Socialist Worker

Jeremy Corbyn inspires trade union activists - despite union leaders' attacks

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2491

GMB leader Paul Kenny (centre) with Rachel Reeves MP at GMB conference in 2012

GMB leader Paul Kenny (centre) with Rachel Reeves MP at GMB conference in 2012 (Pic: James Alexander/flickr)


The first union conference since Jeremy Corbyn’s election to the Labour leadership—Unison’s women’s conference—was held in Brighton last week.

Suzy Franklin, who was at the conference, told Socialist Worker, “There’s an anger among women at the Tories’ attacks and you could sense that from the floor.”

Union activists are enthusiastic about the alternative to austerity that Corbyn’s election as Labour leader represents.

And there’s a desire to turn enthusiasm into action.

Suzy added, “There was great excitement and positivity around Corbyn’s campaign. People have been wanting to get involved in Unison because of Corbyn’s victory.

“Last year when Ed Miliband was leader the atmosphere was very flat. This year it was different—and I think Corbyn’s election absolutely has something to do with that.”

Sir Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said last week that Corbyn would step down from the Labour leadership before the 2020 general election.

He said that Corbyn was failing to provide a “credible alternative” to the Tories.

Missiles

Kenny has previously attacked Corbyn for wanting to scrap Trident nuclear missiles. Kenny and the Unite union leader Len McCluskey are lining up with the Labour right to defeat Corbyn on Trident.

Both unions are set to hold special pro-Trident defence sector conferences in the next few weeks.

Corbyn’s shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry was shouted down by right wing Labour MPs for speaking against Trident at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting last week.

Meanwhile an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper attacked individual leading members of the Labour left group Momentum.

It criticised members of Momentum’s steering committee for organising student protests and supporting Lutfur Rahman.

Rahman was removed as mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London last year after an Islamophobic witch-hunt in 2014.

The attack came after Momentum’s first national meeting earlier this month, where it was agreed to restrict membership and focus on internal Labour Party battles.

Members of Momentum hope to support Jeremy Corbyn against the right. The best way to do this is to build a fight against the Tories based in workplaces and on the streets.


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Tue 16 Feb 2016, 16:07 GMT
Issue No. 2491
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