Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey has launched a stinging attack on the Labour leader Ed Miliband claiming that he {Miliband] is “leading Labour to destruction”. McCluskey lambasts the Labour leader for “failing to support millions of low paid trade unionists” and thereby “disenfranchising the party’s core support”.

All this is from a union leader so influential, and rightfully so, but McCluskey not once mentions that he supported Ed Miliband’s leadership bid, he urged 1.3million members to vote for him and gave Ed Miliband £100,000 of members’ money so he could campaign to become Labour leader.

Worse still, in my view, Unite and Len McCluskey ensured that John McDonnell would not get on the ballot paper, thus preventing members from having a real choice. Strange seeing as it is McDonnell not Miliband who has always mirrored Unite’s policies on repeal of anti-union laws and has a record of unwavering support for workers in struggle.

At first glance of McCluskey‘s outpourings one might think that Ed Milliband has suddenly and out of the blue made a dramatic rightwards shift in his position. Does McCluskey not remember a year ago in April 2011 Milliband’s ‘Blue Labour’ hitting the headlines? Then weeks later in June he failed to support ¼ million striking public sector workers, some of the poorest paid workers, for what he called ‘irresponsible strikes’, insulting all those prepared to fight.

A month later in July he refused to speak at the Durham Miners Gala which is always attended by over 100,000 trade unionists and natural Labour voters. By November last year the Labour leader surpassed himself even by his standards when not backing over one million trade unionists (Unite included) who were taking part in the biggest strike in recent history over cuts to their pensions.

McCluskey criticises aplenty and I agree with his comments, but he should have seen it coming, he has been slow to speak out, and he offers no alternative and no solution.

There is an alternative, and my position is clear and consistent. Unite should only fund the Labour Party when it supports our union’s policies. I say to McCluskey “Stop wringing your hands, stop moaning and stop funding them!”

This should be the day we say “Defy the cuts, confront the anti union laws and follow the lead given by construction workers, by supporting demonstrations, walkouts and occupations.”

The bosses of the banks and financial institutions caused this crisis. That is why we should not pay the price in cuts to jobs, pay, pensions and services. The very rich and big business owes us the debt and they should be paying the price. They have failed to pay £120 billion in non-collected tax. Tax the banking bosses’ bonuses along with the profits of big business. End the foreign adventures; bring the troops and warplanes home.

In times of crisis good judgement is crucial. Oh Len, I can’t seem to stop myself humming the [Connie] Francis song ‘Who’s sorry now’?

Jerry Hicks (Grassroots Left)
17 January 2012
Grassroots Left
Grass Roots Left