Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trade Union Coordinating Group

Rather than blog a full report myself from Tuesday evening's launch of the Trade Union Coordinating Group I shall cheat and blog a link to a report from UNITE blogger Gill George.

The new group is an interesting and important development (and one which Derek Simpson comprehensively misunderstood at the Morning Star fringe meeting on Tuesday lunchtime).

The group is, as far as I can see, a sensible attempt to maximise the political impact of the work of some of the best campaigning unions. It will appeal to those who look for an alternative to the Labour Party as a vehicle for our aspirations, but it will of necessity work primarily if not exclusively with Labour Parliamentarians.

The unions coming together to coordinate their lobbying have different policies and traditions, and their General Secretaries have different personal opinions as they made clear at the fringe.

What they have in common is an honest recognition of the limited effectiveness of the political campaigning of the trade unions (exemplified by the supine trade union group of MPs) and a genuine desire to see our movement fighting for its policies.

To the extent that I have heard anyone from the leadership of the movement trying to outline what their approach is and how to distinguish it from the attempt of the left-led unions to establish a trade union voice in Parliament it was in the barely coherent contribution from Derek Simpson at the Morning Star fringe meeting, at which he expressed the hope that there would be a fight to reclaim the Labour Party. (I was left wondering whether he might be able to persuade one of the joint General Secretaries of our largest union to do something about this).

The Trade Union Coordinating Group, convened by John McDonnell is a far more persuasive attempt at political influence for our class and those of us who are genuinely serious about a fight for socialist politics in the Labour Party should welcome this attempt to politicise trade unionism.

I should imagine that somewhere deep in the bowels of Mabledon Place someone is already trying to work out how to rule out of order any discussion of this development at UNISON's Conference next year...

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