Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/242/24890
Time To Break Unions' Links With Labour
IN THE Guardian (19 February) anti-capitalist commentator George Monbiot declared that:
"The Confederation of British Industry, which does not give the [Labour] party a penny, swings far more weight with Tony Blair than all the hard-earned millions scraped together by the people whom Labour is supposed to represent. It would make as much sense now for workers to give their money to the Tories."
George is 100% correct on this issue. Socialist Party trade unionists support a breaking of the link between New Labour and the unions.
By Bill Mullins
We campaign for every step that increases the possibility of trade unionists supporting candidates who, unlike Tory Blair, genuinely represent their interests.
At last year's UNISON conference, Glenn Kelly from Bromley UNISON and a Socialist Party member, successfully moved resolution 131, calling for the union to consult with its branches and regions about opening up the political fund.
At this year's conference Bromley branch are moving a motion calling for a 'third fund' to be set up, which would open the way to UNISON members supporting non-Labour candidates.
UNISON's right wing leadership opposes any steps towards supporting non-Labour candidates. Nonetheless, in the leadership's consultation document on the issue, they have been forced to suggest that creating a third section of the political fund is a viable possibility.
The Socialist Party and the Free the Funds campaign (see page 8) will campaign for the third fund option at this year's UNISON conference.
In his article George Monbiot says that: "It doesn't really matter which of Britain's small progressive parties - the Greens, the Socialist Alliance, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, even the Liberal Democrats - [trade unionists] choose to support instead."
We believe that trade unionists transferring their support from one pro-market party to another (eg Liberal Democrats, SNP, or Plaid Cymru) would be a mistake.
Although all these parties have some policies that are more left-wing than New Labour, they have all - when in power in local government - carried out the same cuts and privatisation as the Blairites.
We argue for trade unionists to support credible socialist candidates (including Socialist Party candidates - we are the only socialist organisation in England and Wales to get councillors elected). Crucially, however, we argue for a new mass workers' party.
George points out that it was trade unionists who built the Labour Party 100 years ago, and suggests that "only by building a new one can they hope to win [the Labour Party] back".
We believe the time for trying to win the Labour Party back is long gone. But by standing in elections themselves, and by building a new party of working people, trade unionists could find a mass voice that truly represents them.
In The Socialist 22 February 2002: