Clever people saying clever things part two
Process aside, the most remarkable thing about the interview was his breezy reaction to the figures. Imagine if he was a health minister announcing a 97% fall in cancer survival rates, or an education minister admitting to a 97% drop in GCSE passes, or a Home Secretary announcing that 97% of all passports were not being checked at our borders? He’d at the very least get a harder time from John Humphrys.
The point of a housing minister is to build houses for people. What is the point of one whose ‘reforms’ cause a collapse in house building within a year of taking over?
Nor, despite efforts by ministers to hang next Wednesday’s action around Ed Miliband’s neck, is this essentially a political dispute. It’s a good old fashioned dust up about pay and conditions. Or specifically what the TUC is calling the “Triple Squeeze” on public sector pensions; namely the shift in calculating uprating from RPI to CPI, the increase in individual contributions and the proposed increase in the retirement ceiling.
Some may see these as perfectly sensible changes, which reflect modern economic and social realities. That’s a matter for debate. But what’s not debatable is they mean an erosion of the existing pension entitlements of public sector workers. And however moderate or far sighted, trade union general secretaries get paid to improve their members conditions, not sit idly by as they decline. Again, some may question why trade unionists should expect better pension provision than the rest of the population. But that’s the whole point of collective bargaining; to obtain better terms collectively than you can individually.