Revealed: Unite boss’s plan to turn clock back to 1983 for Labour

by Atul Hatwal

A few weeks ago Uncut revealed Unite’s political strategy. How the union intends to take control of local Labour constituency parties, influence parliamentary selections and extract maximum political return for their funding largesse.

The focus of the strategy was on the acquisition and retention of power within the Labour party. Now, one of the most senior officials in the union lays bare what Unite intends to do with that power.

Dave Quayle is chair of Unite’s national political committee. This is the body that is responsible for the management and delivery of the union’s political campaign, from national activity down to Unite’s constituency level plans.

Critically, it is the body that determines how Labour’s biggest donor spends its money in the party.

Comrade Quayle recently gave an interview to the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL) website. This would be the AWL that defines itself as an organisation committed to the ideas of “Marxism and revolutionary socialism”.

He clearly felt among friends as he held forth on how Unite plans to change the Labour party,

“We want a firmly class-based and left-wing general election campaign in 2015. We’ve got to say that Labour is the party of and for workers, not for neo-liberals, bankers, and the free market. That might alienate some people, but that’s tough.”

It’s an extraordinary statement for someone like Quayle to make. Unite’s plans for Labour, backed by the millions of pounds at their disposal, can be summarised: yes to class conflict; no to the free market; and forget about the votes of businessmen, Tory switchers or the centre ground. Anyone in the party disagree? Lump it.

Quayle’s vision genuinely involves turning the clock back to 1983 for Labour.

He continued,

“We want to shift the balance in the party away from middle-class academics and professionals towards people who’ve actually represented workers and fought the boss.”

Two points. First, do we really want Labour’s MPs selected on the basis of having “fought the boss”? Would that help the party govern in the national interest?

Second, who could Quayle be referring to when he talks about “middle class academics and professionals”? Certainly not a bookish leader of the Labour party who lectured at Harvard and has spent almost all of his working life as a professional politician.

The contempt in Qualyle’s allusion to Ed Miliband echoes one of the eternal truths of left wing politics: the derision the hard left harbours for the soft left.

To the ideologues on the Marxist fringe, the soft left want all the benefits of socialism without being prepared to take the action needed. They are talkers rather than doers.

Yet the soft left, with their place in mainstream politics, are needed, as partners – willing or otherwise – to enable the hard left to gain control of an electoral political machine. The proverbial useful idiots.

If someone else in the union had given this interview, it might have been easy to dismiss these words as the ramblings of an isolated extremist. But Dave Quayle is a senior member of Unite leader Len McCluskey’s inner circle.

In the interview, Quayle makes it clear that McCluskey is personally committed to the same agenda and that these plans for Labour have been carefully formulated,

“…we had two options — disaffiliate, or campaign to change the way the relationship between the union and the party worked. Len McCluskey made that a key part of his election campaign, so the strategy is something that’s been in development since he got elected.”

So far the Labour leadership has tolerated and tacitly encouraged Unite in their efforts. Partly this has been through financial necessity – the party is now as reliant on Unite funding as William Hague’s late 90s Tories were on Lord Ashcroft and it doesn’t do to upset the banker –  but it has also been a way of burying the Blairite past.

This alliance between Ed Miliband and the hard left at Unite has been of tactical use to both sides, but the equilibrium in their relationship is unstable.

Unite have a clear agenda that requires radical action which will inevitably lead to conflict with a leader who is not a clear-eyed believer in Marxist dialectic. Red Ed might be many things, but he’s not a Trot.

At some point, as indicated in Quayle’s comments, Unite are going to want to exert a decisive shift on the direction of the Labour party. The current vague leftish drift will be insufficient. Hard policies will be needed that reflect the revolutionary socialist ideology of the cabal that has taken control of Unite.

When this happens, the Labour leadership will have more chickens coming home to roost than Colonel Sanders.

For the country, in one sense, this is all irrelevant. These 21st century Trotskyites will be as electorally successful as their 20th century Militant forbears. There will no more be class war on the streets of Britain in the coming months than there was in the 1980s. Quayle and his revolutionary comrades are living in hard left la la land.

