Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Alistair Darling's speech

He has started well by congratulating the TUC on the work of the Commission on Vulnerable Workers.

He says the Government want to do more to enforce regulations.

But now it starts.

Times are tough.

We must maintain stability.

Our purpose as a Government is fairness (honestly??)

A stable economy is a means to this end...

The global economy is in trouble - he refers to the nationalisation of Northern Rock and more recently of the US financial institutions.

The credit crunch and the surge in food and fuel prices are affecting the whole world.

This is driven by growing demand from the growth in the economies of China, India and Brazil.

Inflation is up and growth is down across the world.

Times are tough.

He told us times are tough over and over again.

He justified his pay policy - again in answer to questions - on the basis that conceding more generous increases would lead to a wage-price inflationary spiral "as we have seen in the past."

This is nonsense.

The real reason for not offering more money to public sector workers is because the Government don't think that is a priority for the use of resources.

The local government employers aren't offering our members less than half the rate of inflation for any reason other than that the Government is not providing the sort of sustained funding that could provide proper pay.

The settlement of current pay disputes with offers around the current RPI would not drive up prices since the workers concerned are not producing goods which are sold on a market.

The Government would have to fund the increases either by raising taxes (or perhaps just collecting some of the tax which is dodged by corporations and wealthy individuals) - or by borrowing.

Borrowing to put money into the purses and wallets of predominantly low paid workers with a high marginal propensity to consume (i.e. spend the money in the economy) would have a reflationary impact and would be good for the economy.

On the key question confronting UNISON at the moment - our members' pay - this Chancellor has just offered us precisely nothing - and on the basis of a dishonest and misleading argument.

So that was Alistair Darling. I have heard him described as boring - and as a bank manager. His tone and body language answering questions are more like an irritated teacher dealing with toublesome children.

That was a waste of the time of hundreds of union activists.

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