After nearly two years of no fiscal policies whatsoever, current Labour leader Ed Miliband and Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls have both made similar statements over the last 24 hours defending the coalition government’s public sector pay freeze. This is in stark contrast to just a few weeks ago when both were still spurting out their “too fast, too soon” narrative – however, following Labour peer Lord Glasman and Blackley & Broughton MP Graham Stringer’s criticism of Ed Miliband’s leadership they have now changed their tune completely.
Now, following a complete fiscal policy u-turn by Miliband and Balls, Labour support the cuts and agree that a 1% pay rise over the next couple of years for public sector workers is the right thing for our country. I am a public sector worker, I don’t want my pay to be capped, but I was smart enough to realise in 2010 that it was necessary. As a result, of the public sector pay freezes, I have had to forgoe certain luxuries (overseas holidays etc) – but I know that in the longer term, we’ll all be better off if we sort our finances out sooner rather than later.
The PCS and Unison unions disagree. They are now starting to distance themselves from Labour and following statements from both those unions over the last day, I suspect this is the beginning of the end for Labour. Certainly when unions that support Labour financially claim that the party is “emulating the Tories on many issues” and the BBC reports that PCS union leader Mark Serwotka has said Mr Balls’ comments were “hugely disappointing”, while the general secretary of the RMT rail union said he was signing “Labour’s electoral suicide note”.
Nobody can blame the unions for acting they way they do (and saying what they say), after all – they are simply protecting their own interests. But public service unions have no interest in anything outside their little “public sector” world and need to realise that we are all in this together. This country will be better off when everyone accepts that cuts to “nice to have” services rather than services we “need and can’t do without” have to happen.
The Tories and Liberal Democrats realised that in 2010 – it’s taken a further two years for Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to realise it. When are the rest of Labour going to catch up?
Milband and Balls may have signed Labour’s electoral suicide note, but it’ll be Labour’s grassroots activists that bury the corpse of the party if they continue down the old and tired “too fast, too soon” argument.