But, for Labour, the threat is almost existential.

This type of extremist ideology will do to Labour in the 2010s exactly what it did in the early 1980s. Like posion ivy, once it has taken hold, and is wrapped around the institutions of the party, it will take years to remove.

It took twelve years for the party to regain power, following Neil Kinnock’s stand against Militant in 1985. In total, Labour spent eighteen years in the electoral wilderness.

The difference now is that the extremists have control of Labour’s largest donor and most powerful union. In the 1980s, if Militant had won control of the T&G, there might not be a Labour party today.

Despite the ephemeral sunshine of the polls, and the mood of an Edwardian summer within the party, the future for Labour has rarely seemed so clouded.

Atul Hatwal is editor at Uncut

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43 Responses to “Revealed: Unite boss’s plan to turn clock back to 1983 for Labour”

  1. PlatoSays says:

    Fascinating stuff and worrying for the Labour supporter who wants to get back into power.

    Turning the clock back never works – this has been coming on for a while now, I thought the GMB’s attempt to purge Progress was a joke until I saw it was true.

    If Serwotka decides to throw his lot in with McCluskey – heaven knows what UNITE will do next. If nothing else, the PCS have single-handedly invited HMG to bring in new threshold laws for strike ballots, and the public will be right behind them.

  2. Political Realist says:

    Scottish football is in serious, serious trouble because it relies on a handful of major clubs and one of that has gone bump.

    Labour is in serious, serious trouble because it relies on a handful of major clubs and one of them has gone mad.

  3. Steve Hart says:

    “We’ve got to say that Labour is the party of and for workers, not for neo-liberals, bankers,and the free market”. Doesn’t seem unreasonable statement to me – what do you disagree with in that.

    And indeed, most in the party recognise that increasing working class representation amongst our candidates, and rnewing and strengthening our relationships between party and unions is really important – Refounding Labour is all about that.

    Someone else said “The crisis of support among our working-class base shows the ground we have to make up. The relationship with the trade union movement needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.” Another mad trot perhaps? – No, Ed Miliband.

    He also said “New Labour had behaved as if “the role of the Labour leader is to protect the country from the views of the members of the Labour Party”. That may have been necessary in the 1980s, but Neil Kinnock’s Conference speech about Militant took place twenty five years ago”

    You ought to take note of that rather than indulging in wild fantasies and attacking good, hard working Labour Party members and Councillors like Dave Quayle.

    Unite’s strategy is about engaging more Unite members in the Labour Party, about campaigning for Labour – as Unite did during the London election campaign while this blog was attacking Labour candidates.

    We work with and support the elected leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband. I hope you do too.

    Our country is in deep crisis – we need Labour more than ever, and we are making progress – at this time we need need unity not division so please stop trying to make a fight out of nothing.


  4. Henrik says:

    This is excellent news for the nation and its politics in the medium to long term, not quite so wonderful for Labour in the short.

    Forget 2015, it’ll be 2020 before you’ve dealt with this nonsense and are fit for government. The entire nation is going to be treated to the unedifying spectacle of the hard Left (which much prefers ideological purity and rigid adherence to revolutionary discipline to, you know, actually being in power) ripping huge chunks out of those parts of the Party who might incline towards actually saying stuff that folk want to hear.

    Fight back, have your civil war – the moderates and soft Lefties actually need to fight, appeasement will only encourage the real comrades – and then, once the dust has settled, the casualties have been neatly tidied away and the pools of spilled blood have been mopped up, get on with formulating some reason why the electorate might want to vote for you.

    Best of luck with that, comrades.

  5. swatantra says:

    Looks like the 2nd longest suicide note in history. When will they ever learn.

  6. Vic Tory says:

    I wonder why it is that all these hard left (marxist, Trotskyite etc) want to take the Labour Party to the extreme left. Why do they not have the courage to stand as Communists? If their dogma is so convincing for the British people, they’ll vote for it. Could it be they know they would be completely thrashed in an election, so the only way to gain power is through the back door of the Labour Party? I suppose they hope that we have forgotten Scargill Red Robbo and the days when we were the “sick man of Europe.” Although it seems PCS and ASLEF with their current plans for strikes seem to want to resurrect that title.

