Tag Archives: strikes

Poll highlights need for Lib Dems to develop compelling narrative

A poll of “blue wall” seats this week should make senior Lib Dems charged with delivering our next election campaign pause for thought.

Field work carried out by Redfield and Wilton Strategies last weekend shows Labour 7 points ahead of the Tories in seats the Conservatives currently hold in the south of England, but the party of Government gaining 2% and us going down 2% since the last poll a couple of weeks before.

Of the 42 seats that Redfield and Wilton count as the Blue Wall, there are not that many that we are seriously targeting so our 17% polling figure should not alarm us too much. However, the Tories are fixing their attention and massive resources on defending those seats and will not miss the opportunity to persuade people that these seats are between them and Labour not them and us. We will obviously be countering that where we are strong with local messaging so that people are in no doubt that it’s a two horse race between us and the Conservatives. We’ve been building very strong foundations in those seats over the past few years. However, we don’t want even a few people in the likes of Winchester and Esher and Walton thinking that they should be voting Labour to get rid of the Tories. If they do, then we’ll have Tory MPs, and surely nobody wants the likes of Dominic Raab in Parliament for another five years.

As Lib Dems we know the importance of targeting our resources very carefully. This, however, shouldn’t come completely at the expense of our national poll rating. The national mood music is very important both in our target seats and beyond. We need to be thinking about the political landscape for the next election and the one after that. Only by getting ourselves into more second places can we hope to properly break through. There is no point in winning a handful of seats in 2024 and ending up with the north face of the electoral Eiger to climb everywhere else.

Our national poll rating remains stubbornly low. We haven’t recovered from our coalition lows, except for that brief period when we were actually saying things that excited people in the early part of 2019. Capturing the imagination with a strong message and giving people a reason to vote for us is a good thing and we shouldn’t shy away from it.

We seem to be so terrified of saying anything that might upset the voters in the blue wall that we end up not saying anything at all. And those progressive minded voters who we need to  back us need to hear us talk about the things that matter to them too. And in truth, the things that matter to them matter to us.

I sense a frustration amongst activists in Labour facing areas that the increasingly centralised national Lib Dem campaign machine is not bothered enough with them.

We need to recover our boldness, passion and sense of indignation at what the Tories have done to this country super quick. We need to start using the P word, the S word the B word and the C word to show how the country can be a much better and happier place to live. We need to talk about ending poverty. We need to sympathise with the aims of our public sector workers who are striking for a decent pay rise and less stressful working conditions. We need to be much more robust in talking about the failures of Brexit which are damaging virtually every aspect of our lives. And we need to win the culture wars, not stand cowed as people are marginalised and demonised by the right wing media.

As Liberal Democrats we care deeply and instinctively about inequality and tearing down the barriers that people face that suck opportunity from them. That everyone should have enough food, safe and warm shelter and the resources to participate in life to the full should not be as controversial as the right wing media makes out every day, yet we don’t challenge them enough. We should be riding a coach and horses through the  Conservative narrative which sets people against each other. We want people to have a decent share of the pie, not fight each other for an ever decreasing pile of stale crumbs. So we need to start talking about ending poverty and giving people a fair crack of the whip.

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Plan ahead – rail strikes planned for Spring Conference weekend

The railway workers’ union the RMT has announced a series of strikes planned for March and April.

The dates of the strikes are the 16th, 18th and 30th of March, and the 1st of April.

The first two dates are the Thursday right before conference, and the Saturday of Conference, both of which dates might impact those travelling to conference.

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If I were a teacher would I strike?

I taught in schools and colleges for most of my professional life. At one stage I chaired our local union branch and joined in a couple of strikes. So you can guess where my sympathies lie with the current school strikes.

Now I don’t argue for pay parity between the public and private sectors of industry. In many areas of the economy the gap in pay between the top and the bottom of industry is eye-wateringly wide and contributes to inequality right across society. Simply copying what I see as immoral practices in the public sector would simply compound the problem. Instead the public sector, including education, should model a fair and equitable earnings distribution.

