Thursday, December 20, 2012

Grant Davey’s Christmas message to the Trade Unions

 Dear All
I’m going to make no apologies for the sentiments expressed in this year’s Christmas message given the very difficult years ahead of us and the strains and stresses many of our members are facing because of the actions of the coalition government.
This message is going to be political and I’m going to give you food for thought.
I’ve always been aware that Labour politicians sometimes have to say things which put strains on our fraternal relations but we’re comforted by the recognition that we’re all on the same side, campaigning to make the country a fairer and more equal place to live.
Looking at Northumberland over the last four years of Liberal Democrat decisions and direction, we’ve seen the loss of 1500 jobs directly and 1000 jobs indirectly, the removal of £105m from the Councils budgets and the absence of a proper plan which heaped unnecessary strain on services already creaking under the pressure. Working under the uncertainty of privatisation and not knowing the real direction of travel of your employers isn’t the way to encourage people to give their all.
The general lack of communication and ‘misinformation’ about the Liberal plans for the council hinders good working relations and 2012 will go down as the year before the ‘storm’.

My background and beliefs may be a little different to the politicians you have lived with in Northumberland, as I am a Trade Unionist at the core. I want to work with Trade Unions because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve spent 23 years as a Branch Secretary and I’m proud of that. My colleagues within Labour Group have also grown up as Trade Unionists; many are also members of the Co-op party and from these backgrounds have fought against this administration and the second administration the Tories run through the scrutiny process.
What I’m saying is I want to see an authority that is ‘at ease with itself’ and one that sees its workforce as partners and people not ‘cogs in a machine’ to be manipulated and cast aside.
We recognise we’re in a minority in this council with a Liberal Democrat majority which is often supported and propped up by the Tories. Not a single Liberal Democrat budget would have passed unless it had Tory support and make no mistake; the Tories are still the ‘nasty’ party whichever way they try to ‘spin the facts’. Next year is a big year. For the first time in 5 years the voters of Northumberland can make their voices heard and we need your help to win where it matters, at the ballot box and by winning the battle of ideas.

In 2013, we’ll continue to campaign to make the economic case for ‘in-house’ provision and will continue to tackle the dogma that lies at the heart of the Liberal Democrat decisions – private is best and public means 2nd class. We’ll continue to campaign on ‘what matters is what works’.
We’ll be launching our manifesto in January 2013 and we can promise it will be underpinned by a partnership between communities and their council. We’ll be setting out our plans to build council houses to tackle a scandalous waiting list, a ‘jobs plan’ aimed at securing good quality council jobs and increasing apprenticeships and the general aim of making Northumberland a fairer place. We’ll be concentrating on getting the basics right by investing in our clean and green services which have been damaged by Liberal cuts.

Labour has a vision for the whole county, and you are a central part of that vision. The last five years have been wasted years.
The people of this County gave a mandate to the coalition parties to make Northumberland a better place to live, work and visit. What the people of Northumberland have got back instead is job cuts in the public and private sector, the imposition of policies from the council’s masters in government, implemented without a squeak of opposition, which have seen working families bear the brunt of ‘austerity’ created in the City by unaccountable bankers and reckless traders and the rise of the ‘stealth tax’ in Northumberland with unfair charges for car parking and rising parish council precepts.

We are able to make the clear case for public services against those who would put their prejudice against public services above the needs of the people and workforce of Northumberland and we can make that case more powerfully by working closely with the Trade Union movement and its members.
Make no mistake, 2013 is a crunch year. It’s decision time for the people of Northumberland, it’s a time when ordinary people will be feeling the ‘coalition crunch’ nationally, it’s the time when the fight back starts.
The spirit of co-operation and comradeship in pursuit of our collective interests has never been more vital. I hope 2013 will be a year for all linked to the Labour movement to look back on with pride and a year we can all say – I was part of the fight back.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

Councillor Grant Davey
Leader, Northumberland Labour Group