Yesterday evening, the so-called Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC), named because it does not want to reform Trade Unions but where possible eliminate them entirely, was finally launched (this should have come earlier, but then, chairman Aidan Burley had a little local difficulty to deal with). The occasion took place in a room in the Palace of Westminster.
Message from Ron Hopeful ...
“Room packed. Dozens of Tory MPs and peers here and even some Lib Dems” came the Tweet from the TURC feed. Sadly, the photo on their own site shows around 30 to 35 in total, many of whom were neither MPs nor peers (for some bizarre reason, former cricketer Darren Gough, who falls into that category, turned up). So the usual exaggeration, then.
... or maybe that should be Ron Very Hopeful
The assembled gathering was treated to a plentiful supply of Shepherd Neame Spitfire, a fine ale, but no glasses, which meant nobody would appreciate the product. As Harry Callahan would have said, a hell of a price to pay for being stylish. Then came the speeches, with TURC CEO Mark Clarke first to go, following the afternoon’s revelation by Political Scrapbook.
PS had shown that Clarke, during his unsuccessful attempt to become a Tory MP – and his removal from the candidates’ list means he won’t be getting another any time soon – had been more than happy to court the union vote, telling that “Personally, I have made a real commitment to reaching out to the Trade Union movement in Wandsworth”. Pity the “reaching out” didn’t include learning about it.
But the main event was union-basher-for-hire Eric Pickles, who delivered his usual tub-thumping, rousing, red meat filled bucket of rank dishonesty with his customary bellies, oops, sorry, élan. Fat Eric talked of facility time payments being spent on “trade unions’ political campaigning”, that these were used to “bankroll union activists”, who were “waging class war with public funds”.
So that’s three wholly untrue statements, then. But those of us who know Fat Eric of old will not be surprised. Nor will the water-muddying “Public sector workers need proper information about the political levy many are unwittingly paying” cause many raised eyebrows. You’ve got to hand it to him: there has to be serious brass neck to link facility time payments to the political levy part of union subscriptions.
After all that, though, at least there were lots of column inches in the press about the paunch, sorry, launch. Or were there? Well, no there weren’t: the campaign managed a piece in the Huffington Post UK, which TURC “Social Media Advisor” and beer monitor, the flannelled fool Henry Cole, and his boss, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, have spent six months rubbishing. But nothing in the Standard.
Still, it keeps some folks happy. If only someone was listening.