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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2007

Trade Unions and the Labour Party

CWU branch asks some awkward questions

JUDY GRIFFITHS, the secretary of the Coventry branch of the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) recently wrote to CWU general secretary Billy Hayes on behalf of her branch.

She points out that the branch's policy is in favour of the opening up of the political fund to allow the union to support election candidates that reflect and support the policies of the CWU.

The branch also supports the idea that a new party for working-class representation should be formed to challenge the Tories and New Labour and provide real working-class political representation.

The CWU national executive has always opposed this view and argued that the union needs to influence the Labour Party and it can only do this by continuing to finance them.

So she asks why:

"The CWU has failed to begin to campaign for the candidature of John McDonnell who has indicated his intention to stand in the Labour leadership election?

From his election address it would appear that, unlike Gordon Brown, he actually agrees and is supportive of all the CWU policies.


If the union is serious about gaining political representation that matches the needs and desires of the membership of the union then the CWU will endeavour to ensure that the Labour Party has a leader that is in support of this union's policies.

To do anything other than to begin to campaign for John would contradict the policy of this union and in this branch's opinion would be tantamount to a dereliction of duty.

The membership of this union are subjected daily to the Tory policies that are being pursued by the present Labour government and that is a key factor in the rise of support for the far right which both yourself and this union are so opposed to. In addition this government has refused to end the anti-union laws or support agency workers in gaining decent and equal rights.

They have continued the privatisation agenda in the NHS and education. They continue to press for the introduction of ID cards and special measures to deal with terrorism that ultimately impact on the freedom of working people. They have failed to bring telecoms and transport back into the public sector.

In addition the post office network and pensions are being attacked.

Poverty has risen and the gulf between rich and poor has widened under this government.

And just as an aside they have taken us into an illegal war and now propose to spend billions on nuclear weapons.

Not much there really that I believe is in line with CWU policies.

In light of the fact that Gordon Brown has made it clear that his agenda is to continue where Blair has left off, then it is vital that this union acts on its present policy and in doing so campaigns for a leader that will return the Labour Party towards its roots and its traditional policies.

If this union is unable or unwilling to take such a step then it would suggest that the union is supportive of the current political agenda of this government and supportive of it continuing.

I look forward to hearing from you, but more so I look forward to the campaign."

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