Thursday, June 17, 2010

UNISON NDC 2010: Economy Debate: Motion 70

(I managed to speak during this debate) "President, Conference, John Gray, Housing Associations branch, London Region. Speaking in support of Motion 70.

Conference, organising the union to effectively defend our members is absolutely key, while campaigning and protesting against cuts will also be crucial. But we have also got to carry out one more thing – there is another major battle that we have got to win and that battle is going to be the Battle of Ideas.

It is incredible that due to the massive failure of lassie-faire financial markets a Labour government which for all its faults we see now was progressive, has been kicked out of power and replaced by a free market Tory fundamentalists and their orange book liberals. Not only this - but they have been able to put the blame for the recession on our so called bloated public sector with our so called gold plated pensions.

The truth of the matter is that the government deficit has been caused by huge drop in taxes which was directly caused by recession which in turn was directly caused by the theft and gross reckless incompetence of many of the same supporters and funders of the so called modern compassionate conservatives. It is amazing that we have allowed this argument to become common place even amongst our own members.

Conference we need to win the battle of ideas, we need to explain that if it was not for recent government spending we would now be facing a depression not a recession, we need to face down the pub bores and the daily mail editorials and argue that you do not have to have savage cuts in public spending. There is an alternative argument.

Conference, we need to argue for a rebalanced mixed economy, an economy based on a given belief that public servants delivering accountable public services are a positive and not a negative. That paying benefits for out of work builders while we have 4 million on the housing waiting list is not only a waste of money and people’s lives but is also the wrong way get us to get out of recession. Having multi-millionaires who admit to paying less in taxes than their office cleaners is not the way to raise enough money to pay off government debt. We need to be confident that there is recognised research such as is found in the book “spirit level” that societies that have fair taxes on the better off end up being better societies for all rich and poor.

Finally conference, while debate in this hall is important – the battle of ideas will take place outside in our branches, in our work place with our employers, and crucially in our community. It is of course a battle that we must win. Thank you".

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