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

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Political influence must be a two way street

#lab12 At last weekend’s North West UNISON policy weekend an emerging theme was the need to communicate UNISON messages effectively; however it was also obvious to many that those working in the public sector understand it better than those in charge of delivering political leadership.

Sorry tales emerged of battles with Labour councils who were openly promoting new models of service delivery in local government seemingly oblivious to the right wing ideology that underpins many of these ‘new models’. The same can be said of health service reform with few battles to preserve the ability for state provision to remain intact. The reality of the new public service complex is that the nuances of the delivery is lost to a few ‘experts’.

But whilst we can get the moral arguments out to our members it is the nuances of these new models of delivery that need to be explained to elected members, MPs and yes the shadow cabinet! There is a dismal understanding of the value of public services and a ridiculous view that by being supportive of any form of state provision of public services this is somehow a return to a labour party that did not have credibility with the electorate.

A challenge from the floor on how we can justify or sustain the labour link in UNISON brought the expected response that things can’t simply stay the same. UNISON levy payers money can’t go to going to candidates who are openly opposing UNISON policy. And UNISON is developing a much tougher line of determining how our political fund money is spent.

However we should go one step further. If you want our money we want your time! There should be a quid quo pro on those in receipt of our money to explain the realities of the policies that they propose . Whether that is labour leaders naïve in their support for coop councils or MPs too timid to challenge the fragmentation of the NHS in their local areas the very least our money should buy is their ears for an hour or two. That way we can be assured that they are informed of the alternatives before committing to disastrous models of public services that simply do not work.

Even if they reject our ideals we would be in a much clearer position of the political divide and we could then make an informed choice on the continuance of the labour link. As it stands too often the benefit of the doubt is given because frankly none of us are certain the ‘political leadership’ is not of itself being led by the vested interests of the few.

Anna Rose