In a democracy, should a governing party change electoral processes in its own favour without a public debate? Big changes are afoot, which will be defended as sensible and appropriate, but all of which will benefit the Conservative Government, and which have not been agreed by any other Party:-
• English Votes for English Laws, will prevent non English MPs from voting on matters deemed purely English. This can be justified by devolution to the other home countries, but favours the one Party that has long won the most seats in England, and because under the Barnett Formula that affects financial allocations to the whole UK, it will directly affect the other home countries;
• Individual voter registration (IVR) means households can no longer register their members. Individuals must register personally. But this has already led to the disappearance of around two million voters in Inner City areas that would be expected to Vote Labour;
• Reduction of seats – the Conservatives plan to reduce the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs, drawing new boundaries on the numbers of voters produced by Individual Voter Registration, and so affected by the missing voters in the Inner Cities;
• Trade Union reform – Unions will lose most of their power to fund Labour, while the power of Businesses to fund the Conservatives will be untouched.
The current electoral system is badly flawed. No party in modern times has won a majority of votes cast nationally. In May the Conservatives won power with 36.9% of the vote. Even the Labour landslide of 1997 was won on only 43.2% of the vote.
But fundamental changes to our democracy need open debate taking full account of the views of the public and parties across the spectrum. These changes are dangerous and partisan whatever your political outlook.
Cllr Bill Urry – Roundhay Ward Leeds
Support Executive Member for Homelessness and the Causes of Homelessness
Trade unions working for Leeds City Council have joined forces with the political leadership to fight the Government’s Trade Union Bill.
The Bill currently being debated in Parliament would severely restrict workers’ rights to take industrial action to protect jobs and services.
UNISON, the GMB, UNITE and UCATT all represent members who work for the local authority and they have welcomed the support of Councillor Judith Blake and her leadership team for the national campaign to oppose the Bill.
Councillor Blake said:
“The proposed Trade Union Bill could adversely affect the positive industrial relations we have. We believe it is unnecessary to raise ballot thresholds in respect of industrial action, as industrial action is a last resort and we can work together to avoid it.”
“If workplace issues are important the trade unions will always remain able to organise industrial action, regardless of additional regulations the Government seeks. ”Councillor Blake added that any plan to prevent public sector employers from deducting trade union subscriptions would be “unnecessary and petty”.
Councillor Blake added that the Council believed collective bargaining provided a positive framework for positive employee relations.
UNISON Regional Organiser Dean Harper said:
“We welcome the support from the Council because this Bill is grossly unfair and anti-democratic.” and Jon Smith, Regional Officer for the GMB said “It is welcome that the employers from Leeds City Council are standing shoulder to shoulder with their employees in fighting this bill. It certainly calls into question who this government is representing. As a member of the Tory Government, David Davis MP, has said, the Bill would not be out of place in Franco’s Fascist Spain but has no place in modern Britain.”
“We will campaign against this attack on our human rights with all the energy we can muster and we are delighted the leadership of Leeds City Council share our opinion.”