Friday 19 October 2007

If Brown needs a vision he needs to ignore Blair's warmongering and listen to the labour movement

Today was an eventful day in and around Parliament.

In Parliament, two private members' bills (the Temporary and Agency Workers Bill by Paul Farrelly MP and my Trade Union Rights and Freedoms Bill) were blocked by the Government. They are supported by every major trade union in the UK and by over 100 backbench Labour MPs. Still, the Government refuses to act. I am calling for the Government to bring forward legislation on both bills as part of the Queen's Speech.

Last night I spoke at a rally attended by over 500 people in the House of Commons to support the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill where there was a real passion from the platform and the audience.

If the Government is looking for a vision, this would be a good start. If we are to reverse the inequality in our society, we need to empower people to fight for better pay, pensions and terms and conditions. I supported the open letter sent today to Gordon Brown calling for legislation to give agency workers equal treatment. The letter was signed by ten general secretaries and numerous Labour MPs.

Meanwhile outside Parliament, we witnessed the peace camp in Parliament Square again being harassed for peacefully protesting against the war and being the conscience of the building opposite. It's time the Mayor of London, Westminster Council, the Metropolitan Police and this Government started respecting the right to peacefully protest.

On the day when our ex-Prime Minister is fanning the flames of war with Iran (in a speech to a $1000 plate dinner in New York), I hope Gordon Brown has learned from the mistakes of his predecessor and it is still Government policy that an attack on Iran would be "inconceivable", as Jack Straw said earlier in the year.

Having unleashed bloodshed and mayhem in Iraq, a period of quiet reflection would be a more appropriate and welcome response from our ex-Leader.