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

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Miliband – wrong audience, wrong message

#TUC13 Only 15 of the 54 unions which make up the TUC are affiliated to the Labour Party. Although they include the largest unions, trade unionists who pay a political levy to Labour make up a declining minority of the 6m workers represented at Congress. The TUC itself has no constitutional relationship with Labour. Yet rather than delivering a unifying pre-election message about ending the pay freeze, abandoning austerity, reversing the drive to privatisation (including Royal Mail), restoring workplace rights and collective bargaining, Ed Miliband chose to re-affirm his catastrophic proposals to end the collective affiliation of unions to the Labour Party: 'I respect those who worry about change. I understand. But I disagree. It is the right thing to do. Change can happen. Change must happen. And I am absolutely determined that this change will happen. It is the only way to build a truly One Nation party so we can build a One Nation country.'

At no stage in this misguided initiative has Miliband (or others who oppose the status quo) explained why increasing the number of individual trade union members of Labour is incompatible with maintaining union links and collective union affiliation with Labour. The solution is political not organisational. Labour must present a progressive alternative to Con Dem austerity and deliver quickly when elected. That, rather than an abstract One Nation mantra, is the only path to a mass membership Labour Party.

As Dave Prentis recently said of working people and Labour: 'what most people will really want to know is what are you going to do about the pay freeze we’ve had for five years, about building a million houses, what are you going to do about getting nearly one million young unemployed people into work. They want to know what Labour’s going to do about fairness within the economy and about the health service. They do not want to know about union – party relations. This isn’t a priority for ordinary people'