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IN TOMORROW’S Morning Star, the Institute of Employment Rights sets out the most detailed legislative programme for strengthening workers’ rights this country has seen in four decades.
In doing so it makes clear one reason that winning a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn is so important to so many people.
This programme involves simplifying and strengthening protection for everyone who works for a living by standardising the definition of “worker” and ensuring all labour rights apply to all of us, and re-establishing collective bargaining across whole sectors of the economy to give working people the strength to end the great wage squeeze.
It tackles one of the intractable problems that blight our country: the largely unorganised gig economy, with its precarious work and poverty pay, is swallowing up more and more of the workforce.
It offers a blueprint that could be part of the new deal for working people being fought for by the trade unions. And it is a programme that could only be pushed through by a Labour Party that has turned its back on decades of failed Thatcherite assumptions about market supremacy and is ready to think big.
This couldn’t have come from the Labour Party before Corbyn was leader, and isn’t conceivable from the other parliamentary parties. All are hobbled by their inability to think outside the framework of the existing system when it is the system itself that is failing.
Presumably those of Corbyn’s allies who have pushed Labour to adopt all the examples attached to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) believe that the furore over alleged anti-semitism in the Labour Party will die down now it has been adopted, and Labour can get on with preparing for radical government along these lines.
Nobody really thinks it is anti-semitic not to adopt the examples, which as Jewish Voice for Labour has pointed out have not even been adopted by the IHRA itself.
Corbyn’s enemies have an obvious motive. More puzzling is the enthusiasm of some of the leader’s friends for this dangerous step. They must assume it will make it easier for Labour to make headway on other issues.
If so, they are wrong, since anti-semitism is merely today’s weapon of choice for those determined to return Labour to Establishment control, and Ken Loach’s warning that the examples will be used to launch witch-hunts across the party is undoubtedly correct.
The problem confronting the left is how we meet the challenge of an unholy alliance of MPs and press barons who are clearly capable of disorienting our movement.
Many unions have backed calls for open selection of parliamentary candidates, an option discussed in meetings up and down Britain as part of the Democracy Roadshow.
Unfortunately some Labour MPs are inveterate enemies of the left and compromise on this issue is no longer possible: our movement should look now to the practicalities of ensuring open selection is adopted at Labour conference.
We should also seek to strengthen the grassroots campaigns which have proved more resistant to the right-wing onslaught than Labour’s official structures, especially campaigns such as the People’s Assembly which, not being party-political, can play a mass campaigning role without getting bogged down in disciplinary or administrative battles.
We should use the forthcoming TUC Congress to see how we can go on the offensive as a movement, co-ordinating both industrial and recruitment strategies to bring about a trade union revival like that seen in Labour.
And we must send a deafening message to those who have wavered in defending the socialist leader of the Labour Party that the membership and the movement will not tolerate this. The TUC and Labour conferences should be a show of strength and a massive vote of confidence in Corbyn as our next prime minister.
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