The inspiration behind Miliband’s trade union break
Sunday, 15 September, 2013
First day back in the office after a week at TUC Congress in Bournemouth, where Ed Miliband’s plan to change Labour’s relationship with affiliated unions was the big story.
Found a copy of Chris Mullin’s diaries covering ‘94 to ‘99 while rummaging in a pile of books unwanted by our paper’s arts editor.
Started to flick through the thoughts of the leftist former MP for Sunderland South and came across an entry from September 14, 1996.
It describes a “row” at TUC Congress over Tony Blair’s plan to “dump the unions.”
Surprisingly, this longtime member of the Socialist Campaign Group says he “could live with a new relationship” because only half of union members vote Labour.
Mr Mullin’s attitude is not echoed by his contemporaries in the left of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who are busily trying to salvage the union link.
That’s why former National Union of Mineworkers president and now Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery was banned from last week’s TUC Congress by Labour whips - despite having booked accommodation.
But a later entry by Mullins, revealing how One Nation was considered as a slogan for Labour’s 1997 election campaign, only adds to the sense of political deja vu.
It looks like Miliband will achieve the break with trade unions that Blair desired sometime next year.
And he seems hopeful that following Blair’s footsteps will be enough to take him to Number 10 Downing Street in 2015.