As chairman of the parliamentary Trade Union Group I feel it necessary to break my silence on the events of the past couple of days and to call for an immediate truce between the Labour Party and Unite and the wider Trade Union movement. Having not seen the party’s internal document on Falkirk I couldn’t comment on any detail however an independent report could resolve all outstanding issues with all those involved. We all need to recognise that at a time when people are still losing jobs, having their pay and conditions attacked, suffering cuts to benefits and seeing their public services decimated by the government we have a responsibility to look after those less well off in society.
Millions of ordinary people are suffering at the hands of this Tory led coalition government, hell bent on reducing to rubble all of the advances that the Labour movement have won through cooperation over the last century. Workers, the sick, the disabled, the old, the young, the unemployed, the list goes on and on – all being attacked on a day to day basis by the coalition government. Only by working together can we stop this.
The link between the trade unions and the Labour Party should not be weakened, in fact quite the opposite is true, the link should be strengthened. Each side should understand their role in the Labour movement and recognise the others, whether it be in the industrial or political arena. We are stronger when we are together and we need to realise this and quickly. We need to remember that our aim is to win the next general election. We need to win an overall majority. It is the only way we can put a stop to the heinous acts of the current disastrous coalition.
The Labour Party is funded through the contributions of ordinary men and women. The Labour Party is funded by cleaners, bin men, nurses, office workers, factory workers and a whole raft of other working people. Yet it is the Tories and the Tory press who attack us? The same said Tory party who are funded by the very people who benefit from their destructive acts in government. It is not only absurd but scandalous.
But it is not only the Conservatives who delight in the current situation. The media circus, currently in full swing, also delights in current events. Unfortunately, there are some within our own party who too, are delighted by the opportunity to attack the trade union link.
The more noise the Conservatives make about the Union link, the more we should remain steadfast and defend it. Why do they attack it? They attack it because they are terrified by it. The party and the vested interests that they represent do not want a unified mass of ordinary people, working together, through their trade unions and political party, to deliver social and economic justice.
We must never be guided by the Tory agenda on this or any issue.
The Labour Party was born because the trade unions realised that to improve the lives of the majority in this country, ordinary people needed a voice in parliament to go alongside their Union’s voice in industry. A century has passed and this remains true. Ordinary families still need a voice in Parliament. Ordinary people still need trade unions to defend and win improvements to their working conditions. And importantly ordinary people need both of these to be working together in a unified fashion.
Ian Lavery is the Labour MP for Wansbeck, chair of the Parliamentary Trade Union group and former President of the NUM