Conference delegates hammer out new political strategyUnion Matters November 8 2021
Taking a different direction, linking our branches and regions with community protests, supporting Labour politicians who are making a difference and rebuilding a collectivist culture…
CWU political funding will be focussed on the fight for real change from now on, away from Westminster and into the regions, cities and towns in all corners of the UK, conference delegates decided yesterday, when they overwhelmingly approved an innovative motion from the national executive.
The policy aims to builds positively on our Labour Party affiliation and takes an active approach to fighting back against injustice and winning for the people, explained our general secretary Dave Ward as he formally moved the proposition.
“This isn’t about just staying in Labour, it’s about genuinely trying to forge a new way forward,” said Dave, and, citing comments made by Deji Olaylinka from UTAW Branch in an earlier debate, he added: “It’s about, as Deji said, building a new social movement.”
Our general secretary continued with references to “working in a more structured way” with the Welsh Labour administration, with Labour metro mayors in England and with Labour local authorities who are “getting elected and making positive changes for people in their communities.
“It’s about helping our regions and branches link up with communities and organisations that share our values and to build collectivism.
“And if we can do this, we can help shape a direction for our whole movement to follow.”
As well as directing CWU support and resources to Labour politicians who are showing, in practice, that they are sharing our values, the new direction also includes a CWU Working-class Candidates Programme, which aspires to get more of our members to put themselves forward as Labour Party candidates.
This aspect of the policy is part of an aim to return to the days when a far larger proportion of Labour MPs came from working-class backgrounds, as Dave said in his speech: “We want to move back to working-class people representing working-class people.”
Conference notes that:
(1) the current political environment is perhaps one of the most difficult in
the history of the Labour movement, and nationally, the Labour Party is
failing to break through and seems more concerned with factional infighting
than it does reaching out to working people;
(2) the Labour Party’s lack of connection with working people has been
decades in the making, but current opinion polling and Keir Starmer’s
own approval ratings demonstrate the serious task that Labour faces if
it is to ever win power again;
(3) although Labour is struggling nationally, the Party is making a real
difference in areas across the country in places where the CWU has
strong links with local and regional leaders who also support our
industrial and political aims, including metro mayors and council leaders
who are delivering on their promises of building council houses, tradeunion
recognised jobs, green-energy, publicly owned local transport and
a host of other radical reforms that serve their local communities;
(4) in more recent years, our relationship with Labour has always been
underpinned by the idea that the Party will not get something for
nothing, and as other trade union leaders are now also echoing this call,
we must strengthen that commitment and invest our time, energy and
resources with those in Labour who want to deliver the political and
industrial aims of the CWU.
Conference agrees the NEC are instructed as follows:
(1) to suspend any donations outside of our affiliation fees to the national
Labour Party. Any additional funding outside of our affiliation fees will
instead go to specific Labour candidates and campaigns that support
CWU industrial and political aims and to support the selection and
election of such candidates.
(2) to work pro-actively with Labour leaders across the country who are
delivering on-the-ground solutions in their communities right now, as
well as exploring all opportunities to link up our own industrial
strategies with these political pursuits;
(3) to create a CWU Working Class Candidates Programme that will be held
once a year to train up a number of CWU members who wish to
become political candidates, either for local or national office;
(4) to refresh and build a more dynamic Political Officer’s Network that
brings together Political Officer’s from across the country from branches
and regions on a regular basis to feed into and deliver the Union’s
national political strategy, ensure a presence in communities and a
consistent approach to implementing the direction of this motion.
(5) to refresh and build our ability to campaign politically with a suite of
online materials and educational materials that will offer an innovative
approach to linking the political with our industrial strategies, such as
within issues around the Universal Service Obligation, Post Office, the
roll-out of fibre broadband, and the casualisation of labour.