A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Glissement Peter Hain style

"Glissement" is a French political term meaning "sliding". It was used to describe the process whereby the entry of the PCF (Communist Party) onto the scene in the 1920s caused the parties to the right of it - the then SFIO (Socialists), Left Radicals and Radicals to "slide" leftwards.

Something similar seems to be happening in the Labour Deputy Leadership election as soft left candidates like Peter Hain realise Jon Cruddas has stolen much of their thunder and are scrambling to look more left - which necessarily needs to be confined to pronouncements on internal party matters if you are for the moment bound by Cabinet collective responsibility on wider policy questions.

Hain's latest wheeze, according to Barckley Sumner in Tribune and Labour Home is to suggest considering the idea that OMOV ballots for Trade Union General Secretaries should be replaced by workplace balloting.

I think he has lost the plot. This is extremely regressive and anti-democratic - a recipe for a return to the bad-old days when union machines of both right and left could deliver internal elections through jiggery-pokery in a small number of large workplaces. It would make the public extremely suspicious about the internal democracy of the unions at a time when to justify the union link and union funding of the Party the governance arrangements involved need to be transparent.

And it seems to indicate a view of trade unionism that is rooted in a world of mass-unionised major industrial workplaces which is shrinking - what about all the union members in workplaces where it is difficult to organise, or in the kind of small workplaces that are increasingly the norm - surely there should be a level playing field so that in the TGWU for example 5,000 TGWU members at a car factory don't find it easier to vote in union elections than 5,000 TGWU members scattered about in smaller workplaces that the union is trying to break into?

I think Tom Watson is thinking along similar lines on this to me:


Anonymous ted harvey said...

I'm all for a daud of 'Glissement' if this means that candidates respond to (are forced to?) the signals and messages arising from the election forum.

But you're very right about the return to workplace ballots... please let's not go back there; still-surviving practitioners of entryism would be rubbing their hands at the prospect.

12:08 pm, February 19, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Next thing you'll be recommending that the nomination process for PPCs and other LP candidates will move away from something rather like that which you are condemning for TUs?

1:33 pm, February 19, 2007

Anonymous Leo said...

I consider myself on the 'soft left' so once upon a time Hain would got my vote no questions asked. Over the years he's just made an utter tit of himself though and these new "left" pronouncements are turning him into even more of a joke. Despite the fact I agree with him on Europe and like what's he's done in N.Ireland Mr Cruddas will be getting my vote.

3:56 pm, February 19, 2007

Blogger el tom said...

I'll join you on that. I think we should be proud to maintain democracy in the trade union movement, not the converse.

9:25 pm, February 20, 2007


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