Monday, 14 September 2009

Brendan Barber speech at TUC - first take.

Just out from the Brendan Barber speech on the opening day of the TUC in Liverpool. The contents were well trailed over the weekend with warnings that the recession won’t be over until there is a return to full employment.

But a large part of his speech was an attack on the return of the bonus culture in banking and industry. The front page of the Guardian today showed how executive pay went up by 10% during the worst performing year of the FTSE ever.

The task for Barber and the TUC this week is to break the link all parties have made between the national deficit and the need for cuts in public services.

While bankers went back to “bonuses as usual” the Westminster consensus is that the public sector deficit is the big problem said Barber.

“Bumper bonuses are an obscene joke when it was our money that rescued the banks, and it is our public services that are now being told that they will have to face the consequence,” said Barber.

“We have to take that argument head on. A public sector deficit is inevitable in a recession. It’s a symptom - not a cause. A symptom...of the £1.3 trillion of taxpayer money now propping up the banks. The biggest case of market failure in history.”

Barber received his first applause for calling for the abolition of ID cards and the abandonment of Trident. Interestingly enough that echoes what Peter Mandelson said on Radio 4 in the morning when he said that all government spending would be reviewed.

Mandelson is giving a speech later today which is said to mark the beginning of the fightback against the Tories. In Liverpool, where they’re already in the trenches defending public services, the trade unionists will be listening carefully.

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