As the Tories are set to barely eke out an overall Commons majority this morning (May 8), TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady condemned Cameron’s divisive political tactics that will now spell another five years of pain and suffering for working people across the country.
“We have to hope that David Cameron’s pledge to govern as a one nation Prime Minister will be his first major U-turn – for his campaign and manifesto was anything but,” she said.
“His main political tactic was to talk up nationalism and deny the legitimacy of Scottish voters. And his programme for government is as divisive as they come.”
Chillingly deep cuts
As UNITElive has previously reported, the chillingly deep cuts to welfare that were at the centre of Cameron’s campaign were never detailed, and O’Grady noted that this can only mean that ordinary workers will now continue to bear the brunt of an unjust austerity regime.
“The welfare cuts that he has refused to outline only add up if taken from those in low paid work and the vulnerable, and will be used to fund tax cuts for the better off,” she said.
O’Grady outlined what today’s Tory victory will mean for trade unions and the workers they represent.
“[Cameron’s] proposals on trade union law are so draconian that they would make legal strikes close to impossible,” she argued. “This puts him far to the right of almost every mainstream party in advanced democracies, and is likely to leave many of his more thoughtful backbenchers uneasy at a time when living standards are still running well below pre-crash levels.”
But O’Grady was unyielding in her resolve that trade unions would not take the Tories’ attacks on working people lying down.
“He will face an unprecedented campaign from Britain’s unions against this attack on the basic rights of people at work,” she said.
O’Grady went on to warn of the damaging effects a potential EU referendum would have for Britain’s economic future.
“The prospect of a referendum on Europe will be destabilising for business and the economy,” she said. “Many of our best jobs and workplace rights depend on EU membership. I say to business leaders today that if you press for stripping away worker rights, environmental protection and consumer safeguards as part of a renegotiation then it will be harder to win the yes vote we need for a prosperous Britain.”
O’Grady called for a period of introspection from opposition parties but argued that now was a critical time to continue to challenge the government’s pro-austerity narrative.
“Other parties have had a disappointing night with talented and serious figures from both Labour and Liberal Democrats losing their seats,” she said. “Opposition parties should not rush to glib explanations for what looks like a complex result with very different trends in different parts of the country.
“But while they will need time and energy to rebuild they should not go quiet and allow the new government to win arguments uncontested – especially as we still only see a slow and patchy recovery that could be easily derailed by deep rushed spending cuts.”