Socialist Worker

One third vote against Labour affiliation in Bectu union ballot

Issue No. 1880

MEMBERS OF the Bectu broadcasting union have voted to retain the union's affiliation to the Labour Party.

Some 30 percent of the union's members voted in a ballot.

The vote was 5,725 (72.8 percent) for remaining affiliated to Labour, with 2,135 (27.2 percent) against.

The ballot followed a vote at the union's annual conference earlier this year.

It did not allow members to vote for a democratisation of the union's political fund.

This would have meant it could back candidates for election who support the union's policies whether they are Labour or not.

But the vote was whether to stay affiliated or to completely disaffiliate.

The union's leadership ran a high-power campaign to win the vote.

It painted opposition to affiliation to Labour as a move to make the union apolitical.

But those campaigning against the leadership were for the union becoming more political.

They wanted the union to back socialist and other candidates outside Labour who stood in line with union policies.

'Very few people got a chance to hear the full arguments,' explained Somaye Zadeh, a Bectu member in London.

'The ballot forms had a recommendation and arguments from the union leadership putting their case, but nothing from the opposition. When meetings were held around the ballot, only those supporting the leadership were on the platform.'

In such circumstances the vote is hardly surprising.

That almost a third of those voting rejected maintaining affiliation to Labour indicates the depths of disaffection.

'Those voting against the leadership did so from a left wing opposition to New Labour,' says Somaye.

'The union leadership recognises that members are angry with the government. The union leaders know that many of those voting to keep affiliation do not think the government is wonderful.'

Bectu assistant general secretary Gerry Morrissey highlighted the 'sizeable' numbers who had voted for disaffiliation.

He said after the ballot result, 'The Labour Party needs to listen to the concern of our members, especially on employment rights.'


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News
Sat 6 Dec 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1880
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