12 years ago to the day, I wrote a blog post here in the run-up to the 2010 General election in which, with a more or less heavy heart, I advocated support for Labour under the leadership of Gordon Brown.
After four General Elections, and four Labour leadership elections in the intervening 12 years we seem to be largely back where we started politically, except that, in spite of the fact that we are now more than a decade into Tory government rather than Labour government, we don't seem to be on the brink of ousting an incumbent Government.
The Conservative party, now in government, is deeply committed to attacking the interests of trade union members and working-class people in this country and throughout the world. Their policies and practices plumb new depths of reaction with every passing month.
Our Labour Party, following a brief period under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn when it seemed to be moving in the direction of the progressive policies long advocated by the trade unions, is now very firmly once more the would-be Second 11 for British capitalism, led by someone who makes Gordon Brown look like a charismatic populist.
Whereas under Blair and Brown, the party leadership were generally prepared to tolerate the presence of a small socialist left-wing within the party, as long as they could be sure it had very little influence, the current regime is in the midst of a brutal and absurd witchhunt of socialists intended to ensure that the threat of socialist leadership can never again arise within the UK Labour Party.
Trade unionists faced the same choice on polling day in May 2022 as we did in May 2010. In a small number of cases, would-be socialist alternatives to the Labour Party will stand and receive a derisory number of votes. Serious socialists will cast their vote for Labour against the Tories, now as we did then.
As long as the Labour Party is the party of the trade unions (even if, in practice, this generally means the party of the trade union bureaucracy) then the leadership will never succeed in eradicating the possibility of socialist politics, since this grows from the experience of rank-and-file trade union activism.
Trade unionists are part of a movement which is as large now as it was 12 years ago in spite of the sustained attacks of first the Coalition and then the Tories. We face legal shackles beyond the imagination of the movement I joined in the 1980s, but we are finding ways - and we will find ways - to shake off these chains in the future.
Socialists in the trade unions need to build our movement as a militant, politicised mass movement, the lack of which doomed the Corbyn project to failure. Such a movement would re-create the possibility of a socialist leadership for our party, as well as providing the extra Parliamentary support such a leadership would require.
Equally, were the right wing of the party to have succeeded in eradicating socialism within the Labour Party (as I do not believe they will) then such a movement would provide a viable basis for creating a new answer to the crisis of representation of the working-class, such as does not exist at present.
This, I suppose, is what comrades in UNISON mean when they say it is "Time for Real Change". There is a lot of work ahead, and I am only sorry that I can't really expect to be part of it for too much longer.