Hypocrisy and ridiculous consequences: The Tory plan to impose turnout thresholds on trade union ballots

(68 Posts)
ttosca Sat 10-May-14 12:49:26

avid Cameron has stated that he is considering plans to plough ahead with Boris Johnson's ridiculously hypocritical idea of banning strikes unless 50% of trade union members participate in the strike ballot.

Boris Johnson's hypocrisy

It's not difficult to demonstrate exactly how hypocritical this kind of turnout requirement would be. We only need to look at the 38% turnout in the 2012 London mayoral election which saw Boris Johnson re-elected as mayor of London*, to see that Tories like Boris Johnson have absolutely no objection to sub-50% turnouts when the results suit them. The fact that Boris Johnson even accepted the job as mayor of London after such a poor turnout clearly demonstrates that he's only bothered turnout thresholds if he can cynically use them as a way of disempowering his political opponents.

More Tory hypocrisy

There are countless other political examples of low turnouts, in which Tory politicians have happily taken up their positions without a hint of concern over sub-50% turnouts.
PCC elections

The most shocking example of ridiculously low turnouts in UK politics has to be the farcical 2012 PCC election, which featured the lowest turnouts in British electoral history. Not a single region managed better than a 20% turnout, and several PCCs were elected with first preference backing from less than 5% of the eligible electorate. Four of the eight PCCs who accepted their jobs despite being backed by less than 5% of the electorate were Tories (Nick Alston, Essex 3.91%, Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire 3.96%, Matthew Grove, Humberside 4.21%, Richard Rhodes, Cumbria 4.54%).

It would be an absolute travesty for the Tories to impose an arbitrary 50% turnout threshold on trade union ballots, yet allow a load of their fellow Tories to sit in highly paid taxpayer funded jobs after fewer than 5% of people even bothered to vote for them.

Local elections

Since the 1980s the average turnout at local elections has rarely scraped above 45%, and in the last set of local elections in 2013 the turnout was just 31%. These appallingly low turnouts mean that if a 50% turnout threshold were applied to local elections, the vast majority of local councilors would find themselves out of their jobs, including several thousand Tory councilors.

If the Tories are happy to have thousands of Tory councilors across the country elected on less than 50% turnouts, it would be a display of grotesque hypocrisy were they to apply 50% turnout thresholds to trade union ballots.

Cont'd...

anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/tory-trade-union-turnout-boris.html

Isitmebut Sat 10-May-14 13:41:17

ttosca .... funny enough, I think that you have a very point, that if elections are settled on low turnouts e.g. EU MEP's, it seems hypocritical to demand the same from Trade Unions.

Point of principle aside, the problem with Trade Unions is that al too often the militant side intimidates the rest and their motives to strike suspect.

The tube strike is not about Ticket Office clerks, who offered redundancy would jump at the payments or work else where, it is about the Union saying they know best how to run the business, which right or wrong isn't their job.

The same with teachers in the N.U.T., it appears Gove is their main target, just as other Tory ministers were to the police.

In my opinion the difference is that in public elections, people are encouraged to vote, but with militant union agendas, one way or another, not so much.

Frankly I believe there should be legislation for all to vote, both in public and union issues.

WooWooOwl Sat 10-May-14 17:03:19

You have a point about the hypocrisy, but that doesn't mean that the proposal is wrong.

I agree with it, it makes sense.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 18:08:12

> Point of principle aside, the problem with Trade Unions is that al too often the militant side intimidates the rest and their motives to strike suspect.

And what evidence do you have for this?

> The tube strike is not about Ticket Office clerks, who offered redundancy would jump at the payments or work else where, it is about the Union saying they know best how to run the business, which right or wrong isn't their job.

Often the people who actually work in the business know a great deal more about how to run it than the financiers, who are merely interested in cutting costs. I'm sure there are many people on here with professional experience who would agree.