  7. Kevin Barry says:

    I have read your diagnosis of this ‘almost existential’ threat to the Labour Party. I suspect your use of the term ‘Edwardian summer’ presumes that we are about to embark upon some 1980s-style civil war, and I am not so sure about that.

    There is no doubt that we have to combat marxism wherever it rears its ugly head, but this has to take place in the trade union movement. This is where those who loathe social democracy are currently active, as they simply couldn’t thrive within the Labour Party.

    If people are really concerned about the undue influence of marxists in the trade unions, then they themselves should join with us, social democratic trade unionists, and fight.

    What about the civil war in the Tory party, just mention three words to a Tory: ‘David Cameron’ and ‘Europe’… and see what happens.

  8. Liberanos says:

    I really hope the Unite plan succeeds. The electoral disaster which follows will remove the stain of Marxism from our party forever, joining Militant in the dustbin of failed leftie ideology.

    The unions are a pressure group applying the wrong pressure down the wrong pipe.

    Their job is to help their dwindling band of members maintain good working conditions. And to help the companies within which they operate, achieve expansion and profitability.

  9. The Meissen Bison says:

    We want to shift the balance in the party away from middle-class academics and professionals towards people who’ve actually represented workers and fought the boss

    …I think Dave Quayle means himself but is simply too shy to say so.

  10. Nothing better to do says:

    ” if Militant had won control of the T&G, there might not be a Labour party today.”
    If only. Then we’d have been spared Blair and Brown.

  11. Samuel Wheeler says:

    There was class war on the streets in the 1980s, it’s just the ruling class won.

  12. Atul Hatwal says:


    Simple question – do you agree that Labour should be a ‘firmly class based’ party opposed to the free market?

    As for the quotes from Ed M, it’s hard to see an equivalence between saying Lab needs to rebuild its working class support (fine) with a plan to return to 1983 when Lab’s C2DE vote hit a historic low (nuts).


  13. Simon says:

    Sounds brilliant….Dave Quayle please keep doing what you are doing. For the sake of the country Labour need to be unelectable for the foreseable future so we can right all that was messed up during 13 disastrous years with Broon the madman holding all the power

  14. Adrian McMenamin says:

    You ought to take note of that rather than indulging in wild fantasies and attacking good, hard working Labour Party members and Councillors like Dave Quayle.

    It’s Dave Quayle who is indulging in fantasy or worse. He says

    The Labour Party in government did absolutely nothing for the collective rights of workers

    Which is a blatant untruth. Bluntly, I would hope senior national officers of unions would be having words with him about that.

  15. Andy L says:

    The desire by some sections of the Left to take the Labour Party back to the 1980’s is because that is, for them, when time stopped.

    The Wall came down in 1989 and their view of statist “socialism” was defeated; comprehensively repudiated by the populations who had lived under it.

    The fact that they still seem to be in denial about this twenty years later does not say much for their connection with the real world as opposed to their preferred “happy place”. They still have Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance to go!

    There is a reason union membership is falling, the interests of unions are no longer seen as relevant or in tune with their members [as individuals and not a client group] or wider society; this is a profound shame as there is much a modern and engaged union movement could contribute.

  16. I’ve just re read the old book The Fourth Protocol.

    Unlike the Michael Caine thriller, the book spends very chapter on how the hard left infiltrate the party organisations and selection process.

    Once the mini nuke goes off just before the election the Labour party topple Thatcher and Neil Kinnock wins the election. Before being swiftly removed in a party coup shortly after.

    The book was written in 1983.

    Worth reading as its a good spy thriller if you’re old enough to remember the cold war. And worth reading for the many chapters on how the unions could take control of the Labour party. Takes about half the book.

    Written by a fanatical right winger of course. But the analysis is sound, if unlikely.

  17. Vic Tory at 11.03 has hit the nail on the head. The only route to political power for the Trots and Marxists is through the Labour Party.
    They know that they will never get elected by being honest and standing as communists.

    Like it or not these communist Union barons own the Labour Party through their financial support. Its tainted money extorted from the membership but what will Labour do without it?

