Jamie Hanley, fighting to secure Pudsey for Labour was delighted to welcome Eddie Izzard to his campaign on Friday 23rd April. The seat which is apparently on the Tories' hit list has been red since it was won in 1997 by Paul Truswell. Having represented the Constituency as a strong MP since then, Paul is standing down for family reasons. He is hoping to be succeeded by Jamie Hanley who was brought up and lives in the Constituency. Jamie, a trade union solicitor for the past 15 years believes that it would be an honour to represent his local constituency in Parliament.
Although he is defending a majority, Jamie knows he is in for a close run fight. The main opposition was expected to come in the form of former Labour Party member Stuart Andrew, but it is recognised that the "Clegg effect" may also bring Lib Dem Jamie Matthews into the equation. The arrival of Eddie Izzard was a welcome boost to the very hard working and loyal campaign team. Eddie, Jamie and supporters walked from the office to Morrisons in Pudsey, before meeting surprised customers and staff in the store. Eddie delivered a strong message that it was still the same old Tories and said that he was trying to persuade young people to vote, perhaps for the 1st time.View Comments
Given the fluctuation in the polls since the first debate last week, and the new focus on the Liberal Democrats, it seems appropriate to look at what they really stand for when it comes to union members. In an appearance on ‘Any Questions?’ in late March - on the eve of the British Airways industrial action- Vince Cable, the Lib Dem shadow chancellor, had this exchange with host Jonathan Dimbleby:
Dimleby: If you were elected would consider outlawing industrial action in (the railway and airline) industries?
Cable: Well, you could certainly consider curbing them.
Dimbleby: Curbing them? You mean making them more difficult?
Cable: Yes. Indeed, and there are legislative implications, which has to be thought through.
Dimbleby: Is it the policy of the Liberal Democrats, if you were to have a position in government, to say we should toughen industrial relations law in order to make it more difficult for these unions, rail, air, whatever it might be, to take strike actions?
Cable: Well, if we’re talking about essential public services like the railway system then we should be looking at it, certainly.
What Cable means by "curbing" he leaves to our imaginations. This leads to uncomfortable questions for the Lib Dems about just how 'liberal' they are. If employees at private firms can be classified as essential workers, where does this policy stop?
Of course, this doesn't leave the Tories off the hook either. David Cameron was calling on Gordon Brown to intervene in the BA strikes before they even happened. Throughout the dispute, the Tories demanded that the government should take the side of the company over its employees. In this election, can we really risk giving power to parties that don't support (and in fact campaign against) the rights of working people?
Get involved and stop the Lib Dems and the Tories from getting their hands on the country.View Comments
In 1997, it was perfectly legal to pay workers £1 an hour. For a hundred years, Labour had campaigned for a national minimum wage to help end poverty pay. In 1999 Labour took the historic step of introducing the National Minimum Wage Act – one of the labour movement’s proudest achievements. For 10 years, the minimum wage has continued to rise, keeping up with inflation, and maintaining the same (or higher) spending power as it had when it was introduced.
The Tories opposed the introduction of the minimum wage, claiming it would be too expensive for businesses, and that jobs would be lost a result. How wrong they were.
Yesterday, when it launched its manifesto for a 4th term, Labour committed itself to doing even more for those earning the least. It announced that it would give the Low Pay Commission the responsibility to raise the minimum wage in line not just with inflation, but with average earnings as well. This would mean greater annual rises in the minimum wage, and a higher wage overall. More than that, they have also pledged that government departments, and those private sector firms contracted by the government, will be expected to pay a living wage of around £7.60 an hour – a pay rise for 200,000 of the lowest paid workers.
Contrast this with the Tories, whose manifesto contains a tax cut for 3000 millionaires, while doing nothing for those hard working people earning the least. They might claim to support the minimum wage now, but they opposed its introduction, and senior Tories have even claimed they will let it “wither on the vine” by making sure it doesn’t keep pace with inflation.
When you put these manifestos side-by-side, it's clear which party is on the side of working people.
Help keep David Cameron and his pals from getting their hands on the country. Join one of our weekends of action taking place across Brtiain.
Read more about Labour's manifesto.
Tory plans would mean 40,000 jobs axed, say experts. From the Financial Times: "David Cameron’s efficiency chief has told him to cut the public payroll by up to £2bn within a year of the general election… The projected saving implies that at least 20,000 to 40,000 public sector jobs would go during the next 12 months, said experts."
Of course, the Tories are trying to wriggle out of taking responsibility for what their cuts would mean for the families affected. They’re claiming they could cut the payroll bill without having make people redundant. So, how does one cut the public payroll without firing anybody? Well, they say you simply reduce the usage of contract and agency staff, and don't refill vacant posts (a process known as 'natural wastage') That way, no one actually gets sacked... Or, so they say.
