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

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Labour Biggest Party in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Southampton...

Detailed analysis of the local election results can wait, but one obvious conclusion can be drawn from the headlines. What do Edinburgh, Birmingham and Southampton have in common, apart from being large cities with very different histories and economies? All three areas have been the scene of dedicated UNISON campaigning against the ravages of privatisation and cuts. Campaigns that have embraced both the workforce and the communities that they serve.

Whether taking action against enforced pay and job cuts or tackling head on reorganisation and outsourcing of services, UNISON branches in all three areas have proved the value of defending local services against those politicians for whom adherence to a neoliberal, market led agenda is more important that providing public services for local people.

These branches have made a virtue of taking their campaigns to the community, using local media and direct contact with community organisations, pressing the case that our members and our services should not be sacrificed in the name of “austerity”. All three have been able to demonstrate that publicly provided services best serve local needs.

Our local lay members, the officers assisting them and the support of the national union, particularly through the General Political fund, have all been crucial. They all deserve credit and congratulations. Often when local campaigns are operating, those running them are frustrated by the relentless day to day sheer grind of the amount of work that is involved, and no one can doubt that it takes persistence and a great belief in the fight to keep going. But our branches do it.

The election results speak for themselves. In all cases the parties pursuing the austerity agenda have been the parties punished, whether they were Tories or Lib Dems. Let us hope that the Labour leadership take the lessons that are on offer.

Communities up and down the country that have been offered an alternative to the Austerity agenda have seized the opportunity and will not take kindly to being offered “austerity lite” by Labour councils.

The time for policy navel gazing by Labour leaderships, whether in Westminster or Holyrood needs to be replaced by an alternative economic strategy that offers hope, and an agenda based on community needs, not the solutions offered by big business. Miliband and Lamont, please note.

Jane Carolan