Thursday, September 19, 2013

Breaking News: Ray Collins is an idiot

So Ray Collins has published a relatively anodyne "interim report" for Party Conference (

I won't rush to comment on what it recommends.

Not least since it says nothing much of substance - though it clearly threatens the link between the Party and the unions.

But I will say this.

Ray Collins is an idiot.

Ray Collins knows less about Labour history than my boot.

No one should take Ray Collins seriously on this topic ever again.

His interim report, to be presented to Party Conference and published by the Labour Party, makes an elementary (and stupid) error about the history of the relationship between the trade unions and the Party.

On page 6 of the report sent today to members of the Labour Party NEC (and presumably proofread by someone in the Leader's Office) Ray Collins (or whoever wrote on his behalf) says (in reference to union members paying a political levy to their trade union); "Margaret Thatcher's government established a legal right for all trade unionists to contract out of paying that levy."

This is utter rubbish.

"Contracting out" was established in the Trade Union Act 1913. After the defeat of the General Strike it was replaced by "contracting in" by Baldwin's Conservative Government in 1927. This change was reversed in the 1940s by the Attlee Labour Government.

The change which the Thatcher Government introduced had nothing to do with "contracting out" and everything to do with introducing the requirement for decennial ballots of the membership of a trade union to retain our political funds.

I am a pedant.

I care deeply about Labour history.

Maybe I should lighten up about the error made by the work experience ghost writer of the report to which Ray Collins has shamelessly put his (little known) name?

Or not.

This crass error reveals a contempt for the topic about which the author was writing.

This stupid error reveals a breathtaking ignorance of the subject of the author's concern.

The nature of this error says a lot about the attitude to the Thatcher Government of those in our Labour Party still in her thrall.

Ray Collins must have (at the least) signed off the text published in his name.

Ed Miliband (or at least his office) must also have seen this document before it was sent to the Labour Party NEC.

No one who missed this breathtakingly embarrassing piece of stupidity can be taken seriously on this question ever again.

And those trade union delegates who preferred sycophancy to the Labour Leader to the interests of our class at this week's Labour Party NEC need to consider their position.

I will happily publish any comment from a UNITE member who wants to justify their support for the Special Conference now we know that the whole thing is a slapdash job undertaken with neither knowledge of, nor respect for, the relationship between the Party and the unions.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


Pete fFirmin said...

Unfortunately not very surprised. Standard slipshod statement by many is something along the lines of "the Party and the unions have had a long relationship". Not untrue, of course, but not quite as clear as "the unions founded the labour Party and individual membership was only introduced later". If people aren't prepared to understand where the relationship comes from, then we can hardly expect them to understand the principles involved.

Anonymous said...

The entire document is a suicide note in terms of the potential to elect a party leadership capable of kicking out the Tory Lib destructive coalition. It is a declaration of war on existing Labour Party members and trade union affiliates alike. The leadership has contempt for both. Activists Members and Affiliate workers views In trade unions over years working for the party are to be tossed aside and potentially have no more say in the future than 'supporters' in primary elections for the party leader and MPs. Where would be the controls against rotten borough corruption where votes by non members (registered on line) for a euro as suggested or a quid not be used by fascist, Toies, Libs or anyone with a one issue agenda determining party candidates over the views of the actual membership without whom the party would never be elected? What sane group would allow the potential opposition to pick the candidates they would want to face at elections?

Anonymous said...

Why should Unite members comments be interesting Jon. There are quite a number of affiliated unions?