Unite’s McCluskey warns of “certain general election defeat”

January 16, 2012 9:30 pm

The General Secretary of Unite – Britain’s biggest union and the Labour Party’s largest donor – has warned the Labour Party that it faces to “electoral disaster” over its approach to cuts.

Writing in the Guardian, Len McCluskey, said:

“Ed Balls’ sudden weekend embrace of austerity and the government’s public sector pay squeeze represents a victory for discredited Blairism at the expense of the party’s core supporters. It also challenges the whole course Ed Miliband has set for the Party, and perhaps his leadership itself.

“Unions in the public sector are bound to unite to oppose the real pay cuts for public sector workers over the next year. When we do so, it seems we will now be fighting the Labour front bench as well as the government.

“The political elite which was united in promoting the City-first deregulation policies that led to the crash is now united in asserting that ordinary people must pick up the tab for it. It leaves the country with something like a “national government” consensus where, as in 1931, the leaders of the three big parties agree on a common agenda of austerity to get capitalism – be it “good” or “bad” – back on its feet.”

McCluskey also suggests that Miliband has left himself open to being replaced as leader, saying:

“Having won on the measures, “new Labour” will likely come for the man sooner or later. And that way lies the destruction of the Labour Party as constituted, as well as certain general election defeat.”

  • http://twitter.com/randombassist randombassist

    He ignores the reality that Ed Balls called for pay restraint to retain jobs. Jobs must be the priority now, and the jobless must come first. Certain, short-run stimulus could be immensely useful to the economy, but it should be targeted so as to get some of the million young people and hundreds of thousands of others out of work into it. 

    • Anonymous

      Ah I wonder how many jobs are being saved with directors pay rising by 49%, or Diamond getting ten million in bonus payments and we are hearing that banks are expected to pay out Billions in bonus payments to the same cowboys who caused the banking crises.

      Pity Ed balls are not shouting at these people  not Joe blog on the min wage working for the public sector who’s managers will be on contracted rises.

      Looks more and more like meeting between the Tories and labour again the deals are back on.

    • Anonymous

      One of the best ways to help younger people into work would be to ditch the idea of making people work into their seventies (provided they can find jobs that is).

      As anyone over 50 will tell you, it becomes much harder to find employment at that age (I was lucky never to be unemployed but I know many people who were), and just because people live longer it doesn’t mean top say they are capable of soldiering on full time – you can live to be 100, but that doesn’t preclude arthritis or other malaises of age.

      I enjoyed my work, but when the day came to retire I was happy to walk away – as somebody once said (John Major?) “when the curtain falls, it’s time to leave the stage”.

      Both the previous Labour government and the current coalition one, want young perople to have jobs but for older people to carry on until their seventies.

      In a world where there are fewer jobs, high unemployment, with no prospect of full employment ever returning because so many jobs are now automated and computerised, all parties need to make up their minds what they want: Young people in work or people retiring later: it’s a question of one or the other – they can’t have it both ways.

    • Anonymous

      One of the best ways to help younger people into work would be to ditch the idea of making people work into their seventies (provided they can find jobs that is).

      As anyone over 50 will tell you, it becomes much harder to find employment at that age (I was lucky never to be unemployed but I know many people who were), and just because people live longer it doesn’t mean top say they are capable of soldiering on full time – you can live to be 100, but that doesn’t preclude arthritis or other malaises of age.

      I enjoyed my work, but when the day came to retire I was happy to walk away – as somebody once said (John Major?) “when the curtain falls, it’s time to leave the stage”.

      Both the previous Labour government and the current coalition one, want young perople to have jobs but for older people to carry on until their seventies.

      In a world where there are fewer jobs, high unemployment, with no prospect of full employment ever returning because so many jobs are now automated and computerised, all parties need to make up their minds what they want: Young people in work or people retiring later: it’s a question of one or the other – they can’t have it both ways.

    • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

      Can’t happen. There needs to be demand in the economy. The Tories have their foot on the neck of demand. You can throw away cash all you like, until that’s changed the UK will only bleed jobs.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure to what extent the speech made by Ed B implies pay cuts and pay freezes
    in the public sector? It seems to be being interpreted as a kind of
     “all or nothing” strategy, or negative signal to the unions’ stance?