    The only way I can see to counter this is to appeal to the union membership that vote clowns like McCluskey and Serwotka into power to vote them out again.

    Good Luck with that

  18. paul barker says:

    A thoughtful article but still downplaying how much trouble labour will be in over the next 2 or 3 years. Things are much worse now than in the 1980s in a whole series of ways –
    1st, the legacy of 1989. In some ways the fall of european communism makes life easier for the far left, pushing the unnatractive features of “real socialism” into history & making the splits between the various groups seem irrelevant. The various sects seem much more willing to work together now.

    2nd labour start from a much lower base, 30% in 2010 against 38% in 1979.

    3rd, its much harder to get rid of entryists in the unions, leaving only the nuclear option of disafiliation.

    4th, labour in the 1980s was solvent, now you have massive debts.

  19. Steve Hart says:


    I plead guilty to being opposed to “the free market” or to be precise to unregulated markets, unconstrained by government, to predatory capitalism, to restrained greed, to the neo-liberal system built on adherence to metaphysical concepts of rational free markets, which brought the world financial system so close to collapse in 2008. But then, I am surely in tune with the overwhelming number of social-democrats, Keynsians, Liberal Democrats, one nation Conservatives, US Democrats and many more. Do you have a problem with that – do you unreservedly “support” “the free market”?

    The issue for those on the centre-left and left is surely how we restrain the free market in such a way as to ensure equity and dynamic economies.

    Whoever said return to 1983? You write like a pyromaniac in a field of straw men.In any case you are wrong about proportions of the vote being lower in 1983. Labour got 32% of the C2 vote in ’83 against 29% in ’10, and 41% of the DE vote in ’83 as against 40% in ’10 – and a lower relative turn-out in 2010. Very bad results in 2010 which need addressing. Importantly Labour got 27% of ABC1 voters in 2010 against 16% in ’83, an improvement to be cherished.

    Winning working class support, addressing key issues so that Labour is seen to be clearly on the side of working people is crucial to Labour’s success. Class-based – on the side of working-class and middle-class people who are squeezed in this economic crisis. Just as Barack Obama in the US repeatedly invokes the “Middle Class” – an equivalent phrase to working people – as this from the Guardian shows:

    “In a speech meant to echo a historic address given by the former US president Theodore Roosevelt in the same Kansas town more than 100 years ago, Obama railed against “gaping” economic inequality and pressed the case for policies he insisted would help ordinary Americans get through hard times.

    He seized the opportunity to step up pressure on congressional Republicans to extend payroll tax cuts that independent economists say are vital to economic recovery, and vowed new legislation to punish Wall Street fraud.

    But Obama’s broader message was a sweeping call for the working class to get a “fair shot” and a “fair share” as he pushed for wealthier Americans to pay higher taxes and demanded that big corporate interests play by the rules.

    “This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class,” Obama told a cheering crowd in a high school gymnasium in Osawatomie, Kansas.

    “At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home and secure their retirement.”

    Sentiments broadly shared by most in the Labour Party and probably the country.

    As Unite’s Political Strategy says, we need to build a broad alliance to defeat the Tories. Class will be a part of that just as it is in America.

    Adrian challenges as to the last government’s record on collective rights. Much was done on individual rights – indeed Unite published pamphlets on the many measures such as maternity rights, minimum wage which were really important for working – and there were others such as for agency workers that had to be dragged out of the government, but with the small but significant exception of recognition rights, collective rights of British workers remained worse than continental workers, and in breach of ILO conventions.

    As for working class representation, only 9% of the Parliamentary Labour Party come from “Manual” backgrounds – that is not representative of the country or Labour voters and needs to change, along with more women and ethnic minority MPs. That is Unite’s view and Ed Miliband’s – surely that isn’t controversial?

    Let’s have some grown-up serious politics. Debate yes, but fantastic stories about Trots under the bed no.

  20. justanotherworker says:

    Labour did nothing for me when they were in power anyway.

  21. Jo Publique says:

    You need to undeerstand the internal politics of Unite to understand this tripe.

