Thursday, May 08, 2008

London UNISON Labour Link – Boris, Barnbrook and winning next time.

By co-incidence this morning was the quarterly regional meeting of London UNISON Labour Link Committee (or APF - the voluntary political levy that many UNISON members pay that promotes members views and UNISON policies within the Labour Party).

It was a good opportunity to meet up with comrades from across London and different parts of UNISON to discuss the recent campaign and election results. I think that everyone was “disappointed” (to say the least) with Ken losing the mayoralty and the BNP gaining a seat. Despite the current circumstances it was a very positive, thoughtful and forward thinking meeting. An extra Labour seat was won and we did increase the Labour vote in London

This was the first meeting since the re-election of the committee; the first item was election of officers. Louise Couling and Bill Beekoo were elected Co- Chair’s while Gloria Hanson and I were elected Co-Vice Chairs.

The Greater London Assembly report was by newly re-elected Assembly member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanne McCarthy (see picture).

Joanne is a UNISON member and has been a regular visitor to London Labour Link meetings. The committee congratulated Joanne on winning her seat. It had been a key Tory target. She gave a short verbal report then answered questions.

Joanne started off by admitting that the loss of Ken had been a disaster not only for London but also for the Unions. Ken had an “open door” to the unions which Boris is not expected to follow. She thanked UNISON and the other affiliated trade unions for their work in the election. If the unions had not rallied around Labour in London in the way they did then the results could have been far worse.

There is a problem that since the Tories now control more than 8 seats in the Assembly, then Boris’s budget proposals cannot be blocked. But, since the Assembly Chairs of Committees are decided by a simple majority of members, then it is likely (not confirmed until the Assembly AGM) that a coalition of the minority Parties may be able to control the all important committees. These “Scrutiny committees should be able to monitor what Boris is up to and try to stop him from damaging London too much. Boris can also be held to account to a degree by formal “questions” to the Mayor.

Labour Link had tabled a special report analysing the overall BNP vote in the 2008 elections. We discussed this and Joanne reassured committee members that the BNP will not get the GLA money and resources that some have claimed following the election of Barnbrook. To be recognised as a “Party” in the GLA you need at least 2 seats. So it is likely that he will only get enough to employ one paid member of staff (too many). There was as we say a "wide ranging discussion" on means to combat the BNP while ensuring that GLA staff are protected. We need to careful, since Barnbrook will be using his position as a platform for the European elections next year and will thrive on confrontation and publicly. Apparently, if he does something stupid (as elected BNP councillors are prone to do) and is kicked out, then the BNP can replace him with another list candidate.

If in London we could have raised the turnout from 45.3% to 49% then the BNP would have not been elected. They only increased their total vote by just over 0.5% from 2004.

After Joanne left there was a general debate about the election, lessons learnt and planning ahead for the European elections in 2009, Council elections in 2010 and of course at some time in the next few years there will be a general election. The Tories clearly mobilised their supporters to come out and vote better than Labour. National political sentiments did not help Labour in London. However, a capable and experienced progressive candidate on the left of the Labour Party was clearly defeated by a centre right wing Tory.

There was widespread agreement by committee members over the desperate need to defeat the Tories and the vital role that trade unions can play in the coming battles. We need to remind our members of what happens when Conservatives are in power, locally and nationally.

We need to organise between now and next time to win.


Anonymous said...

Liebour have got 2 years,they should be in single figures in the polls by then.The BNP will continue to grow without a doubt,even with the EU/LAB/LIB/CON/ISLAM cartel and gutter press against them,as they have done year in year out.All the name calling and smears fail too stop them,the cartel spent millions trying to stop the BNP,all they did was slow things down,the dam will break soon,there is no way back for Liebour and only one way for the BNP,onward and upwards.If the Tories turn out to be,well,just New-Labour,you know pandering to minorities and not listening to massive public opinion,then things will come easy for the BNP.Have you seen the polls today?worst for how long? The thing is if you were to change "leaders"(lol)then they would be worse.Things can only get better? no no no, things can get a lot worse,i think they will.

leftygirl said...

I don't mean to mock - well actually I do, but not flippantly - but shouldn't the above comment have been moderated to add "cue evil genius (not) laughing in sick deluded manner shortly before meeting sticky end!!!" Clearly the BNP are sinister, but plans for world domination and paranoia schizo ramblings about cartels spending millions to stop them??!!! - well it certainly made me laugh.

But far more importantly John, thank you for some constructive comment and thoughts in a difficult week. Deranged unpleasant racist thugs will always be around in one form or another, but the labour movement of this country has survived far worse and in a year where we can at least celebrate 60 years of an NHS provided by a Labour Government, when we know we've seen far worse in the forms of Thatcher and her attempts to see us all off, we will get through this and use these experiences to rebuild and the hugely sensible hard working honest and diverse people of this country will turn back to labour in time.

Now do I get to call the above person a racist headcase - or is that not allowed.....

Anonymous said...

leftygirl,the BNP are a Nationalist party, so world domination is not on the cards thats more of a Liebour illegal war starting globalist American bum kissing lickspittal thing.The cartel did spend millions trying to stop the BNP,thats a fact. If anyone is deluded its you,and as for screaming racist,well thats what lefties do,its now water off a ducks back,as race is not the issue. Keep laughing girl.I will.

John Gray said...

Hi leftygirl
Good stuff even if you did steal my thunder. Of course it is allowed to call Anon is a racist head case. He (and I suspect it is a he) is quite happy to insult others but of course gets very sensitive when anyone dishes it back.

Anon – the BNP is a NAZI party not a “nationalist” Party. The SNP (for all its faults) is a nationalist party which publically abhors racism. The BNP is a racist, homophobic, violent, anti-trade union and anti- working class unpatriotic “party” run by (largely) middle class posh boys who like dressing up in uniforms. As I have said before, ironically, it is trying to introduce completely alien and foreign political ideas and values into this country.

Of course anon believes in the “Cartel” and other conspiracy theories. What he doesn’t realise is how daft his rantings appear to ordinary people. Anon – look at the stuff you have posted? Do you really, really think you are going to persuade people to follow your views with such nonsense?