This afternoon I laid down my spade, sat in a garden chair and dozed. My dream was bizarre: The Tory manifesto had proposed major constitutional change making it impossible for anyone to form a government unless he, or she, had the support of MPs who between them had garnered the votes of at least 40 per cent of the United Kingdom electorate.
There must be something wrong. No political party would propose something which would exclude it from office. Fully awake, a few minutes of research and, if my calculation is right Cameron’s coalition commanded about 38% of the popular vote in the 2010.
What is not a dream is that the Conservative party is promising it would insist that 40 percent of eligible members of a trade union would have to vote for a strike before one could be held in the health, education, fire and transport sectors. In other industries at least have the employees would have to take part in the ballot.
The turnout threshold is more reasonable than the draconian plan for the special sectors. Now if that was applied to government elections we would have neatly avoided having police and crime commissioners.
In their manifesto the Tories say the threshold is a “fair step to rebalance the interests of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions.”
I fear that it undermines still further the need “a powerful organisation on both sides” which was advocated by Winston Churchill. See my previous post.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said today: “The Conservative plans on industrial action ballots will make it almost impossible for unions to call a legal strike. No other mainstream political party in the democratic world has suggested such a fundamental attack on this basic human right.”
If she is right all balance is lost.