David Cameron’s government are failing Britain. In 2010 when the nation rejected a Conservative government and instead voted for the two parties who had at least paraded as progressive, it was a clear sign that whilst perhaps they felt a change was required, the Tories and their free market, anti-state mantra wasn’t it. The Liberal Democrats soon forgot their pre-election position and the “Rose Garden” moment has signalled their total acceptance of nasty Tory policies.
Since 2010 this government have led an all out assault on the gains that ordinary working people have made, through the labour and trade union movement, over the past few hundred years. They are dismantling the NHS, destroying the public sector, cutting health and safety and making it easier to sack people. They have cruelly slashed the welfare bill, without thought to those affected whilst slashing the top rate of tax for their rich friends and donors.
Through all of this they have hidden behind the line “we’re all in this together”. “We’re all in this together” when they pit the working poor against the unemployed. “We’re all in this together” when they pit migrant workers against local workers. “We’re all in this together” when they pit public sector workers against private sector workers. This is the age old Tory tactic of divide and rule.
And even as we see ministers rolled out on television to celebrate what can at best be described as a lukewarm “recovery” and more realistically a flatlined economy, the country is in the midst of a cost of living crisis. David Cameron has overseen prices rising faster than wages in 39 of the 40 months since he became the Prime Minister. With energy prices skyrocketing and the Tories refusing to back Labour’s plan to freeze bills, even that famous old Socialist, former PM, Sir John Major, has called for a windfall tax on the big 6 Energy Companies.
With living standards falling for the majority, those at the top are enjoying the benefits that the slashing of the top rate of tax has brought. George Osborne’s department have even launched a legal appeal against European Union plans to curb obscene bonuses. Whilst the bottom gets crushed and the middle is squeezed, the rich get off scot free. Who remembers that line “We’re all in this together”?
This Saturday hundreds of delegates from across the labour movement will be gathering at TUC Congress House to debate our response to the crisis in living standards and Government attacks on the lives of ordinary people. To defeat the government which dares go further than even Thatcher did we need to work together. The Labour and Trade Union movement needs to remain strong. The role strong unions play in creating a more just society cannot be underestimated. Strong union membership is unequivocally shown to correlate with a more even share of the financial pie.
In order to fight the vested interests at play globally and more locally within the UK we need to build bridges within the movement. We need to continue to recruit, educate and campaign together. We are strongest when we work together towards common goals, strong unions are vital to a strong movement. Most importantly we are best when we are bold. It’s time to offer some hope and aspiration to those struggling and to show there is another way forward.
Ian Lavery MP will be speaking at the first policy conference of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) on Saturday 2 November 2013 at TUC Congress House. You can find out more information and purchase tickets here