The upcoming general election is an opportunity for voters, including FBU members, to hold all politicians to account. It is an opportunity to place demands on them and to influence the direction of the next Parliament.
The record of the Tory/Liberal Democrat government is appalling. It has overseen the slowest economic recovery since records began.
This means that living standards have still not recovered from the banking crisis of 2007/8. It will take years more for workers to recover what has been lost.
The entire strategy of Cameron, Osborne and Clegg has been to make working people pay for the bankersâ€™ crisis. Tragically, they have largely got away with it. Living standards have suffered for the majority while profits and bonuses have been restored for those at the top.
It is clear that a further Conservative â€“ or Conservative-led coalition â€“ government will mean more of the same: more cuts; more privatisation; and a continuing attack on wages and living standards.
In addition, there would be very serious attacks on trade unions. It is clear to all that the FBU is very much a target for the Tories. The fire and rescue service has seen the worst cuts ever during the past five years.
Regrettably, those running the fire and rescue service have not stood up to defend the vital role
our members play in keeping communities safe. This includes the situation in Scotland.
We were promised by the Scottish government that a new single service would protect jobs and
services. After two years that has not been the case and job losses in Scotland are as bad as
in many other parts of the UK.
So, whatever happens in May, we will need to campaign as never before in order to defend our profession and our service.
If cuts continue, the very future of our service would be threatened. So it is important that we vote and it is in the interest of firefighters and all workers that the Conservatives are defeated.
The only realistic alternative in the current situation is a Labour government or Labour-led coalition. That is not something that sits easily with me. I well recall the failures of the Blair/Brown government and the attacks they launched on our members and our union. I am not a member of the Labour Party and â€“ while there were honourable exceptions â€“ I will certainly never forget the disgraceful record of attacks on public services.
Nor should any of us.
So, whatever happens in May, we are going to have to fight to defend living standards, jobs and public services. We should not be under any illusions about the promises made by any of the major parties.
If we want to make progress on anything we will have to fight for a major change of direction in British politics.
Nevertheless, it is essential to defeat the Tories in May and the most viable alternative is a Labour government.
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