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

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Labour's chance for a Sea Change in Local Government

Whilst the impact of UKIP splitting both the Conservative and Labour vote is still rippling through politics at large the Local Government Association (LGA) is busy assessing its own structural make-up, with the much anticipated swing back to a Labour led LGA. It is a strange world indeed for the umbrella governance of local authorities. More often than not the LGA is out of sync with the colour of the national government and these latest changes will be no exception to that rule. One might be tempted to say that these means Mr Pickles is about to stop listening to the LGA but the truth he is didn’t anyway - even whilst under Tory control. And to the credit of Sir Merrick Cockell he at times has been a far more effective opponent of cuts to local government than the frontbench team of Ed Miliband.

There is a new opportunity now for the LGA to get back around the table and, alongside revisiting the pay envelope, develop an alternative Labour vision for local government.

A vision that doesn’t include cheap privatisation deals to line the pockets of contractors whilst skimming the pay packets of the workers.

A vision where the local government workforce is respected and duly rewarded for their skills and service delivery.

A vision where local government is prepared to intervene positively in the lives of those blighted by the cuts.

A vision where councils are actually proud to be reliable and local employers of people delivering directly provided services. Sadly too many Labour councils are still prepared to outsource their services to the lowest bidder.

Austerity is the worst possible excuse for outsourcing and solves nothing other than a quick fix for officers and politicians who lack vision and political commitment to public services. If the UKIP vote is a wake up call to Labour it must surely be that they have trampled over their own working class voters and the privatisation agenda has aided and abetted them crush their own workforce.

Anne Rose