But, they would say that wouldn’t they. The problem with their argument, however, is that many so-called 'natural wastage' savings have already been made. So, where else could the money come from? The only other way to make payroll cuts, especially at such a short timescale (only 12 months) is to cut jobs. That means 40,000 job losses in the public sector. And that's just the first year. We still know nothing of their plans for the public sector over the long-term. We do know what they did to the public sector last time though…
And, of course, these 40,000 are only the beginning. Slashing public spending doesn’t just threaten those who work directly for the public sector – it will threaten those who work in the private sector fulfilling government contracts. Slashing spending on government projects means less jobs in the private sector too.
Last time, the Tories told us unemployment was a “price worth paying”. Tell that to thousands of families who will be affected if tens of thousands of jobs are scrapped!
Join the campaign to make sure the Tories don't get their hands on the public payroll!View Comments
Approaching 60% of British children who fall below the poverty line live in households where at least one adult is in work. Children growing up in poor households are more likely to have poor health, to perform badly at school, to become teenage parents, and to come into early contact with the police. This costs us all in many ways. Shamefully, we also have the largest gender pay gap in the EU, and two thirds of low paid workers are women, meaning poverty in the UK has a female face.
Thousands of British people are known not to be receiving even the minimum wage of £5.80. And yet poverty experts report that a single adult, working full time, needs to earn at least £6.88 an hour to reach the most basic weekly standard of living; and much more in cities like London.
In 2010, this is a shameful state of affairs. Those who did the least to cause the current recession are suffering the most. We the undersigned, working for social justice and collectively representing millions of British people, call upon all prospective parliamentary candidates in the 2010 general election to pledge to act in support of those receiving poverty pay in their constituency by endorsing the five urgent asks:
Barbara Stocking CBE (Oxfam), Neil Jameson (London Citizens), Brendan Barber (TUC), Shan Nicholas (Child Poverty Action Group), Wes Streeting (NUS), Billy Hayes (CWU), Stephen Burke (Counsel and Care), Dave Prentis (UNISON), Sally Hunt (UCU), Dr Katherine Rake (The Fawcett Society), Derek Simpson/Tony Woodley (Unite the Union), Bob Crow (RMT), Peter Kenway (New Policy Institute), Paul Kenny (GMB), Fiona Weir (Gingerbread: One Parent Families), Don Flynn (Migrants Rights Network), Mark Serwotka (PCS), Eileen Devaney (UK Coalition against Poverty)
1. Safeguard the poorest: I commit to support an annual increase of the National Minimum Wage in real terms; to encourage the independence of the Low Pay Commission and to support a meaningful increase in resources for NMW enforcement
2. Spend our money ethically: I commit to actively encourage and support my local authority in the introduction of “living wage clauses” in every single public procurement contract that it awards to private contractors.
3. Learn from the best: I pledge to follow the example of employers like London Olympics 2012, Barclays and KPMG and generate employer interest in and support initiatives to introduce living wage policies in the public, private and third sectors as soon as possible.
4. End discrimination: I commit to actively encourage the government to strengthen laws relating to pay discrimination on the grounds of gender, race and disability by requiring all organisations to publish pay audits showing pay rates for men and women, including ethnicity and disability, at all levels
5. Public Sector in the Vanguard: I commit to parliamentary activity to root out low pay in the public sector in which almost a quarter of all low-paid jobs reside.View Comments
A report by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), one of the foremost authorities on global economic matters, says that, as predicted in Alistair Darling's budget, Britain's economy is starting to grow again – estimated at 3.1% a year. That puts Britain ahead of every other G7 nation except resource-rich Canada.
Yet, the report emphasises caution in light of what it calls the "fragility of the recovery". There are many variables at play in shaping an economy, and market forces can be incredibly volatile. This, they said "underscore(s) the need for caution in the removal of policy support." Otherwise, we could very well fall into a so-called 'double-dip recession', risking even greater job losses and long-term economic damage.
The Tories, however, seem to have their collective heads in the sand on this issue. This is the same party arguing for "clear and courageous cuts", an "emergency budget" seemingly designed only to introduce swingeing cuts, and whose Chancellor promised to introduce an "age of austerity" if given the reigns.
How can the Tories argue for swingeing cuts, even though top economists say it will threaten Britain's recovery? Simple: it's ideological. They don't care if cutting will threaten jobs and the economy at large; at their core, their first concern is the size of the deficit, and nothing more.
Remember, when faced with the last recession the Tories claimed that unemployment was "a price worth paying". Their policies resulted in a recession with higher unemployment, higher crime, higher foreclosure rates, and a slower recovery than we've faced. That is despite the fact that this recession is categorically worse in economic terms.
Do you really want to give the Tories the chance to threaten the recovery and the job market?
Join the campaign to make sure they don’t have the chance.View Comments
Chris Grayling, the Tory shadow Home Secretary, made headlines this weekend after it was revealed that he supported the right of B&B owners to turn away gay and lesbian couples. Speaking to a right-wing think tank, Grayling was secretly taped saying that B&B owners should have to right to decide "who does and who doesn't come into their home".
Of course, as the Tories' chosen heir to the Home Office throne, Grayling should well know that, under regulations introduced by Labour (and, of course, opposed by the Tories) any business, even one run from home, cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, and they're also prohibited from discriminating on other grounds, such as race and religion.
