The Trade Union Bill is an abuse of power from a government well versed in doing just that. - unionstogether

The Trade Union Bill is an abuse of power from a government well versed in doing just that.

The Trade Union Bill will be put through its final stages in the Commons today. It has been a demonstration of political power at its most naked.

Let’s not mince our words here - this is a Conservative Party drunk on their first majority for nearly two decades, using the state and the full weight of the law as an outlet for their own party political prejudice.

With strike days at record lows and after absolutely no calls from employers it is hard to see why this Bill was considered a legislative priority.

In the real world, you are far more likely to see employers and unions around the table than you are to see them at loggerheads. At Nissan in Sunderland for instance workers and employers are working together to make our car industry the envy of the world.

But this Government are much more interested in harking back to the day of their political idols, than in playing a part in modern day industrial relations.

The Financial Times were right to warn the Government that they are needlessly “crossing to the other side of the road to pick a fight”.

The Tory MP David Davis in his objections to this bill warned of the danger of governments of any stripe using power and law to target specific people or groups. But now dropped proposals would have forced trade unionists to inform the authorities before they posted on social media about a strike.

The fact those proposals ever left a darkened room at the Business Department, never mind saw the light of day in a draft Bill shows the lengths this Government are prepared to go to stifle those they disagree with.

But trade unionists are not alone in being on the receiving end of government ire.

Charities have been gagged from making their voice heard in the political debate, the Lords have been put under “review” for daring to stand up for millions of working people and extraordinarily journalists have been warned off “misusing” Freedom of Information to “create” stories. Something many of us call journalism.

Not content with stifling opposition or scrutiny, the Government are also redrawing the boundaries to make it harder for the Labour Party to win an election.

This Trade Union Bill should not be seen in isolation, it speaks to the wider priority of this Government – to stifle those that do not meet their approval. And that is why it is so dangerous.

Louise Haigh is the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley and the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister for Civil Service and Digital Reform.

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