The Absence of the Trade Union Right

The recent report circulated about the activities of Progress, a semi-clandestine “party within a party” has been admirably highlighted by Jon Lansman over at Left Futures. Conrad Landin further highlights the undemocratic nature of Luke Akehurst’s Labour First group

The level of organisation of the Labour right gives them disproportionate leverage within the party, particularly as the consensus between the Blairites, Orange Book Liberals, and the Tory Party is shared with a number of journalists.

The paradox of the current position is that the leader of the Labour Party is arguably the most left wing person in his own office, and the second most left wing person in the shadow cabinet. This is due to the success of the party’s right wing in gaining disproportionate influence in the parliamentary party.

However, what is rarely remarked upon is the unprecedented weakness of the right wing in the trade unions. With the exception of USDAW, all of the major unions have leaders who are firmly to the centre left.

This is in marked contrast to previous eras, for example Arthur Deakin, the former General Secretary of TGWU until 1956 was a bulwark against the left. Tom Griffin at Green Ribbon recounts the sorry tale of CIA involvement to bolster pro-NATO figures in the British unions.

In the 1980s the secretive St Ermin’s group of right wing trade unionists, like Ray Grantham and Roger Godsiff (APEX), Terry Duffy (AUEW), Bryan Stanley (POEU) and Sid Weighell (NUR) coordinated activity to undermine the left, assisted by Frank Chapple of EETPU (who stayed out of the group).

In contrast, currently, the Atlanticist right is entirely absent from debates in the unions. Almost every national union is affiliated to Stop the War Coalition for example, and both UNISON and UNITE opposed government policy of military intervention in Libya. Over economic and social policy, every union stands firmly to the left of the parliamentary Labour Party, and this is because the unions reflect the aspirations and interests of their millions of members.

This represents a major opportunity for the unions to shape the debate in the party, and provide a counterbalance to the right.

54 comments on “The Absence of the Trade Union Right

  1. Gregor Gall on said:

    Andy

    Where do the often sizeable staff associations (de jure and de facto) and professional associations like RCN, RCM etc fit it to this? Similarly, what about Community, the FDA and Accord? USDAW as you say is important by virtue of being the 4th biggest union (with 370,000 members) but I think you’ve over-egged the pudding a bit here even though I accept your point about the decline of an organised and assertive right.

  2. Roger Godsiff was actually head of Research at APEX, and although Chapple wasn’t involved as I understand it, Dianne Hayter in “Fightback – Labour’s traditional right in the 1970s and 1980s” says that his political officer, the guru of Labour First, John Spellar, was.

  3. Solomon Hughes on said:

    Hi Andy (1) good point – also it’s quite interesting just how twitchy Progress are about the dossier, going by their response. I’ve been wrting much the same thing about their Saisnbury millions and Pfizer friends in both Private Eye and the Morning Star, andI guess they just shrugged their shoulders. But even an Anonymous dossier , because it was sent to CLP secretaries, has caused them to get very concerned.
    (2) can you email me – I think you have access to yr email. I should do something on the GWH strike for my column, I think
    Cheers
    Solomon

  4. prianikoff on said:

    #1 Given that :-
    The RCN, RCGP and the BMA weren’t invited to attend David Cameron’s talks on NHS “reform” last Monday.

    That these “reforms” are being pushed through with Liberal support.

    That the BMA Council are considering a proposal to ballot for strike action over pensions this Saturday.
    - What better time could there be for Labour to try to win them over?

    Unless of course, the Labour leadership blows it by accepting the Con-Dems’ arguments.

  5. Feodor Augustus on said:

    ‘The Absence of the Trade Union Right’? Or perhaps it’s just that the so-called ‘political centre’ has moved so far to the right that what was once considered ‘right’ or ‘centre’ is now ‘left’?

