Letter: Labour must get radical

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The Independent Online
Sir: I found it interesting that your leading article today advises John Smith to 'compromise no more' over trade union links with the Labour Party. You repeat the often heard sentiment from the right wing of the Labour Party that such links are an electoral liability. The real liability for the party is those trying desperately to 'modernise' its image by pandering to the prejudices of the middle class. Tony Blair's new-found policy on law and order and his recent statement on the alleged queue-jumping by single mothers on housing waiting lists being good examples. What the party needs is a radical socialist alternative to the Tories and the present chaos of unfettered capitalism.

The trade unions were instrumental in forming the Labour Party as a political expression of the class that they represent. That link has endured for almost 100 years and is as relevant today as when the Labour Party was formed. If the leadership breaks that link, the party will suffer the same fate as the old Liberal Party. A new party is bound to develop from the trade unions, probably more radical than the Labour Party today.

The Labour Party can only win the votes of the middle class with radical policies that challenge received wisdom in fields such as economics, defence and the environment, to name but three.

Yours faithfully,

COLIN PENFOLD

Wallasey, Merseyside

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