Monday, 14 September 2009

A Question

The Problem

My mother is very old and very frail. She has various chronic medical problems which mean that she has severely restricted mobility and stability, so there have been a number of recent falls. She has lost the effective use of her right hand which means that she can’t cook or even cut her own food up. I call these problems ‘medical’ in the sense they each have at least one medical name – but, truth be told, I don’t really see them as separate ‘medical’ problems. Mum is just old. & she lives alone. She's also poor: she lives in a ground floor privately rented flat and gets full Housing Benefit.

She is now in a care home for a spot of respite care after her most recent fall, and I'm trying to sort out the necessary services to allow her to return to her flat - aids, adaptations, meals on wheels and so on. As a woman who was 8 on the formal abolition of the workhouse - and only 26 when they really ended - she views residence in any kind of institutional 'care', from hospitals down, as a sort of shaming personal disgrace. And I live two hours drive away in a house with no downstairs bathroom or spare bedroom. My only sibling lives abroad and Dad is dead.

The Question

Mum is going to die at some point in the probably not-too-distance future I know. But it is her chassis and wheels that are failing, not the basic engine - her heart and lungs - so this might take a number of years. I want her to have a good ending.

I invite all all you lefty - or even perhaps not so lefty - bloggers to explain how your particular take on politics and the world might help achieve this. Or are there things about the nature of welfare and old age which are just beyond politics as we currently understand it?

& it's OK, I'm not asking you to solve my problem let alone my Mum's. It's not that personal. I just want to see how the left can attempt to connect its formal politics to lived experience. I don't want to 'tag' anyone formally, but I'd be interested in responses from anyone, especially anyone on my blogroll.


  1. Moving stuff, Charlie, and good question making me think right to the heart of what my core beliefs and values are.

    We can call all we want for more funding so that care homes can provide some kind of dignity in old age, rather than be the very grim places so many of them are - and we should - but ultimately you end up realising that the state, however well funded, can never really provide what any old Mum needs in her old age.

    I guess my deepest belief - not socialist in the slightest, but not necessarily non-socialist? - is that the place for Aged P needs to be in the family home, however inconvenient or expensive that may be to deliver. Can I live up to that in my own life. I dunno. My track record of beong well-organised so far has not been good.

  2. Charlie, I was in exactly the same position you describe with my Mum 9 years ago when she was 81. I would like to have had her come live with us, but we had no room. She had had a fall and dislocated her shoulder. We took it in turns to stay with her. Very demanding. At the time I was looking at buying another house, and for a number of reasons I really wish I had so that I could have moved her in with us.

    The following year she fell and dislocated her shoulder again. She had also been suffering from Depression, not going out, not properly looking after herself, and so on. We got her into respite, and they wanted to move her out though she clearly couldn't look after herself, and she had imnproved no end when she went in and had people of her own age to talk to. She dislocated her shoulder again whilse she was in and that settled things. She stayed in.

    But, although the home was generally okay, I made a number of suggestions - I was a County Councillor at the time. Little was done to provide activities for residents - yet the Council DID have some Retirment Villages, which offered all sorts of activities. Half a mile away was a hospital with Physio facilities including therapy pools and so on, which would have been great for residents, but there was no link up to provide such facilities. My Mum actually kept herself busy helping a blind woman resident.

    In 2003 she fell ill, and was ill for several days before collapsing and being taken into hospital. She had a trapped gall stone that had caused an infection. She was in hospital for a month without them realising this, and was sent out before collapsing again within 24 hours and having to be taken into Intensive Care. She was in then for 3 months, and in my opinion was not properly encouraged to get out of bed, stand up etc, and ended up then becoming bed-ridden.

    For the last 5 years of her life if you can call it that she was in a Nursing home bed-ridden with no one to talk to except staff when they occasionally had the time, and myself and my sister when we vistited for half an hour sveral times a week. Part of the problem then is that you increasingly have less and less to talk about.

    I actually think that the Retirement Villages are the best solution, because they provide security and choice for residents alongside a community of people who can relate to each other alongside varying levels of support. Of course, if you have the time and facilities then having your parents live with you can also be a good solution, but it can also become a severe restriction.

  3. Just to add, that in those last few years she was in and out of hospital several times largely due to contracting water infections and dehydration related problems, because she was often left with water or food, but no one assisted her to consume it.

