Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/304/13755
Unison And The Political Fund
THE BATTLE over the political fund at this year's UNISON conference is crucial. UNISON pays well over £1 million a year to the Labour Party and the trade union movement has paid a colossal £250 million to Labour since 1979, when the Tories came to power. But what have we got in return?
Glenn Kelly, Bromley UNISON
Working people and trade union members have faced a diet of cuts and privatisation, while New Labour has kept Thatcher's vicious anti-trade union laws intact. It's not surprising that members are increasingly opposed to the union handing over £ millions to New Labour.
That's why in 2001, UNISON conference voted for the Socialist Party resolution calling for a review of the political fund, so the funds should only be used to support UNISON members' interests.
But the national executive have arrogantly ignored the membership's wishes and have put forward a report which only proposes renaming the Affiliated Political Fund the Labour Link.
The union has banned the debate on the call for a ballot of all the membership on whether they wish to fund New Labour. Also banned is the debate on the establishment of one fund to be able to support other candidates and the proposal to create a third fund which can support candidates other than New Labour.
The Socialist Party clearly believes that New Labour has turned its back on ordinary working people and broken the link, not the union. And as such we believe that UNISON should no longer fund New Labour. We do believe that there should be a single, democratic political fund which is able to support other candidates which generally defend the interests of UNISON members.
But more than this the Socialist Party calls on UNISON to call a conference of trade union activists to launch a new workers' party. That is why this year we call for a ballot of the whole membership on whether they wish the union to fund New Labour.
If the union bureaucracy continues to block the wishes of the membership in allowing genuine changes to the political fund, when it comes to the political fund ballot which the union will have to hold in 2005, under the Tory laws, we believe that many members will see that as a vote on funding New Labour or not. We would understand members who voted no in order to stop feeding the hand that bites us.
In The Socialist 14 June 2003: