If the English Labour Party is incapable of riffing off the crisis in Ukraine to make the case ahead of the next General Election for the UK to seek to join the Single Market and Customs Union, if Labour won office then what is the point of those in business and those of working age voting Labour in England?
It comes to something when a Labour leader feels incapable of making the case for joining a (trades) union in 2022 when he is betting the farm on pitching to pension age working class voters who remember and lived through the days of mass trades union membership when they were in work.
It is a tradition in my family to join a trades union on starting work as much, if not more for practical reasons than ideological ones.
We give up a smidgeon of personal sovereignty, if I get the usage right in this context, to join a collective body and benefit from the vastly greater leverage that the combination has when negotiating pay and conditions, on behalf of its members, than those members would have if they individually sought to do so just for themselves.
“Unity is Strength!” as the motto of the Transport and General Workers Union put it.
Ernest Bevin, the working class man who founded the TGWU in 1922 was Labour Foreign Secretary in Clement Attlee’s Government between 1945 and 1951.
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
“Bevin did not seek special recognition for his role in founding NATO, but the treaty’s signing was, without doubt, the climax of his career as Foreign Secretary and a greater personal achievement than even his founding of the TGWU.
It was, as Attlee put it, “the termination of many months of skilful and patient negotiations by the Foreign Secretary.”
The treaty personified the best of the Labour and trade-unionist tradition in many ways. It was born of a belief that people deserved to live in peace and prosperity in a free world and that only by acting collectively could this right be preserved against outside aggression. The strong would not look away when the weak were attacked but instead would come to their aid. It represented a desire for peace whilst recognizing that geopolitical realities might force Britain to fight to ensure peace in the event of a Russian attack on a member state.”
As we have seen from the world beating trade negotiations undertaken by the UK Government since Brexit, particularly with the EU the UK has been in the position of an individual worker negotiating their pay with an employer who holds all the cards.
Trades unions not only apply a force multiplier to the numbers of their members in negotiations on their behalf, but are also able to employ skilled, full time professional negotiators to represent their members.
” “I taught diplomats from all around the world,” he said. “I taught for many years American politics, British politics, European politics, Soviet politics, and so our relationship with the rest of the world has always been something that is a deep passion and interest of mine.”
And he said his experience representing the former industrial seat of Torfaen in South Wales, an area that still produces steel, would also stand him in good stead for the role. “My father is retired now but he was a steel worker, which is why the issue of steel tariffs means so much to me,” he said, noting that exports are crucial for manufacturing.”
The largest single sector of UK manufacturing, food production, employs 100s of 1,000s.
There are at most 30,000 direct jobs in the British steel industry.
Labour would risk 100s of 1,000s of manufacturing jobs to may be sell a bit more steel to the USA.
Our economy would clearly be a lot safer as part of a union than in the hands of either party as matters now stand.
Crises like those over Ukraine are best addressed by organised combinations of nations, not by ad hoc arrangements.
Sir Keir Starmer QC’s fans believe their idol, who will not stand up a bunch of white, mostly elderly, many Leave voting, some racist folk, in a Leigh café would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson.
Not exactly a high bar, at a time of crisis.
Possibly the QC would best Vladimir Putin if he could get him into court?
Sooner or later, Sir Keir Starmer QC has to summon up the courage to tell the dwindling band of diehard Brexit fanatics, some of whom are his own advisers, backbenchers and Shadow Cabinet members, that they have had their fun and that they do not get to have a veto over the future of our country.