Thursday, 5 February 2009
British Jobs for British Workers - v3.0
This is my last stab at the whole 'British jobs for British Workers' debacle, I've posted 2 other pieces on this subject; ranging from a potty mouthed rant to an attempt at humour. My frustration with Labour (a party I once supported), and its betrayal of the British workforce, is something I personally will take a long time to recover from, as I suspect will the UK as a whole.
Gordon Browns' recent explanations of that foolish sound byte are as incredible an explanation as I've heard in my entire life. Despite being armed with the benefit of hindsight our PM produced a barely incomprehensible elaboration of a simple and concise, if somewhat ill advised and nuanced, pronouncement. It's obvious Gordon never meant it and knew he was not in a position to deliver a "British anything for any British Person" - but at the time riding high on economic fairy-tale success it was a neat sound byte. A sound byte I might add that even then smacked of BNP sentiments. It was also, ironically, delivered at a time when foreign workers began their massive exodus to the UK to take the very jobs he guaranteed - perhaps Gordon should have talked to the Fitters, Joiners, Electricians and many others who 2 years ago were being savagely undercut by workers willing to bunk up 10 to a cardboard box to gain a foothold in the British success story, and send some Sterling home.
My nephew is a bench joiner, he makes staircases and roof joists in a factory. At the time Gordon was uttering that ill fated phrase my nephews older experienced colleagues were being "let go" and replaced with considerably younger and cheaper Polish joiners. To further compound the loss of the experienced older tradesmen, on whom the young apprentices and tradesmen relied, they now faced the complexities of trying to work in an industrial environment with Polish joiners who could not speak a word of English. Then, pre-depression, everybody accepted it reluctantly, the building trade was booming courtesy of rocketing property prices; it was OK, the older tradesmen could work anywhere, there was plenty of work after all.
Well here we are now, many of the immigrant workers are leaving, and the ones in employment are hanging on to their jobs - still considerably better paid than equivalent jobs in the economies from whence they came.
The Total Lindsey dispute looks as if it may have been resolved, but has it? I can't help feeling that Labour, the party of the industrial working classes, hid behind pretty spin and lied to us about having any commitment to British jobs.
Of course technically they didn't lie; if you are one of the handsomely remunerated bankers who have been baled out and still looking forward to your bonus (perhaps slightly reduced to spare Lord Mandelson from too much embarrassment) - you would be entirely justified in feeling that Gordon delivered on that promise.
All the while the workers picketing the dozen or so industrial sites throughout the UK were being tacitly accused of xenophobia or racism - by a political party purporting to represent them; not the traditionally middle class, Conservative voting, financial sector workers. Accusations of bigotry against striking workers is a tactic successfully deployed in the past, but it should be seen for what it is - a cheap guilt trip courtesy of a Labour party that should have scrapped much of the Thatcher anti-union legislation but didn't. These disgruntled workers are just decent hard working folks, for the majority of whom racism is an anathema. Labour seem to think if a little bit of guilt shuts them up - that's a valid negotiating stand: anything but deal with the real source of their unhappiness. They are right to be angry, where are the £ billions of bail out money for them?
Labour is content to back a French Oil company (Total) in it's desire to employ 100s of Italians and Portuguese workers, sleeping in a barge anchored in Grimsby, working on a £200 million contract in the UK - I'd like to see that happen in France, a considerably more 'Socialist" country than ours. All the while industrial, retail, service and a myriad of other businesses are failing daily - as a direct result of Labour's policies in cahoots with a profligate and greedy banking sector. Labour and the banks are co-conspirators in the biggest betrayal of the working classes in the UK since 10,000 troops were mobilised in Glasgow to stop strikers in their demands for respect and a reduction from a 54 to a 40 hour working week.
I am not a nationalist, I believe in the right of workers to move freely throughout the world to secure gainful employment, there is no conflict in this. The USA depends on international trade for its wealth, but has no problem protecting key industries, as do many other countries - and they rightly do not feel they should apologise for doing so.
If there is one role we should expect our elected representatives to fulfill with complete commitment, without apology for xenophobia or hand wringing over unjustified worries of being accused of racism, it is the protection of it's own voters, taxpayers and indigenous workforce.
Labour's failure to protect British workers has opened the door to the BNP, and to nationalist sentiments - it will be many of their traditional supporters who will embrace the BNP at the ballot box. The anarchist in me, says good - let's punish them, they screwed up big time. On the other hand the Liberal in me says the BNP will bring nothing good - a flawed political philosophy based entirely on tenuous claims of race and nationalism. I also fear the Conservatives will try to build on these corrosive sentiments to secure some additional electoral advantage, probably successfully.
Without corrective action, quick and effective, Labour will be responsible not only for their own long term unelectability (is that a word?) but the demise of the British traits of fairness, tolerance, a sense of liberty, empathy and compassion - or perhaps they already are.
There I've got it out of my system now, I think...