Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Darren Bent for Prime Minister

I left you on tenterhooks as I was off to meet Gordon Brown with a delegation from the TUC Executive. Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary was unable to make the meeting as he was in negotiations over the civil service pay dispute but he texted me after to ask how it had gone. I was at Tottenham watching Darren Bent score a hat-trick against Dinamo Zagreb - so my reply was 'Darren Bent's better'.

It's not just a flippant comment. The meeting with Gordon Brown was frustrating. Bringing forward major public spending, the cut in interest rates and the pressure put on banks to reduce their rates are all welcome. But there is still a paucity of ambition.

The government have a significant share in many banks now - and outright ownership of others - and they need to be making sure social policy - putting a stop to repossessions, job protection and so on - are being supported by the banks. They need to clampdown on tax avoidance and use that money to shore up employment and tackle fuel poverty, they need to address the impact of the crisis on pensions. But I left feeling they are not really getting to grips with the magnitude or the opportuni9ties it represents to put social needs ahead of the vast profiteering that has been going on for years in our economy.

From Gordon Brown to the Tories. Today we're meeting Jeremy Hunt, the shadow DCMS Minister to talk about Conservative policy on public service broadcasting. Later in the day we're meeting Ofcom again with other media unions.

On Friday I met with other pensions trustees to put the final touches to our agreement on the staff pension scheme which has been given the green light by the pensions regulator. It gives us time to meet the shortfall in funding. I also met a journalist and lawyers involved in a very difficult potential libel case which has big press freedom implications.

Saturday I played football (against the Daily Mail!). I'd love to report a victory for the forces of enlightenment against the forces of darkness but instead it was a rather friendly 1-1 draw.

Monday I met again with lawyers to talk about the same (confidential!) case and then welcomed our new Head of Personnel and Adminsitration, Lorna James. Michelle Stansistreet and I talked her through some of the key issues facing the union and tried to explain our structure - never easy!

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