Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Osbornes and trade unions

Labour`s failure to warn the electorate about the devastating effects of Tory long-term policies was an important factor in the 2015 election result, Why the leadership and candidates didn`t explain in full what shrinking the state back to levels last seen in the 1930s, would entail, instead of messing about with pink mini-buses and "Ed-stones", is beyong the understanding of most Labour supporters. 
    Since the election, the Tories have amplified their policies in such a way that even the Lords have been stirred into action, especially during the tax credit debates, and now against the "partisan Tory changes to party funding" (Morning Star,20/01/16).  Government intentions for trade union legislation make it totally clear that, when it comes to taking the country backwards, the 1930s appear modern. Labour is bracing itself for "a £6m fall in trade union funding" because of the return to the "opt-in system", which takes us back to the first decade of the 20th century!
     A very similar proposal appeared back in 1907 when the Secretary of the Walthamstow branch of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants claimed it was illegal to impose a political levy on union members. With the approval of the House of Lords in 1909, the Judgement was given the same title as the surname of the union secretary.........Osborne! You couldn`t make it up!
    The Osborne Judgement was a serious threat to the financial position of the Labour party; not only would the ensuing reduction of funds prevent payment of salaries to successful parliamentary candidates, it would mean little or no funding to support election campaigns.
Fortunately, with the then Liberal government in need of Labour`s support, and willing to introduce payment for MPs in 1911, and with a 70% increase in trade union membership between 1910 and 1915, the effects of the Osborne Judgement were not as disastrous as its supporters hoped. The Trade Union Act of 1913 got rid of it.
 What makes that Tory boast of taking us back to the 1930s really pale into insignificance, however, is the section of their Trade Union Bill which relates to picketing, and all the diverse attempts to make it ineffective. This is similar to Gladstone`s Liberal government, as far back as 1871, passing the Criminal Law Amendment Act; the devious Tory, Disraeli, saw that a pledge to repeal it would win their votes. After his victory in the 1874 election, the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act in 1875 legalised peaceful picketing .
     This Tory government clearly not only wants the role of the state to be taken back to the 1930s, it wants trade unions firmly back in the 1870s.

  And the Tories still dare to claim they are the party of the workers! 

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