The stench of hypocrisy is in the air around opposition party politicians in Scotland again. A seemingly successful, direct and public intervention in an industrial dispute by a FM is denigrated for being too late by those not privy to the negotiations.
Labour’s only MP in Scotland is even tweeting that the timing of the FM’s intervention was overly delayed because of a couple of appearances she made at the Festival Fringe! And this is the person the Labour Party considers appropriate to be Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland!
The history of FM’s or PM’s or even Westminster government Secretaries of State’s interventions in industrial disputes shows that nothing particularly tardy has been involved here. Indeed hesitancy or outright refusal to intervene between employers and unions is normal.
From the BBC News website published on 10 January, 2002: ”Rail talks end without agreement – During first minister’s questions in the Scottish Parliament Jack McConnell rejected calls from the Scottish National Party that ministers should intervene under the powers of the Transport Act.
He said: “These industrial relations are shocking in the 21st century.
Adding: “IT IS QUITE RIGHT AND PROPER THAT SCOTRAIL AND THE TRADE UNIONS INVOLVED RESOLVE THIS DISPUTE THEMSELVES. They are responsible for the way in which this dispute has been created.” (my emphasis)
‘Mr McConnell said that he and Enterprise Minister Wendy Alexander were in regular contact with ScotRail and the unions involved but IT WAS FOR THEM TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE.’
‘Previous talks aimed at reaching agreement between the company and union officials ended in deadlock on 28 December.’
And at a UK level, close to Labour’s ‘hame’, from 11 October 2007:‘However, the current dispute isn’t just about wages and working conditions, it is also about the future of the postal service itself.
‘The Government owns the Royal Mail. It is the sole shareholder. That is why the responsibility falls on Gordon Brown’s shoulders to intervene to resolve this dispute.
‘Yesterday I tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling upon the Prime Minister to intervene. SO FAR ALL HE HAS DONE IS CALL UPON THE CWU MEMBERS TO GO BACK TO WORK.
‘I think it is time the Prime Minister got to work on this issue. That is what leadership is all about.’
(John Mcdonnell MP, Labour Party)