"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Power in the Union

Owen Jones has written a very uncomfortable blog in The New Statesman : Ed Balls' surrender is a political disaster. Uncomfortable for lots of reasons and for lots of people. Uncomfortable for its truthful content and uncomfortable to those who have caused him to find it necessary to write it. Please read it.

I cannot write anything like as well as Owen does. I remember him from the days when he was a political aide to the wonderful John McDonnell MP and it has been great to see Owen's journalism and writing becoming more and more successful. So whilst I have been still trying to work out how to put into words my feelings about Ed Balls comments last week, Owen has got there ahead of me and in a far better way. But enough of all this grovelling praise, and now for the reply I posted to his blog:

As an LRC member, a Unite member and a 40 year plus Labour party member what can I add Owen, except that I am also struggling to know what to say to those rubbing their hands with glee at what Balls said last week. Usually I can ‘PollyAnna’ most things and have managed to stay in the party all these years by thinking that there are some good people left who will fight their corner with me. Now it is getting harder to remain in the party. My constituency and local Labour party is full of good friends who I have known for many years and mostly feel like me, I would feel awful to leave them behind if I left. My parents and grandparents fought many elections, marched on many rallies and demos under Labour banners and saw the lot of the working man and woman improve in their lifetime. Their children and grandchildren received the university education of which they could only dream. Medical care at the point of need became a reality and not just an aspiration. I could say much more.However I have always said that the Unions have had the interests of the working class [and increasingly the non-working class due to the terrible unemployment figures - which in real terms are far higher than the published statistics] more in their sights than any political party. The unions after all ‘set up’ the Labour Party through the original Labour Representation Committee all those years ago. Trade Union power has been eroded by successive governments since the 1960s – perhaps this is where we should concentrate our efforts and give all our support – and hope.

And here's what the General Secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, had to say about Ed Balls comments in the Guardian this morning: Ed Miliband's leadership is threatened by this Blairite policy coup By embracing cuts, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband have left all those who stand against them disenfranchised

Photograph taken from http://owenjones.org/about/


  1. Labour leadership upsets Labour grassroots is hardly knew. My experience only goes back as far as Harold Wilson’s time and he certainly upset his own supporters.

    When I first heard Ed Ball’s speech I thought of the righteous indignation that would arise from the left. One could argue that his words could have been better chosen, but the underlying message that when we are returned to power the world would have moved on is undeniable.

    I support the anti-cuts movement. I think the Labour leadership does as well. But we cannot make promises based on a false premise. We have to be pragmatic and face the reality that come 2015 we will be faced with decisions taken that will be impossible to unravel.

  2. Whilst I totally agree that when Labour get back into power there will be some tough decisions re spending and cuts to be made, Julian, I cannot understand how the leadership at the moment can appear to be supporting the scapegoating of the public sector at the moment. The banks globally got us into this mess yet they are still happily making decisions which contribute to their profits whilst penalising working people - look at what is happening with their decisions which has sent the Peacock/Bon Marche group into administration this week with the loss of so many jobs. [I know that I am digressing here, but another factor which is so worrying with the failure of this group is that many class these shops as shops for the lower income group]
    You would expect me to bang on about defence cuts and some would point to the loss of jobs in the military announced this week. I really regret all those who have lost their jobs - and probably their homes - too - but these are not the defence cuts I and others would have asked for. We would point to the wider picture like Trident replacement etc.

  3. I am going to blog about unemployment at some point. All I can add is I hope you keep the faith.

  4. Look forward to your blog, Julian. I am trying to keep the faith, and belong to the Labour Representation Committee http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/ is a great help.

    BTW Owen Jones has written another blog on this subject here:


    Fraternally, Elizannie