Credible Opposition

Apparently the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron believes his party is now the only “credible opposition” to the Tory government. This seems strange given that there are two parties with considerably more MPs. Clearly the labour party, now home to more members than all the other parties combined, is still a credible opposition, but I want to.look at the Lib Dems themselves, are they credible?

They suffered hidious losses in the last election and now their entire parliamentary party could fit inside a Toyota previa. This hardly seems like a party ready to overthrow the government, but I guess if they stick together and stick to their position they could cause some impact.

But they are not even doing that.

The official Liberal Democrat policy on the recent trade union bill is to oppose ot, so how did the whip get on when it came to last week’s vote? Well the leader, Farron himself, his leadership campaign manager Greg Mulholland and their former leader Nick Clegg all declined to vote. If the leader, his top leuitenant and the former leader can’t even get themselves to a vote on something they strongly oppose as a party how on earth can they consider themselves a credible opposition?

Attack on the unions

I imagine I’m not the only one who noticed the anti trade union section of the Conservative manifesto.

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The idea that people are being “protected” from strike action is a joke. The right to strike is the only thing that can guarantee workers rights. No one wants to strike, ever. By striking you lose your pay for the duration of the strike and you lose pension contributions. Strikers are often worse off for striking and it’s generally people in situations where they cannot afford to lose that pay who feel the need to strike. A need most often put on them back attacks on their conditions or on their wage.

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We will also repeal nonsensical restrictions banning employers from hiring agency staff to provide essential cover.

This is the bit that irks me the most. Strikes only have an effect if the work stops. Strikers withdraw labour to show their bosses that they are, in fact, essential to the business and should be recompensed as such. By allowing these services to continue with agency staff the tories are completely negating the a ton and removing the only tool workers have to ensure they are treated fairly.

The Conservative party have long been in favour of putting the big businesses, the rich, their donors, ahead of the people who work hard on floor. The fat cats in the ivory towers watch the money roll in while the people doing the hard work to make that money take home a pittance. They boldly spoke if trickle down economics, the idea that as the rich got richer they would start to pay more, but the reality is that the majority of the time as the big businesses get richer they find ways to pay their workforce less. Unions and strikes gave them some protection. Thatcher went to war with the unions, removed many of their rights and left them with a fraction of the power they had to stand up for their membership. New Labour failed to revoke these laws, but did at least leave them with some power. Tory plans will remove the little power the unions have left and leave workers no way to defend themselves.

The reasons for this become all too clear when you look at this graph:

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The share of the income of the top 1% holds an inverse relationship to the number of union members. It suits the tories, and their pals in big business that fund them, to kill off the unions once and for all.