    Dave Quayle says: “We want to shift the balance in the party away from middle-class academics and professionals towards people who’ve actually represented workers and fought the boss.” Well that doesn’t include Dave Quayle. He ‘works’ full time as a councillor, part time as assistant to an MEP, and I doubt he has ever represented anyone at work in his life.

    However he is part of a narrow ruling clique in Unite who have a very efffective machine, largely from the ex-TGWU side, who have sought to eradicate the ex-Amicus side, painting anyone not in their clique as “right wingers” without ever defining what that means.

    My assessment is that most Unite activists are on the centre left. They want fairness, someone to stand up to the predatory capitalism of the city, someone who will promote British manufacturing, defend public services from privatisation, and yes, give working people a fair set of labour laws like we have in other parts of the continent. I suspect, sadly for Labour Uncut, that most Unite activists would reject a Blairite agenda of neo-liberalism-lite, and are pretty much in tune with where Ed Miliband is now.

    The problem is that as long as this narrow ex-TGWU clique run Unite theirs will be a broadly anti-Labour political strategy – splitting from Unison and the GMB and cosying up instead with non affiliated PCS and RMT – in order to demonstrate that they are ‘left’ without having to define that misused term more broadly. Yet they are doing the work of Labour Uncut and the Blairites by making it easier for them to argue that union funding is destructive and tht state funding is the only option. Maybe that is what these people leading Unite want: forcing Labour to force them to disaffiliate.

    This is not a problem for Labour, it is a problem for Unite members. The sooner they throw out these people like Dave Quayle the better, then we can have a programme of winning a genuine centre left programme from Labour without the baggage of a caucus whose members include the far left. I mean, what is the Chair of Unite’s Political Section doing giving an interview to AWL anyway? Do the Labour whips on Trafford Council know what he has said?

  22. john P reid says:

    paul barker 219pm the only pouint i’d make about us being on 37% in 1979 and the last election was that the tories got 44% in that eelction too and in 2010 they got 36%.

    AS for the lefts view that the right of the party is fighting the 97 election again, I always say i’m fighting the 92 election again as being 10% ahead in the polls doesn’t a future government make,
    But I personally feel with the exclsuon of Luke Bozier, Dan hadges, Ben Bradshaws secretary for other parties, And the Unite, GMB unison witch hunt against Progress, or ignoring Diane abbott with her Divide and rule White Mothers, Posh white boys, Finnish nurses, All white people are racist comments, Or Karen Buck with her’ the tories don’t want the poor to breed’ or Katy Clarks ‘ban kettlng’ or Sadiq Khan backing Ali diziae the disgraced police chief,among others,
    Ed Milibands silence on his lack of quesitoning of these things is deafening and it reminds me of the 87 election.

  23. ditherywig says:

    Steve Hart:

    “I plead guilty to being opposed to……the neo-liberal system built on adherence to metaphysical concepts of rational free markets”

    Dave Quale – Unite:

    “We want to shift the balance in the party away from middle-class academics and professionals ”

    Oh well, that’s you stuffed then Steve.

  24. Kevin Barry says:

    Jo Publique has stated how a great number of my fellow members in UNITE and the Labour Party feel. That is: we are on the centre left, that Ed Miliband is doing a rather good job as leader of the Labour Party, and are well aware that the main protagonist that has to defeated is the Conservative Party.
    Inside UNITE, it is the likes of Dave Quayle.

  25. robertcp says:

    Atul seems determined to have a civil war but it will not happen. Labour will go into the next General Election with a moderately left wing manifesto. This will disappoint Blairites and the hard left, but hopefully they will still vote Labour.

  26. swatantra says:

    The question is : Can this Quayle spell ‘potato? Damn, or is it ‘potatoe’?
    The point about Union Officials being grossly overpaid is well made. In theory they should come through the ranks, having done a decent days work and got their hands dirty. And why havn’t we got worker reps on the Boards of Big Companies yet? This ‘Them and Us’ mentallity does British Industry and Productivity no good at all. To coin a phrase: We’re all in this together; we either hang together or sink further down the League.

  27. Mike Homfray says:

    I think robertcp is probably right.

