Labour treasurer Diana Holland has supported the TUC decision to call a general strike, the first one since 1926. This is a good time for a call to disband the unions.
Trade unions first appeared during the Industrial Revolution, and at that time they had a useful role to play. New-fangled assembly lines reduced many workers to performing elementary mechanical tasks for which little qualification was required. That essentially made them interchangeable and dispensable, tipping the balance of negotiating power too much in favour of employers.
Collective bargaining was therefore an essential check, a tool for maintaining a fair equilibrium in the workplace. Hence the unions, with their ability to organise workers into a cohesive force able to use strikes as a way of ensuring equitable pay, decent working conditions, sick pay, retirement benefits and so forth.
However, it’s hard not to notice that things have changed since the 19th century. Unlike Queen Victoria, today’s princesses are photographed naked. Unlike Disraeli, today’s politicians neither write nor, one suspects, read books. Unlike those poor tots in workhouses, today’s children spend most of their time playing with prohibitively expensive toys. And, of immediate relevance, unlike those soot-faced chaps turning nuts on conveyor belts, most of today’s labour is highly qualified.
Individual qualifications obviate the need for collective security. Qualified labour holds a cosh over employers’ heads simply by virtue of being qualified and therefore hard to replace or bully. No sane boss would underpay, mistreat or arbitrarily sack a good employee for he’d know that finding a replacement may be expensive, time-consuming and generally counterproductive.
So what exactly are the unions for? These days? They are an out-and-out anachronism, one that ought to have been phased out in parallel with the social and industrial conditions of Victorian England.
Admittedly, there still may be a few occupations where workers are interchangeable, and there some limited presence of organised labour may be desirable. But surely teachers and university professors, to name one example, don’t fall into that category? And yet even our academics have their union, proving that they are justifiably reluctant to rely on their competence as the starting point of bargaining.
Organised labour no longer has a useful role to play, which allows it to concentrate on increasing its own wealth and might. This gives inordinate power to the unions or, to be more precise, to their leaders. Not only can those chaps make the Labour party do their bidding, but they can blackmail the whole country into… what exactly? What is it that they actually want? Apart from ruling the roost?
According to a Labour source, ‘Both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls made that view very clear this week. What is vital is that the government changes course on its disastrous economic plan, which is creating huge anger across the country.’ Now, since 80 percent of Labour’s funding comes from the unions, the Eds’ views will not contradict those of the TUC. So both Labour and its paymasters want the government to stop even token cuts in public spending and revert to adding to our public debt, already over a trillion pounds. They want to solve the problem by making it worse.
In other words, not to cut too fine a point, they wish to destroy our economy and with it our liberties. For the only way for the state to keep up its suicidal policies, against fundamental economic principles and indeed common sense, is to assume total control of the economy, thus acquiring inordinate power over the individual. And since the modern state is circumscribed by the bureaucracy running it, in effect both Labour leaders and their puppet masters wish to exploit ‘huge anger across the country’ to acquire dictatorial powers.
Nothing new about that – the previous paragraph is socialism in a nutshell. Of course all three major parties are socialist nowadays but, at least at their grassroots, they aren’t socialist to the same degree. What the unions and Labour preach, and now threaten to practise, is pure, unadulterated Marxism.
In that connection, it’s useful to remember that ‘Red Ed’ Miliband acquired his nickname against the generally pink backdrop of Labour politics. He isn’t just ‘Red’ compared to Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, he’s ‘Red’ compared to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Ed is also refreshingly ignorant about economics, as demonstrated by his generous admission that he doesn’t ‘mind the rich as long as they get there the hard way.’ What Ed means is that he does mind those who inherit their wealth or acquire it through investments. The classic communist stance running in the Miliband family is that only toil, preferably physical, ought to be rewarded with money. Ed’s economics are different from Pol Pot’s only tactically, not in principle.
Now he and the other Ed flap their eyelashes and whisper flirtatiously that they don’t really want a crippling general strike. The best way to stop flirting and come across would be to disavow their party treasurer in no uncertain terms and sack her, effective immediately.
But they are neither willing nor able to do anything like that. Holland, after all, is a career union stooge, whose links with the TUC may be even stronger than the Eds’. On top of her day job, she’s assistant general secretary of Unite (something that may be regarded as conflict of interest in some quarters). And, as the party’s treasurer, she’s the one who knocks on the unions’ door with her hand outstretched. That makes her well-nigh untouchable.
Only strong, resolute, union-busting action on the part of the government can prevent the national catastrophe the Marxists are trying to perpetrate so wickedly and irresponsibly. Such action could only be taken by a strong, resolute government, which is rather the opposite of the one we are cursed with. Margaret Thatcher, where are you when we need you?