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Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sectarianism - an award for the worst of 2012

On Tuesday morning I joined a lobby of Congress House called by both the National Shop Stewards Network ( and "Unite the Resistance" (

The purpose of the lobby was to press for more rapid action in response to September's Congress decisions in favour of co-ordinated industrial action and to "consider the practicalities" of a General Strike.

On being asked to say a few words, I said a few gently critical things about the leadership of our movement (which were well received) and - reflecting views I have expressed here previously ( - I called for unity on the left (which was less well received).

It is, of course, regrettable that the weakness and marginalisation of the anti-cuts movement, and the left generally, within our trade unions has created the environment in which there are rival, competing campaigns aiming to do essentially the same thing.

However, the damage done by sectarianism on the left is as nothing to the damage done to our labour and trade union movement by sectarianism against the left.

Also this week I had the misfortune to read a diatribe circulated electronically by a trade union branch secretary, with the assistance of the employer to all staff (not simply members of the trade union) which concerned a nationally important fight to save a vital public service.

This unfortunate correspondence, in expressing opposition on behalf of the trade union to certain tactical options proposed by activists, expressed the view that "political organizations external to [the trade union] such as the Socialist Workers' Party and/or the Socialist Party (amongst others) are behind them."

The author went on as follows; "It is an unfortunate fact of life that there do exist in other local branches a tiny minority of SWP/SP members who hide behind the facade of being stewards of [the trade union] (as well as other Trade Unions) and use their positions to continually undermine their branches and push their own brand of extreme and minority politics."

This unbalanced and ill-judged contribution to communication from the trade union movement to the wider workforce is a clear winner of this blog's award for "Sectarian nonsense of the year 2012".

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


Anonymous said...

i understand this branch sec put this out due to SWP attempting to hoodwink staff into action that would effect patients welfare, after all we work as Nurses while your mob work in offices! we remain at the coalface working while you showboat in the gutter to a handfull,

Anonymous said...

you mob are gonna get punked real soon, proper south east london style!

Anonymous said...

The campaigns against Glenn Kelly & Co. and Yunus Bakhsh, at last routed, were the worst manifestations of sectarianism in the union to date. They deserve a little more publicity than they have received.

Anonymous said...

It would be helpful to see the branch sec's email (redacted perhaps ), to form an opinion on its validity

Anonymous said...

This wouldn't have anything to do with the Regional Officer of a certain well known South London hospital by any chance? The bullying tone and kindergarten level of analysis sound horribly familiar.

Rob Sale