Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Letter in Independent on industrial action

I fear Yasmin Alibhai-Brown`s husband may be correct, and that "post-election blues have weakened her political resolve" (Progressive thinking can come from surprising directions,18/05/15). She seems to have forgotten a number of things about the Tories, even about the ones she hopes will somehow reduce the harm done by "the brutish, iniquitous laws" soon to be passed. Didn`t Cameron`s post-election "one nation" speech remind her of Thatcher`s first speech as PM, when she also promised "harmony" and "truth"? Doesn`t Alibhai-Brown recall that Gove`s first action as Education Secretary in 2010 was to remove the Education Maintenance Allowance, thereby not only preventing thousands of would-be sixth formers from adding to their qualifications, but ensuring no increase in social mobility? Davis and Grieve may "fight hard against plans to replace the Human Rights Act", but neither are in the current, increasingly right-wing, Cabinet, and their efforts are destined to fail.
 Indeed, as your editorial correctly says, it looks like, at least in the short term, that it will be up to the unions to assume "the mantle of chief opponent of cuts" and attacks on public services (A power to unite,18/05/15). The editorial condemns employers who "see the minimum wage as a pay ceiling rather than the floor", but, as long as the Tories see wage cuts or freezes as the way to make what they laughingly call "efficiency savings", industrial action will be viewed by employees as their only option. Inevitably, the right-wing media will see McCluskey and his Unite union an easy target, but when the Royal College of Nursing threatens action, even Blairite leadership candidates need to take note! (Nurses may call strike over seven-day NHS plans,18/05/15) With Jeremy Hunt totally unwilling to reveal, on Radio 4`s Today programme, how funding for NHS reforms will be found, a "season of strikes" looks increasingly on the cards; the Labour leadership could well be decided by the candidates` reaction to it!


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