Thursday, May 27, 2010

Livingstone presumes

The highlight of a disappointingly (if not unexpectedly) inquorate meeting of the UNISON Greater London Regional Council was without doubt the stirring speech from a UNITE member of BA Cabin Crew who exposed with great clarity the union-bashing agenda of Willie Walsh and BA management.

However the other speakers also made valuable contributions. Jon Richards national officer, called persuasively for support for a national "day of dissent" on 21 June in response to the wave of cuts currently engulfing our colleges and Universities. Dissent is of course tremendously important and it was good to see an unequivocal welcome for dissent from our Regional Secretary.

Our final speaker was former London Mayor and - IMHO as importantly - former GLC Leader Ken Livingstone who will clearly be seeking the Labour nomination for Mayor in 2012.

Ken pointed out that whereas in 1992 the Tory lead over Labour in London had exceeded their national lead, by 2010 Labour had retained a lead in London in the face of a similar lead for the Tories nationally. He suggested that this was due to the more progressive direction of the Labour Party in London, as developed over the past generation.

Ken also had some welcome positive words for trade unionists trying to push Labour administrations to resist the cuts agenda of central Government.

I hope that the Regional Labour Link Committee will encourage the widespread consultation amongst levy payers that will give our (hoped for) support of Livingstone for Mayor real weight and force.

Unusually we were permitted to ask questions - and Danny Hoggan from Greenwich made an excellent contribution rightly highlighting the disgraceful treatment of his UNISON branch. As the top table sought without success to stifle Danny's contribution it became clear that our support for "dissent" is not supposed to be unlimited...

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