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Defend and strengthen the trade union link

The left must be the strongest advocates of the unions’ essential bond with the Labour Party, writes MATT WILLGRESS

IN recent weeks, various media stories have sought to portray a big chasm between individual members of the Labour Party and trade unions.

Yet the votes and debates on the two issues much of the media were whipping up speculation about — the Green New Deal and Brexit — showed that the majority of affiliate and constituency Labour Party delegates were in very similar positions on these matters, and backing those adopted by the current Labour leadership.

Affiliates also proposed to conference 10 vital motions on a range of progressive issues, including on a socialist industrial strategy that can rebuild and transform Britain for the many not the few.

The reason for these attacks aimed at dividing the union and constituency left is that an alliance between constituency members and trade union affiliates secured Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader in 2015, and ever since then our enemies have sought to weaken, and ultimately split, this alliance.

These are likely to intensify in the run-up to any general election, when the Tories and the Establishment will be pulling out all the stops to try to stop Corbyn getting into No 10.

Just as we did in the Blair years, when the trade union link came under sustained attack, the left of the party must argue not only for maintaining but strengthening the union link.

As Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said earlier this week: “Trade union voices must also be central to our party. 

“Our party was established to be the voice of organised Labour … Trade unions created the party and comrades, if the collective voices of train drivers, nurses, school support staff, postal workers, firefighters, shopworkers are diminished, this party would no longer be worthy of that name.”

We have the opportunity of a lifetime to put Corbyn into No 10 and transform the lives of millions.

The trade union movement must and will be part of this.

If you have enjoyed this column this week giving a daily update from Labour Conference, check out www.twitter.com/labouroutlook and www.facebook.com/LabourOutlook.

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