Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Voting for our Party - not New Labour's record of reaction

George Monbiot does a service to all those socialists pained at the prospect of voting for a Party which has - in Government - betrayed or disappointed so many of our ideals by summarising in today's Grauniad that sad litany of reactionary policies and their negative consequences (http://m.guardian.co.uk/?id=102202&story=http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/03/parasite-new-labour-fear-hope).

For those who approach politics as individual consumers seeking the most palatable policy mix for which to vote - and believing that things are so bad that anything which precipitates constitutional change must be good this may be a persuasive approach.

My neighbours with Green posters hoping that the bookies are right about Brighton Pavilion would doubtless agree.

However, the point for trade unionists about supporting Labour - and supporting in particular the decent leftwing candidates who will be the heart of any effective Parliamentary voice against the coming onslaught on jobs and services - is not so much what (New) Labour in Government has or has not done. Rather, what matters is what Labour is.

For trade unionists support for a political party ought not to be a matter of individual choice but of collective engagement. The horrors of New Labour in Government are attributable in large part to the failure of that collective engagement due to the political weakness of the leaderships of the big affiliated trade unions.

The answer is not for individuals to find a nice cosy progressive alternative in the privacy of the polling booth, but for trade unionists to organise effectively for collective political influence in the context of the coming struggles.

It is not predetermined that such organised collective political work by trade unionists will always take the same Party political shape.

One of the most important debates at Unison Conference could (dependent on the prioritisation process) be on the NEC amendment to Motion 53 from the Havering branch (the amendment seeks to remove reference to the Trade Union Coordinating Group (TUCG) - an imaginative attempt to develop collective political influence by affiliated and non-affiliated unions which is too radical by half for Mabledon Place). TUCG is not counterposed to Labour affiliation but nor is it constrained by it.

We cannot foresee how things may change in the future - although it is foolish to imagine that, in an atmosphere of hostility to politics and with a resurgent far right (and comprehensively marginalised far left) all change must be for the better.

In any event, right here and right now, the collective engagement of the trade unions is with the Party formed by our predecessors a century ago - in the ranks of which we will find our most useful Parliamentary allies in opposition to the attacks we can anticipate from the next Government.

If you don't read much on this blog for the next couple of days it'll be because I'm working for the election of a good Labour candidate. Good luck to Nancy Platts!
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

2 comments:

nick venedi said...

Any comments on the dire situation in Greece? Why is it that the British TUC has not taken a position on this? Any idea?
Nick Venedi

Jon Rogers said...

The London May Day March received greetings from Athens (and sent greetings back). The TUC will no doubt get round to it sometime...