John McDonnell's decision to stand
for the leadership of the Labour Party is undoubtedly welcomed by all trade
unionists: that is, by those who know he is standing!
The press has done a magnificent job
in playing down John's stand so far. New Labour under Tony Blair has been a
good friend to big business and the hope is that there will be more of the same
after a smooth transition to a Brown government. On the rare occasions they
have been obliged to make reference to John's challenge, they have portrayed
him as a no-hoper, a joke candidate. The press will really go into overdrive
when John's campaign takes off. He will be pilloried, attacked at every turn
All this should come as no surprise:
the media always back the interests of big business. What is shameful is that
the union leaders have either ignored or deliberately sabotaged John's
campaign. A straw pole at TUC conference showed over 60% of those members asked
said they supported John.
The trade union movement has been
licking its wounds since the defeat of the miners and the print workers. These
two powerful organisations were not beaten by the state alone. Union leaders
with no backbone to fight, to take "secondary action" as solidarity action
became known, were equally to blame. We have a duty to our membership to make
sure that the same ilk does not bury John McDonnell's campaign and with it any
chance of turning the party around in the near future.
The leaders of Unison have not even
mentioned his candidacy in publications to the membership. This is despite the
fact that John is a Unison member, a Unison-backed MP, has voted in Parliament
and actively campaigned on all the policies democratically passed by the
members at national conferences. The Unison leadership clearly wants to quietly
back Gordon Brown. The same Gordon Brown who wants a 2% ceiling on public
sector wage rises, an effective pay cut; who voted for the murderous war on the
Iraqi people; who supports NHS ‘reforms': i.e. privatisation; who is happy to
see remain in place the most draconian anti-union laws since the beginning of
the 20th century. That is, the Gordon Brown who has acted and voted
against all the policies passed by Unison members at their conferences. That
Unison's leaders can even countenance support for Brown is an absolute
disgrace. Union leaders, on huge salaries and out of touch with the problems
their members encounter on a daily basis, seem to think that trying to gain a
few paltry crumbs from the New Labour and big business table for the membership
is their reason for being, and the reason we pay our dues.
Those who declared the Labour party
dead and beyond saving, please look now at the opportunity raised by John's
campaign and rejoin in time for the vote. The RMT is no longer affiliated to
Labour since its expulsion for supporting the Scottish Socialist Party and
financing its candidates at elections. Now that the SSP has split and the RMT
has withdrawn its support for it, it should aim for re-affiliation to Labour.
This would allow it a vote for the leader as a union and give every individual
member a vote. Activists inside the RMT should campaign for re-affiliation at
every branch and regional council. The RMT supports John McDonnell in his
anti-war and anti-privatisation campaigns. Activists should ensure that they
put the full might of the union behind his leadership campaign.
That the Blairites cannot be
defeated in the Labour Party is a myth. The trade unions have 50% of the vote
at Party conference. All affiliated unions have members on the Party's National
Executive Committee. If the union leaders choose to flex their muscles, then
Blair and his policies can easily be defeated. The trade union movement is a
sleeping giant whose power is being held in check by leaders not worthy of the
name. Blair and the ruling class are in favour of breaking the link between the
unions and the Labour Party. The reason is clear: they recognise and fear the
power the unions could wield within the Party.
Below are some of the policies John
is campaigning on:
- Scrapping Trident to spend the cash on schools and
- Ending the ‘special relationship' with the US
- Scrapping the anti-union laws
- Forming links with the workers of Venezuela
Read more on www.john4leader.org.uk
These are policies all trade
unionists will support.
We have seen an unprecedented attack
on working people since the election of the Thatcher government in 1979, and
continued under New Labour. The social reforms gained in the post-war period
have almost all been taken away. For the first time in generations, young
people can now expect a harder life than their parents. The gap between rich
and poor has not been wider since Victorian times. Pensioners are living in poverty after a
lifetime of work and producing the wealth of society. We have more personal debt than any other
people in Europe. The poorest fifth of the
population pays more in taxes than the richest fifth.
Public services and nationalised
industries have been handed over to big business in an orgy of plunder. To add
insult to injury, we continue to subsidise the privatised essential services,
such as transport, with our hard-earned taxes. Private corporations' one and
only reason for existence is profit, simple as that. They do not formulate a
plan of what goods and services are needed by society. They produce and sell
products and services they can make a quick buck from. They have no interest in
providing decent standards of living, decent public services, education or
The only solution is to take wealth
into public hands. The denationalised industries must be renationalised.
Contracted-out services must be returned to public ownership. Those
corporations who make billions in profits off our backs, such as the banks,
must be nationalised so that wealth can be used to provide a decent standard of
living for all. A planned economy, under the control of the workers at
grass-roots level and their communities, with the profit motive removed, would
be able to solve the problems of low pay and long working hours, housing,
pensions, education, public services, in a very short period of time. We know
what capitalism has to offer working people: a lifetime of struggle to survive,
from the cradle to the grave. A socialist, planned economy is the only
Blair is on his way out and the New
Labour project is discredited in the eyes of millions. As trade unionists we
should grasp this opportunity with both hands. Let's return the leadership of
our Party to someone who stands for Labour!
- No to Blairism! No to Brownism! For a Labour government
with a bold socialist programme!
- The unions must demand Labour breaks with big business
and Tory economic policies.
- Support the struggle to reclaim the Labour Party for
the working class.
No to state funding of political parties!
- Keep the union-Labour link!
- A democratic leadership election. No handover to Gordon
Brown. Union-supported MPs must give John their backing so his name
appears on the ballot paper and we have a chance to exercise our
- The unions fully endorse John McDonnell for the
leadership of the Labour Party as the candidate who best stands for the
interests of working people
- The unions campaign vigorously among the membership to
encourage a vote for John
- Encourage trade unionists to join or rejoin the Labour
Party in order that they have a chance to vote in a leadership contest and
have an influence over the future direction of the Party
This is a leaflet produced
by Socialist Appeal, Marxist voice in the Labour and students’ movement. Download it here as a PDF file and distribute it!