Teachers were put under huge strain during lockdown. Their teaching practices changed from day to day, many doing a combination of in-person and online teaching, they took on extra health risks, they had to keep adjusting their teaching plans to match the latest assessment/examination requirements – and doing all this while trying to home educate their own children.

As one teacher told The Guardian:

Teachers are on their knees. I absolutely love my job, I am still passionate after 25 years and have never considered leaving but every year a little more is asked and expected of us: we’re dealing with the creeping effects of growing class sizes, teaching assistants disappearing from the system, higher levels of poverty, inadequate school budgets. This week alone I have worked almost 11 hours’ overtime.

This is not just about pay, it’s about the workload and the impact this has on the students.

Ah yes, workload. Throughout my career I was generally treated as a professional, but not always. One boss would indulge in staff re-organisations every five years or so and that inevitably meant signing a new contract if you wanted a job in the new structure. And the new contracts always increased workload, whether measured in teaching hours or class size. I felt I was being treated as a functionary, hired to do a task. I loved my job, and loved teaching my students, and would normally put in 55 to 60 hours work per week, and far more than most people might think during the “holidays”.

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Sarah Olney criticises “appalling” rush to pass anti Strike Bill

Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney has criticised the “appalling” way the Government is trying to “sneak” through its new anti strike measures with the bare minimum of Parliamentary scrutiny. MPs will have two days to debate the measures.

Reported in the Standard, Sarah said:

It’s appalling for Conservative ministers to try and sneak this sweeping new law through with barely any scrutiny from MPs. It’s almost like they know their Bill would fall apart under even the lightest examination.

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Vince Cable co-authors anti Trade Union Bill article with TUC chief

Well, there’s a turn-up for the books. A former Business Secretary teams up with the head of the TUC to warn about the draconian effects of the Trade Union Bill introduced by the Government.

In an article for the Guardian, Vince Cable and Frances O’Grady say that the Bill is trying to resolve a problem that doesn’t exist. Anyone who was brought up in the 70s would surely find it hard to argue that today is even remotely as bad as it was then. They say:

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Opinion: The Trade Union and Workplace Reforms Debate

The issue of the unions and strikes is back in the political arena.

I have lost count of the number of times in recent years that the Tories have called for participation thresholds in industrial action ballots before they can be considered legal. Indeed I commented on similar Tory proposals for Lib Dem Voice back in 2011. This time the figure they are proposing is 40%.

Once again they are focusing on the public sector; this is clearly an attempt to throw some red meat to their supporters.

It is too early to say if this going to be a big issue in the coming General Election. The winter of discontent is a distant memory, and union membership has fallen dramatically since its height in the late 1970s. However all democrats should be opposed to measures that restrict the rights of working people to withdraw their labour.

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Cable backs right to strike and opposes strikes

Vince Cable speaking to mediaQuoted in the Independent

We believe that getting round the negotiating table is better than striking.

We do not believe unions should be striking and causing mass disruption when everyone has been affected by similar pay conditions.

This reflects the fact that a better deal for one group of public sector workers would be paid for out of taxes on other workers, that the strikes if successful would not win a better deal for working people in general, rather for some at the expense of others. There is …

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The weekend debate: Is mandatory arbitration the answer to public transport strikes?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

With the Olympics approaching and not all the details of staff conditions on London’s public transport settled, talk of how easy or not it should be to call a strike is often popping up in political debates. The answer from many Conservatives is to make strikes harder by demanding a minimum turnout threshold for strikes. That idea often runs into criticism and the one time I’ve sent a tweet which trended on the front page of Twitter’s website in its old guise …

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Opinion: Civil Service strike – the follow up

“Once more unto the breach” goes the rallying call from my Union Reps as we prepare to strike on May 10 2012. Following up the N30 strike on public sector pensions which I have written about previously on this blog, I issued an alternative rallying call – to get round the table and negotiate. But unsurprisingly ignored.

I find myself weirdly ambivalent this time. I shouldn’t be. It is fundamentally about funding my life throughout retirement and yet, the approach taken by the union since the previous strike does not do anybody any favours.

The three tests for me are: Do we …

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Opinion: Wednesday’s strikes – A Lib Dem trade unionist’s perspective

So, why am I striking?

