It’s scary coming back from a holiday these days – you feel you need to have a quick check that they haven’t done away with the NHS while you weren’t looking. They haven’t, but they’re working on it.
These are bizarre times. Labour dismantles the NHS. Labour attacks the welfare state. Labour presides over a nasty ragbag of attacks on civil liberties, including the introduction of ID cards and detention without trial for ever-longer periods. Labour slashes public sector pay. Labour glories in retaining the Tories’ anti-union laws. Labour presides over an economy that’s sliding into chaos, with the costs of food and fuel spiralling way higher than the wages of most workers. Labour persecutes asylum seekers, and creates an atmosphere in which the BNP can flourish. Labour supports vicious war mongering in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Those are just the things that spring to mind as I type this…
What’s the response from our unions? Warwick 2 was a resounding silence. And the priority now for the biggest unions seems to be to throw more and more money at the Labour party in the hope that things will somehow ‘come right’. Unite, as the biggest donor, gave £1.5 million to Labour in the second quarter of this year (41% of Labour’s total funding). Unite has given an astonishing £11 million to Labour since the 2005 general election.
Are we getting our money’s worth? Clearly not. The £11 million might have been better spent campaigning against the vicious policies we’ve seen from this government. It’s interesting that Labour has been able to reduce its dependence on union funding in the last few months. The Guardian reports how they’ve done it – hefty donations from three extremely wealthy men (Sir Ronnie Cohen, private equity millionaire; Nigel Doughty, founder of private equity firm Doughty Hanson; and John Aisbett, former Goldman Sachs partner). I suspect the millionaires will get a better return on their money than the union movement.
The Tories are set to win the next election – not because they’re any less dangerous and reactionary than before, but simply because Labour has systematically betrayed working class people in Britain. To have our unions continue chucking money at the Labour Party solves nothing. Unless the Labour Party changes its policies quite systematically, it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of re-election. Swapping Brown and Harman for Johnson and Cruddas (the rumoured ‘dream ticket’) brings to mind images of deckchairs and large liners heading straight for icebergs.
Unions have become a cash cow for Labour. We hand over the money and we get nothing back – while Labour lurches blindly along its set course to self-destruction. It’s time to get tough. If Labour continues attacking our members, we have to pull the plug on the money.