Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A General Election unlike others?

If we learned one thing today it is that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is a dead letter.

What opposition Party would ever vote against a Government motion to call a General Election? Will any MPs do so tomorrow?

Whether or not Theresa May was influenced by the possibility of imminent legal action which could lead to the disqualification of enough Tory MPs to cost them their Parliamentary majority, she has acted now in the hope of increasing her majority.

The job of the Labour Party, under socialist leadership, is to present a clear alternative to the Tories – as we have been doing with the presentation of a range of radical policies over the last couple of weeks.

With the opinion polls against us – and Labour’s loss of our former Scottish heartlands (where the Party is still led from the so-called “mainstream” who do not lead us UK wide and is faring far worse than elsewhere in the country) seemingly set in stone, the ultimate goal of a Parliamentary majority does not feel close at hand.

Nevertheless, we have an opportunity to present popular socialist policies to the electorate and we must seize this opportunity with both hands. Every Member of Parliament prepared to support the interests of our class is an asset for our class.

We must also attend to two particular circumstances of this General Election which make it quite unlike any other.

First, the division over Europe which has split the Tory Party for decades has been temporarily resolved in favour of a so-called “Hard Brexit” of protectionism and prejudice, for which a victory for the Conservatives will be a mandate. This would shape our society in the direction of reaction for a generation or more.

Secondly, Labour is led, in a principled and consistent way of which we have no recent experience, from the left – and all those (including those within the Labour Party) who revile the prospect of transformative social change will hope that this General Election will bring to an end the period in which Labour has begun to offer such change.

The stakes have not been higher in my lifetime – and the importance or preventing, if at all possible, a majority for Theresa May in June 2017 cannot be overstated. Those of us who support democratic socialism may not (yet) be a majority (though we must do all we can to make socialists in the coming weeks) – nevertheless we deserve the voice which we have found.


We (and all those who would avoid what May’s Government will otherwise try to do to us) must consider how we relate to those who share our opposition to the goals of the Conservative Party though they may not share our goal to transform society. We do not have the luxury of leisurely debate – but we cannot avoid thinking about how we prioritise our activity in this election, in which there are clearly more than two parties in contention in many seats.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Government consultation on fines for trade unions



As regular readers (Sid and Doris Blogger) will be aware, this blog has some familiarity with the work of the Certification Officer, a long established role with various quasi-regulatory powers in connection with trade unions.

Among the many unfortunate things done by the Trade Union Act 2016, the Certification Officer has been given powers (for which, as far as I know they had never asked, nor had anyone else asked for them to be given such powers) proactively to initiate investigations into trade unions – and to impose fines upon trade unions for various breaches, the remedies for which are – at present – declarations and enforcement orders.

This is an unnecessary further restriction upon the rights of our trade unions – and quite absurd. If, for example, a trade union has breaches statutory rules concerning the election of its Executive or General Secretary then the people who have been wronged are the members of the trade union (from whose subscriptions any fine will be paid into the public purse). As someone who has, with a heavy heart, brought a complaint to the Certification Officer about just such a matter, I am quite clear that a fine levied on the Union would be no sort of remedy at all.

The Government are currently consulting on the level of such fines – so you can have your say (for what good it may do).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

UNISON members - vote for the UNISONaction Broad Left candidates in the NEC elections

I am reproducing here a message which I have received as a supporter of the UNISONaction Broad Left, the diverse group of trade union democrats and socialists who are committed to the idea that UNISON could live up to its potential;

As you will be aware the NEC Elections are underway and ballot papers have started arriving at Member's homes with the deadline for return of the ballot papers being 28th April at 5pm.

There are a number of helpful things we can all do to raise awareness of this election and ensure our supporters vote as NEC and UNISON elections generally produce a notoriously low turnout (often around 10%).

If you have not already visited and contributed to the social media sites below please take time to look and share their details with as many as possible:



Postcards can be viewed and downloaded on the website and advice on who is standing for UNISONaction.

Normal and usual means of communication can be used to promote awareness of the NEC Elections but be wary of promoting individual candidates using UNISON resources. It is entirely legitimate to announce who your Branch has nominated and encourage Members to vote in the NEC Elections but avoid using the term UNISONaction in UNISON communications. 

Email 'signatures' can be used if this is a usual means of communication.

The message is simple, we need to get Members to vote so you will know best how to achieve this and I hope the links help.

We have arranged a Fringe Meeting for National Delegate's Conference in Brighton on the Tuesday of Conference again following the tremendous meeting last year that launched UNISONaction and details of this will be shared soon along with detail of a fundraising social that is to take place.

Good luck to all our candidates, but if we all put the work in luck will play no part and we will begin to change the direction and profile of our union.

If you need any further advice or details please do not hesitate to contact me or your Regional Lead (details are on the website).

In Solidarity.
Glen Williams
UNISONaction Team Member


I wish luck to all those standing together as part of the UNISONaction Broad Left. If you are a UNISON member I urge you to vote for these candidates and if you are a UNISON activist I urge you to follow the advice of Glen Williams set out above.