Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Does David Cameron Really Want an end to the BA Strike?

Today David Cameron used all six of his questions at PMQs to try to get Gordon Brown to encurage workers to break the BA strike, all the while emphasising the links between the Labour Party and the Trades Unions. I presume that he was doing this to try to counteract the effects of the Ashcroft affair, and to make the link: Trades Unions = bad, therefore Trades Union funding = bad, therefore Labour Party = bad.

I think he is wrong. It is not necessary to be in favour of the strike to have some sympathy for the workers having to face wage cuts and reductions in their employment standards.

The trades Unions do not have the power they once had, and they are not the bogeyman of yesteryear. Whereas fewer people belong to TUs, the recent behaviour of the Unions has not been such as to frighten the horses. In an era of unsteady employment prospects, even people who are not TU members can still see the usefulness of having an organisation to work for you and to act in your interests in relation to employers who are often much richer and more powerful than any individual worker.

I believe that the effect of Cameron's stance will be negative for the Conservatives, as they are seen to be trying to make the strike worse and to be anti-worker. Attacking the Unions in this way might shore up support among the core vote, but the public are not so partisan and Cameron looks too partisan on this front.

Unless, of course, his private polls are returning figures worse (for him) than the published polls, in which case he may feel the need to put out a few dog-whistles to the faithful.

Overall, I think he is wrong to go so strongly on this issue.

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