Wednesday, July 20, 2016

UNISON and the Labour leadership election

Now we know.

The Eagle has (crash) landed and Labour Party members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters now face a clear choice between our current Leader (elected overwhelmingly last year with UNISON support) and some bloke I\'ve barely heard of who has worked as a lobbyist for a pharmaceuticals multinational and expressed (at best) equivocal views about the Iraq war (although he is, at least, \'normal\').

I could go on and on (and on) about the irony of professional Parliamentarians who can wax lyrical about how Jeremy Corbyn isn\'t a convincing alternative Prime Minister and choosing to support an \'anti-Corbyn\' candidate with a chequered past and the charisma of a stale cream cracker.‎

But I won\'t.

Because few things are less important at this precise moment than the Parliamentary Labour Party (and no you can\'t register that as a name for a breakaway party from the actual Labour Party).

One thing that does matter is how UNISON will decide whether, and if so to whom, to give a supporting nomination.

This doesn\'t matter because UNISON members can, should or will be told who to vote for. All UNISON members whose voting rights come from their status as an affiliated supporter of the Labour Party will make their own minds up about how to cast their vote.

No.

Both the procedure by which UNISON arrives at its decision, and the substance of that decision, will be important in showing UNISON members what our own trade union is like and how we view our members and their views.

Last year UNISON backed Corbyn by a decision of our National Labour Link Committee (who will also decide what we do this year). Their decision was informed by consultation with members who pay into the affiliated section of our political fund - which demonstrated the overwhelming support for Jeremy Corbyn which has recently been expressed once more at our National Delegate Conference and our National Labour Link Forum.‎

In current circumstances the National Labour Link Committee would not appear to be misreading the views of our members if they were to give a supporting nomination to Jeremy Corbyn once more.

As regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris left-social-democrat) will be aware, I am a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn.

One might think therefore that I would support a decision of the National Labour Link Committee to nominate Corbyn once more without further consultation.

However.

Whilst I do think that a supporting nomination for Jeremy Corbyn is the only permissible decision that could be taken in the absence of further consultation, I also think that further consultation would be a good thing and could usefully inform the decision of the National Labour Link Committee.

UNISON members who choose to pay into the affiliated section of our political fund should surely be asked whether we should give a supporting nomination to a former NUPE official with a lifetime track record of supporting trade unionism or to a former lobbyist for a pharmaceutical multinational who has equicovated about the Iraq war.

If this is to happen preparatory steps must be taken immediately - and the consultation must commence promptly.‎ 

I hope and believe  that friends and comrades on (and every other member of)‎ the National Labour Link Committee are on the ball about this.

In the mean time every UNISON branch with WARMS access can write to every APF payer explaining how to register for free as an affiliated supporter.

You can\'t say UNISON is supporting Corbyn in this election (as no such decision has been taken yet by the National Labour Link Committee).

But you can say that Jeremy Corbyn is a UNISON member, that UNISON nominated him last year - and that our General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said that Corbyn\'s agenda is UNISON\'s agenda.

As it is.‎
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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