Saturday, 8 August 2015

Time for the middle ground to reassert itself.

Two articles caught my attention in today's issue of The Times. The first by columnist Emma Duncan was subtitled "Whether shopping, dining out or finding a job, we've moved into a world of less security, but more opportunity." Whilst primarily about the usefulness of "pop up shops" it indicates a mindset that I find disturbing that comes from right wing commentators.

Over the years we have seen a drive by governments, particularly under the Tories to undermine our rights in the workplace. Always disguised under the heading of "reform" lots of these measures have not just made working lives less secure they have undermined hard working families to the degree that many have become afraid of the future.

The decision to charge for Tribunals and only allow them after two years plays into the hands of bad employers, a process which is now eating even into the Public Sector where you would think Government Departments would at least be more reasonable in their approach.

But no we have seen a drive against trade unions, with facility time (to represent members) drastically cut or even removed almost entirely as did Bromley Council. The Tories even launched a drive to remove "check off" across the public sector whereby union subscriptions were deducted by pay sections in the name of saving money even though it cost next to nothing.

Then on top of "Pop Up" companies there are the dreadful "Zero Hour" contracts.

As  Emma Duncan admits at the end of her column:

It means we cannot rely on companies to look after and we will have to look after ourselves.... we will have less security and more opportunity.

Most working families have to find money to pay for rent, food ,their children's clothes every week on a regular basis. For the highly paid this may have always been an option but the low wage economy puts people in constant struggle with only now quite limited working benefits to fall back on them. In essence the taxpayer is paying for the low wages of workers by propping up bad employers.

That's why I could never be a Tory.

At the other end of the spectrum was the latest news from North Korea:

Two thirds of North Koreans now face chronic food shortages amid a government in rations and a drought that has destroyed food crops.

North Korea has faced famine before, the last time in the nineties an estimated 4 million people died. This in a country that ideologically describes itself as a "workers state". Communism has always seen vast famines arise not just because of it's problems with nature but because socialist economics simply don't work.

The way forward for us all is a more mixed and socially responsible society. There is a way to combine entrepreneurial enterprise and have rights for ordinary working people.

The extremes of left and right which seem to dominate political discourse these days are the problem.

A new way is needed. The politics of the old parties has failed.

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