Martin Thomas’ article, ‘A “trade union” party”?’, (Solidarity 318) ends by saying: “If the idea (for the unions to set up their own semi-party tied to Labour) gains support at the CLPD (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy) AGM, then further discussion will be needed.”
No one could disagree with that. Indeed the mere fact that CLPD is discussing such a proposal suggests we need more discussion now regardless of the result of their AGM vote. CLPD, which was founded in 1973, describes itself as “a pressure group within the Labour Party advocating changes in the party to make it more accountable to rank-and-file members”. That now a significant number in this organisation are considering at least a partial detour from work solely through the Labour Party’s structures should give us all pause for thought.
The realignment of the unions and the Labour Party in a common defence against the cuts that the Coalition were imposing, which some of us envisaged in 2010, has not materialised. There is, as indeed there was during the Blair/Brown government, some unity between the leaders of the unions and the leaders of the Labour Party, but this has been to prevent any meaningful opposition to the cuts, not to promote it.
Despite the union leaders protestations, they have accepted the Collins report and seem ready to allow themselves to be sidelined even further from any influence in policy making within the party. Given this, it is surely revolutionaries’ duty to pursue all alternatives for re-founding some sort of workers’ political voice.
Rather than pointing out the potential problems with the proposed semi-party as Martin does in his article, we should welcome this potential development.
We should consider it as one of the possible tools we might utilise to gain working-class political representation alongside work within the Labour Party and standing independent socialist propaganda candidates.