Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Pillocks Pay the Political Levy

ONE of Britain's biggest trade unions, the GMB, today cut its affiliation funding from £1.2m to £150,000 as from next January.   The GMB executive has said:
'It is expected that there will be further reductions in spending on Labour Party campaigns and initiatives (and) expressed considerable regret about the apparent lack of understanding the proposal mooted by Ed Miliband will have on the collective nature of trade union engagement with the Labour Party.'

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who resigned from the shadow cabinet during the scandal of the Falkirk selection row voiced his fears that the GMB decision would mean an end of the old tie between Labour and the trade union movement.  Watson has written on his blog:
'If this is the beginning of the end of that historic link, it a very serious development that threatens a pillar of our democracy that has endured for over one hundred years.  Some will scoff but they are fools to do so.  The party card stands for something more than confirmation that annual direct debit has been processed.  Over the next year we have been asked to consider a change to the constitution of the Labour Party, though no detailed proposals have been revealed.  I'm not proposing reform but I will fight very hard to retain the fundamental link between the party and Labour movement.'

As the Labour Party ponders how to tackle the issue of party funding, some trade union leaders have already warned that Labour could lose 90% of its funding.  Initial reactions by Miliband and other party pundits is to try to play this setback down. But the test will come next week when he makes a speech at the annual Trades Union Congress gathering in Bournemouth. How he handles that address, and the reaction he receives to it, may well be the start of a big transformation in the relationship between the unions and the party they helped set up.

Northern Voices has long said that the Labour Party is no longer 'Labour' in any serious sense, and that it is a movement that has outlived its mission.  Tom Watson and many others within that party will not accept this view, because all practical politics has to be based some degree of self-delusion.  In the period of Tony Blair and New Labour the self-delusion was sustained by clever trickery, promotional devices and simple smoke and mirrors.   Now, as the Welfare State gradually erodes before our eyes as one of the major historic accomplishments of the Labour Party, it seems that they are no longer a serious opposition, and that what the electorate is faced with now, rather as Noam Chomsky once said of politics in the USA, is a choice between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola.

Who is going to sign up to those kind of alternatives?

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