This morning, Ed Miliband spoke to the TUC conference about One Nation Labour’s commitment to building a new politics in Britain. It was courageous, visionary and, yes, a little risky. But bringing about change and doing the right thing often is. And I’m convinced that a renewed and reformed relationship with trade union members across Britain will strengthen both the Labour Party and our links to the trade union movement.
I’m even more convinced that the person who is most worried about this is David Cameron. He is the man who has most to fear about a new, stronger and better relationship between the Labour Party and six a half million trade union members in Britain. That’s why his decision to write them off is short-sighted and ill-judged. So too is the nasty, divisive, small-minded rhetoric he uses to insult trade unions and their members. It would be an affront to the leaders of a once great party.
One Nation Conservative Prime Ministers like Benjamin Disraeli knew that they had to represent that whole country if they were to be worthy of governing Britain. They didn’t write off whole swathes of Britain. David Cameron shows contempt for huge sections of our society and our country. He says that those who teach our children, who look after the sick, who care for the elderly, who build our homes, who keep our shops open morning, noon and night are the enemy within. He says they are a threat to the economy.
This, from a Prime Minister who is out of touch and failing to turn things around for hard working people, and who stands up for the wealthiest but doesn’t understand that things are getting harder, not easier, for ordinary families.
It’s not surprising. David Cameron is content to keep making decisions about our country without involving the people whose lives they affect. That’s always been his way. Ed Miliband wants to do things differently. That’s why he has set out a course for the Labour Party that won’t be easy, but will be worth it. Because working people, millions of them in the trade union movement, deserve a say in how we run our country.
That’s why I support Ed in his mission to change our party and our politics for the better. He wants to engage millions of working people to make their views known and their voices heard. He wants them to join the Labour Party and have a say. Most importantly, he wants them to make the choice for themselves. I think he’s right. I know we’ve got a lot to do to realise those ambitions. But we’ve started the work. David Cameron hasn’t even recognised that the work needs to be done.
Vernon Coaker is the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary