Saturday, July 08, 2006

Labour Party leadership

If the newspapers make you think that there should soon be an election for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, well then apply that to the Leader as well.

This is what I said in a letter published by Tribune ( http://www.tribweb.co.uk/ ) yesterday;

"I was with thousands of other UNISON members who heard, and welcomed, the warning given by our General Secretary to Gordon Brown not to rely upon our support (Tribune June 23).

However, his suggestion that the left should not challenge the man who subsequently came out quite unnecessarily in support of replacing Trident, whilst continuing to support the privatisation of our public services was very disappointing.

Keith Sonnet, our Deputy General Secretary and Labour NEC representative, addressed the best fringe meeting of the Conference alongside Tony Benn, for the Stop the War Coalition. He agreed that our Union should do nothing to support a leadership candidate who had backed the Iraq war.

I agree with Keith, but would go further. If our Union’s link with the Labour Party is to survive it must mean that our members are offered an opportunity to vote, in a leadership election, for a candidate who can be relied upon to support our Union’s policies. This is not about a “token” challenge from “the left” it is about offering trade unionists a clear example of why we should continue to be part of our Party.

Unless enough MPs can be persuaded to nominate a candidate who supports public services, manufacturing, union rights and equality – and who has opposed the Iraq war – our members will be denied the opportunity to support a candidate who supports our Union policies.

Trade union general secretaries should be calling upon MPs to nominate a candidate who will support trade union policies – otherwise warning Brown that he “cannot rely upon our support” is empty rhetoric."

If you are a UNISON member who wants to lobby UNISON linked MPs to give us a chance to vote for a decent candidate in the Labour leadership election when it comes you can get the details of our MPs at http://www.unison.org.uk/labourlink/pages_view.asp?did=88 and if you want some information about the sort of MP who would make a decent candidate why not check out http://www.john-mcdonnell.net/ (Which is not to say that there are not a number of other good socialist MPs!)

I wonder what my colleagues on the UNISON Labour Link Committee will do about this...

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