LETTER : Labour's `Stalinist' approach to the unions

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From Mr Jim Denham

Sir: The decision of the public sector union Unison to oppose Tony Blair's rewrite of Clause IV has brought forth the predictable response from the Labour leadership's spin-doctors: the vote was "unrepresentative", there was no secret ballot, this is merely the "activists", and so forth.

The Blair propaganda machine has been strangely silent about those unions that have backed the leadership throughout the assault on the existing Clause IV, without any consultation with their members whatsoever. But such double standards are what we have come to expect from Mr Blair and his increasingly shrill supporters.

There is something Stalinist about the present Labour leadership and its propaganda machine. Criticism is treated as disloyalty, a personality cult is being built around the leader, and former "dissidents" are paraded in public to recant their sins.

The General Secretary of my union was denounced as "pusillanimous" by the Blair machine, when he dared to uphold the TGWU's democratically decided policies in a speech at a union event. Now Unison's delegates are abused for defending the principle of a public sector (they are, after all, a public-sector union) against Mr Blair's neo-Thatcherite "new" Clause IV.

It is no coincidence that it is in unions with strong lay control, like the RMT, FBU and TGWU, that opposition to Mr Blair's project is at its strongest.

Yours,

JIM DENHAM

Branch Secretary

TGWU

Birmingham

14 April

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