David Blackburn

Affluence for influence

Affluence for influence
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I'd assumed the left was dead, but Mehdi Hasan says otherwise. The left is triumphant. Whilst Hasan defines left with abstractions like ‘progressive’ and ‘empowerment’, I prefer something more concrete. Unionism is triumphant.

With New Labour in rigor mortis, the Unions slipped their moorings and struck out for old havens. Whelan, Crow, Simpson and Woodley are fixated on disruption. Crow will close the railways next Friday, the BA cabin crew suicide pact is now all but signed in blood, and thousands of civil servants will exchange the pen for the sword.

Certainly, the members have grievances, but who doesn’t? Britain is emerging from the deepest recession since 1929 with a financial equivalent one of Kingsley Amis’ existential hangovers. Industry, not strife, is the route to recovery. It is the duty of government to promote and protect productivity; yet, to adopt a phrase, it has done nothing.

Why the silence? Ken Clarke explains: “They are totally silent because their silence has been bought.” Trevor Kavanagh elaborates:

‘Fifty-nine of Labour's prospective parliamentary candidates are members of Unite, eight more are staff or ex-staff of the union, while another 26 belong to the GMB and 18 more belong to Unison.

The four key unions Labour is in hock to after being given a fortune since the last general election are:

UNITE, which has bankrolled the party to the tune of £11million in the last three years.

Its joint general secretaries are Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley.

UNISON - Britain's biggest trade union - which has given Labour £8,277,873.35.

Its General Secretary is Dave Prentis.

The GMB which has coughed up £6,328,992.70 since 2005. This week it asked staff at British Gas to vote in a strike ballot. It cited alleged bullying by management and changes to staff terms and conditions.

The COMMUNICATION WORKERS UNION - which last summer masterminded strikes at Royal Mail. It has given Labour £4,592,531.43.’ It is a receipt, an inventory of affluence for influence. Mehdi Hasan is right, the left is triumphant. But the pervasive social democracy that wafted from Islington's has been subsumed. The Unions are Labour’s only sustenance.