There is a serious conversation to be had about the power of the unions and what it means for party democracy. This is not itby Richard Seymour / March 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
Some arguments are rather urgent right now: housing, the economy, climate change. Whether Jennie Formby or Jon Lansman should be the general secretary of the Labour Party is probably not one of them.
And yet this issue has produced a bounty of steaming hot takes and garbled polemic on social media. In the first instance, Lansman’s candidacy provoked a storm of hyperventilating accusations of ego-crusading, “splitting the left vote” and, depressingly, “Zionism.”
Subsequently, Lansman’s ally, Christine Shawcroft, said in a now-deleted Facebook post that she could never support Formby or any union bureaucrat, as they always shaft the rank and file—referring, apparently, to votes in NEC disciplinary procedures. Moreover, she felt that this was the time to discuss union disaffiliation from Labour, leaving the party to the members.
This is so far from edifying that one hopes both sides lose to teach them a lesson. The claims, made by the McDonnell-aligned Labour Representation Committee and fed by NEC sources to pro-Corbyn blog Skwawkbox, of Lansman splitting the vote are simply wrong.
Likewise, the idea that unions could, or should, split from Labour, is…