Democratic Double Standards

Branch Young Members Officer Ryan MacSween gives his thoughts about Democratic Double Standards below.

Now the dust has settled on the local elections we can look at what they mean for trade unionists and workers. However, I will leave the nit picking of which parties have gained and made a loss to the armchair political commentators. Commentators who cannot see past party politics as the only vehicle for change.

The other main headline of this local election, and of so many previous, is the dire turnout.

Nationally the official turnout was a mere 43%. Locally, only one ward breached the 50% threshold (Inverclyde West, 54.8%) and the lowest turnout was Inverclyde Central with a 37.7% turnout. The reasons for this are wide ranging, but the linkage between high levels of deprivation and low voter turnout is arguably one of the major causes of this over the country. However, this subject deserves more attention than a few lines in an article. What should be addressed here are the democratic double standards that put in place for trade unions.

If this election was an industrial ballot, it would not be lawful. As we know, we need a 50% turnout for our industrial ballots to be lawful. The overall election turnout in Scotland was 43%, so put under the same conditions as trade unions face this election is not lawful. However, it is of course lawful and the elected members, even with turnouts as low as 30%, are put into positions where they can make decisions that effect the public.

So why are trade unions held to such a higher standard than these elected members who represent the public? Simply put, trade unions are the most effective vehicle for changing the balance of society in favour of workers, redistributing power to workers rather politicians. So, in their hunger for power they make trade unions jump through hoop after hoop in order to express their democratic will, whereas the same is not applied to themselves. The worn out cliché “one rule for them, another for us” springs to mind (I think it may be worn out due to it being true day after day).

As trade unionists we need to highlight this double standard to our members and the public and through this put pressure on these “elected” members to scrap the anti-trade union laws that put these extraneous standards on unions. This election has once again shown the unfair standards unions, and only unions, have to reach.


Leave a Reply