    As a Councillor I argued that it was up to the Council to ensure that the level of provision was so good that people would see residence in a home as a preferable option, but in Britain more than Europe state provision of anything is seen as being necessarily second best, and as a "safety net". I guess these things will be the first to get cut.

    Another reason I have been arguing that we cannot leave this kind of provision to the mercy or lack of it of the Capitalist State. Housing Co-ops could easily integrate the Retirement Village idea into their developments, and Co-operative communties could provide precisely the kind of support network that old people in particular require.

    Only by bringing such provision under our own direct ownership and control can we guarantee that both the facilities, the staffing levels and general environment needed for ensuring adequate care is established.

  4. Strategist, Arthur(Boffy), many thanks for replying.

    For what it is worth, I agree that there is a limit to what the State can do here - but also a limit to what might be achieved via the kind of market driven 'personal choice' agenda currently being driven forward in Social Care by New Labour . Giving my Mum a personal budget to organise her care is just going to add to her sense of terror at what is happening to her.(& getting old and disabled is terrifying, I think - you know death is just around the corner)

    Boffy makes some excellent points about the need to join up Health and Social Care services - one of my frustrations last week, after a bad fall, was being told my mum wasn't ill enough to go to hospital but finding that there is no emergency Social Care service. So I got stuck with the problem of not being able to leave her side.

    I too like the idea of Retirement Villages - but they are still few and very far between and sometimes have no facilities for taking people entirely dependent on state benefits.

    But moving away from my personal circumstances I do wonder if there is any currently available 'left' language which allows us to talk about this sort of thing. I know Boffy has tried to move forward from a 'NHS rah-rah-rah' position in some posts over the summer towards a more nuanced view of what he calls 'state capitalist' welfare provision, but it doesn't quite cut it for me. This is emphatically not a criticism of Boffy: at least he's wrestling with the problem. I'm just not sure the concept of working class self organisation or workers control is going to cut the mustard on this one.

    Almost all of us are going to have elderly parents one day, and most of us are also going to get old ourselves. If the left could find a way of projecting a vision of how this might be most humanely organised then I think it would be a big step forwards in rehabilitating our worldview amongst a general population which has all but forgotten we exist.

  5. "If the left could find a way of projecting a vision of how this might be most humanely organised then I think it would be a big step forwards in rehabilitating our worldview amongst a general population which has all but forgotten we exist."

    On this issue but not only on this issue. Just because the state cannot and should not do it all in terms of welfare/care, it doesn't follow that the opposite must follow - that the state should do nothing and everything should fall upon atomised individuals/families.

    Off topic, but I was greatly heartened by tonight's Newsnight - the best in many a long moon - where Paul Mason's point that although neoliberal practice has survived for now, the intellectual underpinning of neoliberal ideology has collapsed, and this must become meaningful in the long run. This view was not only not challenged but seemingly entirely accepted by a host of luminaries ranging from a lady from Goldman Sachs to the Archbish of Canterbury.

  6. First, in response to Strategist. The problem is as Paul pointed out, there has been no "Left" alternative provided. As I've pointed out in my latest blog, the rapid decline in Obama's popularity in teh face of opposition by workers and the middle class (no doubt whipped up by an organised campaign by the Right) demonstrates that worekrs are simply not going to accept the old statist polciies of the past. We've seen it here and in Eastern Europe, and know it is no solution. The danger is that given that the actual alternative might be provided by the extreme Right, and trhe fact that the BNP are entrenching themselves in community groups and activity shows how that could well come about.

    Of course, I recognise that a "Co-operative" worker-led solution to Health and Social Care is not going to come about overnight - and by the way my advice would be to stay well away from the personal budget idea, its a nightmare - but, the Co-op itself already does finance Community Programmes, and the link up of the Co-op Bank with Britannia has created an organisation with £75 billion of assets, both of which are involved in housing finance. There are, in fact, already lots of Co-operative Housing schemes,and they have been proved to be the most efficient form.

  7. I see no reason why existing "Retirement Villages" could not be bought out by Co-operatives as a beginning, and that in itself would empower those that live in them. It could be used to develop such communities on a national scale - also dealing with the question of catering for those entirely on benefits. It would for now provide a greater force to negotiate a contract with state run health and social care providers for a guaranteed level of care for those in such communities, thereby preventing them backing out of that care the next time a round of cuts comes along.

