Friday, July 09, 2010

Why Unison should support Diane Abbott

I am late catching up with the presence online of the Unison hustings for Labour Leader which took place a week ago at the National Labour Link Forum in Leeds (

Regular readers Sid and Doris Blogger will be familiar with my generally disdainful view of Unison Labour Link - and it is certainly a disappointment that we didn't organise a hustings at National Delegate Conference where more of our activists could have participated.

On this occasion though, Labour Link deserve one and a half cheers at least.

Putting the hustings up online at least enables those of us who pay into the affiliated political fund to see what is being done in our name.

(In future perhaps sessions of our Conference - or meetings of our National Executive - could be made available for any of our members to watch?)

This welcome development also raises the question of who to support in the Labour leadership election.

I wanted John McDonnell of course, but failing him it has to be Diane Abbott ( Diane opposed the Iraq war - the criminal folly of which epitomises all that was wrong with "New" Labour. This is the single most important reason to back her - to signal a break with all that was wrong with Labour in Government.

I regret I do not believe that Diane could win (and I regret that no so much as an avid fan, but because a Labour Party in which a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs could win would be so much a better Party than the one we have now!)

Diane's candidacy provides an opportunity for the thousands of socialists in the Party to use our first preferences to declare the need for a left-wing opposition to the ConDem Coalition.

We also need to give organisational form to the socialist presence in the Party and trade unions - and this presents an opportunity for the Labour Representation Committee ( to grow into what it has always had the potential to become - a genuine and vibrant rank and file body - if we can shed the sectarianism and purism which have been among the less attractive features of the "hard" left in our long years of marginalisation.

Within Unison the National Labour Link Committee should back Abbott - failing to do so because we want to back a "winner" will signal another stage in the decomposition of our relationship to the Party (it's bad enough sucking up to politicians in Government - worse still to curry favour with the possible Leader of the Opposition!)

Whoever the eventual victor as Labour Leader - their best hope of office will be if the Coalition is brought down by popular opposition spearheaded by our trade unions and backed up in Westminster. Such an outcome requires a change of approach from the leadership of the trade unions as much as from the Labour Party.

Unison's policies - on the economy, social policy, defence and internationally have more in common with the policies supported by members of the Campaign Group and the Labour Representation Committee (such as Jeremy Corbyn) than with any other current in the Party.

An alliance between the trade unions and the Parliamentary Left would sharpen Labour's opposition to Coalition attacks upon our class - and open up the political space within which to rebuild a Labour Party worthy of our continued affiliation.

Whether or not we can win the leadership of our Union to this perspective, the rank and file in Unison need to organise with this objective as part of our campaign against cuts and in defence of public services.

The next step in that direction is support for Diane Abbott as the candidate of the Left in the election for Labour Leader.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this the dame Diane Abbot as the one referred to at