Socialist Worker

TUC conference: tensions between unions and New Labour

Issue No. 2118

Delegates to the TUC conference were clearly angry with the government not just over pay, but over the direction of the Labour Party.

Gordon Brown did not see fit to address the conference floor this year and instead was set to meet union leaders at a plush private dinner on Tuesday after Socialist Worker went to press.

New Labour chancellor Alistair Darling was expected to receive a far from enthusiastic reception the same day.

While meetings specifically on the Labour Party were small, at every session of congress and at fringe meetings the deep bitterness at the refusal of Labour to change direction was clearly felt. There was stark anger from many over the government’s failings on the windfall tax.

Union leaders resisted calling on Brown to resign, arguing instead he should radically change direction in order to win back popularity among voters.

However what was noticeable throughout was that, compared to recent years, there was no vocal defence of the government.

While some in the union movement are so tied to the Labour government that they are clearly reluctant to call any effective action, the anger at New Labour meant that all union leaders had to support calls for such action.

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