Good piece from Polly Toynbee on the state of play in the trade union movement, which draws a clear distinction between the two types of new left leaders.
The difference between the awkward squad – Crow, Rix, Gilchrist – and the Curran, Prentis, Dromey sensible left is simple. The sensibles are fiercely focused on what matters to their members – pay, hours, conditions and opportunities: the fight is on the minimum wage settled at the Confederation of British Industry’s low rate or on the right to flexible working that was downgraded to a right to “request” it. The awkward squad are politicians, not trade unionists, who use and abuse their members as a political battle-axe. They spend their time politicking about war, student grants and ousting Blair.
She also comes up with a good idea: Yet out there, millions of pitifully, badly treated workers have no protection, fearful of employers. Why not get Labour party members and volunteers to go out and organise workers among their local worst employers? It might breathe new purpose into Labour membership, while turning unions into campaigning organisations for the weak.