    Labour’s next manifesto will be to the left of the New Labour years, but certainly nowhere near the hopes of the LRC!

    Indeed, many have said that our current position is Compass with some Blue Labour which sounds about accurate – less uncritical belief in markets, and a move towards a more ethical and communitarian stance

  28. Delroy Booth says:

    Ah yes, here comes the inevitable PR-backed right-wing backlash from the discredited Blairite faction of the Labour party, determined to collude with the Tories and the Daily Mail in undermining the Trade Unions during a time of struggle. Determined to put a final end to the principle of working-class representation in parliament. Determined to cling onto the centre-ground that is melting away beneath their feet, no longer because it’s electorally practical, but merely to defend the interests of the rich and powerful who financially back them.

    Like many thousands of working-class ex-Labour members, I left in disgust due to the right-wing lurch embarked upon by the Labour party by Blair, a political choice that has left working-class people disenfranchised an betrayed. Like all those other tens of thousands of working-class ex-Labour members, I no longer feel that Labour exists to represent people like me politically, and that they’re far more concerned with fighting for a few swing voters in conservative marginals than in representing the interests of hard-working people in unfashionable places such as Huddersfield.

    And like millions upon millions of working class people, I stopped voting Labour during their last spell in office because they went from being the lesser of the two evils to being an active threat to my livlihood, to my community, to my family and to my class. The politics of Thatcher and Blair have done immense damage to those on low incomes, and must be rejected fully before those millions of voters will consider returning to vote for Labour.

    When Labour left office inequality between rich and poor was at record levels, youth unemployment was at record levels, the Labour party structures (at least when I left in 2008) had been reduced to a hollow husk, devoid of any youth or vitiality. It seems to me that the Labour right are so perenially paranoid about “Militant” that they’d rather see branches disappear entirely than risk having new people join who could threaten their control of the party. They’d rather see the party die then allow 5,000 working class people join it!

  29. Socialist Organiser says:

    Atul Hatwal:

    “There will no more be class war on the streets of Britain in the coming months than there was in the 1980s. Quayle and his revolutionary comrades are living in hard left la la land.”

    Having grown up, studied, worked and suffered the Callaghan, Thatcher and Major years, I find these comments, along with the article as a whole, an incredible piece of fantasy journalism, completely out of step with the mood, politics and sentiments of working class people at this point in time.

    Thatcher’s project, radical and hard-rightist though it was, never dared the audacious levels of class attack that the Cameron-Osborn clique are now waging. “Yes to class conflict…” I don’t ever remember any of my co-workers, members of working-class communities -able bodied or not so- fellow trade unionists and others, declaring class war; it seems like all we’ve been doing is fending off their attacks and attempting, through the only imperfect and democratically-neutered party our class has, to mount some form of defence.

    To say that there will be no upsurge in the coming months ignores all the signs of a growing wave of industrial and political militancy; whether that be in our privatized transport networks, shrinking public sector trade unions, disabled groups, tax justice and UK Uncut groupings, the NUS, TUC and a myriad of anti-cuts groups, formed to defend local communities and our hard-won National Health System. Only 12% of the cuts have been enacted and already there is a growing resistance; let’s face it, it’s the likes of Atul and his soft-right ‘fellow-travellers’ that are sleepwalking through la la land.

  30. Henrik says:

    Wonderful stuff from our tankie brethren Socialist Organiser and Delroy Booth. Quite takes me back to the halcyon days…

    You go for it, comrades. Class war, a l’outrance! Rally to the banners of the vanguard Party! Lead the proletariat to the sunlit uplands of true democratic socialism!

    …just don’t think you’ll ever, ever, *ever* make it into power on that sort of manic militancy. I invite you to consider the relative percentage of PCS members who recently voted for strike action – and the consequent utter lack of democratic justification for same.

    Still, who am I, an interested and amused bystander, to criticise the comrades for their forthcoming bout of internecine bloodletting? You go for it, lads, as long as you’re doing this, you’re not doing sensible politics or anything in particular to do with the hopes, aspirations and fears of the electorate.

  31. It is a shame it remains fashionable for those people in Labour circles to depict unions as giant monolithic entities of ultra-left dogmatism.

