Friday, May 08, 2015
Trade unionism under a Tory Government.
This isn't a good country to wake up in this morning. The Tories are riding rampant, blue in tooth and claw.
It's a little early for detailed reflection but we seem to be reaping the bitter harvest sown by a labour movement, the political wing of which peddled "austerity-lite" whilst our industrial wing demonstrated timidity and vacillation for the past five years.
Now we face worse than we have faced - we have to try to change direction. Working class people need an alternative far more robust than we were offered by Labour at this election and a defence from our trade unions far more effective than we have had in the last Parliament.
We can be angry at the foolishness of progressive voters in seats like Brighton Kemptown whose dalliance with the Greens ensured once more that a Tory - rather than a good socialist - represents working class East Brighton at Westminster. But the Labour Party has no property rights in workers' votes and if we don't present a clear alternative to austerity we risk losing support to those who (appear to) do so.
Trade unionists need not waste too much time on recrimination (nor on remarking upon how the derisory votes for TUSC and other far left electoral projects demonstrate their utter pointlessness).
We need an organising response to this political calamity. We need to shift the payment of subscriptions to direct debit - and prepare ourselves for a future in which trade union members have no choice but to take action which will be deemed unlawful.
We also need to use what is left of our link with the Labour Party in the way in which we have consistently refused to use it for generations - to assert an agenda in the interests of working people (against those who will already be drawing the lesson that Labour must abandon the last vestiges of socialism and tail end Tory austerity in an even more craven way than has been the case until now).
UNISON Conference must be permitted to have these debates (on Emergency motions which have yet to be written) - and our General Secretary and National Executive Council must set a clear timetable for the General Secretary election from which we need a change which we have yet to be offered by any past or potential candidate.
Most of all, we must build our branches, where we can, for the best resistance we can mount to the tsunami of reaction which will now be unleashed upon us.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.