There are those who reach through shattered glass to nick a pair of trainers (can I admit to being so old as not to appreciate the attraction of footwear which aren't even proper shoes?)
Then there are those who profit from the privatisation of public services, extracting a surplus out of taxpayers' money and passing it on to shareholders. And those who help them.
I am not inclined to excuse either, but when considering a moral comparison I think the eighteenth century can be called upon to help.
"Tis bad enough in man or woman,
To steal a goose from off the common,
But, surely, he's without excuse,
Who steals the common from the goose."
That rhyme belongs to an earlier era of privatisation, when common land was enclosed in the interests of private profit - and against the interests of the mass of the population (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure). (Also see http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/british_poets1.html).
Today's equivalent is the privatisation of public services - one pernicious variant of which is outsourcing. And this modern day enclosure of the commons of our public services has its Parliamentary champions - the All Party Group on Outsourcing and Shared Services (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/outsourcing-and-shared-services.htm).
The Chair of this gaggle of subsidised (by the outsourcing industry) privatisation-geese is some Tory you've never heard of - but it's Vice- Chairs are purportedly Labour MPs. One is Siobhain McDonagh (http://siobhainmcdonagh.org.uk/joomla_folder/) who apparently represents Mitcham and Morden.
Having (once) risen to the giddy hights of (very) junior ministerial office, Siobhain is now focused on helping shareholders to maximise value at the expense of taxpayers. Her only previous claim to anything other than the obscurity which is her destiny is for undermining the last Government by attacking the then Prime Minister in 2008.
The other Vice-Chair is an even more obscure Labour. MP with what seems to be a name made up for satirical purposes, young Tom Blenkinsop (http://www.tomblenkinsop.com/). Tom, perhaps sensing that he will never amount to much in the labour movement, has also hitched his wagon to the interests of shareholders rather than voters (such as those in Teeside who elected him).
At least Siobhain has the excuse of having fallen for Blairism when it wn fashion. Tom's excuse is a mystery.
The challenge for UNISON (and in particular for our terminally ineffective and hideously embarrassing " Labour Link") is what we do about MPs from a Party we fund jumping so enthusiastically into bed with people who want to attack our members and savage our public services.
There is an answer (http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/) but it's not one to which our leadership is (yet?) receptive. Supporters of the Morning Star need to reflect deeply upon how they relate to the leadership of our Union. Having supporters in leading positions is of little value if those supporters serve only to divide or hold back our struggle.
A hat tip to UNISON Anonymous for blogging before I did (http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2011/09/privateers-back-all-party-group-so.html#more). (But, comrades, why do you pull your punches? I have seen you deploy real venom when criticising those you perceive as "ultra-left" but somehow you can't quite manage that when confronted with the open goal of Blairites sponging off our movement in order to get into a position to do us real harm. Shape up now my anonymous friends! We "trots" need you "tankies" to remember which side you're on in a fight with Tories - and sooner rather than later!)
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