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Thursday, 04 July 2013 00:00

Stand up for the union link

No-one will be surprised that David Cameron is hostile to trade unions or that he believes that braying nonsense in Parliament about Unite controlling the Labour Party will be taken seriously.

What else would be expected from this expensively educated beneficiary of inherited and tax-dodged wealth?

His contempt for working people and the organisations in which they organise to pursue their collective interests has never been in doubt.

Cameron made no secret before the last election of his intention of hiding his past life as bagman for Norman Lamont, supporter of apartheid South Africa and all-round right-wing Thatcherite because he knew that voters regarded the Tories as the "nasty party."

He claimed to have remade the party on the basis of compassion and respect and to have moved beyond the policies that made it unelectable in three general elections.

Reality proved otherwise. No sooner had he, fellow Bullingdon boy George Osborne and Nick Clegg's Orange Book neoliberal zealots crossed the Downing Street threshold than they started putting the boot in.

Public service workers are feather-bedded, benefits claimants are work-shy scroungers, foreign visitors are health tourists and trade union leaders are power-mad dictators.

This litany of bile and hatred from Tory and Liberal Democrat leadership is accepted by the billionaire media, which is happy to publicise Cameron's rants and to carry on a daily propaganda onslaught to demonise his targets of hostility.

Not even Cameron could seriously believe that the unions control the Labour Party or that Ed Miliband goes "up and down the country speaking for Len McCluskey."

His childish "quip" that Labour's front bench is "paid to shout by Unite" ought to have embarrassed him, but such is the arrogance and sense of entitlement of this plummy product of the ruling class that he takes back-bench shrieks and guffaws as his due, even when he is talking complete cobblers.

Miliband was right to bite back on Cameron's ethical double standards.

Any politician who provides dinner in Downing Street for his wealthy patrons, gives a £97,000 tax handout to hard-up fellow millionaires and appoints Murdoch man Andy Coulson as his communications director has clearly had an ethical bypass operation.

But the Labour leader should have gone further, defending the right of trade unions to encourage their members to join the party that they set up over a century ago, long before individual membership was established.

Miliband is hamstrung from doing this because of the crass decision to set up an investigation into Falkirk Constituency Labour Party, to place the CLP under "special measures" and to press ahead with a parliamentary candidate selection process on the basis of an arbitrary cut-off date that excludes many CLP members.

Those Blairite MPs happy to join the Tories in putting the boot into the unions should note that the process used by Unite to get its members to join Labour was approved when Tony Blair was leader.

Labour didn't lose office and five million votes because of its links to trade unions.

It was new Labour's closeness to the Pentagon and the City of London, expressed through imperialist wars, corporate excesses and disregard for working-class living standards.

Labour should reject the ruling class anti-union offensive and embrace the trade unions to rebuild the movement in opposition to the bankers' neoliberal austerity agenda operated by the conservative coalition government.

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