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

Monday, 12 December 2011

IS THAT A CRACK IN THE COALITION? The Truth about the Bust Up

Even those for whom weekends are for more popular pursuits, like watching Celtic beat Hearts, or voting for Harry from McFly in the ‘Strictly’ semi finals, there has been no escape from the Big Euro Bust Up.

Cameron crossed the Channel and told promptly the Euro club that he wasn’t going to join them in their latest bout of masochism and flagellation, much to the delight of the Tory backwoodsmen every where. This wasn’t because they are not fond of the odd bout of flagellation. It has in fact been a speciality of the nasty party for at least the past thirty years, but it is also true to say that while they like inflicting pain, they don’t like it when continentals tell them it’s good for them.

For the right wing of the Tory party, the EU has been the bogey man that that haunts their dreams. Mention the EU and like attack dogs, they bare their teeth and growl.

Nick Clegg, however, has been touring the TV studios over the weekend to tell anyone who will listen that he is very, very disappointed with his coalition partners.

Is this because he regrets the huge number of public sector jobs that have been thrown on the scrapheap?

Does he regret the wage cuts that have seen demand in the economy plummet?

Does he regret the poverty that has been inflicted by cutting benefit levels?

No, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are worried about the damage being inflicted on “the City” Clegg believes that Cameron has damaged the prospects of our financial services industry and left its fate with the European partners. But Cameron believes that is precisely what he saved.

That would be the Financial Services Industry condemned today, a condemnation issued by its own regulator the FSA. That would be an FSA that says of its own performance:-

"The report concludes that the FSA was too focused on conduct regulation at the time and its prudential supervision of major banks was inadequate. The FSA operated a flawed supervisory approach which failed adequately to challenge the judgment and risk assessments of the management of RBS.

"This approach reflected widely held, but mistaken assumptions about the stability of financial systems and existed against a backdrop of political pressures for a 'light touch' regulatory regime," he said.

Of the Royal Bank of Scotland, the same report condemns:-
The “bank’s management capabilities and style; governance arrangements; checks and balances; mechanisms for oversight and challenge; and in its culture, particularly its attitude to the balance between risk and growth."

This measure of mea culpa is touching but confirms what the majority of this country has known for years- that the financial crisis in this country was caused by greedy rapacious bankers.
But both the Tories and the Lib Deems think that the city is worth defending .Did anyone mentions two bald men fighting over a comb?

There is another approach. Last week UNISON’s policy committee issued its own statement, worth quoting in full.

“UNISON has been rightly critical of the European Union’s response to the economic crisis: an overarching emphasis on fiscal austerity combined with a renewed neo-liberal drive towards greater competition, market liberalisation and a downward push on wages.

The Head of the European Central Bank maintains that its sole remit is to maintain price stability whilst the German and French governments are pushing for European treaty changes that will, for Euro zone countries, enshrine balanced budgets in national constitutions, impose fines on ‘errant’ member states and give the European Court of Justice powers over national parliaments’ rights to set their own budgets.

These policies have led to the situation in which the banking sector across the EU has been completely unfettered and deregulated, with the consequences that are currently being seen across the EU in the form of the debt crisis.

The real consequences of these acts, however, have been seen in the austerity measures that are being put into place in countries across Europe, notably Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy where, in the latter two cases, unelected governments are now in the process of drastically cutting living standards and public services, and adding to the already unacceptable unemployment levels. Such policies are now likely to be replicated throughout the euro zone, starting with Spain where a conservative government believes that it has such a mandate.

As in the UK, as a union we reject the necessity for working people to bear the brunt of these economic policies, and believe that what is necessary across Europe is a bold policy of public sector investment to stimulate demand and jobs as opposed to the reiteration of the status quo that is causing misery to millions.

UNISON has offered its full support to our sister unions across Europe throughout the current crisis and will continue to do. As a union we will continue to play a part in EPSU and the ETUC to urge the adoption of alternative economic policies, and support demonstrations and lobbies as and when these are called.”

So we can stand beside the people of Europe, or we can fall for the propaganda that this is about British interests. Which side are we on?

In the meantime remember, whether Tory or LibDem, they are all merchant bankers at heart.