Monday 13 September 2010

Populist rhetoric without substance from the Unions

It's the TUC conference today so it is easy to predict the chilling headlines of the evening news as regards economic policy. The Unions are back, they want mass strikes and street disturbances.

Even the supposed moderates like Bredan Barber are talking tough and Bob Crow others are thinking wistfully about the poll tax riots; a sad episode in which no one or body came out looking good and certainly not the country.

Anyway to today, apparently no one voted for austerity (I don't think the Unions leaders count Tory votes as eligible for their stats) and this must not happen, so instead what we need is a whole load of demonstrations by the public sector - more waste as the answer to cutting waste.

The Government does need to trad carefully, the jobs market can't handle 500,000 new entrants in one or two years. Yes, the Country will save money swapping quangocrat salaries for jobseekers allowances, but we need to grow the private sector too. This is why the Government need to be more radical, setting up real innovation and tax free zones in the North where the losses are, the South is fine and the City marches on. Many of these ideas are in play however..

There is though a big question for the Unions....What would you do?

Here there is a gaping whole in the Unions answer. For even the Labour Party were promising big cuts in public expenditure at the election. Moronic Ed Balls seems to try to berate the Government for the cut backs, but still offers little in terms of a credible thought-out alternative. There is just no admission of the challenge the Country will face with GDP-debt ratio at 100%.

This is as much as I can find from Brendan Barber:
'There is still time to adopt an alternative approach of stimulating growth by maintaining spending and using a fairer tax system to ensure that those who gained most from the boom years now pay their fair share of undoing the damage they caused.'
Stimulating growth by maintaining spending on non-economically viable production - great way to destroy more wealth, plus raising taxes. He must have missed the 50% headline rate and the bankers bonus levy. It is not a great new idea for getting out of recession though - tax and spend - more of the same of what caused the problem in the first place.

The real nail the Government need to meet though is the nonsense about this being a City caused crisis. of course the banks going bust has made a big hole, but the bigger damage was the creation of a structural deficit by the last Government - that owed nothing to the City and everything to vote buying for a decade by Labour.


Budgie said...

It is now firmly established among tribalist Labour supporters that they were done down, and indeed the country was done down, by the 'greedy' bankers.

No thought is allowed of the fact that Brown was in charge of the entire economy (and boasted of this) and that the 'top' bankers (ie the CEOs) were Brown's mates.

Only the LibDem ministers appear capable of defending the necessity to cut the deficit. As ever the Tories seem to be in a dream world, so certainly will not be able to counter this Labour/Union propaganda.

Dick the Prick said...

Top post. I guess there is massive scope for innovative schemes in the North.

I like the prism of the argument that the North etc will be adversley affected (HT - BBC ad infinitum) by the cuts with bugger all mention of them having unduly benefitted (and I say this from Huddersfield). Same goes for the wimmin group speculatively challenging the budget for some perceived discrimination. Ho hum.

Anonymous said...

What else can the unions do? With the TUC in place, none of them will sit around promising cooperation, the audience wants to hear tub-thumping rallying cries, not consensus politics and a breakdown of the deficit.

It's all noise.

Andrew B said...

What would I do ?

A lot of the lost jobs will be in the north.

People like to own houses.
People like to think they live in a nice place with rising values and if they need to move job, do not need to move house, but if they do, can sell easily.

This is true in the the London Commuter Belt and to a lesser extent in the other large conurbations (Bristol / Birmingham / Manchester)

Not so many people want to move to Newcastle.

There has been a gradual depopulation up there for nearly a century.

There is a circular issue here.

You do not want to live up north because you are less likely to get / keep / move between a good job up there

You do not want to start a business up north because there is not a large pool of skilled, mobile labor (as there is in the south).

There are no natural resources that are in great demand (it used to be coal, wool, and things that used a lot of coal and wool - steel and textiles)

Until recently, the govt basically kept a pool of (we hope) skilled workers up there in government jobs, and probably hoped that some would go off and start businesses or go and work in the private sector.

There are no good answers.

All commonsense tells us that you cannot make people move to places they don't want to go to.

All commonsense tells us that you waste a lot of money getting businesses to locate in a particular area, but that is the only answer.
I would try to minimise the waste by making the subsidy guaranteed for a long time - 20 years.

If you have no natural resources I would substitute an unnatural resource - how about a couple of big nuclear power stations and the promise of cheap electricity?

szjon said...

Personally, if I were in charge of a union I would be seeking arms.

Democracy, not plutocracy. With cabinet all going to banks and bankers coming unelected to cabinet we can all see what has gone on.

Nationalised banks? Privatised government more like.

Vive la revolution!

CityUnslicker said...

Budgie - only the Unions say this and I agree it needs to be tackled as the untruth is a big one.

Dick - well said.

Anon - That depends on whether they have their strikes, then it is more than banter. I don't expect them to have a differnt line, but perhaps a more coherent, justifiable one.

Andre w- Ricardian law is helpful here, something will turn up. I do think that the North is a challenging place as the extractive materials industry died. By Edinburgh is fine, Leeds and Manchester have decent economies. if anything there has been crowding out by the Government - but I also totally agree that the incentives have to be long term to make this work. I have lived in the North, it is a beautiful place, there is no reason it can't have an economy.

Budgie said...

CU said: "Budgie - only the Unions say this and I agree it needs to be tackled as the untruth is a big one."

I know you are an agreeable chap but I must disagree. I am acquainted with a number of ordinary Labour supporters who all say 'it was the bankers'.

In labour areas the argument has not just started, it has come and gone and been lost. Labour is good at propaganda, the Tories are useless and need to wake up to what is really happening.

Unsworth said...

"those who gained most from the boom years now pay their fair share of undoing the damage they caused"

That is the telling remark. It shows that Barber is of the view that only these particular taxpayers should take all responsibility and make all reparations in the form of higher tax burdens. Why is this? Why was Barber not decrying the actions of Brown over the past thirteen years? Where is his criticism of Brown's gross mismanagement and profligate spending of our money?

And, as these taxpayers are the unnamed bogeymen, Barber and his colleagues can play this game indefinitely. Time for Barber and his militant collagues to name exactly who they would wish to cough up the cash that Brown has spent.

I've yet to see any return on my cash which Brown and his colleagues 'invested'. Anyone got any ideas as to where it all went?

Marchamont said...

Shows just how out of touch Bob Crow and his mates are.

The average public sector worker might go on strike for a day or two here and there - but mass action, I don't think so.

Train drivers and other specialist groups could cause trouble - but if they were told their jobs were on the line it'd be a different story. And if the government played hardball they could easily be slapped back into line.

No, doesn't worry me.

Steven_L said...

Loads of hot air and propaganda around. Everyone's lost the plot, things might get a little twilight zone in the Autumn.

The thing that everyone's missing is, the number public sector workers are 60 or over anyway. Most of them want to be laid off.

Electro-Kevin said...

I can't afford to strike. I am basically a unionised Conservative (big C). But don't forget that there is fear and intimidation which drives strikes too. There are strike breakers from the '80s who are till reviled at my depot - even people who joined the industry 20 years later treat them like dirt and are encouraged to do so.

It would make it a darn sight easier for me to cross a picket line in support of the Government if they hadn't already broken so many crucial promises.

Anonymous said...

Andrew B, you've utterly missed the point.

Why if you're an employee in the North East would you take a risky job in the private sector when you can get a "job-for-life" with a massive pension and no accountability in the private sector?

It's the preponderance of public sector jobs that has killed private sector enterprise in the North East...