The end of the Labour-CWU link?

It was the story that has been pretty much missed by the mainstream press and mainstream blogs, the London branch of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) has voted to no longer supply funds to the Labour Party after the results of an ‘indicative ballot.’ Only Bethan Jenkins AM has picked up the story.

Next week CWU will announce plans for a ‘consultative ballot’ of members in relation to it’s affiliation with the Labour Party. It is not yet clear the exact proposition of the ballot but it is likely that it will be a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on maintaining it’s affiliation to the Labour.

There have been rumours for some time that the Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the CWU, has been contemplating such a ballot of it’s membership. In some ways the ballot can be seen as a referendum on the direction of Hayes’ leadership of the union and his ousting of pro-Brown opinion inside the union.

There has been little in the way of rumour in how Billy Hayes would like to see CWU’s political fund allocated. It is unsure whether he would consider going down the same path as Bob Crow and establish some kind of British ‘Die Linke’, or instead go with the PCS and FBU option of supporting individual candidates.

For some time I have been of the impression that the CWU represents a major unifying force for any radical-left challenge to Labour in British politics. CWU has a giant political fund that could potentially sustain a left-of-Labour electoral challenge from the non-affiliated trade unions backed up by one or two soft-far-left parties. My personal preference would be to see CWU throw it’s weight behind the Greens in England and Plaid in Wales, but the Green-trade union link is weak in comparison to the links non-affiliated trade unions have to the non-mainstream left, despite the Greens pro-worker policies.

We could well be seeing the break-up of the Labour-CWU link soon.



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