Letter: Why Labour will always need the unions; why it must let them go

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a 'grass-root' member of the GMB trade union, I support the idea of 'one member, one vote' as hoped for by Labour leader John Smith (7 June). The day of the union barons wielding 'block-votes' is past, for they cannot be certain (if, indeed, they ever were) that they speak for their members.

As a 'grass-root', I do not get to see the Labour Party annual conference agenda, so how can my general secretary claim to be voting as my proxy without asking me first?

There may be some motions with which I disagree, others which I would wish amended, and others which I would support. But, along with the other members, Mr Edmonds (GMB general secretary), how does my voice get heard? At present I am not a Labour Party member, but if I were I would want to keep party political matters entirely separate from trade union affairs and vice-versa.

As long as trade union leaders continue to deny 'OMOV' to their members, they will be out of touch with members' views. Likewise, at future party conferences, they must make it clear, when speaking to motions, that they speak as party members only and not wearing their 'union hats'. Should they fail these simple precepts, they will be condemning the Labour Party to perpetual opposition in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,


General, Municipal & Boilermakers' Union

Leicester Home Care & General Branch

Midland & East Coast Region


7 June