UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Attacks on union influence in Labour ‘mischievous and unhelpful’

In a Tribune article, ex-Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe MP has urged Labour’s leadership to back off from proposals to reduce affiliated unions' share of the vote at Party Conference and avoid ‘pandering to pressure’ from a hostile press and others seeking to sow divisions in the labour movement:

Former union official Sutcliffe, who co-wrote the article with Labour activist Jamie Handley, was not endorsing the status quo in the relationship but calling for it to be reinvigorated:

‘It cannot be controversial to suggest that our Party and Trade Unions should at every level work more closely together to help achieve our common social, political and economic objectives. Indeed, if we are to move beyond the traditional boundaries of a political party and form a genuine movement for change then both Labour and the Unions must learn to reach out together to those in our communities who have not traditionally engaged with us and who feel that politics is irrelevant to them.

'Standing alone against this conviction is a hostile press that promotes confrontation, mischievously highlighting at every opportunity the fact that Unions contribute so significantly to our funding, whilst failing to explain that it is the choice of millions of individual members to make those contributions. We understand why there is a call for a new settlement between Labour and the Unions, but we believe that this new settlement should be based on our working even more closely together, with Labour and Union members in every community coming together to campaign, to debate, to organise and to help Labour transform our communities and win again in 2015.’