Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Cameron challenged over funding

Frances O'Grady will call for ordinary people to share in the economic recovery
Frances O'Grady will call for ordinary people to share in the economic recovery

The head of the TUC has launched a scathing attack on the Government for trying to "divide" the country and likened ministers to characters from the Wizard Of Oz.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said Conservatives were fond of referring to PR adviser, Australian Lynton Crosby, as their own Wizard Of Oz.

"What does that make (David) Cameron, (George) Osborne and (Nick) Clegg? When it comes to any vision for a new economy, they are the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion," she told the TUC Congress in Bournemouth.

She accused the coalition of trying to divide Britain "Thatcher-style" between those in and out of work and between top rate taxpayers and everyone else.

Unions had not been vilified in other countries as they were in the UK, she said, adding that more thoughtful Conservatives were nervous about the "war" on workers. "They worry that attacks on unions, on ordinary decent working men and women look high handed, cold hearted and out of touch," she said.

Ms O'Grady families were facing problems which "the Eton educated elite, with their serial holidays, hired help and inherited millions, simply haven't got a clue about".

She challenged politicians from all parties to say where they stand on issues such as pay, jobs, rights at work and privatisation of public services. In a reference to the row over funding of the Labour party, she said that union money is the "cleanest cash in politics".

She went on: "Whether unions set up a political fund is a matter for members, not ministers. Because for too long, politics has been controlled by those who already have far too much money and far too much power. Half the Conservative Party's funding comes from the City. One third of its new intake of MPs are drawn from the banking industry alone and we know what happens when the super-rich get to run the tax system.

"In contrast, unions are Britain's biggest democratic membership movement of ordinary people. We are already required by law to report our membership records every year. We have more than 10 times the membership of all of Britain's political parties put together. It may even be more. The truth is, we simply don't know.

"Because political parties don't have to account for their members, in the way that we have to account for ours. In fact, the Conservative Party refuses point blank to say how many members it has. So before he starts lecturing unions about transparency, the Prime Minister should take a long hard look in the mirror. We already publish our numbers. I challenge David Cameron to publish his."

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