GMB leader accuses New Labour architect of being “absurd”

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, GMB,

boxing glovesGMB general secretary Paul Kenny has attacked Mandelson over his comments in the wake of the General Election.

Lord Mandelson, who twice resigned from Tony Blair’s Labour Cabinet, said Ed Miliband’s selection as Labour leader was the result of “trade union abuse”, adding the party’s reliance on trade union funding was “unhealthy”.

He said: “I am not happy with a Labour Party so clearly dependent on people who pay the piper and then in many cases can call the tune.”

His comments were attacked by GMB general secretary Paul Kenny, who said: “The absurd anti-union remarks made by Lord Mandelson will do nothing but re-ignite divisions that are completely and totally unconnected to the reasons why Labour lost the election last week.

“A return to new Labour will not recover the Labour Party in Scotland – indeed many would argue that it was new Labour that alienated long time Labour voters and drove them to the SNP.

“The wannabe candidates for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party need to be thinking where we need to be in 2020 and not where we were in 1995.

“It is time for an adult grown-up conversation on this and not for people to indulge in hankering, as they sit in their deck chairs, for a return to a bygone age.”

Paul Kenny added: “If the Labour Party acts in haste it will repent at leisure. The defeat last week was heavy and the reasons for it are wide and varied.  The Labour Party must now take a period of time to undertake a serious examination of what took place and why.

“Any attempt to reintroduce a quick fix based on nostalgia and a view of the world as it was nearly a quarter of century ago would lead to catastrophe or disaster.

“We also need to get ready for the EU referendum. We need to face up to the concerns of a large part of the electorate over more fundamental problems about Europe. Whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.

“The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states.

“There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation and undermining of conditions in check.

“That dream has been chipped away at for years. Right wing governments and employers have engineered massive change in the direction of the EU vision.

“If what David Cameron brings back from the negotiations tilts the balance even further away from standards for workers, as the CBI seem to want, many organizations traditionally in favour will campaign for a ‘No’ vote.”

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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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