Thursday, August 21, 2008

TUC to forget auld acquaintance!

Amongst the many exciting perks of being a member of that august body, the UNISON NEC, is an annual opportunity to attend the Trades Union Congress.

This year I am the lucky recipient of an electronic bulletin to delegates, from which I learn that a couple of traditional elements of the Annual Congress are coming to an end.

This will be the last year in which there will be a speech from the media to Congress – since so few papers now bother to have industrial correspondents as our movement no longer seems powerful and important.

And, for the first time, Congress will not finish with an embarrassing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” from a largely empty hall – instead, we are informed, Congress will end with a video reprise of some of the highlights of the Congress, both on and off platform, to a musical accompaniment.

Were this blog not so resolutely serious I would start a poll for readers to choose the musical accompaniment. Perhaps delegates will be asked (polls of delegates have sometimes got it more right than our leaders have managed!)

Since we won’t be watching many of the General Council get lairy I regret we can rule out the Kaiser Chiefs “I Predict a Riot” – although Alistair Darling is speaking on Tuesday afternoon and so could excite a passionate response...

Perhaps Oasis “Don’t Look Back in Anger” would be an appropriate sound track for the General Council to sing to public sector workers wondering why last year’s fine words about unity have yet to lead to concrete results?

Billy Bragg might be a safe option with Power in a Union – although if you listen to the lyrics, which talk about standing together, these might be thought embarrassing to some brothers and sisters (even in our own Union).

Thinking more politically, there will be those on the floor of Congress (and amongst the General Council) who would go for a bit of Soviet nostalgia – but today’s left wing is a bit more internationalist.

I have a horrible feeling we’ll end up with something which sums up the experience of being at the TUC, some barely political 70s nostalgia which will be consistent with the complacent consensus dominating the leadership.

Tinkering with the traditions of Congress as the General Council continues to manage the slow decline in power and influence of Britain’s trade unions seems fairly pointless.

If we are going to forget auld acquaintance though, perhaps that should be an occasion for a fundamental rethink of what the TUC is for? How about a trade union centre which coordinated workers’ struggles? (or is being on holiday just leading to hopeless optimism of the will?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Had you hit the bottle by this stage?!