Thursday, December 13, 2007

Brown takes on the Police

The government has got itself into an extraordinary dispute with the Police Federation. By not backdating a pay rise as recommended by the independent Police Arbitration Tribunal they have triggered a vote of no confidence in the Home Secretary and a ballot on the police demanding the right to strike. The facts are pretty simple: P0lice pay has risen above inflation since 1994 and they have done as well or better than the rest of the public sector. Now government finances are being squeezed and public sector pay is being restrained across the aboard. So far, so good, but what makes the Police different is that governments have historically always followed the Tribunal's recommendation, and that they do not have the right to strike. In terms of savings on the wage bill it is of the order of £30m, but in terms of loss of goodwill with a very important interest group the price is much higher than that. Some Members of Parliament understand that at least and a motion urging the government to think again has over 70 signatures, including many Labour backbenchers. Gordon Brown is standing firm, however, saying:
No policeman and no person across the country would thank us if their pay rise was wiped out by inflation...
Except it's not inflation, it's government finances that are the problem and everyone knows this. Gordon wanted an end to Boom and Bust. Let's hope he has a Plan B.

No comments: