Posted by: Will Rhodes
If you remember the 80s you remember Norm “The Bike” Tebbit telling the labour force to get on their bikes and find work – just like his dad did.
He didn’t give a flying fuck about the people who had lost their jobs through the policies of Thatcher – the working man/woman were nothing but a cost to the business to be discarded if the business needed it – and the 80s were no where near as bad as now. From the “Labour isn’t working” posters in ’79 to when Thatcher left office – no one up until now would have thought that a Labour government would repeat, even in essense, those words that meant such a damaging debarcle to those who needed and wanted work.
But it has happened – and not just in the sense of the UK – this time Peter Mandelson says that the British worker should find work further afield, in the EU.
His [Peter Mandelson] support for free movement of workers in the European Union was also at odds with Gordon Brown’s 2007 promise to safeguard “British jobs for British workers”, a phrase which has been turned against the Prime Minister by protesters.
In a statement issued from the world economic forum in Davos, Lord Mandelson said: “I understand people’s concerns about jobs and it is important to make sure that both domestic UK law and European rules are being applied properly and fairly. But it would be a huge mistake to retreat from a policy where, within the rules, UK companies can operate in Europe and European companies can operate here. Protectionism would be a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression.”
His words echoed by Caroline Flint:
“It is important to remember that open European labour markets also allow British firms and workers to take advantage of contracts and opportunities elsewhere in the EU.”
So, if you are a British worker you can ignore what Gordon Brown said “British jobs for British workers” and find work outside of the UK but make sure it is in the EU – or further out as you see fit, because the government will continue to fund bank bail-outs but not invest in public works on a scale that can keep people in work.
To this, a Labour government, you are the same as you were when Thatcher and Tebbit were in power.
Union leaders and Labour MPs denied the protests were about protectionism. GMB general-secretary Paul Kenny said the statement showed ministers were still unaware of the “unequal treatment” faced by workers in the jobs market.
He said: “Mandelson needs to get his head out of the stars and come back down to earth. We now have a situation where the legislative framework in Britain works against our workers. The Government promised to sort this out five years ago… but they have not sorted it out.”
Mr Kenny added: “Mr Mandelson has come back from Europe and he thinks everything is fine. He needs to get his feet on the ground.”
The Labour MP for Cleethorpes, Shona McIsaac, said the decision to hire foreign workers was like a “red rag to a bull” to local unemployed people.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the contracts were awarded some time ago, when there was a shortage of labour in the construction sector.
That makes it all fine then!