By a TUC conference delegate
Highlight of the fringe at TUC conference was the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs meeting as part of their recent 'Save Our Party' tour.
Speaking to a packed room, several union general secretaries spoke about their commitment to change inside the Labour Party, not on the basis of behind-the-scenes deals with Blair - a strategy which, in any case, is clearly not working - but on the basis of genuine rank-and-file involvement in building real democratic structures inside the party.
There was much discussion about positive and active involvement in change inside the party. Bob Crow of the RMT sounded rather passive and out of kilter with his colleagues on the platform when he talked about the RMT decision to reduce their affiliation. By contrast Mick Rix, outgoing General Secretary of Aslef, put forward a very comprehensive model for active moves to change the party. He proposed the creation of a Labour Representation Committee and put great importance on the need for such a committee to have its own clear and democratic structures and to involve not just the TU leaderships, but the ordinary trade union members, constituency activists, and the left groups.
Although this was a fringe meeting and therefore not a venue for any kind of vote to be taken, it was clear that Rix's suggestions met with some interest and may well form the basis for a more formal attempt to set up some kind of committee.
The Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, under John McDonnell's chairing, have taken a new turn during the course of this year, and moving towards trying to use their position to shape and influence the development of a broader left movement throughout the Party and the union movement rather than seeing themselves as individual upholders of the faith inside the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Although the basis for a fight inside the Labour Party is unquestionably much more difficult now than before Blair's demolition attempts on the party, a genuine fusion of the left inside the constituencies with the now-ascendant left inside the trade unions, could make that fight far more interesting.
Trade unions for a social Europe
The European Trades Union Congress (ETUC) has called a demonstration in Rome on Saturday 4 October. The occasion is the opening of the Inter-Governmental Conference on the proposed constitution for Europe.
The constitution is to be finalised in time for the elections to the European parliament in June 2004.
The ETUC wants "to show the determination of the ETUC to fight for a strong social dimension to the Europe of the future.
"The demonstration will also address the urgent need for more employment in Europe... and make the case for developing and maintaining decent pension provisions in the face of Europe's low birthrates and high longevity rates."