Monday, September 25, 2006

Don't Get Fooled Again?

Oh dear, the UNISON website now confirms that our General Secretary welcomed Gordon Brown’s Conference speech, stating that; “there was enough in his speech to give us hope that he will listen about the direction of reform”. Mind you “it was only in his emphasis on "the driving power of social conscience" and "community" that he hinted at a different approach to public services if he becomes prime minister.”

We should be happy because Gordon has “hinted” at a different approach to public services if he became Prime Minister? No we shouldn’t. If Gordon Brown wanted to reassure Labour supporters of his commitment to Labour values he should do more than hint.

If you read the whole text of Brown’s speech it is hard to see where these hints are to be found.

When Brown says;

“And let me say that the renewal of New Labour must and will be built upon these essential truths: a flexible economy, reformed and personalised public services, public and private sectors not at odds but working together so that we can truly deliver opportunity and security not just for some but for all.”

This is essentially a restatement of New Labour economic policies. A flexible economy, in their language, means one in which we don’t have proper trade union rights. And when the public and private sectors work together they do so to enable the private sector to take a profit out of public services. We should be fighting for trade union rights and public services, not congratulating a Labour leader with no commitment to either.

Brown was not at all dishonest about this. He said; “We can't just be pro-Labour we've got to be pro-business too.”

I have already commented on what Brown said about the NHS. What is clear is that he made no commitment to halt or reverse the tide of cuts and privatisation. As UNISON observes officially on the website;

“He did not however make any comment on the current market-driven reforms of the NHS through which the private sector has become involved in patient care and services such as NHS Logistics are being privatised.” If we are supposed to take this as a “hint” that he is not in favour of the privatisation which he imposed on the tube in London then I think it is just conceivable that we are fooling ourselves.

It is great news that NHS Together had a packed fringe meeting at Conference and that Dave Prentis laid down a challenge to Labour activists to back UNISON's motion to conference calling for a stop to the privatisation of NHS Logistics and a re-think on strategy, saying:"There are MPs who will join us on a picket line to save a ward in their constituency. Now they have got to have the guts to stand up and say enough is enough."

But surely Gordon Brown is also an MP, of whom we should be demanding that he say “enough is enough”. He didn’t. He won’t. He doesn’t deserve our support. We need another candidate who will back union policies.

1 comment:

nora pearce said...

actually i don't care who the leader of the labour party, may or may not be, as long as that person gets some sense into the department of health.
there is no accountability for the numerous I.T. commisioning mistakes, the latest being E.S.R.[ electronic staff records] a massive accident waiting to happen, and all the bright sparks in the D.O.H. thinking up new reorganisations.
i have seen no benefit at the 'coal face' for the millions of extra money ploughed into the health service.