Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tweedledee and Tweedledem are in charge - we must not be Tweedledumber!

Slightly over thirteen years ago I remember walking along Whitehall just to watch the removal vans at work on Friday 2 May 1997. I tried hard then to suspend disbelief and join the euphoria.

However, whilst I do remember telling a Human Resources Director that now there was a Labour Government he had to call union officials "sir" or "madam," I never really put any hope in that one public schoolboy who took office then - except that I knew (and have always known) the truth that the Tories are always worse.

Today we have the nauseating sight of two public schoolboys gleefully entering No. 10 in order to attack the working class and devastate our public services (because sadly our one public schoolboy - and his unelected [but union endorsed] successor - missed the once-in-a-century chance to make real change in this country because they had time for imperialist wars but not to repeal anti-union laws).

I am tribally Labour and have always known that Tories are hateful. The last couple of days have underlined that the Liberals are also an anti-working class outfit (just as the German Free Democrats have been consistent advocates of the interests of big business). Labour is hideously flawed but it is the only political vehicle available to working class people to achieve our aims (please will everyone else on the left - including the CPB backers of the Unison establishment - now abandon their illusions in the availability of an alternative and join the socialists trying to make Labour what it ought to be?)

If trade unionists are to defend our class from the coming onslaught we need to make the right allies and use such influence as we have to pull the Labour Party back to represent the working class and the public services which form our vital "social wage". An effective Labour opposition will make a material difference to the scale of horrors about to be visited upon us.

The best way to drive the Labour Party in our direction and to ensure that there is effective Parliamentary opposition to the "savage cuts" promised by the "Condem" government is to push 33 MPs to nominate a socialist candidate for Labour Leader in the forthcoming election.

A Campaign Group candidate could command such support in the electoral college that they would, by their candidature, force the Party and trade union leadership to take proper account of the widespread support for socialist policies at the heart of the UK labour movement.

The reality of our rightwing Government is today the obituary of the New Labour project. If the unions back Blairites to run Labour as a cosy opposition to the savage "Condem" Government then we will be abandoning our members to the coming attacks.

We need to back Labour politicians who want to take on the rightwing Government - not those who wish that they were the rightwing Government (as they have been in the recent past). This means we have to go beyond backing "Brownites" against "Blairites" - we need to back socialists.

It is for this reason (amongst others) that I will back the socialist candidate - Paul Holmes - in the election for General Secretary of Unison. Paul is an unashamed Labour member (which distinguishes him in my view from his opponents) but he will not curry favour with worthless timeservers such as Alan Johnson.

The project of Unison's leadership over the last decade was to lean gently on the Labour Government whilst standing slightly to their left. It's legacy is PFI, Foundation hospitals, stock transfers and privatisation. (And of course top up fees, the Iraq war and the retention of the anti-union laws).

Whilst we have managed to grow our membership (albeit at a lesser rate than the increase in public service employment) we are not stronger and more effective than we were when New Labour took office.

An honest assessment of the last decade would have to conclude that we had failed to punch the weight our 1.3 million members give us. When being honest in private supporters of Unison's current leadership concede this point.

Such is the atmosphere of intolerance in our trade union that it is rare that such concessions will be made in public (even though individuals at the very heart of the campaign to re-elect our current General Secretary plainly take that view).

Unison members who hope that their subscriptions will pay for effective organisation of resistance to cuts in jobs, services, conditions and pensions should back Paul Holmes. I am proud to be one of those who will do so.

We face Tweedledee and Tweedledem in Government - let us not be Tweedledumb in response!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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