Thursday, April 26, 2007

The unions and the SNP

The fact that two relatively small but still important unions, the RMT and FBU are no longer affiliated to the Labour party does not mean that they have no political voice. (They are also, of course, not the only unions without political affiliation)

In many ways it is the unions who represent the real centre of ideological opposition to New Labaour. It has been significant that in recent months it has been the unions, the GMB in particular followed by the T&G, who have made the political case against private equity.

It is also not beyond the bounds of possibility that we may see more future cooperation from those unions who have moved further away from the business union model that held sway in the 1990s. The RMT, FBU, PCS, and perhaps the CWU and GMB.

But what is going on in Scotland?

On 17th April, the RMT issue a press release slamming into the Scottish National party (SNP) for dropping their opposition to rail privatisation. As RMT leader, Brother Crow argues: “It seems the SNP would rather take money and support from the likes Souter and non-executive director of Stagecoach, Sir George Mathewson rather than putting the interests of passengers first. Public money should no longer be wasted on a franchise system that is discredited, inefficient and costly and it is time to bring the failed experiment to an end".

But on the very next day, it is announced that the Scottish region of the Fire Brigades Union is donating money to the SNP! The Tartan Army's Justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill, who is fighting Edinburgh East & Musselburgh and is top of the Lothians list, has been given £500 by the firefighters union and West Lothian council group leader Peter Johnston has received £250.

This clearly shows that some greater coordination between the more radical unions is necessary.


Martin Wicks said...

The FBU conference which starts on Feb 9th has two resolutions relating to support for political parties/candidates. One from Strathclyde would enable branches to support individuals or organisations who support FBU policies. An amendment from Tyne & Wear says this must be ratified by the Brigade or Region.

The other resolution from Yorkshire calls for affiliation to the Labour Party.

Walton said...

As Martin above says, I think you've misrepresented the FBU's position.

A union branch supporting an individual candidate with good policies is not the same as the union supporting the SNP, or anyone else, and might encourage other candidates to do more than pay lip service to being pro-union.

Gus said...

I dont think you've misrepresnted the position at all. You said elsewhere that you were the only socialist in England you know who supports independence for Scotland, for that, thanks. I always thought socialists would support the rights of self-determination.


Jenny said...

just to chip in that the FBU have been generous to left wing candidates more so than nationalists in Scotland. They've given £500 to at least three Solidarity regional election funds and £100 to three SSP regional election funds. (I guess there's something about being called vile names in the Sun that makes you likely to give less money to parites that go into court to support the Murdoch press).
In the North East Scottish region the Solidarity candidate is a regional FBU secretary and has apparently had not only a fair chunk of local FBU members out supporting him but also had healthy financial support from the FBU.

AN said...


The allternative to going to ocurt was to be held in contempt.

Once in curt they either had to tell the ruth of perjure themsellves.

You cannot build a political movement based upon lies to protect the reputation of a leading member. Not only does it make the whole party hostage to the situation, but it is an utterly wrong approach to politics that the the great men need a cult of personality.

Lynsey said...

Jenny, those sums of money are inaccurate and you know it. Quit trying to paint Solidarity as the "party of trade unions" that you clearly aren't. The only time I saw Solidarity on a picket line this morning was when two of them ran away from my mum and I because they saw us coming in a car with an SSP placard in the back window. The strikers were taking the piss out of them all morning.