  8. I know something of housing co-ops. They are a good idea but not a panacea. Unfortunately, there seem to be fewer and fewer each year as they are mainly quite small and struggle to compete for public funding against the mega housing associations (and now private developers as well) who consume most of the monies available for social housing.

    But this isn’t the only sort of problem co-ops face. There is evidence that they are often very satisfactory places to live – but not necessarily for everyone. To join one means to accept responsibility for things like rent collection and organising repairs, so you either have to actually do these sort of things or supervise a worker who does them on your behalf. You might even have to get involved in discussions about the potential eviction of a neighbour.

    This sort of arrangement tends to work well when the core of the co-op comprises its initiating members - who, stereotypically, may be childless and often quite politically (with a small ‘p’) motivated. But, quite reasonably, any co-op built with public money has to offer public access to the housing. So, increasingly, the co-op may fill up with local authority referrals, at least some of whom might have experienced homelessness or some other kind of trauma. Many such people can thrive in a co-op environment of course – but by no means all. The motivation for participation can easily fall away, or fall increasingly on the shoulders of a small and resentful minority who sometimes bring things to a head by moving out.

    As a general principle I am attracted to Arthur’s vision of non statist socialist welfare solutions – but I am very cautious about how far such inspiring visions can be generalised. You still need the state I reckon, though a humanised one I hope.

    & as someone who has spent most of his working life dealing with councils and other state bodies on behalf of the voluntary sector I wouldn’t trust a contract to protect me from funding cuts. As long as there is only one source of possible income – a monopsony I believe it is called – then a contract isn’t worth the paper it is written on. Or at least that is my experience of dealing with the State.

  9. I'm not suggesting that if you set up a Co-op there are no problems. Actually, though some of the problems you cite I actually see as positives. Its precisely, the fact that the workers in such a Co-op have to undertake the management of rent collection etc., that they have to deal with situations like dealing with anti-social neighbours and evictions that I think empower them, and which provide the necessary skills and social relations that will be required for running a socialist society, which will in fact only be such a community writ very large.

    I think that Co-ops have to be very careful in where they get funding from if that imposes conditions on them, about how they function. A Co-op needs to have a set of rules and Constitution that establish its ethos, and like say a Trade Union it also has to have control over who it allows to join etc.

    When I speak of Contracts I am speaking of legally binding Contracts, not the kind of "Social Contracts" that Voluntary organisations usually establish. I am talking about a legally enforceable right to sue the local Council or whoever, for Breach of Contract where they fail to perform an agreed level of service.

  10. 'Giving my Mum a personal budget to organise her care is just going to add to her sense of terror at what is happening to her.(& getting old and disabled is terrifying, I think - you know death is just around the corner)'

    My dad had a long term illness and died in hospital after a long stay there - years rather than months. And I think near the end he was frightened. I think there is a limit to what socialism, the state or anything else can do when it comes to the emotional process by which we leave this life. But I do think that as at least society should be able to provide a physically comfortable environment. I don't think families are necessarily very good at doing this dealing or with long term illness and decline in a loved one yet there is extraordinary pressure on them to care at home - and in my father's case he didn't want to cared for at home, even though he missed the place.

    Given the limitations of social provision I think we need to aim for 'good enough' care rather than ideal solutions.

    Just as an aside: I have family in the US who introduced me on a visit their to a group called the Daughters of the British Empire. Apparently the US is full of such groups, usually associated with some place of national origin, overwhelmingly middle aged, middle class and monied, gender-specific and ostensibly engaged in charitable works.

    My aunt applied to joined the DBE and even though she is from Belfast and relatively poor they accepted her and she asked me if I'd come over to her house and 'wait' on the ladies on the afternoon of her initiation. I spent most of the time down stairs with my aunt's Italian husband, Gino, pouring cheap wine into expensive bottles and then topping up the Daughter's glasses.

    As they got drunker a few of them started talking to me and I asked what it was exactly that they did. They said they raised money for an old people's home in the country. Ostensibly this was a charitable act, except that the home had become rather plush on the money donated by the Daughters and guess what? All the Daughters had there names down to retire their and see their days out. God bless America.

  11. One thing I questioned when I was a Councillor was the fact that we hada presentation by the Social Work Department that stressed the degree to which people wanted to be in their home rather than in a Care Home. I suspected that there was a reason this argument was being pushed, and that it had to do with saving money and pushing the cost on to relations. But, the idea in any case struck me as odd for otehr reasons.

