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43556Re: The left, the trade unions and the Labor Party ranks

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  • bobgould987
    Jun 7, 2007
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      By Bob Gould

      The lines are being drawn on pushing unions out of the Labor Party and
      Riley, Raven and their mates are on the side of the conservatives in
      this battle. Ratbag Radio Riley and the curious man called Raven have
      made their views quite clear: it would be a good thing, not a bad
      thing, if the unions were pushed out of the Labor Party.

      That's also the view of the current DSP leadership, although they
      don't express it quite as crudely as Radio Riley.

      Riley posts on the GLW list as good coin a lengthy article by Andrew
      West, who I know quite well. he's a pleasant enough bloke personally,
      but he's clearly one of the technocratic centre-right figures in the
      Labor Party who want to push unions out of the party to free up Labor
      parliamentary leaders from the pressure exerted on them by trade unions.

      He's the author of a reasonable, mildly critical, biography of Bob
      Carr, but his technocratic parliamentarist views and hopes are quite
      clear in that book.

      He dresses it up with a bit of rhetoric about how he has been a
      unionist, but his core aim is to free Labor leaderships from trade
      union pressure.

      Kevin Rudd's staff is stuffed full of people like Andrew West, with
      similar views: get rid of the union incubus from the Labor Party,
      again dressed up in a bit of rhetoric about how unions would get a
      better deal for their members if they weren't tied up in Labor
      politics. Pigs might fly in some alternative universe, but in the one
      we inhabit, freeing Labor politicians of trade union pressure would
      leave almost no restraint on how far they would go to the right.

      No less a luminary than former Labor prime minister Paul Keating
      joined the anti-union push on Lateline last night, and this is
      reported with enthusiasm in the bourgeois press this morning.

      It is true that the divisions between the organised left and right
      factions in the Labor Party have diminished and become a bit confused,
      but the most conservative force in both the left and right factions
      are the parliamentary aspirants who want to get rid of union
      influence. Blind Freddy can see that about labour movement politics at
      the moment.

      The Murdoch newspapers, in particular, are in an absolute frenzy
      pressing Rudd and his supporters to push the unions out of the Labor
      Party. The Murdoch papers have taken to routinely referring to
      unionists as union thugs.

      The chronic and sclerotic ultraleft politics of the present DSP
      leadership are carrying them into the same camp as Andrew West et al.
      Dick Nichols recently issued an eccentric press release that baldly
      said the Socialist Alliance was the major force that had generated the
      struggle against Howard's Work Choices.

      Delusional ultraleft politics can take you almost anywhere, in your
      mind, but in the real world of the labour movment, that cautious but
      reasonably militant body, Unions NSW, is busily organising two things
      in its current campaign. A Unions NSW bus will visit eight or nine
      non-urban marginal seats over the next couple of months, helping to
      organise and train several thousand activists in its marginal seats
      campaign. At the same time, as part of the same campaign, Unions NSW
      is preparing a petition directed at Kevin Rudd and the Labor
      leadership with five or six minimum demands on trade union and
      workers' rights, in the most careful and respectful language.

      My understanding is that the five or six demands are very concrete and
      Unions NSW is aiming for, and probably will get, several hundred
      thousand signatures to this petition in NSW. Unions NSW, at least,
      sees no Chinese wall between organising to elect a Rudd Labor
      government and insisting that such a Labor government represent the
      interests of unions and workers.

      Riley and his mates are welcome to line up with Andrew West and his
      associates in trying to push the unions out of the Labor Party, but my
      choice is the trade union base of all the major Labor factions, which
      are asserting workers' prerogatives, interests and rights in the ALP,
      and insisting that a future Labor government defend the interests of
      unions.
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