    Heck, by today’s standards Neville Chamberlain would probably class as a man of the left! (:sarcasm alert:)

  6. Dr Paul on said:

    If, as the article states, the unions are largely led by the centre-left, but the Labour leadership is to the right of Miliband Minor, this begs the question: what is the political base of the Blairites and the other right-wingers in the party?

    If I recall correctly, Miliband Major, the Blairite candidate, received in the leadership contest his highest vote in the constituency section.

  7. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “by today’s standards Neville Chamberlain would probably class as a man of the left”

    Since he was a pioneer in social welfare provision as Baldwin’s Minister of Health, this is not a great stretch.

  8. Andy is correct that the right wing Atlanticist tendency in the upper levels of the trade union movement have gone into a (hopefully) terminal decline.
    However, we should make something of a distinction between, on one hand, this Cold War, deeply anti communist grouping, with its connections to the US embassy, the Foreign Office, security services, right wing media, corporate interests (like the big construction firms) and sections of the parliamentary Labour Party and the party machine and, on the other hand, most of the present day right wing of the unions.
    Where once the right would openly oppose – and the TUC ‘office’would duck and dive to blunt progressive resolutions, wrap them up in procedural tangles or composite them with their polar opposites (so they could be safely ignored) – now the TUC and most unions have impressively progressive policies and openly expressed right wing views are rarely heard.
    We have a useful measure of this advance. For two decades now communist trade unionists and their allies have been producing the ‘Unity’ daily paper at the annual TUC. Where once it could dish the dirt on backroom deals and arm-twisting from ministerial offices or Labour Party head office, expose unprincipled compromises and rally delegates to ensure that their mostly progressive union policies were reflected in the TUC’s resolutions today this is hardly necessary. All is unity and agreement – on the surface. Progressive motions can sail through on a gale of radical rhetoric.
    Achieving sustained meaningful action is a different matter. For instance, it looks like some union leaders reached a tacit agreement with ministers in advance of the big pension strikes last year but went along with the action (and the rhetoric).
    The issue today is not the corrupt but profitable relationship of right wing trade union leaders and Labour politicians to the apparatus of US imperialism (although some of this exists still) but their acceptance of consensus politics.

  9. redcogs on said:

    So the ‘left’ within Labour are kicking at an open goal? It can’t be long before Clause 4 is reinstated then? And not long thereafter we will see a left wing Prime Minister instructing the big banks and all the major conglomerates to hand over economic power to an elected body comprised of trade union representatives who will institute socialism the following week?

    Isn’t the truth of the case hovering somewhere between the ‘highly unlikely’ and ‘absolutely impossible’? As i have often remarked to the professional god botherers who the devil sends just to irritate me: “If i wanted to read a fairy story i’d turn to the brothers Grimm before the bible..”.

    Who on earth could believe that socialism and the Labour Party have anything in common?

    Incidentally, it was the POEU, not the POEW, that Bryan Stanley miss led all those years ago.

  10. Gregor

    Yes I have slightly simplified by only taking USDAW into account, but the staff associations have only been with us.

    There are no similar figures to Arthur Deakin or Ken Jackson in today’s unions, and there don’t even seem to be an organised right wing waiting in the wings.

  11. Not much of a ‘traditional’ right wing anyway.
    A measure of much the world has changed – Mick Leahy the general secretary of the former Iron and Steel Confederation (now rebranded as Community) once had the hapless task of mobilising support for ‘aletrantive’ right wing candidates in those constituencies of the TUC General Council where there are contested seats.
    Now, because Community holds a big shareholding in the Peoples Press Printing Society he can sit, along with a range of other trade union leaders on the Morning Star management committee.

  12. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Nick Wright: Now, because Community holds a big shareholding in the Peoples Press Printing Society he can sit, along with a range of other trade union leaders on the Morning Star management committee.

    Did that come from KFAT? I don’t recall the ISTC holding PPPS shares.

