Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Unions face decline in support whilst Labour implodes

A rather disturbing report appeared on the front page of the London Evening Standard stating that a poll backs the Tory plans to introduce thresholds on trade unions right to strike. Joe Murphy & Dick Murray write

With unions threatening four more days of crippling Tube strikes in two weeks, the YouGov survey for the Evening Standard found a clear majority in the capital backing tougher laws.

The new Trade Union Bill would set a 50 per cent minimum turnout for any strike ballots — and in the public sector would require 40 per cent support from all members eligible to vote, not just those who do. The clause was approved of by 53 per cent of Londoners.

Only 26 per cent opposed the crackdown, while 22 per cent were undecided — a two-to-one majority in favour.

Moreover, the crackdown was backed on balance by young and old, men and women and among both the better-off ABC1 social classes and the poorer C2DEs.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid hailed the result as a “clear majority” for the biggest union reforms for 30 years.

The problem for the unions involved is that their members are not seen as low paid, far from it tube drivers receive very high wages, more than most tube users make. The reaction reported by the Standard certainly seems to tie in with casual observations in the street.  This all comes at a time when we face nearly five more years of Tory government and the only opposition party is heading for disaster as the leadership election farce continues.

Let's be clear. Working people need trade unions, well organised and able to take action to defend their members.

Frankly working people also need a political party that is electable.

Both these vital institutions are under threat from the right and the left.

Over the past few years the Tories have been gradually whittling away at union rights, particularly in the Civil Service, where the far-left led union PCS has handed the excuse after excuse on a plate much to the chagrin of the other, smaller unions.

The whole question of turnouts was pushed to the forefront of Tory thinking by Mark Serwotka's ridiculous threat to bring out Border Staff on the eve of the Olympics when it had the support of just 11% of those eligible. 

From there facility time cuts, an end to the "check off" arrangements have led to this pivitol moment. 

The restriction of the right to strike.

Of course the left argue that politicians don't achieve such thresholds and there is a point here, but the analogy does not quite hit the mark. MP's fight multiple opponents and the vote is divided far more than a simple yes/no vote could ever be.

This where being realistic and rational before ideological should be at the forefront od union leaders thinking. Why is it that so many members don't vote and in the case of PCS when there has been a national dispute the union has never achieved a majority turnout despite the claims of their leadership?

Certainly when the turnout and majority is low there needs to be more self reflection by the union leaders. So many, Serwotka in particualr, put ideological considerations before realism they fail to achieve even their basic aims before they start. Hence that union is in severe and probably permanent decline despite a staffing crisis in the large departments like the DWP and HMRC.

The threatened trade union legislation is getting closer and with the rise of Corbyn in the leadership stakes the party that could reverse this trend is becoming more unelectable by the day.

According to one union member I spoke to today none of the candidates is inspiring and all are flawed. Despite the fraught atmosphere on social media Labour is not winning over the necessary support it needs to win in 2020. In fact I fear it has already lost.

The Corbyn campaign has merely united most, but not all of the rent a mob crowds that can be used to fill the streets for those big, but ineffectual demonstrations we see from time to time.

If there is to be change for the better than it is the left that needs to change. Celebrating the death of long gone Russians (Trotsky was murdered in Mexico 75 years ago today as the AWL remind us), it needs to adjust it's outlook. Dusty old tomes by outdated and thoroughly discredited revolutionaries have led to nowhere.

In fact much of the left has developed a soft and sometimes supportive attitude to political movements that are thoroughly reactionary as we see with not just Corbyn's so-called friends but the in the antics of the misnamed Stop the War Campaign and the racists around the BDS movement.

I despair for the future. The writing has been on the wall for some time but the words "heads" and "buried in the sand" come to mind.

I am not so arrogant to claim I have the answer, though the left will claim socialism (whatever that is) is the answer their response is so religious in it's intensity and irrationality that the ease with which they adapt to reactionary Islamism is clear to all.

What I do know is the future is bleak and will remain so until today's radicals take their blinkers off.


  1. Could we have a credible source for the claim that attacks on facilities time were motivated by the UKBA strike please? I distinctly remember such proposals being floated in early 2012. Maybe learn to understand that the Tories carry out their attacks because they are cold hearted, anti working class bastards who don't need an 'excuse' to attack trade unions, and that they are the enemy here.

    And that poll only covers London, where feelings against unions probably are higher due to the inconvenience caused by Tube strikes being on a far higher level than any other strike. I really don't think its a fair representation of the public's views.

    Your views on Corbyn are way off the mark. I have been phone canvassing in Leeds with a very wide range of people. Not the 'usual suspects' by any means. Just people who actually care about fighting for a better world, rather than sitting on their arse typing lies, distortions and general bullshit about anyone to the left of Liz Kendall.

  2. Please read again. I said turnouts were motivated by the UKBA strike which led to the attacks on facility time etc in the civil service being introduced. There was a lot of anger directed against Serwotka becuse of his idiocy at the time which coincided with the dive against what the tries called "pilgrims"in local government. His actions undermined the potential for public support.

    Yes I'm aware the tube strike is specific to London.

    Corbyns association with reactionaries make him unfit to lead Labour and the so-called "left" ceased ceased being anything of the sort a long time ago. Since your insults are directed at me may I point out I was until January an active trade unionist for over thirty years until January. Currently taking a break, but as they say. I will be back. "comrade".

  3. Yeah that's what I said. You linked (and have in previous posts) the attacks on facility time to the UKBA strike. That's what I was referring to and asked for a credible source to verify.

    Corbyn has no association with reactionaries, and has adequately answered these points time and time and time again. Our Governments, both Conservative and Labour, have had not just 'associations' but outright friendly relationships with all sorts of horrific regimes, including Saudi Arabia. So if that is enough in your eyes to make one 'unfit to lead Labour', you have to apply the same standards to pretty much every Labour leader who has been in power.

    The world is not black and white, and yes I am aware you were a trade union rep, its how I know about you (from the PCS NEC election booklets).

    Comrade :)

  4. Deny the link as much as you want but it was the catylist and the other unions were not happy. As for Corbyn, no he hasn't answered for his associations at all. He has the same blind side to Islamists like the rest of the anti-imperialist left. His "friendships" are not on behalf of the state or with any state. I will never trust him.

  5. So its OK for the UK to be 'friends' with Saudi Arabia and sell them weapons that are used to suppress uprisings in Bahrain, and its OK for Blair to hug Gaddafi and speak to Hamas, but its not OK for Corbyn to speak to Hamas and Hezbollah on one occasion, even when he wasn't endorsing them in any way? Its not like we need to be friends with the Saudis....oh yeah, forgot, OIL, income from weapons, and investments in London real estate, silly me.

    Your double standards are breathtaking.