    My old man always said if he was left on his own he'd want to go into a home because he wouldn't want to be left having to do all the cooking and cleaning himself. He'd prefer to have the time free to go out dancing and playing bowls.

    Also many people (I admit I'm not one of them) like to spend their holidays in hotels where they are lloked after and catered for. So how is this different from being permanently looked after?

    Similarly, many people (and again I'm not one of them) enjoy going out for meals to restaurants, so again how is this different from having your meals provided for you - an argument for socialised catering in general actually.

    The fact, that people do seem to prefer to remain in their own homes then it seems to me is something they have been persuaded to think is normal. In part, it reflects the standard of care provided in care homes, and the fact that people realise that they are likely to lose thier homes in the process.

  12. Rab, Arthur,
    Thanks for your contributions. I agree that socialism can’t, any more than any other political philosophy, solve the intractable problems of dignity in the last stages of life. But some solutions are better than others, and personal comfort is important. &, to be relentlessly personally focussed, I am beginning to wonder if something might be made of policies such as a special kind of compassionate leave being made statutorily available to carers/ next-of-kin for people above a certain age? The analogy in my mind is maternity/paternity leave. & given we have an aging population – so a lot more of us younger people are going to have to do a lot more caring – I do wonder if this kind of thing might be electorally popular.

    But enough of this over personal focus.

    I would say to Arthur that as a voluntary sector person I simply don’t trust local authority contracts. They can be ripped up, or more commonly, unilaterally varied in their terms – freezing or lowering payments terms for instance. Yes, in theory, one can then take action against the council in the courts. But who takes their only possible source of income to court and expects anything but a pyrrhic victory?

    Care homes vary in quality. But I think the desire of many old people to stay out of them is something more than just a line they’ve been sold on what they ought to do. I've yet to see a care home which truly was completely non institutional.

  13. Charlie,

    On the compassionate leave idea. It is of course possible that such a reform could be agreed, but I doubt it for the reason you state - we have a rapidly ageing population. Part of the argument used to justify extending the retirement age is not enough workers to finance the retired. Imagine if even fewer workers were working, because they were on leave fo years looking after parents.

    As I've written on my blog when I was Vive Chair of Health Scrutiny we had a working group that looked into the role of kids as carers. I can't recall the figure, but it was something like in Staffordsshire alone, there were 25,000 kids - some as young as 8 - KNOWN, to be acting as full-time carers for parents. The research seemed to suggest that the figure was really much, much bigger than this, because we only got to know of these 25,000 by roundabout methods.

    I wasn't suggesting that people don't want to go into homes because they have been conned. I was saying that on one level the idea of being somewhere where you get looked after SHOULD be one that many people find attractive. They don't because not only have they been told that they should want to be independent, but also because that is reinforced by the lack ofc are in many cases, the institutional nature of the homes and so on.

    On contracts as again I've written in my blog, if contracts with the local state can't be entered into with any certianty we have to think the heretical and suggest contracts with private providers like BUPA as a lever to open the door to establishing Co-operative provision as the alternative.

  14. Addendum,

    I also think that there is a danger in the argument you have been making here and on my blog of putting yourself intoa vicious circle. On the one hand you have argued that - well yes, Co-op welfare provision is a good idea, BUT, its unrealistic to assume it could replace State provision. On the other you are arguing here that the State can't even be relied on to meet legal let alone moral requirments of it for such care!! At the same time you now argue for this same state to legislate a reform allowing workers to stop work to look after parents.

    I think you have to make your mind up really about the nature of this State, and state provision. If it doesn't and can't be relied on to provide that provision - and I agree it can't - then we have to provide for ourselves alternative means of doing so, recognising that this too will mean a constant class struggle with that State - I'm not suggesting that just ebcause you have a legally enforceable contract you only pursue a remedy through the Courts, just that this is an added arm of mobiling workers against that State in a struggle to ensure it is kept to its commitments.

    The alternative is to say, its all hopeless, we just have to wait for Socialism!

  15. Arthur,
    Yes, the state has to be reformed, transformed, whatever. In any event it has to change and this will involve struggle as you say.

