Len McCluskey is doing Conservative HQ’s work for them. The emboldened Unite leader is welcoming the return of socialism under Red Ed. Last night at the annual Jimmy Reid lecture, McCluskey spoke passionately of Miliband’s bold new agenda:
‘Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour conference was – some would say – the most genuinely radical we have heard from a Labour leader for nigh on 30 years.'
He also welcomed the end of New Labour's ‘neo-liberal’ dogma (you know, the policies which resulted in three general election victories). In reference to Ed’s energy policy:
‘that is not just a break with the coalition’s policies, it also represents Labour turning its back on the neo-liberal dogmas which dominated the Blair-Brown years.‘
The Unite boss was also pleased with Miliband’s political games over the Syria vote:
‘Allied to his brave stance over Syria – a stance which flew in the face of the unsolicited advice of Tony Blair and which I believe has saved lives by stopping a global rush to war – there is no doubt that this is no longer “New Labour” as we knew’
And once again, he threatened civil disobedience to achieve Unite's aims:
‘Everything the working-class has achieved through the exercise of governmental power has rested upon what it had already achieved in organisation and struggle outside parliament
‘…our attitude must be the same – if the Tories abuse the law to render effective trade unionism illegal, then we will not be bound by it.’
But McCluskey is far from sure Miliband will deliver what he wants. He offered some advice over Labour's attempts to reform their relationship with the trade unions:
‘That does not mean we can be satisfied. I have made it clear that for me the critical question is what the next Labour government will do about trade union freedom’
While the Tories will love this rhetoric, it's hard to imagine Labour welcoming the speech. In Brighton, Miliband was playing a careful game by trying to refashion Labour’s relationship with the trade unions but without alienating or displeasing the Brothers. McCluskey’s speech suggest he’s pleased with Miliband so far, but a warning that he needs to stay on side.