Friday, August 31, 2012

Your Campaigning General Council

Chapter nine of the report from the TUC General Council to next month's Congress, tucked in quietly near the back, just ahead of the bit about TUC organisation and the obituaries, begins almost apologetically with the observation that "much of the General Council's work in the past year has consisted of campaigning."

That is what happens when you have a hideously reactionary Government led by a Cabinet of millionaires who no more want to be our "social partners" than they want to snog a rattlesnake (though to be honest we could have done with most of the work of the General Council having been about campaigning in pretty much every year of my life).

The chapter begins with a summary of the media coverage which the TUC has generated or been involved with over the past year. Much of this has been worthwhile and - given the timidity of "Her Majesty's Opposition" the TUC - and the union movement generally - is frequently filling a vacuum where there ought to be a Party of the Left.

Once again in this chapter the TUC claim much credit for the positive coverage of "Pensions Justice Day" (which, since the TUC had to be prevented from caving in earlier in November, probably has some people at the UNISON Centre choking over their cornflakes as I write this).

There is then a section on campaigning in Parliament, which I note has the words "John" and "McDonnell" adjacent to each other in the same sentence (something noteworthy to a UNISON member) as it refers to TUC support for the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill. This section is, however, largely a shopping list of issues on which unions have been lobbying and meetings which have taken place.

The division of labour between the "political" (Parliamentary) and "industrial" (trade union) wings of our movement, which was and is at the heart of Labourism, is exemplified by the absence of any clear, coherent and overarching political strategy on the part of the TUC.

The TUC does however have a reasonable online presence, upon which the report comments, as it does on "campaigning through events" (a list of rallies and demonstrations) and "campaigning through publications" (a list of pamphlets).

At a time when we desperately need to improve the profile of our movement - and in a year in which our trade unions took the most significant strike action in generations, it says a lot about the TUC that campaigning activity is reported upon in such an uninspired and uninspiring way, tucked in toward the end of the report.

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