    But, tell me this, if co-ops provided most health or housing services how would equality of access to these services be guaranteed without some state-like central organising body holding some legal or funding constraint on the actions of the co-op is direct provdier of service? Popular control of services is a important principle - but so is equality of access. My comments are an extended muse on how best to marry up these twow principles, both of which are important to me.

    On the contractual point: I have written at perhaps inordinate length about my take on ant-state left libertarianism here Too often, I fear, it starts with the best intentions and slides imperceptibly into the New Labourist strategic vision of a 'market commissioning state'. If you can bear to wade through 3000+ words perhaps it will be clearer where I'm coming from.

  16. Charlie,

    The fundamental difference between us is this. I do not beleive the Capitalist State can be reformed. I agree with Marx and Lenin that it can only be smashed and repalced with a Workers State. I suppose that where I disagree with Lenin - though I beleive this difference in part lies in the fact of where and when he was writing and fighting - is that I do not see that as being some wham bam political revolution, but that such a political revolution is only the culmination of a long process of social revolution whereby the productive forces find their rational expression in Co-operative property relations, and the social relations, which develop on the back of that creating the new state forms, and new ideas which will come into irreconcilable conflict with the old.

    In answer to your equality question, Marx gives the answer in his Critique of the Gotha Programme. There can be no question of the kind of equality you speak so long as society is dominated by the Law of Value. He says, "Right can never be higher than the economic level of society can sustain." (paraphrase).

    No such right to equality exists now, why do you further hamper workers here and now struggling against Capitalism, by insisting that they adopt a principle that cannot be fulfilled by Capitalism? Having said that, if as I have suggested such Co-ops are seen not as being simply stand alone Capitalist enterprises that just happen to be owned by workers, but are linked each to another, through a network of bodies exercising democratic workers control, indeed as I've argued that they have to be part of a national Co-operative body that does hold the title deeds in trust, and does control Capital allocation then this DOES create the kind of conditions in which socialists can argue for a greater degree of equality and so on.

    After all, we know that other workers organisations do not necessarily act in that way. Trade Unions for one. We don't reject them as workers organisations, but fight for our politics within them. In fact, long after Capitalism has been replaced, socialists will have to argue such ideas - equality of all sorts does not necessarily flow automatically from having replaced Capitalism. The more we have to deal with those issues now the less problems they will cause us later. In fact, I'd argue one of the reasons the Bolsheviks were led to undermine workers demcoracy early on was the fact that workers DID NOT, automatically after the revolution become the kind of new Man a socialist society requires.

  17. Arthur,
    As I’ve said in passing before I no longer consider myself a Marxist – indeed, given that I am a former Eurocommunist you might think I never was one!:)

    So appeals to the scriptural authority of Marx, Lenin, or whoever don’t work as any kind of successful argument for me. This isn’t to say, of course, that I am so purblind as to believe there is nothing to learn from activists or thinkers in the Marxist tradition – that would be simply silly – but just that, in common with 99.9% of the population I do not regard any issue as being settled because a quote from a favoured author can be deployed.

    Whatever it might say in the Critique of the Gotha Programme – and I have to admit that it is many years since I read it so I have only very hazy memories of its contents – it is plainly factually true that the principles of equality of access and equality of service provision have been key issues in welfare – and educational - politics under capitalism, Law of Value or no Law of Value. They’ve been the bread and butter of (the better kind of) social democratic programmes.

    I think it is you that are at risk of constructing an argument that says, in effect, let’s put off a defence of key principles which have been fought for and partially achieved yet are under attack today till after the Revolution.

  18. Charlie,

    I wasn't quote Marx as Holy Writ simply saying that I agree with his argument here, and I think he has been proved wholly correct despite your argument to the contrary. Whatever, social democratic phrasemongering might have said there clearly HAS NOT been any kind of movement towards equality, let alone its achievement! We have a more unequal society now than we have ever had.

    Not only does inequality in educational opportunity persist, but its consequences in terms of access to top jobs persists with it. There have been yet more reports done in the last few years that demonstrate that whatever the filed of social policy from Health to Education and so on the root cause of poor performance is overwhelmingly low income. Even where poor housing conditions contribute the cause of the poor housing is - low incomes!

    In Education we have a postcode lotter that leads middle class families to move house - or claim they have - to get their kids into better schools - where they do not simply pay to send them to private schools. We have a postcode lottery in health that sees the most grotesque variation in health and mortality rates throughout the coutnry that depend upon whether you live in an affluent area of a deprived area and so on.