  13. Thanks to Jon Lansman & Red Cogs for the factual corrections, I will amend when i get to a pc.

    However I am mystified by Red Cogs point about the Labour Party. Nowhere do I suggest that exercise of union influence is shooting at an open goal. Quite the contrary, the grip of the organised right in the party is strong.

    Nor have I suggested that exercise of union influence would lead to a land of milk and honey; however it could push the party towards a more consistently centre left position.

  14. Feodor Augustus on said:

    Harsanyi_Janos:
    “by today’s standards Neville Chamberlain would probably class as a man of the left”

    Since he was a pioneer in social welfare provision as Baldwin’s Minister of Health, this is not a great stretch.

    And also some measures on workplace conditions, holidays and limits on the working day when he was Chancellor/PM, can’t remember which – hence the analogy. Though I only think this shows how much the goalposts have moved.

  15. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Thought I would like to impart that the Unison leadership has been found guilty of indefensible disciplinary action against four Unison trade unionists and activists for producing a leaflet protesting about the exclusion of resolutions from the 2007 Unison conference. Today an Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the unanimous judgment of an earlier Employment Tribunal

    That Employment Tribunal judgment last year rejected false allegations of racism against the four and found that the real reason for disciplinary action was that they had issued a leaflet criticising the Standing Orders Committee and the union leadership for preventing discussion on the issue of union democracy. The Employment Appeals Tribunal today rejects all five grounds on which the Unison leadership appealed against last year’s ET judgment. At the moment the four activists who were disciplined by Unison are banned from holding any union office for up to three years.

  16. Karl Stewart on said:

    JimmyH, looking from outside, there certainly seems to have been an appalling attack on the left within Unison by that union’s leadership and it’s good that the four have been cleared of charges of racism.

    I’m sure the four did not intend any racial offence by the leaflet and it’s been pointed out many times that each of them has a consistent record of actively and publicly fighting racism.

    But I do think it would be good to hear some recognition by them that the images they chose to use in that leaflet were ill-considered.

    I was at that conference as a reporter for the Morning Star and I remember the furore caused by it.

    As I recall, the initial objection and formal complaint to the leaflet came not from the Unison executive but from Unison’s black members’ organisation.

    There’s no doubt that the issue was seized on by the leadership and cynically used by them to attack the left, but initially, there was genuine offence caused by those images. And it was not something that was entirely manufactured by the Unison leadership.

  17. Karl, anyone who is “offended” by the three wise monkeys image is an idiot. It has no racial connotations, at all, of any type. And it has actually been used in the past by Unison itself. Nobody should give a millimeter to the bureaucrats dishonest campaign and nobody should give a millimeter to the weasel words of people like yourself.

  18. MichaelC on said:

    Andy – perhaps the lesson to be taken here is quite the opposite – that the “left” leaderships of the trade unions are so ineffectual and so unthreatening to the vested interests of the right in terms of influencing the direction of the party that there efforts go elsewhere. Rather than slapping ourselves on the back we should be bemoaning the lack of any adequate left alternative to the Labour First/Progress type networks at the level of the NPF, candidate selection, etc.etc.?

  19. #22

    MichaelC: Rather than slapping ourselves on the back we should be bemoaning the lack of any adequate left alternative to the Labour First/Progress type networks at the level of the NPF, candidate selection, etc.etc.?

    Where have I suggested any back slapping is in order?

    Clearly there is a task to do in coalescing the potential into something tangible, which means winning the argument in the unions themselvs for a more proactive approach.

    However, the absence of an organised right is simply an issue of fact, and one we should acknowledge. It presents us with opportunities.

  20. #21

    Mark P: Karl, anyone who is “offended” by the three wise monkeys image is an idiot. It has no racial connotations, at all, of any type.

    I have a lot of sympathy for what Mark P is saying here. Unfortunately, this sort of faux outrage can be part of the culture in some unions. It makes you wonder how they cope with the real racism that exists among many trade union memebrs, and sadly even among many lay reps.

