Copied below is a report from the Observer. Ward claims that there is a "conflict of interest" between fighting government policy and sitting on Labour's NEC. Is there?! Back in the 1970s, the Labour Party NEC called a national demonstration against the then Labour government's policy, so presumably the entire body was acting out a conflict of interest! No, it wasn't - it was representing the interests of the labour movement against a government that was betraying those interests.
See, that's the thing: it's the right wing who have a conflict of interest. Elected by the labour movement, supporting anti-working-class government policies. The real 'conflict of interest' is in those trade union representatives who get elected onto the Labour Party NEC and support government policy against the interests of their own members.
And I have to ask: If this 'conflict of interests' exists, hasn't it existed for the last ten years?! Has something happened during the last few weeks that I haven't noticed, which represents a shocking departure from previous government policy? Has there been no 'conflict of interest' during previous government attacks on postal workers, on trade union rights, on pay and pensions? While the government pursued war, privatisation and attacks on civil liberties?!
How does leaving the Labour Party NEC actually help the fight (specifically, against Post Office privatisation and attacks on postal workers' pensions) that Dave Ward champions? This could be an issue on which the Labour Party NEC - as well as its conference and its CLPs - could have had a decent fight against government policy. How is that fight helped by the withdrawal of the CWU's representative from one imporant arena?
Ward's action seems to me to be a gesture, a move that has no positive content, only negative. If, for example, Dave planned to stand against Labour in an election as part of that fight and was stepping down to prepare for that, then that might be a good idea. But there is no suggestion that that is what he is doing.
It was Dave Ward, apparently, who led the opposition at the recent CWU Executive meeting to the union backing John McDonnell. His departure from Labour's NEC may be hailed in the pages of The Socialist and Socialist Worker, but without any positive move to asserting working-class political representation, I don't see what benefit it has for either the postal workers' fight against privatisation or the fight for socialism in general.
Oliver Morgan, industrial editor
Sunday April 29, 2007
Postal union leader Dave Ward is to step down as a member of Labour's ruling national executive committee, saying there is a conflict of interest between fighting government policy and sitting on the body.
The news comes as the Communication Workers Union meets this week to finalise the timing of a strike ballot over Royal Mail's latest pay offer.
Ward, who has opposed the introduction of competition into postal services and is fighting plans to close the company's final salary pension scheme to new members, says the union will launch a nationwide campaign against government policy on 15 May.
He said: 'I believe this government's policies have been more hostile to postal workers than any previous government.'
In a letter to CWU members informing them of his decision to stand down from the NEC, he says: 'I feel there is a growing conflict of interests between my role in representing and defending the views of the CWU and continuing to spend time on the Labour Party NEC.'
'It is now essential we devote our energies to challenging government policy on competition and their recent commercial agreement with Royal Mail.'