Europe - in or out? It's been one of those taboo subjects that Napo does not have a policy position on. It is up there alongside Electoral Reform as one of those issues that we never seem to get around to discussing. That’s an observation not a criticism and given our own pressures and priorities it's hardly surprising.
Next week at the 150th TUC in Manchester, your delegates in the form of Yvonne Pattison and myself will have an array of motions to vote on. These cover familiar subjects such as pay, health and safety, anti-racism, equality and others that are ‘no brainers’ when it comes to supporting them as they are well in tune with our policies and values.
This year presents us with a particular conundrum in that the current Brexit debate is causing political emotions to run especially high, as the UK Government faces crunch time in terms of presenting the EU with the so called ‘Chequers agreement’. It's one that seasoned political commentators reckon will not pass muster with the European Parliament and certainly, from today’s headlines, the Tory Party itself. All this even before our own parliament gives its verdict on the negotiations with our European partners. Add to the mix the growing campaign for the ‘peoples' vote’ on a second referendum and the concomitant pressure on the Labour leadership to change their position on Brexit; and it all adds up to an unprecedented period of turmoil in British Politics.
At previous TUC’s your Napo delegates have supported those motions that respected the fact that the result of the referendum was to exit the EU provided that the policies being pursued by the UK Government did not result in the worsening of employment rights for British workers. Unfortunately, as the implications for the UK economy post-Brexit start to become clearer, I do not see anything that leads me to believe that this current government have any concern whatsoever for the interests of working people as they jostle for power amongst themselves.
That’s why I will be attending this week’s meeting of the TUC General Council prior to our own meeting of your National Executive Committee. I will be checking the position on a number of putative motions that are intended to establish a definitive TUC policy on Brexit and to present those scenarios to the Executive to see if they are prepared to provide Yvonne and myself with a mandate or whether they suggest that we should sit on our hands come voting time.
Last week’s regional news feature on Granada TV LINK HERE followed the same depressing pattern of coverage from other parts of England and Wales into the effects of Serious Further Offences by perpetrators who, it was reported, had breached their licence conditions and/or where vital information had not been passed on to the relevant agencies.
I rarely pass up an opportunity to take part in media interviews as I believe that I have a duty to try and get our messages across, even where the subject matter is highly sensitive and obviously distressing for the families of victims. As you would expect I never get into the intricacies of individual cases, as very often there are unresolved legal issues. All I can usefully do is to try and explain the general environment and the cause and effect of the conditions that our members are working in. I believe it is important to try and bring some balance into these post SFO debates where victim’s families are quite understandably seeking answers.
Sadly, and as we predicted years ago, I fear we will be seeing more not less of these tragic incidents.