Owen Jones wrote an interesting piece in the Independent yesterday titled ‘ This attack on Labour’s union links must not succeed ‘. In the article Owen talks about the danger to the party’s links with the unions coming under threat, not just from the Tories, but from within. It would appear that Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander, Caroline Flint and Ivan Lewis all want Ed Miliband to break with the unions. Owen puts forward the case that this would be a bad thing as it would leave working people unrepresented.
While I have a great deal of respect for Owen Jones and agree with a lot of what he has to say, on this one I just can’t agree at all. That working people, the poor and the vulnerable need to be represented is a no brainer. We all know that the Tories/Liberals are awash with private donations from big business, and no matter what they say, this is all about influence. Hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms contributed more than a quarter of all the Tories’ private donations in 2011 which worked out at a rate equal to £1m a month. Now the Unions do the same supporting Labour and the same is true that they are trying to get influence for their members.
Where I disagree with Owen is that while the money given to the Tories does buy influence the money from the unions to Labour buys nothing. Slowly over the last 30 years the Labour movement has ceased to defend the rights of workers or the poor. The moaning of Gordon Brown yesterday over the closure of Remploy all over Scotland is hollow, he was the one who started closing Remploy factories and thus ending employment for disabled people. While it is ok to give billions to bankers it is not ok to positively discriminate on behalf of disabled people who in the main can’t find employment and sadly many who do will face accusations of tokenism.
This year we have had Labour’s partnership with the Project Fear (BetterTogether) Campaign, we have also had that speech (something for nothing) that will forever define Johann Lamonts (head administrator Labour northern branch) time as a branch leader and leader of the opposition in Holyrood. But looking back we have had the Iraq War, the banking collapse, the bigot woman (Gordon Browns best moment), and the two Ed’s pledging to keep to the Tory/Liberal cuts and attacks on the poor. We can also add in the shambles that is Glasgow City Council and their determination to ruin a once great City because they hate the nationalists.
So while Owen is willing to fight to maintain the unions support for Labour I would urge a different path. Without union support the Labour Party may end up near broke, may cease to exist. That is not a bad thing as far as politics go in Scotland. I would argue that if the unions truly want to stand up for working people, for the poor, the disabled. If Len McCluskey or Bob Crow (whatever you think about them) want to truly be the counter balance to the wealthy, the establishment, the posh boys, then it is time for them to stand up and be counted. It is time for them to either start providing their financial support to true left of centre parties such as the Greens, the SSP and the SNP or to form a political movement truly born of the left.
The majority of people in this country are either poorly paid or poor and vulnerable, maybe all of those things given the amount of working poor we have in this the 4th most unequal country in the world that we have. The Labour Party no longer represent those people, they stopped being the party of the working man a long time ago, becoming a shade of blue. They support big business, they support honours, they support bankers, they support war and they slovenly support unelected royalty. They will fight to get a vote from middle England, from London and from the south while telling the working class and the poor that it is all their fault. Their story is the same story as the Tories. In Scotland vote Labour get Tory, vote Liberal get Tory so the message is clear.
Let’s not listen to Owen Jones on this one, let’s encourage the unions to, for once, put their money where their mouth is and stop supporting the red Tories. It’s time for a true left of centre movement in the UK, and for people to vote for that movement, in Scotland either by voting Green, SSP or SNP, and in the rest of the Uk by forming a new party. Labour is a dead philosophy now, the working woman and man, the poor and vulnerable and union members need to either switch off its life support or take control and save it. The Balls, Lamonts, Milibands, Murphys, Flints, Browns, Cleggs, Alexanders are more comfortable with Cameron and Osbourne than most people in Dundee and definitely in Glasgow.
It’s time for change, it’s time for people to stand up and finally kill off the Labour movement in it’s present Tory form under the guise of Labour. It’s time for a truly representative, honest and decent working movement and it ain’t Labour. Owen, sorry, you are wrong on this one.
I think Labour uncoupling itself from the Unions is the next logical step for them, from reading (I wasn’t aware at the time due to my tender years,) it seemed to be very much Tories v Labour = business owners v workers – that line is now well and truly blurred.
So, with the Tories and Labour, you have two right of centre parties with the left no longer represented significantly. The Tories tell us business must be supported or jobs will disappear while Labour used to tell us jobs must be maintained or business will disappear.
Turns out, since the Tories (soon to be shored up by UKIP) already occupy the centre/right – the only thing that’ll be disappearing is Labour.
I agree with you that Labour are gone, they have been for a ling long time now. I just hope the unions dont bottle it, or if they do then the membets dont opt into the political levy.
This is my third attemp to reply, fingers crossed.
Should, as you suggest, the unions decouple themselves from labour and look to (in Scotland) giving their support to the SSP and/or the SNP then I hope it is purely on a “We like what you are doing here’s £500k for your coffers” and not the current interwoven links they currently have with labour.
They could still have influence on government through regular meetings with the appropriate ministers but keep the party -union separation.