We should stop being bullied my politicians and shareholders and start listening more to teachers, doctors, and nurses, and tube drivers on how to run our schools, hospitals and public transport systems.

> The same with teachers in the N.U.T., it appears Gove is their main target, just as other Tory ministers were to the police.

Um, perhaps teachers have a problem with Gove, not just because he looks like Mr. Bean, but because his educational policies are idiotic?

> In my opinion the difference is that in public elections, people are encouraged to vote, but with militant union agendas, one way or another, not so much.

What are you talking about 'militant union agendas'? It's like something out of the 1950's Communist era. What militant union agendas? The UK already has the weakest Trade Unions in europe and workers work, on average, far longer and harder than the rest of europe.

Trade unions are already (unfortunately) incredibly weak in the UK, thanks for years of attacks during the Thatcher era. That's why UKs workers are so stuffed, and the zero-hour contracts phenomenon is especially a British problem.

> Frankly I believe there should be legislation for all to vote, both in public and union issues.

That's another very very long discussion.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 18:10:34

> You have a point about the hypocrisy, but that doesn't mean that the proposal is wrong.

Logically, it doesn't mean it is wrong. However, it is wrong.

> I agree with it, it makes sense.

In what way does it make sense. How would further gutting union power actually further the interests of the public, rather than capital, in the UK?

A reminder: anti-union legislation is already the tightest in europe.

HermioneWeasley Sat 10-May-14 18:12:49

Well, we currently don't force people to participate in elections, but I agree with the principle around strikes. If less than 50% of the union members can't even be bothered to vote then it's not a strike worthy issue.

It's ridiculous that important services can go on strike due to a minority of the workforce.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 18:17:28

The proposal is hypocritical.

And if Boris and the Tory scum are claiming that union ballots are illegitimate because less than 50% vote, then they need to put forth a clear and convincing argument why any elected political party should be consider legitimate when it comes in to power with often less than half that amount.

How are the Tory scum legitimate when came to power, without a majority of seats, on 36.1% of the Vote, with 65.1% of the total population turning out?

This means that less than 1/4 (%23.5) of the total populated voted for them.

And they didn't even stick to their manifesto pledges - so they lied to the people who voted anyway.

---

So why isn't there any discussion about holding Parliament and elected politicians to the same standard?

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 18:22:39

Hermione

> Well, we currently don't force people to participate in elections, but I agree with the principle around strikes. If less than 50% of the union members can't even be bothered to vote then it's not a strike worthy issue.

If less than 24% of the population vote for a party and gain power - are they legitimate?

> It's ridiculous that important services can go on strike due to a minority of the workforce.

There is a difference between those who vote and those who support the reasons for the strike - just as their are many people who hold strong political views and do no vote, and many people who are opposed war who don't take to the streets and march.

The largest ever march in the UK against war was against the Iraq war. At least 1 million people took to the streets of London to show their opposition. This represents 1.5% of the population of the UK, and 2% of the English population.

This is a tiny minority. And yet the majority of the public strongly opposed the illegal and immoral war that was the Iraq war.

HermioneWeasley Sat 10-May-14 18:32:15

Ttosca, you have your view and it's not going to change and I have mine.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 18:36:53

Yeah, great.

Views which aren't based on facts or can't be backed up with any sort of argument are called 'prejudice'.

WooWooOwl Sat 10-May-14 18:48:12

It makes sense because if people felt strongly enough about it to strike, then they would vote. I if they don't vote, then they clearly don't feel strongly, therefore it's not worth striking over.

While I take you point about voting for a mayor or for government, we have to have a government of some kind so the vote has to be relied upon even with a low turnout.

We don't have to have strikes, so a low turnout in a union ballot indicates that it's not important enough to vote on. And if it's not important enough for people to vote about, it's not important enough for people to strike about.

HermioneWeasley Sat 10-May-14 18:51:27

Ttosca that is why I am leaving this thread - it's not prejudice to have a different opinion to you. I agree with the opinion that unless 50% of union members participate in the ballot then a strike should not be allowed to go ahead. This is not prejudice, it's opinion.

