Saturday, August 26, 2006

What are nice trade unionists like us doing in a Labour Party like this?

Having written the last post on this blog I got to thinking about how little benefit the trade union movement has had from the “New” Labour Government since 1997 and that lead me to thinking about the question of what our unions are doing being associated with the Labour Party…

The friendly folk at the Socialist Unity website asked me for my views. So I explained why I think socialists should be active in the Labour Party.

I believe this because there is a viable socialist organisation within the Labour Party and because the Labour left has found a standard bearer willing to challenge for leadership of the Party – which means that we can try to force socialist ideas onto the Party’s agenda. The recent results of the elections to the Party’s National Executive give some grounds for optimism.

I know that many good trade unionists have given up on the Party and have other ideas about how to organise politically, whether in coalitions or new parties. I sympathise with and respect these comrades but disagree.

It is 100 years since the Party created by the trade unions became a serious force. We need a political voice more than ever if we are going to fight for trade union rights or against privatisation. I really don’t see why we should abandon the Party we created and go away and try to build a new one – when the majority of Party members who voted in the last elections to the National Executive backed left wing candidates.

We need a campaign around a Labour leadership candidate who will stand for what we believe in…


fairdealphil said...

What do we want?

A National Minimum Wage to put a floor under wages for the first time (according to Kier Hardie a century ago) rights for workers...better maternity rights...paternity rights...and that's just for starters.

And whose delivered this and more for us?

Was it Hardie? Macdonald, Atlee, Wilson or Callaghan...Er, no.

It was Blair.

Break the coalition and we'll wake up to the Tories.

Jon Rogers said...

You know comrade I fear that, given recent opinion poll results, the Tories may already be awake.

I think that those of you who may have liked New Labour ought to wake up to the fact that you are now heading for an election defeat for all of us.

You were keen on a leadership that could win elections, to the extent of supporting them even when they wouldn't do what we wanted from a Labour Government (and - let's be clear the rights that trade unions have gained from this Government are non-negligible, but only just!)

Now your neoliberal leadership which backs neocons in the USA is deeply unpopular, you are welcome to come and join socialists who are trying to get the Party to do what it was made for!

Anonymous said...

Jon, which Tortskyist organisation are you a member of? care to be honest? Or is it a post-Trotskyist outfit like LLB?

Jon Rogers said...

not sure I know what a post-Trotskyist organisation is comrade - is it something to do with the new sizes for letters??

I am very proud to be associated with Labour Left Briefing (you'll find my name in every issue...)

fairdealphil said...

I agree Jon that losing the next election would be "a defeat for all of us".

We will only lose if we fall apart and forget the what an alternative to a Labour Government would mean.

That's why we must work together for the fourth term.

Unity is Strength: Strength is Unity.

Jon Rogers said...

quite right - so let's unite behind socialist policies which can be genuinely popular and give us the Labour Government we deserve :)

Anonymous said...

"who are trying to get the Party to do what it was made for!"

err umm except that in the UK people are turning to the Tories who would do away with the benefits many people have had fro having our party in power.

If you dont win elections, you get nothing which is what the ultra left delivered for years.

People not about to elect a party with John Mcdonnell as leader, not that he stands a chance of winning anyway.

Its all pie in the sky, anorak thinking by the left which has no clue, self indulgent twaddle.

Jon Rogers said...

Tricky to engage with the powerful intellect of the last (anonymous) comment above ;)

I don't remember when the "ultra left" was ever in charge of the Labour Party in order to deserve such criticism (was that when that raving Trot Kinnock was in charge perhaps...)

As a general rule I think that insults are used as a substitute for argument by those who cannot make a serious argument.

The evidence is that socialist policies would be popular as well as right and - as I explained in the post that started these comments - that's why socialists like myself are in the Labour Party!

fairdealphil said...

I wonder if you would welcome the Labour Government's plan for a revolution in the workplace, particularly to benefit women, trailed on the front page of the Indy on Sunday today??

Jim Jay said...

Since when are Tory policies popular?!? We have never been given any choice in the matter!

Jon Rogers said...

Hi Phil - I've replied to this comment on the thread about the Feminist Conference, but agree that anything which helps workers achieve better work life balance is good.

Jim - I think you make a good point. Thatcher never had a popular majority any more than Blair has had. I believe that the politics which you can find at would be popular as a programme for a party of the left, and that Labour could be doing far better.