Defend workers’ power in their own party

THE BOURGEOIS media have gone into a frenzy about the row over Labour’s selection process in the Falkirk constituency. First they claim that the Labour leadership is a pawn of the big unions. Then they beef up the so-called reform on party funding that is being pushed by Miliband & Co. And finally when it’s clear that the leadership of the biggest union, Unite, is prepared to go along with it, they claim it’s just another smokescreen to cover the hold of the unions over Labour.

They all bleat on about “democracy” and “union power”. But, in practice, the unions have very little direct influence on Labour policy in government and where they can exert some influence, at Labour Party conference and in the constituencies, it has always been within rule. In any case, all forms of balloting in bourgeois states are designed so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the largest number of votes.

In Falkirk Unite’s preferred candidate and the local Labour leadership have been suspended following claims of electoral fraud. A prominent member of the Shadow Cabinet has resigned and Labour’s internal report, which has not been published, has been handed to the police. Meanwhile the Blairites are using it to renew their efforts to break the party’s links with the trade union movement altogether.

Miliband’s response has been to call for sweeping changes to the way Labour works and raises money from introducing primaries to select candidates to preventing MPs from taking other jobs and replacing the unions’ affiliated member status, which generates the millions that fund Labour’s national campaigns, with a new category of union individual membership.

Breaking Labour’s link with the unions has always been the objective of the bourgeoisie and the current chorus of support for Miliband’s “reforms” spans the whole spectrum of anti-working class opinion from the Tories and Liberal Democrats to Labour’s right-wing and Tony Blair himself, who is showering Miliband with the lavish praise he normally reserves for the prominent agents of imperialism he meets in the Middle East.

Though the Labour Party is dominated by the class-collaborating right wing in the parliamentary party and the trade union movement, the possibility of their defeat exists as long as Labour retains its organisational links with the trade unions that fund it.

We support the affiliation of unions to the Labour Party. We must fight for affiliation in those unions that are not affiliates and we must demand that the Labour Party reflect the wishes of the millions of its affiliated union members, expressed through the unions’ democratic procedures.

The fight for a democratic Labour Party is linked to the fight for a democratic trade union movement. In the unions we must struggle to elect genuine working class leaderships, who are prepared to represent and fight for the membership against the employers and against the right wing within the movement and to campaign for the removal of all anti-trade union legislation.

We must campaign for a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates; a Labour Party whose policies reflect those of a democratic union movement would become a powerful instrument for progressive reforms that would strengthen organised labour and benefit the working class