This was the comment from The Morning Star:
THURSDAY’S nasty little announcement in the House of Commons by Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain that 28 Remploy factories will be closed is more than the “disappointment” that he characterised it as.
It is also confirmation that Mr Hain’s intervention in the dispute during the TUC and Labour conferences was no more than a manoeuvre by an party embarrassed by a heartless and unnecessary policy and determined to put it onto a back burner until the glare of publicity had subsided.
But it is no more than we have come to expect from new Labour and its upper echelons. Evasion, insincerity and eventual betrayal.
Clearly, no consideration has been given to the unions’ alternative proposals, since they were only submitted last week and there simply hasn’t been time to build a business model based on them and develop any projections as to the possibilities of success taking the union-recommended route.
There has certainly been some progress, in that 15 fewer factories are to close and there are also changes in policy on procurement and performance monitoring.
But thousands of jobs for people with disabilities are still to vanish and 28 factories will go to the wall.
But it could so easily have been different. With a little more courage in the procurement policy, all of those jobs could have been saved, at no cost to the government beyond a little expenditure of imagination and planning and 2,000 disabled people would still have a future in an organisation built around their requirements.
And, as GMB general secretary Paul Kenny pointed out, if Remploy had been called Northern Rock, we would not be seeing a single redundancy.
But the new Labour attitude, that shareholders and profiteers’ interests are more important than those of ordinary working people, has again determined government policy.
Just a fraction of the cash which was pointed at saving Northern Rock – money that we are highly unlikely to see back – would have kept Remploy intact.
The main conclusion that the Remploy staff and the trade unions will inevitably draw is that new Labour’s leading lights simply cannot be trusted. Mr Hain has shown what government reviews do in the 21st century and what they are for.
They are not there to produce justice for working people. They are there to dilute the anger of campaigners, to draw the teeth of their campaigns, to postpone awkward decisions until the furore dies down and then to foist limp compromises on a workforce that deserves better.
And all this at a time when the reputation of the Labour Party is at its lowest ebb and it is publicly perceived as dishonest, mendacious and self-serving.
Not much of a way to win the hearts and minds of the voting public, is it?
For the Remploy issue will not go away just because a second-rate politician has decided to make a lame compromise. The unions will not let it drop and neither will the employees.
And new Labour may very well find, when it comes to the next general election, that the Remploy betrayal is the electoral straw that breaks the camel’s back. If Labour is to hold onto power, it will have to rid itself of the pack of unprincipled opportunists that disgrace its ranks at present.