- 2014 National LGBT Conference
- 1 January 2014
Conference notes that on 7 May 2015 a new government will be elected in Westminster. Whatever its political make-up, there will be repercussions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
As evidenced by the LGBT group’s research on the impact of austerity, four years of Conservative-led government have seen LGBT workers’ pay fall in real terms while prices rise and workplace conditions worsen.
In May 2015 we have the opportunity, indeed obligation, to remove this abhorrent government from office.
Many LGBT workers, particularly disabled, Black and low paid LGBT workers, don’t vote because they don’t believe it will change anything. Disaffected voters have gone to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) as the party of protest. Some have cast their votes for UKIP despite their policies of reducing taxes for the rich and selling off the National Health Service (NHS). UKIP wants to obliterate workers rights and repeal anti-discrimination legislation. Conference is concerned that individual electoral registration (IER) and the end to the legal requirement to register to vote will have a further detrimental effect on turn-out and efforts to defeat the far right electorally.
Conference believes that the only viable party who can unseat the Tory-led government is the Labour Party. This country needs the hope of Labour and to end the fear of the Tories. Ed Miliband has said “I don’t just want to win this election for Labour, I want to win it for Britain”. It is proposing big reform and a different way of doing politics.
Conference recognises that the previous Labour government was not perfect. In particular, it privatised and fragmented public services in many respects paving the way for this government’s policies, it failed to repeal Thatcher’s anti-trades union laws. However it must be acknowledged that it delivered a raft of equality measures including:
1. Repeal of Section 28;
2. Equalisation of the age of consent;
3. Gender recognition;
4. Lifting the ban on LGBT people in the military;
5. Equality in the provision of goods and services;
6. Civil partnerships;
7. Fertility rights for women in same sex relationships;
8. Progressive anti-hate crime laws;
9. A comprehensive Equality Act.
These measures changed the lives of many LGBT people. In contrast the current Conservative-led government has attacked equality provisions, including:
A. Attempting to scrap the Equality Act;
B. Watering down the equality duty;
C. Slashing the budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Equal marriage was only introduced due to Labour votes, with a majority of Conservative parliamentarians voting against it.
Nonetheless, 13 years of progressive Labour policies changed cultural attitudes so much that the Conservative government has not been able to systematically roll back equality provisions. Instead they have concentrated on branding workers’ rights as “red tape” and:
I. Attacking trade union rights;
II. Diluting regulations protecting transferred workers;
III. Cutting compensation payments for workplace discrimination;
IV. Reducing consultation on large scale redundancies;
V. Introducing employment tribunal fees.
This government is set on cutting, destroying and privatising for profit our essential public services. It has demonised disabled people and people reliant on welfare and weakened over a decade of work by the Labour Party on equalities. The Tory-led government has been building our economy based on a ‘flexible’ workforce, which translates to a reliance on workers on zero hours contracts and an increase in workers who cannot afford to put food on their table. Whilst bankers may have seen a growth in their bonuses, the cost of living crisis has forced a massive growth in the reliance of food banks across the United Kingdom (UK).
Conference believes that there is a clear electoral choice for LGBT workers.
Helping Labour win the next general election isn’t going to happen without hard work. LGBT Labour, the Labour campaign for LGBT rights, is a socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party. Conference is proud that nationally our union is an affiliate member of LGBT Labour. Alongside bodies like UNISON it successfully supports LGBT members to become prospective parliamentary and local council candidates and now has dozens around the UK. Membership fees remain the main source of funding for all of its activities. The Chris Smith List is a campaign fund established by LGBT Labour to support LGBT election candidates. It is planning to be out actively campaigning and canvassing in force to secure a Labour majority in 2015.
We all need to help ‘KICK OUT’ the Tories. Conference therefore calls on all LGBT members to use their vote on 7 May 2015 to sack this government and elect one with a record of championing UNISON’s aims, objectives and policies including LGBT equality.
Conference also calls on the national LGBT committee to seek to work with the National Executive Council, Labour Link, regional and branch LGBT groups to:
a. Prioritise campaigning in pursuit of UNISON’s aims, objectives and policies by working with LGBT Labour to mobilise the LGBT vote for equality in the run up to the general election;
b. Develop ways of encouraging our members to register to vote in the light of IER;
c. Re-energise political education strategies within our LGBT group to increase voter turn-out and LGBT participation in public office as a means to achieve UNISON’s aims and objectives;
d. Actively support out LGBT Labour candidates who are trades unionists and who support UNISON’s values;
e. Promote the benefits of joining LGBT Labour;
f. Where possible support Labour’s “Community Organising”;
g. Encourage members to get involved in local constituency Labour Party groups to assist with canvassing and campaigning work on behalf of candidates who support UNISON’s aims;
h. Raise awareness of the threat that both the Tories and UKIP pose to LGBT and workers rights in our communities and membership and the extent to which the Labour Party offers an alternative viewed with reference to UNISON’s aims, objectives and policies.