The government is continuing to persist in their unaffordable and unsustainable claims. The Hutton interim report published in October 2010 stated that as a percentage of GDP, the cost of public sector pensions will go from 1.9% to 1.7% by 2030 due to the reforms that happened in 2006 under the previous Government.

The government is deliberately being less than honest over the true impact of the pensions changes in order to meet their pre-election rhetoric. This is nothing more than playing games with people’s retirement plans.

The government is not negotiating. They are using classic bully-boy playground …

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In defence of Jeremy Clarkson. Yes, really.

Jeremy Clarkson is an attention-seeking controversialist. That’s his stock in trade. He’s about as close as the British have come to embracing America’s shock-jock cult.

And he was at it again yesterday — seeking attention, being controversial — when he appeared on BBC1’s The One Show and suggested striking public sector workers should be shot in front of their families. Cue VT:

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Opinion: Trade unions, pensions and Labour

I have been following very closely the pensions dispute as it unfolds and one of my concerns is public sector workers could lose a lot of pay through strike action in what I am starting to believe is a political strike which they cannot possibly win.

I am also a little surprised at the way the government have handled things so far and, as a former national union representative, I have been amazed at times by their ineptitude.

Further confirmation I am afraid that the Tories and sadly many in our party don’t understand the real world of industrial relations.

So why do …

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Opinion: Why today’s strike action is wrong

Today in England and Wales, tens of thousands of public sector workers, many of them teachers, are expected to strike. Currently public sector workers largely enjoy more generous pensions than their equivalents in the private sector and the Coalition Government has acknowledged the growing difference in approach between the private and public sectors. The private sector long ago realised the rising cost and substantial risk involved in offering final salary schemes, based on years of service and end of career earnings, made them unsustainable.

The Coalition Government has a responsibility to ensure that pensions in the civil service are both fair …

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Cable and Alexander on union strike threats: there’s got to be pensions reform, but we want to negotiate

With trade unions threatening “sustained and indefinite” strike action if the Coalition goes ahead with its aims to reform public sector pensions in line with Labour peer Lord Hutton’s recommendations, Lib Dem cabinet ministers have been sticking to a simple message to calm the situation: there has to be reform, but we’re very hapy to engage in constructive negotiation.

Here’s Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable speaking today:

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Opinion: further curbs on unions are wrong and counterproductive

As someone who has been a trade union member since the age of 16 and a representative for almost as long I follow with interest any new developments in industrial relations in our country.

Employment law has been transformed over the past 25 years to the extent that is now very difficult for unions to organise lawful industrial action.

I believe Britain now has the most restrictive labour laws in Western Europe.

Not content with the status quo the Tory right are now agitating for even more restrictions, the principle one being that any ballot for action has to have at least a …

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Daily View 2×2: 29 October 2009

Good morning and welcome to October 29th. Today is the anniversary of the first performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the birthday of Boswell, the biographer of Samuel L Jackson, and the anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Raleigh (he was executed – I didn’t know that.)

It’s also the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which first set up a Constitution for Europe.

2 Big Stories

The postal strike is on
Read all about it on the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian:

Both sides blamed each other after three days of talks mediated by the TUC collapsed without a deal being reached. As late as evening there had still been some hope that this week’s strike action could be called off to relieve the pressure on Royal Mail.

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Daily View 2×2: 22 October 2009

Good morning readers. It’s the 22nd October and there are just 70 days left til the end of the year. Today is Derek Jacobi’s birthday, the 43rd anniversary of the first time an all-female group topped the charts in the States, and the 114th anniversary of a rather scary train-wreck at Paris’s Montparnasse station. Train wreck at Montparnasse, 1895

2 Big Stories

Postal strike poll puts blame on government as union announces action

The Guardian reports a Yougov poll in which voters put the blame for postal strikes squarely on Gordon’s shoulders.

Gordon Brown’s handling of the Royal Mail strikes comes under strong criticism from the public and Labour backbenchers today, with a new poll showing most voters believe the government should get directly involved in the dispute and force management and unions to go to the conciliation service Acas.

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