    It wasn’t very long ago that trade unions were a conservative influence on the party ensuring that candidates supported by the once-powerful left-led CLPs were defeated by moderates in internal Labour leadership elections.

    By and large, trade unions remain extraordinarily politically diverse organisations with all shades of people as members. Most, however, are united on the need for strong representation in the workplace, and for political campaigning on workplace and employment issues. Even those millions members who pay in for “insurance” purposes would prefer to have better rights at work rather than worse.

    Unfortunately, in spite of the wheels coming off global credit-card capitalism exposing the very stark and critical need for an entirely new economic model taking into account the needs of workers and society, it is telling that Labour activists are intent on spreading McCarthyite scare stories about Reds Under the Bed when a union tries to use it’s influence a bit more.

    Meekly handing over the cheques ain’t gonna happen any more. The Labour Party needs to deal with the fact that unions are going to be asking where their money actually goes. Why should they fund candidates who do not at least basically share their political principles?

  32. Henrik says:

    @Lawrence Shaw:

    “Meekly handing over the cheques ain’t gonna happen any more. The Labour Party needs to deal with the fact that unions are going to be asking where their money actually goes. Why should they fund candidates who do not at least basically share their political principles?”

    –which rather prompts the question on the precise democratic means by which the unions derive their political principles. I don’t think Mark Serwotka, say, is necessarily typical of his membership’s political views – but I don’t know. No-one does. If unions really are as diverse and unmonolithic as you say, how come the current rash of leadership has gone so hard over on the Left when the tendency of popular thinking over the last 30 years has been centrist?

    Of course, the unions now are essentially there for the public sector. One understands their role, it’s to ensure that the taxpayer keeps as many of their membership in employment as possible.

  33. BenM says:


    “One understands their role, it’s to ensure that the taxpayer keeps as many of their membership in employment as possible.”

    And perhaps if they’d been successful the UK economy wouldn’t have seeped into a disastrous double dip recession whilst looking on in horror as Osborne ratchets up the deficit again.

  34. Henrik says:

    @BenM: I see where you’re coming from, but, honestly, I don’t see how you can blame the Tories for the almighty mess Labour made of the economy during the artifical boom. I don’t hear that many voices on the Left calling for the deficit to be reduced, either.

    As for asking me, with a declining real income, a pension shredded by Brown and a large tax bill, to subsidise Pilgrims and other passengers in the public sector….

    Note here that I freely stipulate that many workers in the public sector do important and useful work which properly should be funded from taxation. Note also that the public sector is now being treated to the same sort of Darwinian climate that we’ve long got used to in the private…

  35. John Dore says:


    A word to the wise, I usually frequent Labourlist. I’ve posted your views there and guess what, Mr Ferguson is censoring any mention of this asap.

    Now we all know that Unite fund Labourlist, but its a bit crap when the largest Labour blog censors genuine concerns.

  36. I’m sorry, you’ve lost me a bit here.
    What bit of Quayle’s interview is he saying something that’s actually wrong?
    Obviously by way of a response to this rather crude piece of red-baiting I could psycho-analyse the Labour right’s desperate desire to win the approval of the Daily Mail, but it might be a little dated…..

  37. Socialist Organiser says:

    @Henrik: ‘Tankie” ? Do you even know what the term means? I am not, and never have been, a member of the CP, nor am I a Stalinist of any kidney. I, for my sins, am a member of the Labour Party and a socialist, to boot; joined the party at 15, left in disgust at the witch-hunting of Kinnock and co. when I was 19, later to return in May 2010, along with the great influx, some of whom, I’m sure, wanted to be part of a concerted drive to ‘cleanse’ Labour of its Blairite, neo-Liberal malady and win the next election on a socialist program.
    Henrik, do you know any activist trade unionists? I am a lay rep. in the PCS, that is to say, an unpaid steward and I can tell you the class war is very much alive and kicking. Capitalism is a fact and, for most of us, the workplace is the arena in which we encounter it every single day. Whether it’s the bullying antics of managers, constant ‘restructuring’ or burgeoning case-loads of capabilities and disciplinaries – a much cheaper option than redundancy payments – we experience the harsh reality of the class war on a daily basis. As for Serwotka being described as of the Hard Left, please don’t make me laugh; he put up no concerted, joined-up, strategic resistance to the doubling of our pensions contributions, or having to work till we’re 68. I earn just £19,500 per year and a gilt-edged pension (currently standing at £3,800 pa) was the trade-off I accepted for low pay. Now I have to accept low pay and a crap pension! Most of my co-workers were prepared for weeks of strikes to defend our paltry pensions; all we got was 3, strung-out days in a 9 month period. Cameron and co. must be quaking in their boots at the threat of Serwotka and co.
    Just out of interest, Henrik, what role do you perform in the Labour Movement?

