Austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity. When the Chancellor rose to his feet at the emergency Budget in July, and when he does so for his Spending Review in October, what is being put forward is an ideologically-driven rolling back of the state. The analysis published today by the TUC reveals how the Budget gives money to the rich, but takes away from the poor. This is the Conservative project, dressed up in the post-crisis language of budget deficits and national debt for extra impetus. Inequality doubled under the Thatcher government, and her heirs seem to be doing all they can to ensure that legacy is extended.
Power-crazed organisations coercing government to enact policy against the will of the people and subverting democracy - so runs the popular left-wing critique of big corporations in the corrupt, neoliberal world. There's truth to it in places, but it's major failing of many that they feel to see some of the same issues with unions.
They even plan to make it a criminal offense for more than six people to stand peacefully in a picket line. This is ridiculous. The police should be out there catching the real criminals, not wasting their time arresting people on peaceful union pickets. If they get away with it, democracy and liberty in the UK will be seriously damaged. We will have the most draconian strike laws of any democracy in Western Europe.
"Improving the productivity of our country is the route to raising standards of living for everyone in this country... Our future prosperity depends on it." That was Chancellor George Osborne speaking just days after the election at the CBI's 50th Anniversary Annual Dinner. He's also promised his Budget next month will have "a laser-like focus" on living standards.
The Queen's Speech was supposed to position the Conservatives as the party of working people. If so, they've got a strange way of going about it. A list of priorities that includes curbing trade union rights, chipping away at workplace protections through EU negotiations, freezing in-work benefits, cutting jobs and freezing pay in the public sector doesn't read like a workers' wishlist.
Low pay and wage stagnation have left a gaping hole in the UK's public finances. New research published by the TUC for Fair Pay Fortnight shows that the government is collecting £33.4billion less in income tax and national insurance than had been forecast by the Office of Budget Responsbility, following the longest squeeze on wages since Victorian times.
TTIP is a big issue for politicians, business, unions and the rest of society. The secrecy which pervades the negotiations has kept it out of public debate for too long... That's why the TUC's Congress this September called for the negotiations to be halted. A good deal could be done, but not by starting from here.
The simple truth is that many employers can afford to pay more. For large companies in sectors such as food production, banking, construction and software/computing - which employ over 1 million low- wage workers - paying all staff the living wage would mean an increase of less than 0.5 per cent of the total wage bill.
So now we know what the Conservative manifesto will say about industrial action. This goes far further than anything Mrs Thatcher did in limiting the right to strike. Such a turn out threshold is very rarely met by ballots involving more than a small workforce. It adds up to an effective end to the right to strike for many groups of workers - normally the kind of measure that we associate with dictatorships, not democracies.
Fantastic stuff on front this morning too, kicking off (pardon the pun) with former Footballers' Wives star and now Corrie cobble-botherer Ben Price on behalf of Cafod and seeing the impact of climate change with his own eyes in Uganda. TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady meanwhile says soaring wage inequality here in the UK should worry us all.
Tony Benn's speeches were often punctuated with the same quotes from the Bible to Chinese philosophers. He passionately opposed cynicism and urged people to engage in politics. He was a tremendous Parliamentarian throughout his fifty years as an MP yet his political authority was as great outside the House of Commons as in the chamber.