Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thinking about our Party

I was inspired to write to the Guardian as a result of thinking about the implications of the Conference speech of our General Secretary. This is what I said;

“Simon Jenkins says someone should found a Labour party. He's right. The conclusion that New Labour had all but destroyed the Labour party as a vehicle for progressive politics was drawn a few years ago now by those who founded the Labour representation committee, chaired by John McDonnell MP, which now has a thousand members and the affiliation of several trade unions. The question that is arising is whether the electoral meltdown of the party will purge it of its neo-liberal leadership, or whether New Labour's systematic destruction of the party's democratic infrastructure has been so thorough that a new party will have to emerge.

For the moment though it is vitally important to defend as many of those MPs who will speak up for the politics of the left against the neo-liberal consensus as we can. In this context, the call from Unison general secretary Dave Prentis for his union only to back those MPs who will back the union's core policies is most timely. The only institutions with the social weight and political ballast either to reclaim the Labour party or to found a new party of the left are the trade unions.”

I don’t want to be forced out of the Labour Party or to have to found some alternative. Unlike those of my UNISON NEC comrades who conceal their Labour Party membership when standing for election I have always been honest about my political affiliations.

However, if the trade unions are seriously going to fight for our policies in the Labour Party (which means fighting against the Labour Party leadership) then in order to have any leverage we do need to make clear that if we do not gain support for our policies then we will not forever and a day act as cheerleaders for those who attack our members.

We cannot forever support the lesser of two evils. That is not good enough.

This is no more, and no less, than the logic of what Dave Prentis said to UNISON National Delegate Conference.

2 comments:

Labour Link member said...

Good letter.
When you say:
"Unlike those of my UNISON NEC comrades who conceal their Labour Party membership when standing for election"

I assume you mean most of the right wing slate hid their politics - including (disgracefully) the Chair of the Labour Link!

Its no wonder that our members are choosing not to pay into the Labour Link and that the calls to dis affiliate are getting louder if those in our union who are meant to be advocating remaining in the party - are too ashamed to admit party membership!

Funny isn't this something that they use to slate the members of the sp/swp for - hiding party membership in election address!

Hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

But the SP/SWP did not declare their party membership in the recent elction. And so what? Even it is galling that any eventual success is claimed as a party victory by this or that sectarian organisation.

It is important that party membership is not a criterion for standing for election to any union position. That is the basic problem with the APF closed shop.

In my experience declaring LP membership is done for right opportunist reasons - to present as a moderate - how could it be otherwise?

As for the Chair of Labour Link being a covert political operator - you must be joking? He is annoyingly ubiquitous in UNISON publications which report his and LL efforts on behalf of the union.

The idea that he hides his politics is as laughable as the notion of a right wing slate.