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CWU members voted overwhelmingly to affiliate to Momentum at the union’s annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday.
Senior deputy general secretary Tony Kearns called on delegates to endorse the national executive committee (NEC) decision last July to affiliate to the campaign group, recognising its “important role” in the 2017 general election.
He hailed the group’s support for CWU members in several election campaigns, including bringing Matt Kerr within 60 votes of becoming MP for Glasgow South West and helping Gareth Eales’s candidacy for the Northampton South constituency.
Des Heemskirk from Essex reflected on the days of “the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson,” who had promoted “the privatisation of Royal Mail against the wishes of this union” in the dying days of New Labour.
“I can honestly say that, in my 41 years of membership of the Labour Party, I’m finally proud to say that I can 100 per cent fully support the policies of the Labour Party manifesto,” he said.
Glasgow delegate John Carson said the key reason for supporting the motion was “about workers’ involvement in politics.”
He praised Momentum’s ability to get “ordinary people and workers and trade unionists involved in the life of politics and the Labour Party,” warning of the “chronic under-representation of working-class people and workers in politics.”
Mr Carson concluded: “We have to re-establish that the trade union movement is not just the industrial wing of the Labour Party. The Labour Party is the political wing of the trade union movement.”
In response to questions from CWU officer Brian Kenny, formally opposing the motion, Mr Kearns said affiliation would cost £600 a year and the TSSA and BFAWU were already affiliated.
He said he had raised Labour official Christine Shawcroft’s much-criticised comments about Labour disaffiliating from the unions with senior figures in Momentum, but he pointed out that Momentum had asked for help in forming a “trade union agenda in Momentum,” including encouraging its members to join unions.
Mr Kearns said: “We are shaping the direction of Momentum because of the decision taken by the NEC to affiliate and, in that, we are shaping the future of the Labour Party.”
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