Thursday, 6 December 2012


As many others have already said, Tory Chancellor George Obsborne got so little right in his Autumn statement that he didn't even manage to make it in the Autumn. 

His claim that Britain has “a welfare system that supports out-of-worklessness" is about as correct as it is grammatical; though with weary familiarity he claims his benefit cuts will target 'scroungers', the majority hit will be those claiming in-work benefits. It's all part of the familiar put-on that the crisis was somehow caused by the unemployed or by excessive public sector pay, when it's clear it was actually brought on by the greed and stupidity of his cronies in the banks. They don't just live off our labour, they try to hold us responsible when they fritter away all the cash.

Which makes his further attempts to make a yard sale of worker's rights (first unleashed to the faithful at the Tory conference, now soon to be a law hitting you) nothing more than base misdirection. I'm not normally a fan of clicktivism. But in this case anyone who works for a living (like, you know, most of us) really should be signing this petition...

Disclaimer! Check Andrew Hickey's comments below about the Labour origins of this petition. Which wouldn't bother me unduly in itself. (While completely disdainful of Labour, I recognise you can't always choose your political bedfellows.) But he also warns of a high level of politically partisan spam. I haven't received anything like that yet, but shall add another update here should the situation change.


  1. Absolutely agreed here -- though I do have some hope that the workers' rights thing won't go through -- but I don't think the petition is the way to go with it.

    I'd suggest that writing to one's own MP (through ) is likely to be the most successful way of changing minds. If your MP is Labour or Green they'll be voting against anyway, if they're Tory they'll be voting for, but the Lib Dems (especially backbenchers) and the various nationalist parties and independents may well be swingable either way.

    What will happen from signing that petition (as I know to my cost from signing one on that site a few years ago) is that you'll get spammed by the Labour party every day for two years, and have to threaten legal action to get them to stop.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Andrew.

    So far I've only received a message to say it's been signed by 11,754 people and counting. But certainly, if I do get Labour spammed I’ll amend this post with a public warning.

    You’ll have heard me say this before, but for anyone reading this who hasn’t… Labour’s anti-Tory rhetoric over the costs strikes me as the height of absurdity, seeing as they pursued exactly the same market fundamentalist policies that got us into this sorry mess in the first place. Senior Labour bods seem to get invited to speak at anti-cuts rallies, which to me is like inviting the National Front to an anti-racist rally because they’re against the BNP. I’d sooner receive spam about generic Viagra, quite frankly.

    Ironically, I would probably suggest against writing to your MP for the very reason you are for it! I don’t believe it will make any difference in the majority of cases. More broadly, it would seem to suit the Government to have a situation where they can attack us collectively while we respond only individually. Petitions can have a role, as can legal challenges. (And this nonsense must surely be subject to legal challenge.) But I personally favour collective responses such as demonstrations, strikes and direct action such as those conducted by the exemplary UK Uncut.

    That said, I don’t see this as any kind of factional point. If writing to an MP's what someone wants to do, I won’t be trying to stop them.

    1. This is a case where collective action may well be better than traditional political action of the 'write to your MP' kind, I agree -- and if a non-"Unions Together" petition were available I would sign it.

      But your comments about Labour are precisely why I would advise people *not* to sign this. "Unions Together" are "THE CAMPAIGNING VOICE OF TULO - THE TRADE UNION AND LABOUR PARTY LIAISON ORGANISATION." (caps theirs). They operate out of Labour Party HQ, email addresses added to their petitions get added to a mailing list which gets sent mail by Glenys Kinnock, John Prescott and others, and their campaigns exist for Labour partisan advantage rather than to produce real change.

      I don't want to have people's principled anger turned into Labour's partisan gain :-/

  3. That's worth knowing, thanks for telling me that.

    I'd be less bothered about Labour's partisan gain if I thought they were genuinely against the cuts and in favour of workers' rights. As things stand, I don't believe that for a second.