New management Labour a failed project, say BFAWU members
After the decision by the Labour Party leadership to blindly follow the Conservatives in its disastrous handling of Covid, its failure to consult with safety representatives on the disastrous decision to reduce the 2 meter to 1 meter plus social distancing measures, our members felt angry and betrayed.
We had demands to withdraw funding from the Labour Party, due to them failing to put those who had worked through this pandemic at the forefront of any decision to weaken safety requirements, as they joined the Tories with a focus on reopening the economy rather than to preserve and protect lives.
Our members and activists showed it was perfectly possible to put in measures that would have saved lives, but the decision by both the Conservative and Labour front bench meant no discussions were held with any organisations.
The response from Sir Keir’s office that he had to say something from the dispatch box rather than seek advice before risking and costing lives was seen as a shocking position of someone who says they put the lives of UK citizens first.
The results of our recent survey and subsequent conversations show how Labour have lost the support of our members and reflects the recent trend in working-class communities exposed in the local elections.
Our members told us that the change of position from 2017 to 2019 to the acceptance of the EU referendum held in 2016 was a big issue in the workplace and exposed a lack of trust in people to be able to make an informed democratic choice. The use of references to those voting for exiting the EU as racists or unintelligent did not work well either, in fact it was seen as a form of the people verses the establishment, which was how Boris Johnson wanted to pitch the battle, it appears that Labour’s shift played right into his hands.
Many also commented on the fact they came from mining towns that were let down by Kinnock and came out in droves for Blair to be seen as having nowhere else to go other than Labour. Many members have started to look at smaller independent parties as an alternative to the mainstream ones.
But a growing number of members admitted they just will not be voting.
The Survey shows that since the 2019 election the situation facing Labour is even worse, with only 7 % of our membership believing that the Labour Party represents their aims or aspirations.
Since the announcement of our intention to survey our members, it has been disappointing that neither Sir Keir Starmer or anyone from his office have attempted to engage with our union, although we have had a couple of meetings arranged which have subsequently been cancelled or the link to join the meeting never arrived.
In addition to this, we have seen the recent newspaper headlines and confirmation that Lord Mandelson is indeed advising the Labour leader, so we must now accept the comments made by Lord Mandelson to be a representation of Sir Keir Starmer leadership to distance the party away from the Trade union movement.
Our survey shows that our members are in favour of a political affiliation, it is just not the current Labour Party.
Whilst no motion has been brought to this year’s conference, it is possible that it will happen in the next few years unless the Labour Party changes its current trajectory.
Our relationship with the Labour Party stretches back to 1893, although the party at that time had not been formed, early writings in our history show Journeymen in London being addressed by Kier Hardy, and our members standing in places like Barnsley in 1903, on behalf of the then known Independent Labour. It is somewhat bemusing then, when you consider our long relationship, the loss of trust and falling support in what is commonly now referred to as the red wall seats.
Even more so that the new leadership of the Labour Party has not reached out to our union, considering how strong our membership is in those seats.
To many it may seem that being a small trade union, our membership is irrelevant on their current journey, preferring to chase rich donors and championing the policies of low corporation tax, attacks on trade union freedoms, caught up in the CHIS bill and wrapping themselves up in a flag, rather than defending workers priorities.
Priorities like; ending inequality, building homes, and bringing back our national assets such as water, rail, and energy and of course our NHS.
As a union, we have always prided ourselves on our campaigning, often said, never a big union but one that punches above its weight. Our union was at the forefront of the fight to improve working conditions, by ending the excessively long hours that were the norm in the 1800s and early 1900s to stopping bakers from dying at the average age of 30 and a quarter.
Ending workplace work wage inequality for women in the late 60s and 70s, fighting for ending the use of precarious contracts like zero-hours, ending inequality for young workers or the campaign in 2014 for £10ph now £15ph which was described as extreme!
Politics, industrial organising, and campaigning for our union have always gone hand in hand, which is why when our members talk, they have a right to be listened too and their comments taken on board.
What did the survey show?
We asked if you considered yourself politically active.
- 38% of our membership indicated they felt they were politically active.
Did you vote in the 2019 election?
- Yes said 88% of our membership
Sadly only 53% voted for the Labour Party and those that have told us since explained they could not vote for a party offering a 2nd referendum, many also said they could not vote for the Tories either, regardless of their position on Brexit.
Shockingly only 7% of our membership felt strongly that Labour today represents their values or their interests.
- 28% felt strongly they did not.
- 26% felt neither one way or another.
- 23% disagreed 17% agreed.
- 7% strongly Agreed.
Interestingly a majority of our members felt there should be a political link.
- 56% said yes, we should.
- 44% felt we should not.
But a small majority felt we should disaffiliate from today’s Labour Party.
- 53% disagree with continuing our affiliation.
- 47% agree with continuing our affiliation.
On the question of confidence of the current leaderships handling of the covid crisis, 20% were neutral, most of our membership though indicated they believe Labour has failed during this crisis.
With a quarter of respondents having a strong belief that it is handled the crisis badly.
- Strongly disagree 25%
- Neither agree or disagree 20%
- Disagree 20%
- Somewhat agree 12%
- Somewhat disagree 11%
- Agree 10%
- Strongly agree 4%
On how our members feel about voting for the current Labour leader his figures do not look good, 24% of our members suggested they were more likely to vote Labour if they had a new leader and only 10% felt that they would be unlikely to vote Labour if they changed its leadership.
- Very likely 24%
- Likely 19%
- Somewhat Likely 17%
- Very unlikely 16%
- Unlikely 10%
- Somewhat unlikely 7%
- Would not vote Labour 7%
Would our members vote Labour if there was an election tomorrow, our members told us by a majority they would not?
Vote Labour No 55%
Vote Labour Yes 45%
This report highlights the breakdown of trust between the Labour Party and our members, it highlights the growing feeling that our members whose natural home should be inside the Labour party is no longer there.
It is not, in our opinion, going to be improved by the constant undermining of the trade unions who have been targeted by those that surround the new leader and act as his spokesperson. Encouraging him to sideline trade unions and the many MPs who are deliberately targeting union representatives, championing the unions that support their political ideology and attacking those that do not.
Those who get elected to Parliament get there normally due to the support and finance of working people, either through membership dues or affiliation fees.
Without trade unions the Labour Party will become the new Liberal Party and it needs to understand that trade union members are sick of being used, sick and tired of the PLP factions, the briefings, the smears, and the infighting.
If the Labour party ever wants to win office it must end is factionalism, start serving the movement which it was born out of and start delivering on the hopes and aspirations of the community’s our members work in.
Full report of the survey is available from firstname.lastname@example.org