Yesterday the SKWAWKBOX covered the fact that the two Labour-led councils to attempt to slash the wages of low-paid staff in response to government cuts – Durham County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council – both ‘happen’ to be led by prominent members of Progress, the arch-right faction, or ‘party within a party’, of Labour.
It has been announced that another Labour-led council intends to hack away at the wages of its hard-working employees – and, surprise surprise, yet another Progress ‘gloominary’ is at the helm.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council has announced plans to cut up to £3,831 – and in some cases more – from the incomes of ‘middle managers and blue-collar workers”.
The council is led by Nick Forbes, a significant Progress player who has been a keynote speaker at Progress’ annual conference alongside no less than the Chair of Progress, Alison McGovern, and the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, also a member.
Quite correctly, unions are outraged at “a Labour council placing the burden of Tory austerity on to hard working council staff by cutting their pay” and have signalled their intention to “refuse to negotiate on any attack on staff terms and conditions”.
Astonishingly, the council says it is ‘disappointed’ at this response by staff and unions, which suggests they have their collective head somewhere rather darker than in the clouds.
Progress, along with its partners-in-grime Labour First and the ironically-named ‘Saving Labour’, love to accuse Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being out of touch with the ‘concerns’ of working-class people in ‘Labour heartlands’.
Well, Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a Labour heartland and I imagine a massive pay-cut is a major concern for the working-class council workers set to lose thousands of pounds if the council ploughs ahead with its plan.
If this is what Progress calls ‘being in touch’, I suspect that ‘working class heartlands’ are heartily pleased that Corbyn is out of touch.
And I very much suspect those in Newcastle, in nearby County Durham and in Brighton & Hove are of the opinion that Progress is a faction that belongs on the outside of the Labour party rather than in it.