    Moreover, the problem with the focus on "equality", fairness etc. is that it completely misses the point. As Hobsbawm pointed out, there has been no redistribution from rich to poor, only redistribution to the poor from the not quite so poor! That is what pisses off so many ordinary working class people! If we really want to change that it is necessary not to tinker around the edges as has happened for over 100 years, but to challenge the fubndamental cause of all inequality, and that is the ownership of the means of production.

    Moreover, if you really want to apply the principles you have elaborated here then we should be in favour of Government imposed Pay Policies. After all when a strong well organised group of workers in a Trade Union gets a pay rise, and a group of non-unionised workers at McDonalds continues to get screwed, does that not exacerbate the inequality you are concerned with here? But, I can't beleive you would agree with that, because ex-Marxist or not, I think you recognise that when a strong group of workers wins, its a win for all workers even when that isn't immediately seen to be the case.

    My point is the same. Where workers who are stronger in some sense, for whatever reason, make an advance to set up a Co-op of some kind, and thereby regain some control over their lives and the means of production that is a gain for ALL workers. Moreover, if done properly along the lines I have outlined, a more robust, a more defensible gain than is the odd wage rise, or concession from the State, which can be taken away again tomorrow.

    In that process if soem weaker groups of workers do not get to benefit directly that is tough, but unless we deal with those issues those weaker workers will suffer even more anyway. We are in a class war, and in a war, you can't afford to much sentimentality. The idea of not leaving your comrades behind might be okay in American slushy war films, but in practice in a battle, the priority is to mobilise your fighting forces effectively, and not allow the wounded and crippled to hold you back. Win the battle then look after the casualties, otherwise you all end up as casualties.

  19. As for defending principles, nothing I have said at all suggests that. On the contrary I have said that it is necessary precisely to defend those principles. That is to oppose privatisation. But, it is precisely because I beleive that those principles have not been, and cannot be implemented by the Capitalist State, and trying to achieve even a partial achievement of them involves persistent battles with the Capitalist State that I beleive a different route has to be adopted - that is not counting on the Capitalist State to fulfill them, but fulfilling them ourselves.

    That does not at all mean refusing to fight for reforms or concessions - any more than the idea that the real struggle is a struggle for Socialism means refusing to struggle for wage rises - but, it does mean not seeing those reforms and concessions as the end goal. In fact, the two things are inextricably linked. In fighting for those reforms, in fighting to defend the NHS against privatisation, it becomes clear why simply limiting the struggle within those bounds is a hopeless labour of sysyphus.

    At a local Trades Council meeting a few months ago, I made precisely that point. The struggles being udnertaken now to oppose cuts, to defend the NHS and so on are EXACTLY, the same struggles that I was involved in when I first became involved in politics 40 years ago! That is the measure of the failure of such an approach.

  20. Charlie,

    it occurred to me that given the original bsis of the topic my analogy was not the best that I could have chosen. For clarity let me make clear I was not speaking of the wounded and crippled in a literal sense. I was meaning that workers are at different levels of class conscioussnes, they have different levels of organisation and those that are stronger should not be held back.

    In fact, it could well be the sick or unemployed or disadvantaged in some other way who might in any particular case hold that position. They might on an estate for example set up a Credit Union. They might from there make links with the local Trades Council, and LP's and TRA's. from there they might be able to give inspiration to less developed less well organsied workers on other estates who can use their knowledge to set up their own Credit Unions.

    But, similarly, their might be workers on any estate whose position is so dire that they would not even qualify to join a Credit Union, because of the danger that they might not pay back any money borrowed. That should not be a reason for not establishing one, just because not everyone can qualify. On the contrary setting it up, making it succesful creates the conditions udner which the problems of those other workers might be addressed, because other solutions could be developed. Its working from a position of strength rather than weakness.

  21. Boffy,
    I do wish to give your comments the reflection and response they deserve - I'm grateful for the intelligent conversation. But I am tied up in sorting out my Mum and other family matters.

    But let me put down a marker: I agreed with the general thrust of this 1970s pamphlet on the whole subject of pay policy, so , no I don't agree that it is necessarily true that,
    "I think you recognise that when a strong group of workers wins, its a win for all workers even when that isn't immediately seen to be the case."