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.