The Tories simply cannot help falling over themselves

The Prime Minister has said, in an interview with BBC London, that if the Conservatives were re-elected to government with a majority in 2015, he would introduce legislation to enforce a legal threshold concerning ballots for strike action. He said that he could not deliver the changes in coalition because his LibDem partners would not support it.

Mr Cameron said: “I want a Conservative government to pass new legislation so that strikes in central public services can’t go ahead unless there is a proper threshold crossed in terms of the number of people taking part in the ballot. Of course there is a right to strike in this country, but in essential services, isn’t it worth saying there ought to be a threshold before a strike is called, which causes so much damage? I am keen on it and a new Conservative government would deal with that.”

Mr Johnson has publicly called for strikes to be unlawful unless 50% of staff in a workplace take part in a ballot. This raises interesting and uncomfortable parallels for those supporting the 50% threshold.

  • In 2012, Police Crime Commissioners were elected by a voter turnout of around 15%.
  • In 2000, the elections for the London Mayor saw a turnout of 33.7%
  • In the 2010 general election the largest vote share was for the Conservatives at 36.1%

The graph below shows the percentage share of the vote for each party at all general elections since 1945.

Percentage vote shares for each political party at general elections since 1945

Percentage vote shares for each political party at general elections since 1945

This begs the question: why should there be a 50% voter participating threshold in strike ballots when none of the political elections have this imposed upon them?

Mr. Cameron says he is keen on introducing this measure, but when Police and Crime Commissioners were elected by an insignificant percentage of the population of the UK, the conclusion must be drawn that the Conservatives seek to curtail union activities in this way simply to be seen to be serving the interests of commerce and thus demonstrate little interest for those at the lower end of the employment market. The recent announcement to force jobseekers to accept certain – probably most – offers of zero-hours contracts is another example of the contempt that Conservatives have for low-paid workers.

It would be nice to think that the electorate would bear this in mind in May of next year, come the general election.



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