And I'm out of here.

Roseformeplease Sat 10-May-14 18:56:21

If a strike has a low turnout, people in the union obviously don't have much to say on the issue.

If an election has a low turnout, people clearly don't see much of a difference between one winner and another.

In the first case, the strikers are affecting others and so should have an high threshold to ensure that the issue is a strong enough one to make upsetting the public worth it.

In the second case, those not voting are actually harming themselves and their own chance to participate in a democracy. They have that choice and have to live with the repercussions for the country / EU / council or whatever.

Roseformeplease Sat 10-May-14 18:57:38

Oh and, by the way, striking is a stupid way of getting what you want....more flies with honey and all that.

If the unions know so much about running a business that they can make it more successful and more profitable, creating more jobs, then, assuredly, the bosses will listen.

meditrina Sat 10-May-14 18:57:54

The difference between a membership ballot to decide a course of action of an organisation and a whole franchise one to elect their representative should be so blazingly obvious that no serious mom tater would put them in the same argument on validity.

I see nothing wrong with a simple majority of membership to decide a union's course of action. And indeed it would be an improvement as results would be a much clearer statement of intent.

Whether parliamentary democracy and votes in the House ch ever be closely enough lighted with (perceived, in absence of referenda) public opinion isn't relevant to strike ballots. Though I suppose we could attempt to emulate the Swiss. Anyone seriously proposing that?

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 19:30:05

> Ttosca that is why I am leaving this thread - it's not prejudice to have a different opinion to you. I agree with the opinion that unless 50% of union members participate in the ballot then a strike should not be allowed to go ahead. This is not prejudice, it's opinion.

I didn't say it was prejudice to have a different opinion from me. I said it was prejudice to simply hold views 'just because' without any recourse to facts or arguments.

It sounds to me like you support limiting strikes based on some emotive idea of 'evil unions' or something.

If you want to defend the policy, than argue it - other people are managing it.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 19:35:00

> If a strike has a low turnout, people in the union obviously don't have much to say on the issue.

How do you know the reasons for people not voting on the strike?

> If an election has a low turnout, people clearly don't see much of a difference between one winner and another.

Perhaps. So does that mean that the winners are illegitimate?

> In the first case, the strikers are affecting others and so should have an high threshold to ensure that the issue is a strong enough one to make upsetting the public worth it.

Incredible! I agree that strikes are affecting others - but so are political parties! The party in power in Parliament have the ultimate powers in the land. They can create and abolish laws! They can bring the country to war!

So why should we require a high threshold for strikes and not for elections? Or, why should we consider one legitimate but not the other?

> In the second case, those not voting are actually harming themselves and their own chance to participate in a democracy. They have that choice and have to live with the repercussions for the country / EU / council or whatever.

Perhaps they are. Perhaps they are refusing to participate in a system which they regard as corrupt and illegitimate.

In any case, the people who are in Parliament have an enormous amount of influence of people's lives.

Given that is the case, shouldn't Parliament be held to an even higher standard (threshold) than strikes?

caroldecker Sat 10-May-14 19:50:19

the idea that the status quo is maintained unless there is 50% approval, would mean the conservatives would have retained power since 1931, the last time a government got over 50% of the vote - is this what you are suggesting should happen?

longfingernails Sat 10-May-14 19:51:20

Public elections have nothing to do with strike ballots. Public elections are about a change of governance. Of course I think the lack of turnout in elections is a problem.

Strike ballots are about holding the public or a company hostage.

I laid out my own thoughts on the necessary steps for union reform here, and my only criticism of my former ideas is that I don't think they go far enough.
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/politics/1088369-Some-musings-on-how-to-neutralise-the-unions/AllOnOnePage

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 19:52:04

> Oh and, by the way, striking is a stupid way of getting what you want....more flies with honey and all that.

