Another View: Don't shoot the messenger

Share
Related Topics
The Independent addresses the messenger rather than the message in its leading article yesterday on my contribution to Labour's Clause IV debate at the weekend. This reflects the increasingly curious nature of the debate and, alas, a growing strain of intolerance within the Labour Party. A proposal is made to redefine the party's most basic values; a debate is called for; then, anyone who contributes views different from the prevailing orthodoxy is abused, not for what they may have said, but for having said anything at all.

Labour's MEPs advanced their position and were castigated for their pains. I make a speech setting out issues which my trade union would like to see addressed. First I am described by unnamed (but readily identifiable) "senior Labour sources" as "confused, muddled and pusillanimous"; then the Independent argues that I should not be speaking in my capacity as general secretary of the T&G.

I believe that the debate on Clause IV needs to be broadened, not constricted further, in the weeks leading up to the special conference in April. The Independent alleges that the T&G is not consulting its members on their views, and that there is no time to discuss the exact resolutions to be put to the conference.

Wrong. We have asked all our branches for their opinions. We are responsible for neither the very tight timetable which has been laid down for deciding this important issue, nor the absence of the new draft Clause IV from the debate. Its early appearancewould certainly be helpful.

More fundamentally, the Independent challenges the inescapable character of trade unions as collective organisations and, unavoidably, political ones. The T&G has its own democratic procedures for deciding policy, including our long-standing support for the principle of public ownership. Indeed, we probably engage more actual and potential Labour votes in the debate (and recruit them to the party) than any other organisation. Once our policy is agreed, we argue for it, vote for it and then accept the result, win or lose.

Questions of public or private ownership are not academic issues for us. They affect vitally the job security, working conditions and pay of our members, as the experience of the past 16 years amply demonstrates. That is certainly one of the reasons T&G members voted overwhelmingly last year to retain a political fund, which ensures that the union has a political voice. They are the "we" on whose behalf I speak publicly - lest their voice (the voice of ordinary Labour voters) goes unheard amid the spin-doctors' cacophony.

Bill Morris is general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union.

We welcome contributions to `Another View', which will appear on a regular basis. They should be faxed to the Editor on 0171-293 2022.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - eCommerce - OTE £100k

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning digital age...

Recruitment Genius: Training and Development Consultant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This software development organisation are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: We Are Not Syriza; and the riddle of an imitation Sphinx in China

John Rentoul
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable