Election result is a rejection of cuts agenda

The lack of clear support for the Tories in the general election and poor showings for Labour and the Liberal Democrats gives the next government no mandate for damaging cuts and further privatisation, PCS says.

The far from conclusive outcome shows the public have rejected the main Westminster parties, the union says. But with all three wedded to a political consensus that massive cuts in public spending are necessary, a hung parliament or some form of coalition government could still mean trade unions facing a fresh assault on jobs, pay, public services and pensions.

PCS will be the first union to hold its annual conference after the election, with delegates meeting in less than two weeks’ time to decide how the union should respond. Delegates are expected to call for unity among unions and other campaign groups to mount a fierce defence of their members’ jobs, livelihoods and the services they provide.

Responses to the union’s Make Your Vote Count campaign, announced earlier this week, revealed individual Labour and Liberal Democrat election candidates were more likely than Tories to commit to supporting jobs, tax justice, fair pay and public services. But these commitments were not always mirrored by their national leaderships.

These responses, and the election result, show the urgent need for reform of our electoral system to allow more pro-public sector voices into politics, the union says. This will also be an issue at PCS’s conference, with delegates due to discuss the possibility of standing or supporting trade union candidates in future elections.

If the mainstream parties were truly committed to tackling the budget deficit they would act quickly to close the widening tax gap which sees more than £120 billion a year lost to the UK economy through tax being avoided or evaded, or because HM Revenue and Customs simply does not have the resources to collect it due to recent job cuts.

Responding to the election result, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

The closeness of the opinion polls in recent weeks and the result of the election show just how narrow the gaps are between the main parties.

The only debate over public sector cuts in the last few weeks has been about who would cut the most, and by when. There has been a shocking lack of honesty and detail, with the three main party leaders wielding the axe, but none of them saying where it will fall.

Public sector workers and society as a whole deserve better. Not only do we deserve a full and frank discussion about the role of the public sector in the economy – where unions like ours are given the opportunity to make the case for investment and tax justice, rather than cuts – but we also deserve a political system where everyone’s vote counts, not just those in marginal constituencies.

We believe the time has come for reform of our electoral system, where proportional representation can help open up politics to people currently excluded from it. The immediate task, however, is for the unions to unite against the devastating cuts we are now expecting.”

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