Thursday, April 12, 2007

Trade Unions and the Labour leadership

I see that moves are still afoot to ensure that those of us with a vote in the forthcoming contest for Leader of the Labour Party are given an unpalatable choice between reactionary alternatives. A Brown –v- Miliband contest would offer trade unionists the choice of being privatised with a scowl or a smile, or of being informed of a pay freeze in a Scottish or an English accent. Not much choice there then.

The more likely candidature of Charles Clarke seems most unlikely to “push Brown to the left” as many seem to hope. If we want to put the issues close to the heart of the trade union movement firmly on the agenda we need to be backing a candidate who will back public services, manufacturing and trade union rights. There is such a candidate.

It is not too late for the leaders of the big trade unions to throw some weight behind the campaign to ensure that Party and union members have the opportunity to vote for a candidate who supports policies supported by the trade unions. Were we to miss this opportunity, hoping against hope that Gordon Brown will return to the beliefs he had in 1973 in some rehash of “Life on Mars”, we will soon run out of arguments to defend the vital relationship between the Party and the unions.

We have just lived through ten years of Labour Government in which we have not succeeded in decisively reversing the decline of the trade unions. If we want a trade union movement which is still relevant in 2017 we need a more vigorous and combative political approach. John McDonnell has offered us an opportunity we ought to be seizing. These are just personal opinions - I would very much welcome a thought out justification from those in the trade unions who disagree...

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