  21. What is a union official now “geeze a wage, i have a mortgage to service.Don!t pay me enought, for the time fuck for the party.Only spend time defending rules that we agreed too?.

  22. MichaelC on said:

    #24 But what if the (relative) absence of an organised right in the unions is an index of the relatively marginal part that the union movement plays in the policy and overall direction of the party? Wouldn’t there be more evidence of an attempt to build an organised right if they thought that was strategically necessary to determine where the party is going?

    Obviously the left should seek to maximise what influence it has within the unions to shift that direction – but we also need to address the fundamental weakness in the party as a whole, and the danger of simply electing left-talking bureaucrats and considering that job done?

  23. Karl Stewart on said:

    Mark P: Karl, anyone who is “offended” by the three wise monkeys image is an idiot. It has no racial connotations, at all, of any type. And it has actually been used in the past by Unison itself. Nobody should give a millimeter to the bureaucrats dishonest campaign and nobody should give a millimeter to the weasel words of people like yourself.

    The black women who came to the rostrum and explained why Unison’s black members’ organisation was objecting to the leaflet – because it used images of monkeys and was a leaflet criticising the black chairman of the conference standing orders committee – didn’t strike me as an “idiot” and seemed to be genuinely offended by the leaflet.

    As I said, I’m certain that the people producing the leaflet were not racists, I’m certain that each of the four who were victimised are active anti-racists and I’m pleased that the case against them has been overturned. But all I’ve said is that there should be some recognition that, perhaps, the use of the monkeys image in that context was ill-considered.

  24. #27

    MichaelC: But what if the (relative) absence of an organised right in the unions is an index of the relatively marginal part that the union movement plays in the policy and overall direction of the party? Wouldn’t there be more evidence of an attempt to build an organised right if they thought that was strategically necessary to determine where the party is going?

    That is probably true, in terms of the genesis of the current situation, but it still means that the organised political right are currently absent, giving te centre left an opportunity to organise without their interference

  25. MichaelC on said:

    True but we should also be doing more to combat the right where it is active and strong – within the party itself. The left (what’s left of it) is a bit shambolic when it comes to that sort of organising. Even within the unions there’s a tendency just to vote in people who talk left (remember Derek Simpson!) and then give them a free hand to do whatever they like.

  26. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    I am not a member of Unison and hence I am only relaying what I have been told and read but the Employment Tribunal made it quite clear that they forcefully rejected the allegation of racism: “All four Claimants are committed anti-racists and have fought against racism.

    “They quite reasonably assumed that anyone who saw the leaflet would understand the cartoon to be saying that the SOC was out of touch in closing its minds to and ignoring issues that concern the membership.”

    “Looking at the context in which the cartoon was used (i.e. to depict the attitude of the SOC towards controversial motions) it cannot be said that any reasonable person would or should have realised that it would cause racial offence, and that not doing so was somehow ‘careless’.

    That is reinforced by the fact that [it] never occurred to many people who saw the cartoon before its publication. These individuals included an Equalities and Diversity officer and black members.”

    Incredibly, during the case, it was discovered that Unison’s own lawyers had used a cartoon of the three wise monkeys.

    It is not the question if the Unison Four should apologies for what was delibrately used as a witchhunt against activists and socialists in Unison, but the Unison leadership costing the union an estimated £100,000 on the disciplinary hearings and tribunal cases.

  27. # 30 ‘The left (what’s left of it) is a bit shambolic….’

    Or consciously sabotages itself.

    The LRC being a case in point. I do not understand how a left-wing group in the Labour Party expects to gain any traction when it allows affiliation by the AWL, New Communist Party and Socialist Appeal.

    CPGB were also around for a while (though I do not think they affiliated) boring everyone to death about the importance of ‘critical support’.

    However Compass is doing somewhat of a respectable job and occassionally the Fabians come out with something on the mark.

