Defend the union link
If this report in today's Guardian is true, and Blair wants to use the review of party funding to sever the union link with Labour, I am aghast at the short-termism and stupidity.
I can understand that at the moment a number of General Secretaries are seen as destructive or unhelpful towards the government. But the answer to that is for the moderate majority in the unions to get organised and elect some new general secretaries with a less dinosaur attitude.
It isn't for Blair to turn the final months of his premiership into a fight he does not need to have, will probably lose and if he wins it will destroy the character of the Labour Party and ultimately weaken it.
The union link works. It gives a voice in Labour's policy making to millions of ordinary working class voters whose concerns are grounded in the realities and bread and butter issues of the workplace and who counterbalance the esoteric and sometimes extremist views of often middle class individual party members. It means that Labour's leaders are elected by a large, representative sample of those who actually vote for the Party. The only problem with the link is that it needs strengthening at a local level with far more trade unionists being encouraged to both join the Party as individual members and become union delegates to their constituency parties.
The link provides a constant conveyer belt from union activists of recruits to public office - councillors and MPs - virtually the only way in which ordinary working class people get to hold public office - if it didn't exist the PLP would be even more dominated by lawyers and other professionals and career politicians (before anyone fills the comments box, yes I know that I fall into the latter category - it doesn't stop me being objective about Labour's candidates needing to be representative).
In policy terms it is difficult to see how anyone could think that the Warwick Agreement reached with the affiliated unions was not a positive input to Labour's 2005 Manifesto, including important policies on workers' rights that might otherwise have not been committed to.
When the Labour Party hits hard times, the unions keep it going. When it tried to self destruct in the 1930s, '50s and '80s the unions were the voice of sanity and moderation.
We owe our existence as a party to the decision of the unions to set up the LRC with the Fabians and ILP, and to the work of individual trade unionists in setting up a CLP organisation on the ground.
Without the unions we are just A.N.Other centre-left political party like the Lib Dems, the SDP or the US Democrats - rootless, not embedded in the communities we represent, and liable to be blown away by the first political gale just like the Liberals were in the early years of the century and the SDP were at the end of the '80s.
I cannot think of more than a dozen Labour MPs who would back any move to sever the link.
This is not a left-right issue - most of my friends on the right of the party are passionate supporters of the union link.
I declare an interest - I'm an Amicus member, serve on my union's Regional Political Committee and am a union delegate to my local Labour Party.
If anyone in No10 is reading this, please tell me the Guardian report is inaccurate, and if it isn't please try to stop this crass act of political madness before it goes any further.