I was in London with fellow members of Marshalls Union, marching with the TUC led (a future that works).
We were marching under the Get Britain Building Campaign, which is the largest coalition of those involved in the building environment.
It aims to unite the industry behind a common plan to revitalise and grow the UK economy which has had the longest running downturn that most of us have ever experienced, including the loss of 280,000 construction jobs and the closing or mothballing of significant levels of building materials manufacturing capacity. The campaign started in January 2012, when Chris Haigh (Unite Convener at Marshalls) and myself discussed the dire condition of the building sector and the need to implement a plan of action. We started the plan of action with a letter we composed and distributed to every employee in the Marshalls Group and asked them to send to their local MP. Chris, who is on the Regional and National Construction committees, made everyone aware of the plan of action and asked for their support. I approached our Halifax MP, Linda Riordan.
Linda not only agreed to help us but agreed to head the campaign in Parliament, she set up meetings with Vince Cable (Business Secretary), Sir Mervyn King (Governor of the Bank of England), the Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Philip Rycroft (Director General of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office).
Everyone was very supportive of our campaign, culminating with the Government introducing an initial 10 billion bond stimulus for underwriting desperately needed housing developments. We are pushing for the Government to have a more ambitious programme that would help create the homes and jobs we need to pull the UK out of recession.
A cut in VAT on renovation, refurbishment and repair work would make a real impact now and would help bring back far more residential and commercial buildings back into use. There is one objective that is important for success; that is to bring the builders, banks, Government and customers together to provide the structure for redevelopment.
On Friday October 19, 2012 our MP, Linda Riordan was attacked in the Tory Press with allegations which, when investigated, were out of context. The MP expenses fiasco needs sorting and I applaud Linda’s response, in firstly her explanation to the Courier and her decision to end the arrangement.
But questions must be asked of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) who advised Linda to rent her home in the first place; they have announced that 269 MPs are renting homes at public expense, showing that it’s common practice. So what is IPSA doing? They are supposed to police the expenses of MPs, so why was Linda singled out?
I believe it was because she was heading the Get Britain Building march in London the next day. Politics, sometimes, is a dirty game. How the Tory press can talk about morals and integrity when we are conducting the Levison and other enquiries relating to phone hacking and freedom of information, shows that the hypocrisy of the press and media is only matched by their incompetence. Linda Riordan is a hard working MP who doesn’t follow the party line if she feels it doesn’t represent her constituents. But she has always given the same service to everyone who has asked for her advice and support, whatever their politics. I hope that long continues.