Friday, 9 December 2011
Whose side are you on?
This week presented a rare opportunity for opposition politicians to come together in the House of Commons to oppose the deeply unfair reforms of the public sector pensions. By supporting a motion laid by the SNP and Plaid Cymru which called for the UK Government to reverse unfair changes to public sector pensions, the Labour Party could have sent a clear message that this issue was more important that party politics. Labour MPs could also have sent a message to the two million or so people who stood on picket lines and marched on rallies last Wednesday that their fight was their fight and their number one priority.
Instead, Labour politicians showed that tribalism is more important than the protection of the public sector pension scheme. They took the side of the Con/Dems on Wednesday. The motion was defeated 242 to 11.
This debate was the first one to be heard in the Commons in the last year-and-a-half since pension changes were first mooted. In this time, there have been 36 opposition debates held by Labour where public sector workers and their pensions have been ignored. A significant number of Labour MPs also crossed picket lines at Westminster last week even though some vowed not to.
I was proud to visit a number of picket lines last week and march with my fellow Plaid Cymru members, including our leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, during the Cardiff rally. Labour politicians were conspicuous by their absence; a fact that did not go unnoticed by many of the people taking part in the rally. This non-committal position reflects the deep malaise their leader Ed Miliband now finds himself in by refusing to back the strikers and going as far as condemning the withdrawal of labour.
If Labour politicians cannot back the public sector workers on an issue as clear cut as the unjustified degradation of hard-earned pension rights then surely they should be asking themselves whose side are they on?