  28. #32

    Martel: The LRC being a case in point. I do not understand how a left-wing group in the Labour Party expects to gain any traction when it allows affiliation by the AWL, New Communist Party and Socialist Appeal.

    Agreed, and generally the LRC gives the impression of building a liferaft to leave the party rather then seeking to gain infeunce within it.

    Martel: However Compass is doing somewhat of a respectable job and occassionally the Fabians come out with something on the mark.

    Compass rather blew it with their tactically inept comments about tactical voting for the Lib Dems, and the fact that leading light John Harris seems openly contemptuous of the Labour Party.

    And yes the Fabians are sometimes interesting.

  29. How is your chess board,are you almost,are you no way is that move.Union,moves belief.What road is your belief.Union really,came from a abused mentality,about care of those used and paid to live.Other dudes,well they got wired into intelect and other excuses about control.Never has a feed for the souls.

  30. Did not they say that,chapter and verse.Who said that,who do you support before i reply.Socialist is the stop,no matter the creeds wanabe word smiths.

  31. Robert P. Williams on said:

    34,35

    No banana’s, yes, wannabe fruit loop, eat stop. Go hospital, no,yes take risperdal. Stop. Wannabe, posting crap.

  32. Robert, don’t you think it’s a bit out of order for you to ridicule someone for writing like that? “Scar” posts here frequently enough for readers to know that it’s just his/her style.

    As an activist, I’d have expected you to be a little more sensitive to people’s abilities and styles.

  33. Karl Stewart,

    Not sure what “rostrum” that would have been Karl. All discussion of this case has been banned from official Unison conferences since it started. None of the actions taken have ever been mandated by any of the lay democratic structures of the union (which in some ways is the biggest scandal of all). What came out of the original ET was that the officials involved never even spoke to the Chair of the Unison Black Members’ Group, nor did they ever speak to the particular individual against whom they must have concluded the leaflet was aimed – if they really thought its intent was racist. The ET concluded that no reasonable person could have inferred any racist intent from the leaflet or from the context of its use. If it matters, the chair of the original ET was an Asian woman.

    For the record, the Four DID apologise if anyone took personal offence at the graphic used – though they would presumably have been equally offended by a leadership-sanctioned leaflet used in a pay lobby which used a monkey graphic and the slogan “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys”!! But in any case, it is not clear to this day whether any individual member of the union ever formally complained anayway.

    The whole racism issue became a sideshow anyway. It eventually became clear that they were disciplined for “questioning the decisions of the Standing Orders Committee”.

    Personally, I would conclude that there is a highly organised right in the unions!

  34. MichaelC on said:

    Martel:
    # 30 ‘The left (what’s left of it) is a bit shambolic….’

    Or consciously sabotages itself.

    The LRC being a case in point.I do not understand how a left-wing group in the Labour Party expects to gain any traction when it allows affiliation by the AWL, New Communist Party and Socialist Appeal.

    CPGB were also around for a while (though I do not think they affiliated) boring everyone to death about the importance of ‘critical support’.

    Think it’s a bit harsh to lump Socialist Appeal in with the others – they have at least exhibited a commitment to working within the party.

    Compass appears to be treading water – it doesn’t do organising within the party. LRC gives the impression of being content to criticise from the position of an isolated minority. The Fabians are what they always have been – a middle class talking shop for top-down gradualism.

  35. Fairly low level of debate on this observation which has been diverted off with a talk about the admittedly shameful UNISON Witchhunt.

    The point Andy makes is right. The TUC is regularly passing motions which, whilst not calling for the FTSE 100 to be taken by force into public ownership, are largely unimaginable 20 years ago.

    But is this a good thing? No real debate or political difference at the upper echelons of trade unions cannot be healthy for consciousness particularly when everyone knows that many union members are clearly not active socialists – if they were society would be very different now.