  38. BenM says:


    I can and do blame the Tories for the almighty mess we are now in.

    You Tories were warned what would happen if you tried to implement your fantasy economics at a time of grave economic slump.

    That catastrophe has come to pass, which is why your useless chancellor is justifiably being being pilloried left, right and centre.

    Of course many of those doing the pillorying bought the sheer unadulterated nonsense about Austerity, but consistency is not a large media nor political trait.

    As for Darwinism in the private sector – I’d suggest to you that is why the private sector is clapped out as the Tories’ main source of innovation.

  39. Henrik says:

    Ooooh, so much sensitivity, so many requests for credentials. Let’s see…. I joined the Labour Party in 1973, served as an elected official in two unions – NUPE and the NUR – before my 21st birthday, spent 22 years in the British Army and left the Party in 1990 when my local CLP gave me to understand that a serving soldier wasn’t welcome as a member. I left the Army in 2000 and since then have been working and paying tax. I’m lucky enough to have a particular skill and profession which means I have stayed consistently on the higher rate of tax since then.

    I am not now and have never been a member of the Conservative & Unionist Party.

    That said, I did characterise myself as an observer upthread. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell of Labour winning an election on a hard, or even soft-Left manifesto, but, hey, it’s your Party, it’s up to you. My interest consists solely in hoping that the 2015 and 2020 governments have a coherent Opposition – and perhaps, if you comrades actually sort yourselves out – one with an attractive and constructive set of policies which don’t summarise themselves as “Labour, not as arse as we were and probably no more incompetent than the Tories. PS, give us more of your money.”

    …and yes, I called you both tankies with malice aforethought. I meant it, as well.

    Hope this helps.

  40. Mike Homfray says:

    Henrik – your contributions here do rather suggest that you are closer to the Conservatives these days.
    Clearly those in the electorate who share the Conservatives priorities will vote for them, Labour do need to provide something different.
    I haven’t read anything from you which would indicate that you have much sympathy with any policy Labour are likely to advocate

  41. Henrik says:

    @Mike H – I accept that, but wonder whether Labour has it mind to craft any sort of compelling narrative to pull folk like me back towards the party. I could imagine a number of Labour-specific policies, unacceptable to the Right, which might have an attractive effect….

  42. Clint Spencer says:

    and Mike Homfray spouts a load of tripe again.

  43. Mervyn Hyde says:

    The Labour Party has been infiltrated by Neo-Liberal careerists that are in the pockets of the Bankers !

    This is not the Labour party, unless ordinary members realise that, the labour party will face the same criticism as after the last election the next time round; their all the same, Torylite, those campaigning on the doorstep will not be welcomed but greeted with why vote your all the same and they would be right.

    This is no longer a democratic party but an autocracy dictated by big business and the financial sector, politicians like Blair who are in the pay of the Bankers and who got us into the mess that we are in at present, Jeff Hoon who famously sold himself as a “Taxi For Hire” these people have brought the Labour party into disrepute and as things stand that has not changed, only when the membership wakes up and takes control will we have a party worth fighting for, If they listen to the Torylites like Chukka Ummna the only thing for ‘Real Labour supporters’ like me is to pressure the Unions to form a new party that represents people and not big business and the City of London who are steeped in corruption.

    For those that think for themselves, google, Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Max Keiser, Nomi Prinz for an insight into what is really happening in the world.

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