MEMBERS OF the white collar MSF union in London are taking on New Labour, and their own union leadership, over the right to vote for Labour's candidate for mayor. At the union's London regional council meeting last Saturday nearly 50 delegates and over 30 visitors packed into a room to debate the Labour Party's refusal to allow MSF members to vote in the election.
The MSF London executive had voted by 28 to one to back Ken Livingstone. But then the Labour Party ruled that the union had not paid its affiliation fees on time, and so members would be denied a say. London MSF members were furious. The affiliation cheque had been handed over in April and cashed. Some on the branch's executive felt the best way to challenge the stitch up was in the courts. But MSF leader Roger Lyons, a staunch supporter of Tony Blair, responded by suspending three of the branch's officers. Lyons has now appointed Margaret Wall to run the branch. She sits on the Labour Party's executive and is on the panel which came close to barring Ken Livingstone last week.
Emergency motions were passed at the regional council supporting the suspended members and condemning the union's leaders. This left Lyons looking decidedly uncomfortable. Now a campaign is under way to support the branch officers and demand that New Labour gives MSF members the right to have a say about who should stand for mayor.
For more information contact London Region Defence Campaign, 10 Hart Grove, Southall, London UB1 2UW.