43556Re: The left, the trade unions and the Labor Party ranks
- Jun 7, 2007By 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
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 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
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