Sounds to me like you really hold views which aren't based on the reality of the way unions work. Unions don't take to striking lightly. Furthermore, union members are not paid when they go on strike. Lastly, industrial action in the form of strikes is comparatively rare in the UK compared with the rest of europe.

The UK doesn't have a 'strike problem'. If anything, it needs more strikes, since wages haven't keep up with inflation and have been stagnating for decades.

> If the unions know so much about running a business that they can make it more successful and more profitable, creating more jobs, then, assuredly, the bosses will listen.

No, not really.

Roseformeplease Sat 10-May-14 19:57:18

No, because strikers have chosen to be part of an union. They don't have to be. So, when that union decides to strike, they already have people who, one would assume, broadly agree with being part of a voluntary organisation. Thus, said organisation should be able to get 50% to agree with them.

We all get the vote, once 18. Whether or not you choose to exercise your right to use it is up to you - what you don't have a choice in is whether to be part of the electorate.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 19:57:42

> the idea that the status quo is maintained unless there is 50% approval, would mean the conservatives would have retained power since 1931, the last time a government got over 50% of the vote - is this what you are suggesting should happen?

Absolutely not.

I'm suggesting it is wrong that we hold one standard for political parties and another for strikes.

In the case of elections, there is a general downward trend in people voting because they have no faith in the political process.

I think we should try to do something to fix this. Proportional Representation, for one.

I am open to the idea of a minimum threshold for the party in power. I think PR would solve the problem of obtaining a 'majority' (if not the total vote, then the total vote share). Alternatively, or additionally, we could include a 'None of the above' option, where elections are held again until a party obtains a majority.

These are all suggestions, but I don't think the political establishment is going to move forward with any reforms soon. They seem to have their heads up their arses and realise just how much mistrust and anger their is towards them.

Roseformeplease Sat 10-May-14 20:00:13

As a former "boss" I would most certainly have listened to ideas that would being about a better business for everyone. Where I work now (public sector) has regular consultation on the services we provide, with employees and end users. I am consulted twice over, both as an employee and a user.

And negotiations, discussions, explanations get far further than striking. Current tube strikes are largely jostling for power among hard left Crow wannabes. They all want the gravy if the top job and the big pay given to the Union bosses.

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 20:02:20

Hurrah! Some arguments! :p

> No, because strikers have chosen to be part of an union. They don't have to be. So, when that union decides to strike, they already have people who, one would assume, broadly agree with being part of a voluntary organisation. Thus, said organisation should be able to get 50% to agree with them.

> We all get the vote, once 18. Whether or not you choose to exercise your right to use it is up to you - what you don't have a choice in is whether to be part of the electorate.

OK, it's a fair point that union membership is not compulsory, unlike citizenship.

However, being in a union doesn't mean that there is some sort of 'hive mind' mentality. Being in a union is not like a single-issue clause like being part of an anti-EU party, where it would be nonsensical to join and still want to be part of the EU.

I'm still not convinced why 50% should be required for strikes to be legal.

I've already stated that anti-strike laws are already the toughest in europe. Why do you feel it is necessary to make them even tougher? Who will this help? The public and union members who are daily having their workers rights eroded and their pay cut?

ttosca Sat 10-May-14 20:08:01

Rose

> And negotiations, discussions, explanations get far further than striking. Current tube strikes are largely jostling for power among hard left Crow wannabes. They all want the gravy if the top job and the big pay given to the Union bosses.

Negotiations always take place before strikes. I don't think you understand how strike action works. In fact, I think it's a legal requirement for negotiations to take place before even considering strike action.

What makes you think unions are so prone to striking? You seem to have the impression of unions eager to strike at the tip of a hat.

Striking costs unions money. It costs the union itself money. It means workers lose pay. It is time consuming and bureaucratic, and, believe it or not, since unions members are made of members of the public, they don't particularly enjoy inconveniencing the public by withholding services either.

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