Unite leader condemns Blairite “re-treads” as blasts from the past

Labour Party logoLen McCluskey has condemned those within the Labour party who are undermining Ed Miliband’s leadership.

Denouncing the politicians of Labour’s past as ‘Blairite retreads’, Unite’s general secretary urged Ed the Labour leader not to be deterred by these ‘blasts from the past’ and called upon the members and officers of Unite to get working for a Labour victory.

Addressing the union’s 1,200 strong officer and organiser core in Birmingham yesterday,  he warned that the Tories’ immense spending power, allied to their wealthy backers and a loyal media, means the country faces a one-sided campaign in May placing a ‘duty to democracy’ on the union to support Labour

He said: “The electorate is today poised between fear and hope. Fear is the basis of the UKIP menace – blame someone else for all the problems, usually immigrants or foreigners, and seek refuge in an imagined past.

“But it is hope that is blossoming today as we have seen in last week’s magnificent election result in Greece. Labour needs to bottle some of the Syriza spirit and take that anti-austerity agenda to the people here.

“What it doesn’t need is the Blairite retreads – the people who sucked the life out of the last Labour government – attacking every progressive impulse, like the mansion tax and saving our NHS.

“So I say to Peter Mandelson, Alan Milburn and John Hutton: stick to counting your money, and stop stabbing Labour in the back.

“And I say to Ed Miliband – have the courage of your convictions and ignore these blasts from the past.”

He continued: “This is a fight for the future of our society, for the poor and vulnerable. A fight for everyone squeezed by the crisis and the cuts, and for everyone who believes that Britain has gone badly wrong, and who wants to live in a fairer country.

“The Tories are plotting a reduction in the scope and role of the state which even Thatcher could only have dreamed of, taking us back to the days of the 1930s, under the pretext of balancing the books without, of course, asking the rich or big business to contribute. They want to tear to bits every advance working people have secured, every protection we have built up, over the years.

“Let me say today – it’s not going to happen. If a government with the backing of less than one voter in four tries to deny the rights of a movement of millions, we will treat that with the contempt it deserves. And if we are pushed outside the law, so be it. If Unite is ever to die, it will not die on its knees.”

Unite’s national executive last week voted to give £1.5m towards Labour’s General Election campaign.

Len McCluskey said: “I’ve asked our Executive to provide donations to Labour’s election fund totalling £2.5m so far. More will most likely be needed. I regard this as doing our duty to democracy.

“Let the Tories get their millions from hedge funds and from shadowy dinner clubs of big businessmen. Our money is clean, transparent to the public, democratically-sanctioned and honestly accounted for. It’s the pennies of our members each week, not the ill-gotten gains of the ruling elite.

“There can be no doubt that Labour’s commitments will make a huge difference – there’s no need to be mealy-mouthed or half-hearted about this – and will provide a platform for tackling the crippling inequalities in our society.”

But, he continued: “If we lose the election, we understand how much harder that life will be for the people we serve.

 

“That’s why I’m appealing to each and every one of you – step up to the plate. Get behind your union and its political strategy, and get behind a Labour victory in May. Answer the Party’s call. Do not stand aside from this battle, or let any doubts and reservations paralyse you.

 

“We are now facing the fight of our lives.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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