Unite Union Protest outside LGA Annual Conference in Manchester 03.07.2013
The LGA conference is cross party and beyond ‘closed’ party meetings that take place, the fringe sessions are open to anyone who is a delegate. So last Wednesday I took the opportunity to ‘cuckoo’ in on a Unison fringe called Rebuilding the future – a central role for local government (UNISON) which looked interesting to see another prospective.
The blurb said “Come along to the launch of a new report produced for UNISON by the Centre for Local Economic Studies (CLES) Consulting. The report reviews the economic and social impacts of local austerity cuts, and assesses the effects on local government’s place stewardship role. Local government is central to the life of local places. Councils are a key element in a network of relationships and collaborations which support people, communities and business. Austerity cuts mean councils now have less resource to ensure that effective connections and collaborations are made.
The report proposes a six point approach to help local government create demand in local economies and rebuild resilience in communities. This fringe meeting will be an opportunity to debate an alternative future for local government.
With speakers: Heather Wakefield, UNISON National Secretary – Neil McInroy, CLES Chief Executive – Jack Dromey, Shadow Housing Minister – Sharon Taylor, Leader Stevenage Council”
I’ve not put up a link to the paper as it was not much of a read and seems to tout the central Labour party’s line that we can borrow our way out of the fiscal mess, so no surprises there then.
What was a surprise to me was the language used by each of the speakers, in Conservative terms we obviously are not being complementary when we call someone a Socialist but we debate the need to balance the rights of those who employed with the need for companies to have Labour laws that allow them to be competitive. At the same time we work on how to provide for the most vulnerable in our society and protect the low paid. A sensible debate about rights, profit and the need to strike a balance. But to listen to the speakers you’d think we plotted with the bosses to keep the workers down, a sort of 1970’s rant that I had not heard for some time coupled with an approach to benefits that absolutely gets us to the point that is trying to be addressed now, completely de-incentivising the notion of work.
I like to think the Conservative party is about people getting on and a progressive approach to our society; it was clear to me as I sat at the back of the meeting that is a Conservative thing and Labour have not learnt anything from their debacle in office.