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

Monday, 25 June 2012

Low Wattage sheds dim light on Union-Labour link

Former Labour Party General Secretary, Peter Watt, writing on the Dale & Co. Blog, accuses the affiliated unions (including UNISON) who have questioned the excessive influence of the Progress organisation, of being bullies, hypocrites and ‘threatening the long term health of the Labour Party’: http://www.iaindale.com/posts/labour-and-the-trade-unions 

Echoing longstanding Tory attacks on the Union-Labour link, Watt refers to the ‘buying of undue influence and lack of transparency.’ He made similar comments in his evidence to the Kelly inquiry into party funding two years ago: ‘The problem was that some of the trade unions were not prepared to even countenance a greater degree of transparency in terms of how those affiliations were calculated, and that level of transparency that Hayden Phillips I think quite legitimately required, they were not willing to give, and secondly I think it would be fair to say that some of the trade union general secretaries also wanted, in addition, to give donations or withhold donations as and when they wanted to’

It seems that Watt would prefer affiliated unions to be a labour movement branch of Western Union – merely a vehicle for transferring individual affiliation fees to the Party without any collective influence on policy making and political action.

UNISON official and Labour Party NEC member Keith Birch last week wrote an excellent article on Labourlist which disproves Watt’s offensive comment that ‘the dominant voice (of trade union’s in labour) is that of their own elites’ using ‘expense accounts and cheque books’ to ‘wield political power for General Secretaries’

Birch reports on the union’s recent success working with local Labour Party members to defeat the Tory Council in Southampton and pledges similar efforts to defeat the Con Dem Coalition at the next election.

Well beyond the political establishment inhabited by Watt and other critics of union political influence, unions will continue to work hard to secure the political change essential to defend and extend the interests of working people in this country including winning Labour to more progressive economic and social policies.

For more on party funding read here: