Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Christine Shawcroft in row over saying, “major trade unions are actively opposed” to Labour rank-and-file members.

with 8 comments

Shawcroft told HuffPost that she was not speaking on behalf of Momentum and had acted in ‘the heat of the moment’.

This story tends to confirm the well-informed opinion that Lansman’s Labour General Secretary challenge is aimed, not at trade unions as such, but  a ‘union shoe-in’ for their candidate for the post.

But before one expresses sympathy for Shawcroft.. (Huff Post)

Shawcroft is understood to have expressed her frustration with union ‘stitch-ups’ in the past, and in recent months told one Momentum meeting it was time to deal with the union issue once and for all.

Her outburst on Facebook came after fellow NEC member Darren Williams expressed his frustration that the disputes committee had voted on Tuesday – with union support – to refer several cases of alleged anti-semitism for a full disciplinary hearing.

And,

HuffPost understands that Momentum-backed NEC reps objected and wanted those accused to be issued with formal warnings rather than a route to explusion. But the rest of the committee heavily supported disciplinary inquiries.

On Wednesday, Shawcroft told HuffPost that she had been advised to take down her Facebook remarks because Lansman did not want Momentum associated with them.

She insisted that she was not speaking on behalf of Momentum or of Lansman.

It was just a bit of a heat of the moment thing, a personal one. Nothing to do with Momentum whatsoever. I’m just a committee member for Momentum, it’s not like everything I do or say has to be seen through that prism,” Shawcroft said.

“I don’t speak for them or tell them what to do. I’m just a member, same as anyone else.”

Shawcroft still faced a backlash for her remarks, with Unite’s Len McCluskey, GMB union boss Tim Roache  and Unison’s Dave Prentis all attacking her stance.

Responses:

More emerging now (Total Politics).

When Momentum founder Jon Lansman announced that he was challenging Unite boss Jennie Formby for the job of Labour general secretary, the battle lines could not have been clearer.

“The first major Unions/Momentum skirmish is already causing some disquiet within Labour’s ranks,” we noted in a piece on Lansman’s candidacy.

A week later that is starting to look like an understatement…

Writing on her Facebook page, veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft said Lansman should be general secretary because “only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs”.

Going further, she claimed that the major trade unions “stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time” and even called for Labour to break its historic links with the trade union movement.

Naturally the comments from Shawcross – who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn and has been on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for over a decade – sparked a furious backlash from union bosses after they were revealed today by PoliticsHome.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Christine Shawcroft is a member of the Labour party. The clue is in the name. We are the party of labour, founded by the trade union movement. Her proposals for disaffiliation aid the most backwards forces in our society and she should withdraw them.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis stated: “Christine Shawcroft’s comments are wrong on every count. Trade Unions are an integral and historic part of the Labour Party. This is no time for this kind of divisive nonsense – we need to focus on getting Labour elected.”

Also weighing in today was Corbyn’s former chief of staff Simon Fletcher, once described as “the linchpin of the Corbyn operation”.

He argued: “The Labour left advances most clearly when it builds an alliance of the CLP left and the unions. The demand to break the union link is longstanding goal of the right in British society. This intervention tips disorientation over into rottenness.”

 

Huffington Post more on the story.

More: 

EXCL Labour row erupts as Jeremy Corbyn supporter calls for party to break from trade unions

Veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft claimed “major trade unions are actively opposed” to the party’s rank-and-file members.

Ms Shawcroft, who is head of Labour’s powerful disciplinary committee, is supporting Momentum boss Jon Lansman’s bid to succeed Iain McNicol in the powerful role.

He defied pleas from Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aides not to run in order to leave the way clear for Unite official Jennie Formby to take the post.

Ms Shawcroft, who has been on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for over a decade, launched her attack on Facebook in the wake of a fractious meeting yesterday of the disputes sub-committee she chairs.

Responding to one Labour member, she said: “Unfortunately, reviewing the disciplinary process is going to come too late for some of our comrades. This is why I am supporting Jon Lansman, or a woman in that tradition, for general secretary.

“Nothing would induce me to support a candidate from a major trade union, they stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time. It’s also time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour party. The party belongs to us, the members.”

In a post on her own Facebook page, she added: “I was supporting Jon Lansman for general secretary before today’s NEC sub committee meetings, but after today I’m even more determined.

“Only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs (constituency Labour parties). The major trade unions are actively opposed to us, a very cursory examination of trigger ballots in mayoral “selections” will tell you that. Look at their track records before you rush to support someone.”

Her comments are highly significant because she is a key supporter of Mr Corbyn and a major figure on the left-wing of the party.

Momentum has also enjoyed support from trade unions such as the TSSA, Unite and CWU.

Labour’s new general secretary will be chosen by the party’s NEC on 20 March.

Jennie Formby has already been forced to condemn “anti-Semitic” attacks on Mr Lansman.

A Momentum spokesperson said: “We’re very proud of the strong links Momentum has to the trade union movement.

“From running digital campaigns in support of striking McDonalds workers to making viral videos highlighting Tory cuts to public services with the CWU and the TSSA – we believe Labour is strongest when trade unions and member organisations work together closely.

“The unions were central to the formation of the Labour Party, and every day they represent millions of people fighting for better rights at work. We firmly support Labour’s trade union link, and hope to see more unions affiliate in the future.”

Yet more:

Update from The Clarion Edd Mustill.

This week comments made on Facebook by a prominent figure in both the Labour left and Momentum, Christine Shawcroft, have provoked fierce criticism and some alarm. Shawcroft appeared to call for the ending, or at least weakening, of the link between trade unions and the Labour Party.

However serious these comments are or whether they were made in the heat of the moment (it should be noted that Momentum quickly distanced itself from Shawcroft’s comments), it is immensely disappointing to see a prominent leftwing apparently advocating something that has been a fantasy of the party’s Blairite wing for a quarter of a century, albeit no doubt for very different reasons.

recently argued that any debate around how trade unions formally relate to the membership of a mass socialist party should be welcomed by Labour members. That said, any calls, from any wing of the party, to end or dramatically weaken the link should be robustly resisted.

COMMENT.

This looks a mess, and entangles many themes.

But, firstly, there is a problem with the ambitions of people, and unions, coming before both Momentum or UNITE’s goals, either a social movement or ‘political union’. This does not just refer to the most visible person in this case, as those in a position to know are aware of other individual’s projects at play.

Secondly, these are really pretty secondary affairs compared to Labour’s overriding need to win this year’s local elections and the next General Election.

Finally, Labour activists are not going to be pleased with this clash being acted out in public, either by union leaders or by Momentum. Since it is not principally important for the left who is a “reliable ally” of whom, but Labour policy and direction, the dispute is highly unwelcome.

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

March 7, 2018 at 1:36 pm

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Shawcroft was bonkers when she was leader of Tower Hamlets Council. No change there then!

    Dave Roberts

    March 7, 2018 at 2:28 pm

  2. I have not forgotten this.

    “British soldiers should have ‘cups of tea’ with Islamic State terrorists, says Jeremy Corbyn ally
    Christine Shawcroft – who sits on Labour’s National Executive Committee – claims soldiers should ‘get teabags out’ rather than resorting to air strikes.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/12199570/British-soldiers-should-have-cups-of-tea-with-Islamic-State-terrorists-says-Jeremy-Corbyn-ally.html

    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm

  3. “Understandably, the general assumption is that the row’s cause is down to feelings running high over the contest.

    But, having spoken to many of the members of Labour’s ruling national executive committee, last night’s row was not caused by the Lansman-Formby split, but was itself illustrative of one of its causes: that there is a feeling in parts of the Labour left that the trade union movement is not a wholly reliable ally.

    The role of the disputes panel is not to decide guilt or innocence, but merely whether someone has a case to answer at the NCC. However, several of those present felt that Shawcroft and other members elected on the Momentum slate wanted to rake over the cases rather than simply referring them upwards. Whether or not that impression is correct, the big trade unions all voted with the Corbynsceptics (or the Labour right or whichever label you like really) on the disputes, and the series of unbroken defeats was a cause of Shawcroft’s frustration.

    I’m told that Shawcroft is feeling badly bruised by the remarks, which were made in anger on Facebook, and that she was surprised at how quickly they took off online.

    What does it mean for Lansman’s chances of becoming general secretary? Well, it makes very little difference. As far as the national executive committee’s decision on the next general secretary goes, there are two swing votes: the big trade unions (with the exception of Unite) and the NEC’s Corbynsceptics. For the shortlisting process – which is done by the nine-strong NEC officers group – the big trade unions matter most. Often in Labour history, the hand that controls the shortlist controls the result, as they can manufacture a “cake or death” style choice, in which the full NEC has only the preferred choice of the big trade unions or an unsuitable candidate.

    The NEC’s Corbynsceptics are divided as to what their objectives are. For some, there is a feeling that Corbyn has earned the right to do as he wishes, which pushes them towards voting for Formby, considered to be the leader’s office preferred candidate. For others, the aim is to “heighten the contradictions”, as one quipped, which points the towards Lansman. For others it is to preserve the Labour party, which could point in either direction. But as far as that crucial group of swing voters goes, the calculation they will make won’t be based on whether any of Lansman or Formby’s supporters say things they dislike, as they already know they are likely to viscerally disagree with the next general secretary.

    What it does do is boost the chances of Paul Hilder, a Corbynite – but one without any faction behind him – or another, as yet unknown person from the left, to emerge as the unity candidate late on.”

    Steve Bush.

    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/03/christine-shawcroft-s-facebook-posts-expose-real-row-top-labour

    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2018 at 6:26 pm

  4. President Donald J. Trump re-tweeted a couple of Britain First’s videos and President Trump by no stretch of the imagination could be called a racist.

    D Rumsfeld

    March 7, 2018 at 8:26 pm

  5. L Kuessberg. A good point as there is now evidence building that there is a case for the CPS to move against people like Munroe Bergdorf for the racist statements made against white people. For far too long the white haters and anti semites have got away with it. First in the firing line should be The Voice black newspaper which actively promotes ant white racism. Any group or individual that supports Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam should be prosecuted.

    Dave Roberts

    March 8, 2018 at 12:50 am

  6. But they would just turn round and say that black on white abuse and anti-Semitism was non-existent or insignificant compared to black on white abuse; and that white on black abuse was a serious issue that really must be tackled. It is not like white people are being attacked by blacks simply for being white or that white soldiers are being beheaded in the street by Muslims simply for being white, is it.

    On a side note, in the Commons yesterday they were wasting precious Parliamentary time – you would think that the UK didn’t have a serious homelessness problem as well a raft of other serious issues that needed to be addressed – discussing whether misogyny should be made a crime. i.e making it easier for the State to criminalise men. One MP asked whether misandry (hatred towards men) would similarly be made a crime. No reply was the loud response. If Mhairi Black – the main proponent of this sexist tosh – and her cohorts had been backed into a corner (be careful of backing Mhari Black into a corner!) they would no doubt have been responded by saying that misandry was a non-issue. In any case, given that our genders are now fluid (NEVER confuse biological sex with gender!), the whole M/F designation no longer applies, the whole ‘debate’ was a complete irrelevance.

    Ella

    March 8, 2018 at 8:48 am

  7. An even bigger non-event that unions join is International women’s day.
    Why, in these gender fluid times do unions still get involved in something as old hat at this?
    You’d think they’d be in the forefront of challenging gender roles, not reinforcing them with a soulless novelty like this.
    Maybe I’m just old fashioned and think that unions are all about the working class.

    Steven Johnston

    March 8, 2018 at 2:50 pm

  8. Come back Blairites all is forgiven! I thought the new style of politics was supposed to be different under Corbyn?

    This lot seem just as nasty as the old lot & as determined to climb the greasy pole. Do they care who they **** on?

    Steven Johnston

    March 9, 2018 at 10:45 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: