Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The two Ronnies of labour politics? ‘Red Ed’ and ‘Blue Balls’!

Yesterday we had the chance to hear from the Labour shadow minister for Higher Education at the London Regional Higher Educational training day at SOAS. The introduction from UCU and UNISON national officers gave a good overview of the current state of play in particular in regards to our pay dispute.

So I took the opportunity to ask Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP, whether she would be supporting our pay claim this year.

As the Chair of a UNISON branch in London, with spiralling living costs, I am often appalled at the level of debt many of our members are in, which has got worse and worse over the last four years of frozen pay.

I hear all too often from members who have turned to loan sharks and the spiral of debt those parasites encourage. It's a worrying trend that indicates that many of our members are now being pushed over the edge.

At least 15 members of our branch have recently signed up to Credit Union to pay off their debts - some of them paying off a 5,000% interest loan....

Today I went to a lunchtime strike rally of NSL parking enforcement officers in Camden who were taking their first of two days strike action against pover pay (see photo).

And what did these members hear from Ed Miliband? That their pay should remain frozen!

Ed Balls went one step further and said they should have their pay cut!

This was frankly shocking to hear and actually disgrace. No wonder Labour lost millions of votes from their core support since Blair and his ilk convinced New Labour to embrace neo-liberalism.  

The fact that the unions elected so called 'Red Ed' makes it all the more embarrasing and discrediting. 

If this is what 'Red Ed' is like in opposition, I hate to think what 'Blue Balls' might be like in government.

The 'Two Eds' are acting more like the 'Two Ronnies' of labour politics – trying to impress and out-do each other, whilst the joke is on them, except it's not funny.

Instead of trying to outdo the government in their attacks on public sector workers, the Two Eds should be opposing them. The role of a labour opposition is to be the voice of the labour movement in parliament – the clue is in the name 'opposition.'

UNISON, with our sister unions in Higher Education, are going all out to break the pay freeze so that our members in poverty pay get a decent rise this year.

Rather than sitting on the fence, we want support from the labour front bench. Will Shabana Mahmood commit to doing so?

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