On 10 June the Tories submitted a motion to a full meeting of the Greater London Assembly condemning the strike by the RMT then taking place.
Val shawcross, Labour member of the assembly for Lambeth and Southwark moved an amendment to this motion.
Not one which defended the strike, but one which criticised the Mayor, boris Johnson, for not being out there sufficiently and sharing the inconvience.
On the strike itself she was falling over herself to join the condemnation of it.
Even against a Tory mayor the Labour party cannot bring itself to back a strike. Strikes are bad, period. And those who still think that they might be useful to defend workers’ living standards, well they are should be treated like naughty children.
She compared favourably Ken Livingstone’s previous administration (still lauded by some as the acme of progressive politics) to Boris’s: “Ken Livingstone was always very clear to the unions, from early on, before there were any difficulties, that… he would never reward bad behaviour… offers were never improved after strike ballots begun”
So there you have it. Not only striking, just having a ballot is no longer acceptable to New Labour.
Just in case we may not have grasped their position on the strike she had to ram it home “We are extremely unhappy with this strike and we are extremely unhappy with the RMT”
This flow of denunciation was then joined by Caroline Pigeon, a Lib Dem assembly member and a councillor for Southwark’s Newington Ward.
Richard Barnbrook attacked the strike too, apparently “Crow has no allegiance to democracy”, which is rich coming from the BNP.
So Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the the assembly, and a councillor in Southwark, had the floor clear to be the left opposition. And this is what she said:
“I do come from an Old Labour family, I don’t know that I have confessed that before, so I do have a slight sympathy for unions, because I think they have had a bad press since the days of Thatchr.
My dad was a union member all his life, a loyal union member, but he was never called out on strike, he was never tested in that way, because unions do obviously have a role, they are expected to protect the rights of workers to protect pay and conditions, for working people.
But what I have actually realised from reading all the stuff I’ve been able to on this on this particular strike, I just don’t know what happened. I just don’t know.
I’m sure TFL worked really hard to prevent the strike. I’m even sure the Mayor did his bit, I disagree with John [Biggs, Labour member for City and East] that the Mayor hasn’t shown any leadership, this strike has made the Mayor look good.
And I really resent that. You know, that shouldn’t have happened. You know massive disruption for millions of Londoners, huge costs to the economy, and to people who had to find other more expensive ways of getting into work, and in addition the Mayor looks good.
He’s out and about, he’s taking river transport, he’s cycling, and he’s being tough on the radio, it’s a disaster, an absolute disaster.
It was probably right to bring this motion, but you know, its tacky, a political move, I just can’t be bothered with this sort of political move. You’re not really taking into account the fact that Mayor over the last year probably has not done his bit. And so I’m going to abstain on this.
I think you are possibly right to bring the motion [addressed to the Tory members], but if you had worded it in a different way, I would have supported it wholeheartedly, but I’m not going to support it as it is.”
Jenny Jones abstained in the vote.
The video of the whole session of the Asembly is available at the GLA webcast page here.
The debate on the Tory motion condemning the strike starts at 1 hour 52. It makes interesting viewing and tells you a lot about how total the political consensus is now.
Val Shacross’s speech starts at 1 hour 27 mins.
Jenny Jones speech starts at 2 hours 4 mins in.