Thursday, May 01, 2008

Awaiting bad news?

The polls are closed now and I’m sure I’m not the only one waiting for the results of the local and London elections.

It’s hard to believe that Boris Johnson could be Mayor of London – a candidate with no substantial experience who if he wins - will have done so on the back of a series of smears against his more capable and experienced opponent. If elected “Bojo”’s essential nature will no doubt express itself in further reactionary outbursts to embarrass his supporters, but the damage will have been done. UNISON members in London know that we will all pay the price if a buffoon is elected to such an important role.

We’ll know the result soon enough, but whether or not the Tories can win the London Mayor, the fact that the race has gone to the wire is an ominous indication that, for the first time in years, a Tory Government is becoming possible.

This lends an urgency to the question of how to find a way to obtain political representation for trade union policies and for the interests of our members, because there will be those who will respond to the threat of a change of Government with a simplistic – and ultimately self-defeating – call to rally round and support “our” Labour Party in Government, right or wrong. They will be wrong and must be opposed.

But we also need to think ahead as trade unionists and begin to consider how we would deal with the challenges that a Tory Government would create for us. I understand why – in the face of real terms pay cuts and spreading privatisation – there will be plenty of trade unionists who don’t see how it could be worse.

It could.

We need to start thinking about how we would deal with a real right-wing Government as opposed to New Labour’s imitation. What would a Tory Government do? How would we resist? What lessons can we learn from our own history or from the recent experience of trade unionists in other countries where the political right have been in Government?

No comments: