Labour needs to support the millions who are its ‘betrayed base’


Dave Prentis speaking at the rostrum at Labour Party conference 2014

Dave Prentis urges Labour to remember its roots and fight for the betrayed base. Photo: John Parker Lee


We need a Labour vision of how we are going to support the millions who have seen their pay fall, the party’s “betrayed base”, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis told Labour delegates in Manchester this afternoon.

In a powerful speech to the party’s annual conference, Mr Prentis said: “We need to know how our base, ‘our roots’, will cease to be the victims of globalisation; how we can stop the free trade talks destroying our public servcies, our collective agreements.

“We need to know how we will stop the rich and powerful monopolising the fruits of recovery.”

He told delegates that the UNISON delegation at the conference had a clear vision of:

  • Workers across public services earning a decent wage.
  • Accountable, democratic local government.
  • Dignity for the elderly and the disadvantaged.
  • “A Labour Party restoring our roots, our soul.”


And that means remembering “our betrayed base, the people inspired by Keir Hardie, the people Nye Bevan believed in”.

That base, said Mr Prentis, has been “betrayed by privatisaiton, betrayed by the very people who crashed our economy”. That base has been “suffering a five-year pay freeze” while “their pay has fallen in value by over one fifth”.

With hard working people having to make appalling choices, whether to buy food or keep warm, he added, the minimum wage “needs to be turned into a living wage … not in six years time but now: our people are suffering now.”

Moving a composite motion on low pay and insecurity, the UNISON leader noted: “This coalition boasts that the economy is growing by over 3%, but claims there is no money for our members.

“Where’s the money going?

“Because our health workers, our local community workers, our care workers, mainly low paid women, are still bearing the brunt.

“And that’s why, while employers refuse to negotiate, we are balloting for action next month across local government, schools, our NHS.”

Looking to the task ahead, he told delegates: “It’s simple. It’s time to remember why we are here, what we stand for, who we represent.”

UNISON members are already playing a part in working to achieve a Labour victory we all crave, said Mr Prentis.

“But we also need to know that you are here for us, for our people, for our roots, who have suffered so much – too much.

“There have been enough sacrifices.

“It’s time to show us your vision, demonstrate your support, and let our Labour Party work together for our betrayed base.”


Read the full text of the speech