Many on the blogosphere have accused Grayling of being a homophobe, but it’s not as simple as that. The truth is, Grayling rebelled against his party and voted for the very regulations that prohibit this kind of discrimination. Yet, when faced with a gaggle of right-wing true believers, he claimed to oppose the very tenets of the legislation he voted for.
The Tories say one thing and do another. Can you really trust them? The Home Secretary is a major office of state, with huge powers over our lives . Can we really afford to have someone who says one thing and does another in such a key position? The answer is a clear 'no!'. Equality isn’t negotiable.
Sign our petition-
David Cameron would pull Britain out of the Social Chapter, one of the most important pieces of equality legislation ever introduced in Britain. Click here to sign our petition letting him know that that's unacceptable.
Click here to find a campaign weekend in your area. Your help will contribute to stopping Cameron, Grayling, and their cronies from getting their hands on the country.
A record of who voted which way on the "Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations", the legislation banning business from discriminating against LGBT people: The Public Whip
An article going in depth on the comments and the reaction: The GuardianView Comments
This morning, Gordon Brown called the election.
As GMB general secretary, my top priority is speaking up for the best interests of our members. And now it's the turn of working people like you to decide who is going to speak up for you in Parliament.
In the last 13 years of Labour government, the 600,000 workers I represent have experienced real change. I remember the bad old days under the Tories, when kids had to wear their coats into school because the government wouldn't pay for heating. But things have changed since then. I want to make sure my grandchildren continue to get the first class education they are receiving at their newly built local school.
Governing is difficult, and we know that over the last 13 years Labour hasn't always lived up to all our expectations. They haven't given union members everything we've asked for. But, when it comes down to it, Labour has changed Britain for the better.
And what about the Tories? Make no mistake, we know what they stand for: greed. Big cuts to public spending, soaring unemployment, scrapping rules that give mums and dads time off - and tax cuts for millionaires. The Tories would wreck Britain. No wonder they have 63 bankers standing as their candidates in this election. They don't speak for ordinary people.
Union members face a choice. The day after the election, we are either going to wake up with a Labour government, or a Tory government - it's as simple as that. Labour or Tory. Fairness or greed.
It's a choice we all have to make. If you don't cast your vote, you will still have to live with the consequences of the election - and that could be 5 long years of Tory rule. The consequences of that Tory rule will be dire for everyone except the wealthiest few, which is why we need to do everything we can to stop it happening. We need to make sure people are voting Labour, and where possible are getting active and helping campaign for Labour too.
That's why we are calling a weekend of action on 17th and 18th April. We are asking you to give up just an hour or two of your time, to help prevent 5 long years of the Tories. I'll be out campaigning that weekend, and I hope to see as many union activists as possible joining me - letting other people know the truth about the choice we all face on polling day. Click here to find out the nearest event to you:
This election is a choice for all of us - do we want a government that cares for the majority, or one that just protects the narrow interests of a wealthy minority? To me, the choice this election remains clear, which is why I'll be casting my vote for Labour.
General Secretary, GMBView Comments
A group of Trade Union and local Labour Party activists hit the streets in Bentilee and Townsend ward in Stoke-on-Trent Central on Saturday to deliver local Labour Party material.
The group of around 30 campaigners delivered to over 3,500 households in the area, which is represented by three BNP Councillors.View Comments
A growing belly, worrying about what pram to buy and wondering about baby names... . As an expectant mum, there is already so much keeping me up at night.
Now, my sleepless nights are spent worrying over the extra challenges mums could face if the Conservative Party takes control at the general election. What will happen if they strip away the protections our government affords working families and mums-to-be like me?
This Mother's Day, Unions Together is giving me something constructive to think about during those sleepless nights - slogans that tell the Tories we're not going to give them the chance to destroy families' rights. We're collecting loads of ideas and will plaster the best slogan on one of those mobile billboards and drive right up to Tory headquarters with it.
Tell us your ideas for a slogan we can use to protect the rights of mums and working families. Contribute your ideas now:
As I prepare myself for motherhood, I know I face a host of life changes. But one change I will not accept is the Tories threatening my rights during pregnancy.
Right now our government protects the health and safety of workers who are pregnant, those who have recently given birth, and women who are breastfeeding. They make sure that if I need to go to an antenatal checkup during work time, I can't have my wages docked. Rights like these are guaranteed because of European law. Cameron has made it clear that he wants to pull Britain out of European social and employment guarantees like these.
Families are facing more burdens today than ever before. My baby will be born after the general election, and the worry of what a Tory government could mean for me and my new family is one burden too many. Let's send a message to Cameron that working families' rights matter, and let's make sure that voters know what the Tories really stand for.
Please take a few minutes and add your slogans to mine. I can't wait to see the ideas we come up with:
I hope to soon be spending my sleepless nights worrying about baby names, not about what rights a Tory government might take away. That's why I'll be out campaigning, baby bump and all, to make sure the Tories don't get the chance.
Thanks for all your help,