaggerated and followed by misleading generalisations, by a government intent on downsizing the role of  state, Labour has its work cut out. To make matters worse, the opposition has seemingly forgotten some of its main principles which underpin its very existence.
    What is the purpose of the Labour party if it is not to stand up for the rights of the working people? Is it not essential that it defends the exploited against their employers, the NHS against the privateers, the consumer from the profiteer, the welfare state from the Tories? Arguably, it has done some of these, albeit half-heartedly at times, but protecting the oppressed employees from aggressive bosses has been a massive failure, over a number of years, leading often to the workers themselves having to resort to industrial action. Protesting to the disinterested government about the "cost-of-living crisis" is simply insufficient when Labour could be clearly demonstrating to the electorate that it really is a People`s party, and that it does mean to help ordinary people rather than the interests of the financial sector. One can only assume the reason for Labour`s failure to support strikes is because it fears being branded "socialist", "red", "same old Labour", or whatever, by the Tories and their obedient media friends; it doesn`t want to frighten away those oh-so-important southern voters in the marginal seats, in case they decide to back the Tories again. If they are so unprincipled and gullible, Labour cannot afford to risk losing the votes of workers for their sake; far better to adopt policies which adhere to traditional Labour principles of fairness and justice.
    This has to be a mistake; most strikes occur when all negotiations have failed, or have been refused, and when jobs, pay or pensions are being cut. Are the Labour leaders so afraid of the Daily Mail they cannot turn up at a joint NUT/NASUWT rally to voice their support for teachers in their struggle against the intractable Gove? What did they enter politics with the Labour party for, if it wasn`t to defend state education, support the principle of equality of opportunity, and fend off attacks by Tory ideologues? Don`t the tube workers need their help against the right-wing Johnson and his policies of economic cleansing of London? Miliband should state in the Commons that Labour supports all industrial action, when it is taken in the cause of ending exploitation and restoring fairness; the Tories should not be dictating Labour policies! Does the country really need Labour leaders, who are "well regarded in corporate circles", as Seumas Milne recently described Balls and Umunna, making the differences between the parties glaringly insignificant? How will the rejection of workers who take legal industrial action increase popular participation in democratic politics, supposedly the reason for Miliband`s trade union proposals? Voters have been alienated enough by the expenses fiasco, the broken election promises and the imposition of poverty on the majority of the nation, whilst the rich avoid the little amount of taxes they`re expected to pay.
    The "squeezed middle" classes need economic help too, and many are involved in the strikes anyway'; but the "wealthier" middle need to be told that a new Labour government will do everything in its power to defend all employees from bosses, greedy to attain their bonus targets for increased efficiency by either cutting wages and hours, or increasing the number of zero-hours contracts. or both. If the "suppering classes" of the south-east don`t want fairness "hard-wired into government policies", as the duplicitous Clegg laughingly said back in 2012, they need to face the consequences, one of which will most certainly be Britain`s 28th position out of 34 in the equality league table getting even lower!

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