Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's No Longer TUC, R.I.P.

The TUC, once a powerful and for some, scary voice, was left to Rest In Pieces. The TUC had morphed into New Labour - all style and no substance. Now its voice is starting to reflect the frustrations of voters with a gloves-off attack on the Blairites and some very strong language, according to the Observer.

As a reporter in the 1980s, covering the TUC, you were taught just two thing. It's the Trades Union Congress and your copy had to be sprinkled with "lefties", trots", "hardliners", "troublemakers". Everyone called each other Brother this, or Brother that.

The Guardian yesterday hasn't moved with the times, with a picture throw-back from the 80s - flying pickets with jackboots - and a piece on this week's TUC get together with those words liberally sprinkled all over the copy.

How simplistic can you get? What has happened to the TUC is mirrored in the Labour Party and among Labour MPs. 

It's the on-going struggle between those with their roots in the labour movement and Blair and the New Labour Project who, to get conservative voters on-side, side-lined them.

With the unions it was easy - take away their influence. Don't rely on their funding. Use big business instead, with the odd peerage thrown in as a sweetener. And, if that didn't work, try to stuff the union leadership with New Labour yespersons. 

Enter the new breed of union leader. Out goes big brother and study leave at Ruskin College, Oxford. In comes the high-flying, fully-paid up trade union professional. A fully paid-up member of the New Labour elite.

Shop-floor experience, working through the ranks, gave way to a good university, little industry experience, good suit, good sound-bites, good choice.

It will be played out this week at Brighton. But True Labour will be there (without the jackboots) and its values and voice, with the funding power restored, is getting stronger and is beginning to show through in reasonable and realistic TUC 'demands'

And, please Guardianistas, that's no bad thing. Trade unions now speak for their members - the people who work long hours, earn a pittance and are worried sick about how they are going to cope.

Dave Spart is dead, King Arthur just a legend. Holding the country to ransom just sounds rather silly in today's economic climate. There's nothing left to hand over.

A strong trade union movement, with its heart in the right place, can be held in check with a strong employers' organisation and an equally strong government.

We are in the dying days of the New Labour Project. A True Labour voice in the trade union movement, the Labour Party and among Labour MPs, can help hasten its departure. 

There's nothing to lose. New Labour will be annihilated in the general election anyway.

And, for the unions, would getting along with a Conservative government and a True Labour minority in England and the SNP in Scotland, be any worse than the present?

Only the greedy, selfish ministers, MPs and hangers-on, trying to cling onto their cushy jobs, would argue with that. 

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