To the TUC, with pride and hope

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I'm on the way to Brighton, one of my regular destinations these days.

Today it is the TUC conference and I'm speaking twice; first at a Unite fringe this lunchtime (12.30) and then tomorrow at a PCS fringe, at 5.30. That will then be the conference season over for me: I did the LibDems earlier this year and others are more than ably covering Labour. I had, unfortunately, to turn down an invitation to go to the Greens on Friday as I was in Manchester.

That though leaves me with what I would call the long straw this year because quite rightly the TUC is going to get attention this week. The press is already saying Ed Miliband will have a problem with this conference because of its likely demand for action against cuts, pay freezes and austerity sackings and yet indisputably for millions in this country that anger reflects their own sentiment. Indeed, the Mail on Sunday yesterday was paradoxically talking about union militancy on cuts whilst giving a big feature to the cost in lives lost and human despair resulting from cuts in A&E services, about which unions are leading the protest.

I suspect the UK public has still not caught on to just how important the union movement is and might become again. But when political leadership is weak, and it is, there's going to be growing awareness that the union movement does have the power to oppose what neoliberals are doing to our society, and that is vital.

And that's precisely why I am pleased to be heading for Brighton right now.