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Sickened by Labour conference? Build the anti-cuts alternative!
Ronnie Job, Swansea
One further downside of being sick and off work is that I've been able to watch some of the Labour Party conference. Anybody else who's had a similar misfortune, watching Labour Party conference - not being off sick, won't have needed to see much to answer the question posed in the last issue of the Socialist, 'Can Labour give a lead in the fight against austerity?', with a resounding 'No!'
In the run-up to conference, Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, called on his union members to join the Labour Party to reclaim it for trade unionists and the working class.
He also predicted to the press that Labour would have to listen to the unions and his union in particular because Unite has backed Labour to the tune of £6 million in the last few years.
Any Unite members watching the conference would have wondered what they got for £6 million of their hard-earned subs.
Ed Balls' speech blew any idea that Labour is listening to the unions out of the water. He bragged about how he had told the TUC conference that Labour would not commit to reversing any Tory cuts and that Labour in power would have made, and will make, cuts.
He compared the Labour Party of today to that of 1945. Here I thought he might say that Labour would defend the NHS Clement Atlee's administration set up.
But no, he preferred to concentrate on the cuts they made, like bringing in prescription charges.
He called for a cross-party consensus on re-building Britain when it seems to ordinary people that there is a consensus from the parties in power - that the working class must pay for the current crisis of capitalism.
When McCluskey spoke many of the Labour Party members who applauded Balls weren't in the room. When the leader of my union, Dave Prentis of Unison, spoke the hall looked practically empty. It was a graphic demonstration that Labour is not listening to the unions.
So to McCluskey and Prentis - stop throwing away our subs and instead build a real alternative! Imagine what the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC, the electoral coalition that the Socialist Party participates in with leading left trade unionists) could do with the resources of these huge unions behind it.
Apparently in his speech Miliband will tell us how he is 'one of us'. Yeah right! Can you see him making difficult decisions at the end of each month about buying food or paying bills? Is he worrying about his house being repossessed or looking for a pay-day loan from the likes of Wonga? I don't think so!
In contrast to the Labour Party the Socialist Party insists that our members who are elected to positions in trade unions or politics receive only the same wage as the people they represent.
If you elect a Socialist Party member under the TUSC banner you know you truly are electing "one of us".
Even if I hadn't already been off sick, watching Labour Party conference would have made me nauseous.
It makes me all the more determined to build TUSC, the anti-cuts political alternative, in the future.
Bob Crow slams Labour and calls for a political alternative
Responding to the adoption of Con-Dem policies on public sector pay by the Labour front bench at the conference in Manchester, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:
"Millions of workers have had their pay frozen for years now and have seen their real standards of living decrease by 16% while boardroom pay has gone through the roof.
"You would have thought that the Labour Party might do something to side with those taking a battering and against those dealing it out but you would be wrong.
Labour and the government are now positioned like Tweedledum and Tweedledee; whichever one you vote for you end up with the same kick in the teeth for the very people that make this country tick and that is a disgrace.
Who are those nurses, teachers and public service staff going to vote for now that Labour has made it clear they have abandoned them?
The case for a political party rooted in the trade unions and with a clear socialist agenda is now overwhelming as Ed Miliband and Ed Balls signal their desertion of the working class and their adoption of a pro-business, pro-EU and pro-austerity programme".
Bob Crow is a member of the TUSC national steering committee and the general secretary of the RMT union which, at its annual conference this June, agreed to formalise its relationship with TUSC.