Monday, September 26, 2011


The Shadow Chancellor might have got my second preference vote in last year's leadership election had my children not pointed out that, unless he changed his surname he would never be taken seriously.

I don't expect any pangs of regret if, as reported today he tells Party Conference that "we will never have credibility unless we have the discipline and the strength to take tough decisions." (

You don't need a code book to understand what it means when leaders of an ostensibly Centre-Left party speak like that. The "tough decisions" he's talking about aren't the ones which would require "the discipline and the strength" to confront the wealthy and powerful.

The decisions are those which will be "tough" for the people for whom the Labour Party was created and upon whose votes it depends. Labour leaders invariably resolve the contradiction between representing the interests of working people and aspiring to manage an economy founded on principles inimical to those interests in favour of the system rather than the people - because they can't see the possibility of real change.

Trade unionists need to shed the social democratic blinkers worn by the Party leadership if we are to do our best in the coming confrontation with the Coalition.

UNISON's motion to Labour Party Conference - calling for support for our action on pensions - is far more important than whether the Shadow Chancellor is seen to have "credibility."

The job of an opposition is to oppose - and right now it's the trade unions, not the Party, who are doing that job.

If our economic system, with it's inbuilt tendency towards periodic economic crises, cannot deliver decent living standards, pensions and public services, maybe it is the system which should give way, rather than - as at present - our pay, pensions and services?

And if trade unionists arrive at that conclusion we need stronger links with those in the Party who think likewise (

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