    I would agree with the premise made by Len M, but not sure
    if Labour is taking a vastly different approach, other than use of wording
    and slight repositioning?

    It seems an impossibility to steer a course forwards with the “Blairites”
    shouting from the rooftops one end, and unionists very unhappy on the other.
    It’s probably all to the Tories’ advantage whilst they plough on.

    For myself, I believe a balanced pragmatic approach must be taken;
    emphasis on a mixed economy and growth- not merely cuts;
    Jobs, training and education an aboloute priority- especially
    for the young; and protection of frontline services and the skills
    that go with it; protection of the most vulnerable in society,
    and preservation of the NHS to meet the needs of population.

    I don’t think all this rowing helps at all- there must be better ways.

    At this rate, on one is going to be voting for any party, unless
    something is worked out between people, and involves members
    themselves.

    This shouldn’t be just a power struggle, but a means to an end;
    and I believe most people in the Labour movement care about
    the same things ultimately, so let’s work together instead of
    weakening our position.

    Jo

    • Anonymous

      Again the trap is set, the Tories will without doubt be offering the middle class something in maybe two years time, the Tories will do something to ensure they do not again have another hung government, labour is again playing a silly game of catch up.

      But if the Unions do not fund labours debt, then sadly it’s hard to see where labour is going in two or three years time. labour has done little to find either members or money, the Tories say labour is in hock to the Unions, it’s not it’s in hock to the banks.

      • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

        The Unions are not going to fund a hostile party indefinitely, treborc.

        REAL possibilities for a true party of the left here.

        • Anonymous

          It will take a lot to turn the Unions from backing Labour, you can see today how the Tories are going to rip peoples lives. Ms Eagle of labour on TV this morning backing the Tories over benefits cuts saying  deficit has to be cut, not a single word over the bankers bonus payments.

          As we always say the difference between the labour party and the Tories are so fine today it hard to tell which is which.

          We even have a labour MP backing the  building of a New yacht for the queen,

          • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

            Um. No, no, it’s not. There have been some close votes before.

      • Anonymous

        OK thanks Robert; I just think more of an understanding and common ground has to be sought, instead of polarized positions.

        I also personally believe and favour a wider alliance with the centre left
        to strengthen the party as a movement, which for me would include the unions as a key player. It might also dilute what the more right wing of the party seem to be trying to acheive by seeking a wider consensus; and be a real alternative to right wing government.

        I think there’s an entrenched situation between 2 sides which needs an alternative direction and bigger vision.

        I’m certainly not suggesting breaking link with unions though; if anything the relationship may need reframing in some way.

        But the people they represent are the ordinary person on the street, which also includes the so called “middle ground”-very much the “heartlands” of Labour.

        Maybe it all just needs to be managed in a different way; we’re all to stuck in old positions. It’s also finding that significant amount of common ground;
        I think the key is to focus on its members and public supporters, whether party or union; wider allies to “Labour”and social democratic values.
        Look too to successful models elsewhere of a more pluralist approach.

        Jo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.m.peacock Andrew Mark Peacock

    People need to understand there still have to be cuts because of the current government mismanagement over the deficit.Any most of the union members voted Conservative at the last General election.

    • Anonymous

      Since being a Union members  does not mean you back labour or Tory or that you vote, I suspect those who are Labour voted labour, those that never vote did not vote, and those that voted for other parties carried on with that regime. I suspect the many swing voters who can be classed as New labour went home. but how many I’ve no idea.

      But to say most Union members voted Tory is rubbish

    • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

      Labour’s never said otherwise. I now detest them, and you’re just pushing a lie.

      I’m sure it makes you feel good, but it’s still a lie.

  • Mike Murray

    Cameron and the Tories can’t say that Ed Miliband is in the pocket of the Unions now!

    • GuyM

      Yes they can… because he is and Labour are to the tune of 90% of your party funding.

  • Anonymous

    Many private sector workers agreed to pay freezes to save jobs.

    Clearly  some public sector unions don’t think it is needed.. the taxpayer will always pay..

    The real world says they will not.. Unite should join the 21 st century.

