New government: No mandate to risk the recovery
This new Government comes to power at a very difficult time for the economy. As today’s unemployment figures show, we’re still suffering from the effects of the deep recession. The recovery is fragile and the public finances gap needs to be closed.
An inconclusive election has certainly not provided a mandate for swingeing cuts in public services. Nor should new Ministers do anything that risks recovery, as that will play the major part in restoring public finances.
Instead I hope the new Government will do everything they can to build a national consensus around an economic recovery plan that not only heals the finances, but reduces unemployment, rebalances the economy away from its dominance by financial services and meets the challenge of climate change.
All the parties have recognised that growing inequality disfigures our country and have pledged their support for fairness. The test that each and every one of their policies needs to pass if they are to win the wide support they need is whether they meet the fairness test. This is even more important at a time of austerity than it is when livings standards are rising.
I stand ready to engage constructively with the new Government, and am looking forward to early meetings with its new ministers. I’m sure that there will be areas where we agree and ones where we don’t, but it is the job of unions to put the views of their members to those in power. In turn it is wise for those in power to listen, engage and to try to build consensus in the national interest.
And it’s also right today to pay tribute to Gordon Brown. He has shown enormous dignity in the manner of his leaving office, and he will be remembered for the crucial role that he played in ensuring the global recession did not turn into a vicious slump.