Saturday, July 04, 2009

Forum 09: Harriet Harman

Harriet had a warm introduction from National Labour Link Chair, Steve Warwick. She seemed to be in a relaxed and confident mood. Started off making very positive remarks about UNISON being the voice of public services in CLPS, councils and Parliament. The importance of collective bargaining in workplaces. This is a very difficult time. Hard to overstate the crisis. Booming markets one minute then no housing boom. Then MP expenses. The anger of low paid UNISON members who are also paid out of public purse. Anger most of all from Labour Party activists since we expect these things of the Tories not Labour. Really important that don't judge all MPs by this standard. The strain does hang over all MPs. Important that we change the system. But remember also Cameron's £24,000 per year for his stately home. The Daily Telegraph deliberately used to the leaks to target Labour MPs. However, we can't say anything about it now since the public is so angry. There is more to come and Labour side will have to face very a difficult process. Tories want it to cloud the political debate.

What needs to be brought forward is if the Tories had been in power they would have said “let the banks collapse... let the recession take its course and cut public spending now”. At the recent international economic conference she had assumed that everyone would be flocking around Obama on his first visit – no, they were all following and speaking to Gordon about what to do over their economic crisis's.

Thanked unison for its work on equality and how without unison the Equality Bill would not have happened and still need our support. Cameron apologised yesterday about Section 28, now they have worked out it wrong but they are still voting against the Equality Bill.

The Q&A went okay. She answered questions about MP expenses., privatisation, pensions and equalities. She was not aware of plans to privatise and market test 75% of NHS services and said she was sure that there are no plans approved by ministers to do so.

She finished by reminding us that we have got to be determined and united. If we struggle between ourselves at the moment remember the Tories would slam the door on the unions. We have our disagreements but we must unite. Don't believe we are written off we are not.

Steve Warwick formally thanked Harriet for her speech and asked her to remind the Labour Party of the importance of having a manifesto for the next election that 1.3 million UNISON members can all sign up to for.


Anonymous said...

A very positive report John. How did the forum respond to the challenge posed by the recent UNISON survey which reported that 70% of public service workers did not intend to vote Labour at the next General election? Was this discussed and what action is to be taken? How will labour link reach out to the non labour link majority of the union and make the case for a Labour vote?

Paul Cooney, Huddersfield said...

See this link
for the facts re TCS, driven by this Govt. It's astounding that you simply report that HH was unaware of these moves. I'm a Unison branch sec in health and we are all campaigning against these specific plans for further privatisation of the NHS. Open your eyes and smell the coffee.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon
Yes, this did come up and I’ll try and post on these issues in more detail but I think the key is influencing the Party manifesto to include commitments that will motivate our members to get out and vote Labour.

Hi Paul
The post was actually a report not a commentary. The major issue at the moment in UNISON is the 75/25 privatisation "proposal" not the existence of TCS which I am sure that Harriet is aware of.

Hope you will enjoy the Ed Miliband report I hope to post later!

I do think I will do a post on the relationship between the Party and unions. Which IMO is still the Labour movement family – warts and all.

I actually like to wake up to a nice cup of tea in morning rather than ‘orrible coffee.

Here’s wishing you bad luck as PPC for the Greens in Huddersfield next year!

Paul Cooney said...

Out of date John, I'm afraid. I'm not a member of any party but am an independent socialist. You'll find that the aim of the Govt for TCS is further privatisation of provider services and if you think that a smaller ratio than 75:25 will be ok then you're more out of touch than I thought. Any privatisation of the NHS is a disgrace.

Paul C

TonyC said...

Paul - what's does stating the obvious in such a divisive and strident way actually achieve? The whole union is against the privatisation of the NHS so it's surely about how we step up that resistance rather than scoring cheapshot points against UNISON Labour Link? If senior ministers have ben put on the spot about this and agreed to do follow it up with the Health Minister surely that is a move in the right direction? Tony

John Gray said...

Hi Paul
It may be helpful if you actually read what I have written? The privatisation of the NHS is wrong – the question is what do you do about? You have chosen the road of becoming an “independent socialist” (whatever that is) to oppose it. Good luck to you. I don’t think you will achieve anything via this route but there again you think the same of my route.

Off now for a run followed by a nice cup of English breakfast tea.

BTW – why was there a parting of the ways with the Greens? I’m curious?

Hi Tony

Anonymous said...

Clause 28

Tory "out gay" member Andrew Boff voted against repeal of Clause 28 when councillor at Hillingdon

strange he never apologised

is that what being a libertarian tory means

never having to say your sorry

Anonymous said...

how do we respond that a majority will vote tory or worse rather than left in any of its many shades

wake up and smell the coffe

are members are going to the right