Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Defend the Link’s model response to the Collins Review
If you are a Labour Party member (whether an individual member of a Constituency Labour Party (CLP) or a levy-paying member of an affiliated trade union (or a member of an affiliated society) you should try to ensure responses to Ray Collins' review of the relationship between the Party and the affiliated unions are made which defend the link - and therefore the principle of an audible political voice for the organised working class.
Defend the Link have issued a model response which provides a good starting point (http://defendthelink.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/defend-the-links-model-response-to-the-collins-review/).
This is certainly a rather better starting point than a letter from a senior political official of one large trade union which has yet to agree it's position at Executive level, which (in making some preliminary observations which don't actually appear to amount to agreed policy) starts with the trite observation that "the status quo is not an option" (because "it hasn't worked for us").
Whenever anyone says "the status quo is not an option" it is because they are about to propose, advocate or support a change for which they cannot make a reasoned justification, and that is certainly so in this instance. To the (considerable) extent that it is true that the current relationship between the Labour Party and trade unions "hasn't worked" for trade unionists this has been nothing whatsoever to do with structural or organisational questions, and everything to do with the political approach taken by the trade unions.
It is not a good answer to the question of how trade unions might better influence Labour to suggest that we should have less influence!
There's a rather cruel joke doing the rounds about a trade union General Secretary who, thinking aloud, wondered whether - since the Party leadership ignore decisions taken by a Conference at which trade unions have 50% of the vote - they might take more notice of such decisions if we only had 30%.
I don't believe that's true and I think you should all stop repeating it.
In the mean time, Defend the Link have given us a model response to send to Ray Collins in our CLPs - and a sound basis for the formulation of a coherent trade union response.