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Why Labour?

In 1900 a conference occurred in London which would change the face of British politics forever.  A group of trade unionists, socialists and working class people came together to unite and put forward their voice in the House of Commons.  They formed the Labour Representation Committee and two MPs from its ranks were elected in 1900 – including the legendary Keir Hardie.   The group would go from strength to strength and would form the first Labour Government in 1924. 

There have been a lot of things to be proud of since then and it is now time to remind ourselves, and the voting public, exactly what those things are. 

Trade Unions

Trade unions today can receive a bad rap, but we cannot forget the incredible achievements of these organisations over the years – and what they still achieve today.  I spent five years as a Unison steward, I am a trade union member and this is something of which I am immensely proud.  During my time with Unison, I supported vulnerable people who were unaware of their rights and often intimidated by the prospect of taking on their employer.  Everyone needs someone on their side and that is what trade unions provide.  They also have an incredible collective power which has changed working conditions and wages for the better over the years, and has provided a voice for the very people whose labour creates and sustains the wealth of the landowner and employer.  Workers’ rights must be protected – and today this is again becoming increasingly important.  The Conservative Party has long been the party of the moneyed.  It exists to promote big business and make it easier for employers to expand their wealth.  One of the ways of doing this of course is to make it easier for employers to fire staff i.e. to leave people who can ill-afford to lose their jobs with nothing.  Today, the Conservatives (along with their pals the Liberal Democrats) are attacking and trying to bring an end to the employment rights that working people have gained under Labour.  For example, unfair dismissal laws have been changed with this coalition creating greater job insecurity in what is a frightening economic time for all but the rich (who of course continue to get richer – at least there is some consistency!)

We have got to fight back against these and other attacks on employment rights that may emerge during this Coalition’s reign but we can only that with unity.  For too long now, Labour and the trade unions have been at each other’s throats and this does not inspire confidence among the public.  From Labour’s point of view, I think it is time to stop dismissing trade union concerns and engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue.  The trade unions need to realise that in Government, Labour must govern for everyone, and take on board various points of view, and it needs to this to ensure it keeps the Tories out of power.  There will always be points of contention but we need to sort these out amicably and privately and not hand ammunition to the Tories time and again.  We need to unite against our common foe – the uber-wealth and unfettered free market capitalism of the Conservative ideology.  We need to sit down and talk.