So the big boy who did it has finally run away!
The announcement that David Cameron is to step down as an MP was to my mind in no way surprising at all. It sits comfortably with the blasé, old Etonian aloofness and apparent indifference to the damage left in the political wake of so many of the policies that he personally championed. And what a legacy of damage the invertebrate former PM has left for everyone, except the most affluent.
He will of course be remembered by many for the economic sleight of hand utilised to justify the brutality of austerity politics. He, above everyone else, will go down in history as the person who is singularly most culpable for Brexit. He will also be remembered for pandering to party donors, big business and the insurance industry in policy and patronage.
For my part, I will never forget or forgive him for the relentless 6 year campaign he has waged against workers’ rights and the Trade Union movement.
It began before he even became the Prime Minister through the unholy alliance that was the Con–(not so)Dem coalition government. In a speech many months before the 2010 General Election he declared war on the “compensation culture”. Now, everyone and anyone with any modicum of sense of course knows that the compensation culture is, at best, a myth, the product of the insurance industry's spin machine; and at worst simply a lie. There therefore had to something else going on; and upon taking his seat at the throne of Westminster power (with his pet poodle Nick Clegg at this feet) his real objective became pretty clear and pretty quickly. It was no less than to finish the work that his political pin up, Margaret Thatcher, started – the complete and utter destruction of the Trade Union movement in the UK.
Cameron may have been daft but he wasn’t stupid. He understood that the way to begin to achieve his goal was to attack the way trade unions were financed. So, we had LASPO, the portal and the talk of increasing the small claims limit. That talk is now becoming something of a reality; and how Theresa May deals with the issue now will be the first real test of the prime minister she intends to be. Next there was the abomination that is Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act. Never in the history of legislative reform has such widespread and significant violence been done to individuals' rights in such a small section of a Bill – 351 words that removed the basic right to a safe workplace for millions of British workers. Finally there was the Trade Union Act, which ultimately did not go anywhere near as far as David Cameron wanted because of a hard fought Trade Union campaign and Cameron’s nose being bloodied on several occasions as the Bill passed through the House. But it still remains arguably the most anti-Trade Union piece of legislation since the Combination Acts.
So, “just call me Dave” while you will not be missed the legacy of the damage that you did to workers’ rights will be felt for generations to come unless our political leaders, North and South of the border act immediately. You have left a political challenge to unpick and reverse the damage that you have done. It is a challenge for the new Prime Minister, Theresa May for sure; but it is also a challenge for our First Minister, here in Scotland, to use every power at the disposal of the Scottish Parliament, straining the barrier of legislative competence to almost breaking point if that is what is required, to ensure that things in Scotland will improve in a way that will shine a light to the rest of the UK.
In other words, it's time to stop blaming Dave and time to ask one simple question of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon:
Theresa - where do you stand?
Nicola - how far are you prepared to go to reverse the damage Cameron has done to Trades Unions in Scotland?
Blog by Patrick McGuire, Partner