Olympics 'isolated' right-wingers

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Army personnel had to be called up to assist in providing Olympic security
Army personnel had to be called up to assist in providing Olympic security

London 2012 was a triumph for the left, outgoing union boss Brendan Barber has claimed.

Westminster's politicians have more or less avoided trying to politicise the Olympics during the Games themselves, instead preferring to bask in the positive public mood which has endured throughout both the summer.

Now the conference season has begun the Trades Union Congress' outgoing general secretary has effectively ended the truce in his valedictory speech in Brighton, by declaring that right-wing commentators have looked "isolated" by the events of the Games.

He singled out Conservative MP Aidan Burley, who tweeted during the opening ceremony that its celebration of Britishness appeared to him to be nothing more than "leftie multicultural crap". Burley, who chairs the Trade Union Reform Group, is viewed as a major enemy of the union movement.


"You are wrong about modern Britain, just as you are wrong about the trade union movement," Barber said.

He told delegates that their "opponents on the right" suffered big setbacks as the Olympics challenged ministers' "tablets of stone".

"You can't pick winners. Tell that to Bradley, Jessica or Mo, all supported by targeted funding," Barber continued.

"Markets always trump planning, they say. Well look at the Olympic Park, the result of years of careful planning and public investment.

"Private is always better than public, they argue. Not true, as we saw all too clearly when it came to Olympic security."

The TUC general secretary argued that the Olympics was successful because the country came together willingly - rather than being forced into being "all in it together", as he claimed Britain was over the coalition's austerity agenda.

Barber saved his strongest criticism for the government's economic strategy, which he warned could lead to "lost decades" as opposed to years.

He has been a consistent opponent of the spending cuts which have decimated public sector workers his unions represent, and used his final TUC conference speech as general secretary to warn of a Britain of "boarded-up high streets, pawnbrokers and food banks".

Barber said he feared austerity could become "a self-perpetuating economic nightmare" which goes well beyond being a "temporary sacrifice".

"What we are staring in the face is many years of stagnation. Our own lost decades," he said.

"And it won't be the West London rich who suffer. No, it will be the rest of us. The victims of a government that thinks it can buck the central lesson of economic history. That austerity simply begets more austerity."

The TUC will hold a major demonstration on October 20th, featuring a rally in Hyde Park, on the second anniversary of George Osborne's comprehensive spending review.

"Britain is at a historically important crossroads. The choice we face is clear," Barber concluded.

"In one direction is decline, depression and despair. In the other is recovery, regeneration and renewal.

"So, at this defining moment, let it be our movement that shows the way. Let it be us who give working people a sense of hope about their prospects.

"Let it be us who show a better future can be within our grasp. And together let’s build a new Britain we can all be proud of."

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