Monday, July 09, 2012

UNISON Labour Link Forum 2012: Day 2

Saturday was the second (and last) day of this year's Forum in Cardiff. Check out the report on day one here. The traditional Labour Link Social had been held the previous night and "a good time had been had
by all" (it also raised money for UNISON welfare).

Forum started off at 9.15 sharp with a speech by our new UNISON President, Chris Tansley (and life long Labour Party member). Then a presentation on the UNISON Labour Link annual report and review of the year by Chair Steve Warwick and National officers Keith Birch and Julian Cooke.

In the feedback on the recent Local elections in May we heard about the computer tele-canvassing software piloted in London and Eastern region. It was such a success that there are plans to roll out the software to all regions and even possibly for Labour Link volunteers to use from home.  We were also shown the video by Southampton UNISON on how they helped get rid of its anti-union Tory Council in May (I will post when I find it).

Followed by motions on "Impact of the cuts on the Black Community"; "LGBT equality - reality not rhetoric"; Labour & Disabled people" and "The Labour Party and detrimental age discrimination".

Next were seminars on "Police and Crime Commissioners" and "Devolution". I chaired the seminar on "Devolution". Delegates from Wales, Scotland and London (who will not be facing Police Commissioners elections in November) came to together with Welsh Assembly Minister for Europe, Alan Davis (right of picture), Welsh Assembly member (and former MP) Julie Morgan and Dave Watson (UNISON Scottish Organiser and top blogger) to discuss the political impact of devolution on the Party and trade unions.

I said at the start that I was perhaps well qualified to chair this meeting since I was born and bred in Wales to a Welsh mother and Scottish father. I have since lived and worked in Scotland but have now spent most of my life in London (and am now a Councillor in the Peoples Republic of Newham where we have a 61-nil Labour majority).

Alan made the valid point that it was sometimes very frustrating being in a Labour Government in Wales since the UK media are completely obsessed about what is going on in the "SW1 bubble" and it's about time that London recognised that trains go down to Cardiff as well as up to London.  Julie made the very interesting point that this was the first ever meeting she had attended of representatives from Wales, Scotland and London discussing this issue.

Dave pointed out that before devolution he would give evidence to the London Parliament 2/3 times per year on Scottish issues. Now with a Scottish Parliament he is in Holyrood 2/3 times a week! London UNISON Labour Link Political officer, Steve Terry, also spoke about the work we are doing with Labour London Assembly members to hold the Tory Mayor, Boris Johnson to account. Difficult to do of course with someone who doesn't do anything.

After this there was Motions on "Renewable Energy" (another London Regional Motion) and a rule amendment on representation in Labour Link of self organised groups.

The Chair Steve Warwick closed the Forum and hoped that we all got home safety (the weather has been atrocious with floods up and down the country). Due to time limits he declined to accept a vote of thanks to the Chair from Bristol delegates (in joke).

On the way home I did feel reflect on Forum and felt very proud of Wales for not only keeping the faith and returning a Labour Government but also demonstrating "Socialism works" and (most importantly) "it can deliver" (Alan Davies).  
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