UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

We give you our consent to govern, don’t pocket it and ride away

Quoting poet Edwin Morgan, Mike Kirby urges UNISON members in Scotland to vote for public services in today's Scottish Parliament elections.

Our public services, the jobs, wages and pensions of our members are facing unprecedented assault from the “fiscal consolidation” and “austerity measures” imposed by the Conservative led Government at Westminster.

The October and March massive public protests in Edinburgh and London, together with the growing anger in the communities, the campaigning around trade union councils and local groups, are testing the mandate for these measures. Ideological measures, which attack the very welfare state and welfare systems which the social consensus since the second world war has built over generations.

While Conservatives and LibDems will attack public services for ideological reasons, and other parties will debate the pace and extent of cuts in services, and the choices to be made within the Scottish Budget, the UNISON view is clear. The choices should be for public services – publicly delivered. Public services which are for us all and enhance the quality of life of everyone.

The elections to the Scottish Parliament on 5 May provide the chance to send governments and politicians a clear message that there is an alternative, There is a Better Way and that Public Works.

The previous elections to the Scottish Parliament have broken a mould of the style and colour of government in Scotland. Politicians will feel most vulnerable at the ballot box.

While we face an election which could determine the purpose and shape of public services for decades to come, there may appear to be little to choose between the two main parties who would expect to form a government of some kind, outright, minority or coalition. In areas of social policy, prescriptions, a national care service, tuition fees, concessionary transport, they are all in favour of good things and against bad things.

UNISON Scotland has published our manifesto, For Public Services. What needs to be done to secure affordable, sustainable services, publicly funded and under democratic control.

This manifesto contains the principles we are urging on political parties standing in the Scottish Parliament elections. We will engage with all political parties, with the exception of the odious BNP.
The manifesto translates into a dozen or so key questions which you should use to challenge candidates. www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks

How fair is a council tax? Why do we bail out the banks? The 50% levy on public service pensions going to the Treasury to pay for the bail-out ? When is a pay freeze a pay cut? Police on the beat or doing ”back office jobs”? Personal care or a National Care Service? Fairly funded FE and HE? Who should control Scottish Water? Support for the “postage stamp principle” for power? How many new houses will you build?

And as we approach elections in May, we should say to those seeking election, “Don’t pass the buck!”.

We should remember the words of poet Edwin Morgan at the opening of the reconvened Scottish Parliament, “We give you our consent to govern, don’t pocket it and ride away. We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern well, don’t say we have no mandate to be so bold. “

Mike J Kirby
Scottish Secretary