    I fear the default centre-left position of trade union leaderships and the lack of real political organisation on either the right or the left reflects a detachment from wider memberships. But if we were to suddenly have fully engaged memberships totally plugged into the politics of their trade unions and organising for positions they wanted the unions to take, I would wager most of us on this site might not be very happy with all of the results…

  36. The right, by and large, is attracted towards power. The fact that it no longer pays the trade union movement the attention it once did is probably not a good sign.

  37. #21 I have some sympathy with Karl on this point.

    I have ABSOLUTELY no doubt that the 4 were completely innocent of any racist intent, and I am pleased that they have been exonerated by the ET.

    And I am more than aware of how alleged equal opps/ diversity issues can be used to attack activists both by management and others within the unions.

    But that doesn’t mean that eternal vigilance should not be exercised, and calling people idiots for expressing their concerns is not evidence of this, but of arrogance and isensitivity- some of the very traits all too common in your organisation and among the reasons that led me to cease being a ‘millie’ many years ago.

    Remember Samson Bond. And remember that Deggsie Hatton now says that this issue was his only regret about his days as part of the leadership of Liverpool City Council.

  38. Robert P. Williams:
    34,35

    No banana’s, yes, wannabe fruit loop, eat stop. Go hospital, no,yes take risperdal. Stop. Wannabe, posting crap.

    In a thread where the Socialist Party are being accused of insensitivity, that is a breathtakingly monumental own goal.

    The accusation over the leaflet is wrong and misguided, but that post above is utterly shameful.

  39. #41

    Francis King: The right, by and large, is attracted towards power. The fact that it no longer pays the trade union movement the attention it once did is probably not a good sign.

    Maybe, but also perhaps it reflects a changed risk landscape for the interests of the American state.

    When the USA was challenged by the USSR at a global level, the Communist leaning left in the British trade unions needed to be combatted becau otherwise they might neutralise the Atlanticism of the Labour Party.

    Remember that the left/right battles of the 1945 to 1951 era in the Labour Party were almost exclusively conducted on the terrain of foreign affairs. Even when more domestic issues emerged as differentiators between the Revisionists and the Bevanites, opposition to nuclear weapons, and differing approaches to colonial issues (such as the right wing of the Party’s support for the British overthrow of Chedi Jagan’s government in Guyana) remained at the heart.

    We are now in a situation where Britain is a less crucial ally for the US, and there is no pole of opposition to US imperialism that has support across the trade unions. As such, organising in the British unions is seen as less important for the Atlanticist right.

  40. John P reid on said:

    10,21 well said

    I’d hardly call jon Lansmans letter on progress admirably highlighted, I’ve noticed on Blogs by Darrell Godliffe, far on the left of the party, alex Hilton (Who backed his freind Diane Abbott for leader) and Laobur list, again not New laobur or blairite at all ,scathing of Lansmans attack, pointing out that Lansman didn’t even put his own name on iot

    Yes Ed miliband is the most left wing labour leader since foot, Could also explain why he’s not doing very well and even his party feel that there’s weveral better choices than him.

  41. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy BH: Karl Stewart, Not sure what “rostrum” that would have been Karl.

    It was the main speaking position at the front of the conference hall Andy. The place from which people make speeches. It was in the morning and the first item of business. A black woman came to the speakers’ rostrum, introduced herself as coming from the union’s black members’ organisation and made the complaint.

  42. Francis King: The right, by and large, is attracted towards power. The fact that it no longer pays the trade union movement the attention it once did is probably not a good sign.

    I think you miss the point Francis. The main reason for the decline of the Cold War trade union right is the convergence of two factors – the dismantling of the European socialist system and the erosion of the basis for the post war settlement (of the welfare state). It is hard to ground a labour movement strategy in bargaining over concessions when these are being eroded and hard to ground it in foreign policy issues when ‘the other’ has vanished.
    The Atlanticist tendency is still active, mainly in picking out ‘promising’ young stars in the Labour Party and sending them stateside. And the EU is the other source of bribery, corruption and promotion for a ‘social democratic’ right wing in the trade unions.
    Check out the number of Labour figures with this background.

