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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 October 2009

Union activists discuss pulling the plug on Labour

A RECENT special meeting of Unite's United Left (UL) in the north west discussed the question of political representation. Supporters of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) clearly won the argument for trade union disaffiliation from New Labour. I had ten minutes to speak for breaking the link. The person defending Labour claimed Vauxhall wouldn't have been saved if it wasn't for Peter Mandelson!

Paul Astbury

I work as a plasterer. I said that now we don't have direct labour organisations employing construction workers for local authorities, it has meant much worse conditions in the building trades. I remember what Labour was like in the past, including when socialists ran the council in Liverpool. What we have now is New Labour, a party of bankers and billionaires.

Several Socialist Party members spoke. Dave Walsh explained why the Labour Party was formed against the Liberals, who like New Labour now, claimed to represent working people but didn't.

Harry Smith said if we don't provide an alternative, then the BNP will claim to. We need a genuine working class party to oppose the far-right, as well as the bosses' parties. Another Socialist Party member explained the situation facing Steve Acheson, victimised and blacklisted by construction industry employers. He urged Unite to get behind people like Steve 100%.

"After 12 years of being kicked in the bollocks by New Labour on top of the Tories," said CNWP supporter and longstanding Unite activist Eddie Roberts, "I move for disaffiliation of Unite!"

A guy who joined the Labour Party only 12 months ago thought it was time to break the link. A senior Unite activist said: "If I saw a real alternative party going forwards, I'd join it."

I answered that we're not launching a new party now but we're campaigning for one. Unite's funds should be used to support unions like the RMT standing in the elections, and to support our members like Steve Acheson, not for supporting New Labour politicians who put people like Steve out of work.

If it had been put to the vote, we would clearly have won it for disaffiliation. Everyone said we had won the moral argument in Unite's biggest regional United Left. Other regional ULs should hold similar debates. Unite should take it to the membership and let them decide whether we keep giving millions of pounds to New Labour or pull the plug.

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In The Socialist 21 October 2009:

Postal workers must win

Post - a battle that mass strike action can win


War and occupation

Afghanistan: Troops out!

Afghanistan - end the bloody occupation


Anti-racism

Protests at the BBC: No to the far-right, racist BNP

WDL racists chased out of town


International socialist news and analysis

Sri Lanka protest: Shut down the prison camps!

Chinaworker.info journalist refused entry into China


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tommy Sheridan - a socialist fighter on a worker's wage

Laughing all the way to the bank

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

FBU strike to defend fire service

Leeds bin workers fight on

Giant energy company hounds unemployed electrician

First bus drivers give bosses a 'fright'

400 jobs under threat at Leeds

Striking at London Metropolitan


Education

Primary education: Report slams government policy


Political representation

Union activists discuss pulling the plug on Labour

Conference on political representation


Socialist Party reviews

The Greatest Show on Earth: The evidence for Evolution

Hard Times by Charles Dickens, reviewed by Linda Taaffe


Marxist analysis: history

When Britain's spies backed Mussolini


 

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