This week there’s been a large row between the leader of the Labour Party and one of his largest financial backers, Unite.
Unite is the largest worker’s union in Britain and Ireland, and describes itself like this:
Unite is dedicated to serving the best interests of its members and will seek to improve their standard of living and the quality of their lives though effective relationships with employers and government.
Strongly industrially based, our structure means we can represent your interests effectively in your workplace, no matter whether you work in the country or what industrial sector you work in.
The worker’s unions are the largest financial backers of the Labour Party, and have been since its founding. The labour movement is irrevocably tied in with the unions, because the Labour Party was seen as the only champion of working people, and because the unions are sworn to that cause.
Len McCluskey is the current leader of Unite, and has said that the focus of the recent row with Miliband is to “shift the balance in the party away from middle-class academics and
professionals towards people who’ve actually represented workers and fought the
This is symptomatic of a longstanding tension within the Labour movement between Trade Union members and members of the liberal intelligentsia. The trade unions are usually seen as championing pragmatism and a better deal for working people, whilst the intellectuals as being only concerned with the furthering of their left-wing principals at any cost.
At any rate, the Unions have been a vehicle for getting working class people into parliament for a long time, which must be remembered.
The unions hold the Labour Party’s balls in its grip, and this is no time to be escalating arguments. For Miliband this is a political point that he wants to make, to demonstrate that he will not be so weak in office as Cameron is. That he will not be pushed around. In a way that’s admirable, from another perspective its childish.
I would urge the Unions to use their immense position of power to make a real change. They have backed the dead fish that is the Labour Party for far too long, simply because they have never known anything else.
They should promise equal funding to the Labour Party, to the Lib Dems and to the Greens as long as they merge. The unions must use coercion, bribery or whatever it takes to get these three left-wing parties to join together.
What we need at this time is one charismatic movement which sweeps into power, makes real change and is remembered for generations. Only be merging these three parties will we achieve that. And only the Unions have the power to deliver it.