  43. # 39 ‘Think it’s a bit harsh to lump Socialist Appeal in with the others – they have at least exhibited a commitment to working within the party.’

    I do not understand what any left-wing group in the Labour Party would gain from voluntarily being associated with a group of Militant heritage.

    It is a hinderance to making the arguments for policies in the socialist tradition.

    It is not difficult, despite right-wingers and unconditionalist loyalists, to gain support in CLP’s for many sensible left-wing propositions (e.g. bringing the rail network back into public control as contracts come up).

    However any support would soon ebb away if the proposer/motion is associated with an organisation such as Socialist Appeal.

    I am not commenting on the rights or wrongs of Militant. However it is not uncontroversial to say there is often hostility to the groups arise from that entryist/Trotskyist tradition among Labour Party members.

  44. Re 47 Karl at the last UNISON Conference I was pleased to see at long last that the Morning Star came out against the witch hunt,sadly a number of excellent activists such as Tony Staunton and Yunis Bakhsh would still be in the union had not other members of the CP and Morning Star supporters not been the most enthusiatic of the witch hunters,it was I believe CP member Jane Carolan who chaired the panel that expelled Yunis whilst at the same time he was being victimised by his employer ( a victimisation in which as a matter of record UNISON colluded in )Amongst those who made statements in order to get him expelled was one Kerry Cafferty who later resigned from UNISON after Yunis revealed she belonged to a number of racist Facebook groups and had BNP ‘friends
    As for the matter of the absurd allegations of racism directed at the ‘four’ that was completely destroyed by the ET ruling, however if the UNISON leadership was really keen on dealing with racism within its ranks maybe they could start by discipling the dozens of BNP members identified as being in the union by the leaked membership list.
    The entirely manufactored accusation of racism and the quite disgraceful involvement of Bev Miller the woman who raised the issue at the rostrum is yet another example of the depths to which some in UNISON have been prepared to go to drive out their political opponents. I cannot think of anything more disgusting than colluding with employers to get decent union activists sacked and if that is not right wing I don’t know what is

  45. prianikoff on said:

    re the LRC #32,33,39

    The diversity of opinon within the LRC is a positive thing, not a weakness.
    Freedom of debate and voting on policy deals with differences. If the left argues for those principles in the Labour Party, it has to practice what it preaches.

    More to the point, the LRC represents something.
    It has over 1100 members, is supported by excellent MPs, like John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, as well as numerous active trade unionists and Labour councillors.

  46. # 51 Despite all this ‘diversity of opinion’ I am afraid to say I have never heard anything come out of the LRC that could not have been said in 1982.

    And its dubious associations and general negativity about any positive role the Labour Party can play means it will never appeal outside a very small section of the Labour Left.

    It is currently 1/40th of the size of Compass and I can not see it growing any further.

    I say this out of disappointment as I was hoping for more out of the organisation.

  47. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/feb2012/roma-f24.shtml

    As has already been noted, the entire political playing field has moved dramatically to the right, and this is visible in the ostensibly socialist parties and unions, and even the self-designated Marxist left. So, as in the link provided, you have “socialists” echoing 20th century fascist themes.
    The trade union right of the past was there to counter-act a then visible and relatively influential left. If the right is not there in the same way, arguably this is because it won its war against the left a long time ago.

  48. With regard to the UNISON witch hunt though it has been an ‘unwritten law’not to criticise the internal goings on of other unions for fear of being accused of ‘interfering’so transparent has the UNISON witch hunt become and so embarrasing to the wider movement that leading figures such as Serwotka and McCluskey have clearly come off the fence and John McDonnell has played a very commendable role.
    Incidently has anybody noted how Prentis’s wife Liz Snape managed to get appointed as Assistant General Secretary ( £80,000) and is now an OBE or should that be OBN !