Adele Reynolds: Don't break the union link

Labour: protecting the voice of working people in politics

The link between the Labour Party and the Trade unions has recently been coming under increasing scrutiny. Especially amongst the tories and elements of the press, who talk of bungs, favours and labour being in hoc to the unions. Trade Unions affiliate to the Labour Party by making collective membership payments on behalf of their members. So attacking trade union funding, attacks the very existence of the Labour Party and exposes the Tory agenda of trying to ensure that working class people do not have a voice in politics. These narrow, cynical, partisan attacks must be resisted. If we do not, then the labour party as we know it today will be destroyed.

The tories are attempting to buy the next general election by pouring millions of Lord Ashcroft’s money into marginal seats. Compare this to the way in which 2.5 million trade union members are balloted and give their collective support to engaging with the Labour Party. That is a democratic system that we can rightly be proud of.

I joined the Labour Party as an USDAW member working at Tesco’s and I know that on issues like rights at work and the minimum wage, my life really is better because we have a Labour Government. I know that public sector workers like my Mum who spent the 80s underpaid, undervalued and demoralised really are better off with labour. And I am proud that the trade union movement has been at the heart of fighting and winning on issues like rights at work and investment in public services.

The link is so important because it ensures a political voice for working people. It keeps the needs of working people at the heart of everything Labour does in Government. Of course the trade union movement doesn’t agree with everything the Government does; but they also recognise that the lives of our members are so much better because labour is in power.

The hard left attack the link because they just do not want to admit that labour has delivered and will continue to deliver for trade unionists and working people. Instead, using the services that people depend on to wage a ridiculous class war, trying to score minor ideological points. An even greater threat seems to come from the ultra right within the Labour party who seem to find the link an embarrassment and an inconvenience. When in reality the Labour Party only exists because of the Trade Union movement.

The power of business is always increasing so why are some people so keen to cut working people out of the political process? Together we are so much stronger. Whether campaigning to win for labour, fighting for full employment or stopping unrepresentative extremists gaining seats on the highest decision making bodies of the labour party; trade unionists really do matter. The link matters now more than ever and really is worth fighting for.