Friday, January 11, 2013

Debating our future

Before Xmas I blogged some comments on a useful article by left academic Ralph Darlington about the current state of our movement (

I'm pleased to see that the comrades over at UNISON Anonymous have picked up on the debate ( - albeit the SWP flavour of comrade Darlington's conclusions isn't quite to their taste.

There is some force in their criticism that Darlington's positive assessment of independent rank and file forces is "wishful thinking". It might be more polite to say that his optimism of the will may have obscured his pessimism of the intellect on this point. Certainly, as a member from its inception of UNISON United Left, I would never claim it was anywhere near being the rank and file movement which socialists would like to see.

However, there is an obvious flaw in their conclusion that "building rank and file movements and linking with social movements is not a strategy for building and growing, they are the strategies of a powerful and well organised union not ones struggling to be relevant in the workplace." This ignores the historical evidence, to which Darlington refers, which shows that our movement grows when it is strong and autonomous at the base and reaches out beyond the workplace.

The anonymous commentator rehearses some common sense steps which any decent activist would endorse - and their reservations about cackhanded "politicisation" by activists are not entirely without merit. However, whilst Darlington may be criticised for conclusions which go beyond his evidence and argument, UNISON Active are characteristically timid and apolitical.

If we were going to rebuild our movement with the ten year old syllabus from "Winning the Organised Workplace" we wouldn't be having this debate now!

It's time to put down the metaphorical icepick comrades. UNISON Active often includes thoughtful contributions (some of which are attributed!)

I think you could do better comrades. Give it a go?

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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