Monday, June 08, 2009

A grim day

For trade unionists the results of the Euro elections in the UK are very worrying.

Parties of the right came first and second - and the Party to which some of us are still affiliated got less than one vote in six. The far right gained representation, and those trying to organise to the left of Labour were utterly marginalised.

Those who hope that the Greens may offer us something for the future will have been somewhat encouraged, and some on the left may look enviously to France, Germany or even Ireland. The unavoidable fact is, however, that the left (in the widest sense) did appallingly badly in the UK.

These results must have significant implications for two important debates within UNISON. The first is the debate we are not really allowed to have but have nevertheless been having for years, concerning our relationship with the Labour Party, to which less than one third of our members now contribute via the Affiliated section of our political fund. The second is about how trade unions should contribute to confronting - and defeating - the far right, and whether Unite Against Fascism, Searchlight or someone else has the best approach.

Anyone who today thinks that these election results simply confirm that their own personal view is even more correct than it was before has probably not been paying attention to the scale of the problems we face.

Before rushing to draw conclusions about the implications of what might just be the terminal crisis of Labourism for our general political work I would like more time to reflect - and more information about how trade unions elsewhere in Europe are thinking of responding to the generalised crisis of social democracy expressed in the Europe-wide results.

Before concluding what works best to fight the fascists I would certainly like to see some informed analysis of the differential results for the far right by local authority area together with an informed assessment of the reasons for the differences which will emerge.

Labour clearly needs a change of policies rather more than personalities, but I won't be holding my breath waiting for the PLP to do the right thing and change direction (and since the General Secretaries of the affiliated unions generally appear to be waiting rather than piling on constructive pressure I can only hope that they aren't holding their breath either...)


HarpyMarx said...

Good post Jon, you are right we need some sober analysis and time to reflect as we have a major struggle on our hands for the left.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the General Secretaries don't need to breathe -underlying zomboiism?