    • derek

      Here’s the real world madasafish, by 2015 public sector workers will be at least 20% behind the cost of living rises due to inflation, now if you don’t recognise that as a problem, your not in the real world? if wages can’t be increased, then a reduction in living costs must be found…..surely your outdated thought that people in the 21st century should be less well off is old stuff?

      • Anonymous

        Well public sector workers are about 20% better paid than private ones. So a reduction in living standards will even things up.

        And you talk as if  public sector workers are unique. They are not. Everyone is being hit.

        I think it’s about time many people realise that economic reality means a fall in living standards for all – including me – is inevitable . When you build a ponzi scheme economy based on debt and it explodes, the only way is down..

        Sorry but that is how it is. And if politicians don’t tell you that, they are cowards.. You cannot make real money from nowhere…

        Your ad hominem remarks show you as losing the argument.

        • derek

          Jeez! the vast majority of public sector workers are in the low paid bracket and those in the private sector can ill afford a reduced living cost of nearly,  quarterly rate by 2015. It’s a nonsense to say “we’re in it together” when clearly we’re not? don’t think I need to map that one out? or maybe i do? Chief executive pay is rising. 

          Seems to me a pretty poor response? especially when this governments forecast have been shot to pieces and they now intend to borrow an extra 158 billion just to keep the majority of us in poverty wages and unemployed. 

          • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

            Don’t be ridiculous Derek, the Tories and the 1% *are* in it together.

            The rest of us? Well no, not so much.

        • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

          The falling living standards you refer to have been seriously exacerbated by Cameron’s continuing mismanagement of the economy.

          It’s worth noting: exports have been stable while domestic demand has crashed. This is why things are so bad in the U.K. – confidence has been ripped out of the U.K. market – there’s no demand.

          And so you’ll have to pay more tax, not to support public sector wages, but to pay the benefits of the rising number of people who have been thrown out of work by Cameron.

          Or to put it another way, you’ll have to pay for Cameron’s mistakes.

          • GuyM

            No they haven’t, internationally they simply haven’t.

            Go work out the cost to UK plc from having had 18 months of interest rates +1% or +2%.

            I know you desperately want to buy the current Labour line, but as Harman showed on the DP today it simply isn’t logical or believable.

            Lastly this myth that benefit bills match public sector wages is pure horse dung. If you followed it through we’d have the equivalent of the perpetual motion machine with 100% of pay to public sector workers resulting in 100% tax back… it isn’t true.

          • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

            Again, I don’t believe he will. I strongly believe we’re going to see massive cuts to rates to keep the bill down. Never mind the poverty and misery it causes.

        • Redshift

          Look if you were talking about council chief execs or civil service mandarins you might have a point but ordinary public sector workers are not overpaid. Simple as.

          You want to ‘even things out’? How about we take a look at actually the disparity of pay in the private sector rather than creating a bullshit argument based on ludicrous averages. 

          The most overpaid people are at the tops of private sector companies, especially banks. The most underpaid are at the bottom of private sector companies. That is the imbalance that needs addressing. 

          • GuyM

            You are overpaid when if the economy contracts your wages dont match. Therefore pretty much everyone is overpaid.

            The problem you face is those few thousand directors getting paid too much really aren’t worth much in terms of deficit reduction whereas millions around the average wage are.

        • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

          Ah yes, race to the bottom! The usual 1% argument.

          And ohnoes, you might lose a few percent of the income from your shares. You won’t have to go hungry. Or turn the heating off.  YOU are pushing to re-inflate the housing bubble. That’s the ponzi scheme. Not pensions, decent pay or health and safety rules.

          It’s “how you want it to be”, the 1% at the expense of the 99%. Then you whine because YOU, personally, are called on it.

    • Mike Murray (Labour Member)

      What a god send the deficit is to those greedy grasping employers in the private sector who want to squeeze labour costs . The level of debt that Labour left in 2010 was lower than that bequeathed to us by Major in 1997. The Tories and their lib Dem stooges have always exagerated the debt and used it to punish the workers in the public sector.

      • GuyM

        After all these months you’d think you might have managed to differentiate between debt and deficit….

    • http://twitter.com/Newsbot9 Newsbot9

      What, like the government, employers and banks backstab the people who supposedly depend on them? Be the antithesis of what they’re supposed to stand for?

      Be tools of the 1%? Oh yea, I’m sure you want them to do that.

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