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Exclusive: early indications are that only 9% of members think Labour serving their interests, as Bakers’ union debates disaffiliation

Consultation indicates deep dissatisfaction among union’s members – most of whom live in former ‘heartland’ areas, says Hodson

Monday night saw a hard-hitting discussion between Ian Hodson of the Bakers’ union (BFAWU) and the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) Matt Wrack on Socialist Telly’s ‘Skwawk Talk’ programme.

And in an explosive section of the programme, Bakers’ president Hodson indicated that the union’s affiliation with the Labour party may not last much longer, such is the dissatisfaction of union members with the Labour party’s direction and policies under Keir Starmer.

BFAWU has been consulting with its members since January and Hodson said that the results so far show that only 9% of its members think that the Labour party is serving their interests or values:

© Socialist Telly

As examples, Hodson listed Starmer’s failure to oppose during the pandemic in which his members, as key workers, have been put in danger by government policies and Starmer’s eagerness to support the ‘Spycops’ bill legalising criminal acts by ‘intelligence sources’ – and he was especially scathing in his criticism of Starmer’s reflex of agreeing with Boris Johnson when he can’t think of anything else to say.

Disaffiliation by the Bakers would send a shockwave through the party and, more importantly, through the union movement – and might well start a chain reaction, given the anger among other left unions and the reduction in funding already imposed by the giant Unite union and not to donate anything to the party for almost a year, leaving a huge hole in the party’s finances.

Worse still for Starmer, FBU head Matt Wrack warned the Labour leader that his own union’s affiliation – and that of others – cannot be taken for granted. But more on that in the next article.

Watch the full, compelling programme here.

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  1. It’s a conundrum, isn’t it?

    Will the present Labour leadership be saddened to hear this news, or will it please them?

    Saddened because it’d be a major part of their funding lost, or pleased because it would be one less brake on their plans for the Labour Party?

    Reports indicate, Unite have one foot out the door, but then there’s the Unite leadership contest to look forward to. Is it possible that contest can be manipulated to bring a favourable result, the Party leadership could live with?

    With the wealthy backers that have entered the equation, can the Party live with that funding, without the Union’s money?

    There are so many ifs, buts and maybes, I could go on and on with these questions and that’s the whole crux of the matter. Communication from South Side is so poor, no one, really, knows what’s going on, and I think that’s a deliberate tactic, on the part of the leadership.

    Keep the Membership guessing! Wear them down. Get rid of the trouble-makers, keep the gullible.

    Without the Unions, the Labour Party, is not the Labour Party. It would, just, be a political grouping pursuing a homogenous political agenda, and not pursuing it very well. Like a blancmange. It exists, but no one knows why.

    Cast your mind back a couple of years. It was never like this. Everyone knew the aims and the goals of the Labour Party. Everyone had their say in what was and what wasn’t

    ‘For the Many, Not the Few!’

    Simple, wasn’t it? When – and why – did it become so opaque?

    Please, all the questions, in this comment, are semi-rhetorical – because no one knows. Not, even, I suspect, the Party leadership.

    1. It has to be opaque, because otherwise the “soft left” who make up a large part of the party would be able to see what was really going on (or should that be wouldn’t be able to avoid seeing) and become a problem for the far right of the party who have control.

    2. George Peel
      When RLB was sacked a spokesperson from either LOTO or Southside was quoted as saying that he hoped she would be replaced by Emma Hardy. The reason for this was, unlike Becky Emma would stand up to the teaching unions over Covid.
      So in many ways like you I’m not so sure if Stamer, his supporters inside and outside the party are that bothered if the unions disaffiliate. Especially now through in my opinion Starmer’s shortsightedness in bringing back Mandelson. Which they’re probably hoping through his connections to the wealthy will bring in much needed finances to replace TU donations.

      1. The Labour party now no longer represents working people any more than the tories and LibDums.

      2. marty – Is that why in the 19GE, for the first time ever, more of the working class (C2DE) voted for Boris and the Tories than voted for Corbyn & Labour

    3. You say “Reports indicate, Unite have one foot out the door, but then there’s the Unite leadership contest to look forward to. Is it possible that contest can be manipulated to bring a favourable result, the Party leadership could live with?” The reality is, with Howard Beckett standing against Steve Turner the democraticly elected left standard bearer, and organising officer Sharon Graham also standing, the prgressive slate is split to allow right winger Gerard Coyne a cantering win. No ‘manipulation’ – just the left shooting itself in the foot as per normal.

      1. This is an interesting situation. Is anything being done about this situation, such as talks, discussions, etc?

  2. It would be reckless to the point of stupidity for Starmer and the Right to alienate their main source of income until they have reliable sources elsewhere. If there is no announcement of funding from rich donors, expect some hasty trimming by the Right to appease the Unions, who will settle for a couple of slices rather than the whole loaf.

  3. It seems to me that Starmer is pursuing New Labour’s long-term goal of transforming the Labour Party into the ‘Democratic Party’ with no or a weak institutional link to the trade unions. Whether he is ready for a quick break with the unions is another matter. Rich doners are few and fickle. Any exodus of activists will help to erode the base of such a new party (see the fate of the Democratic Party in Italy),

    1. Yes. All that is really needed is for the left to get organised, develop some courage of it’s convictions, finally ignore the siren voices of those why cry for unity on the rights’ terms, and let the go and join the Lib Dems where they really belong.

      1. Oh, right, THAT explains it doesn’t it…… yeah, if only the left were organised AND had the courage of its convictions blah, blah, blah. So who is this ‘left’ you’re referring to Ludus, and could you spell out what they could do – what they could achieve – if they were to ‘get organised’ and ‘develop the courage of their convictions’?

        No? Thought not!

        NB As Ludus no doubt knows, there are just over 200 Labour MPs, about a fifth of whom are on the left, if that, and the rest of them are so-called ‘moderates’…… but if only the left were organised and had the courage of their convictions!

        PS I doubt Ludus will respond to my question because he knows that left-wing MPs are in a minority and are powerless to do anything as such.

  4. What a disgrace the labour party has become these mp’s don’t represent the working class anymore maybe the Israelis can fund new labour or TB and chums but i doubt it , Fuck labour

  5. We do know what happens next, we lose 5 million votes and bankrupt the party, those responsible will be rewarded by their backers
    We also know the Left are practically useless
    Methinks its time for change

  6. Let’s test my theory that the Left are practically useless
    Who on here is going to rejoin and vote

    1. Doug, as I have pointed out to you before, some here are not in a position to “rejoin”.

  7. No trade unions should be affiliated to the Labour party, who are assuming voters have nowhere else to go.

    The Bakers trade union should consider affiliating / donating to TUSC anti cuts party and National Health Action party, obviously not running against each other, in the May local elections.

    UNITE might care to also donate to those parties, now in local elections.

    Helping TUSC and NHA to run against the around 7,000 Labour councillors and Welsh assembly and Scottish parliament May local elections.

  8. The bakers union is small, is it less that 50,000 members? Maybe their natural place is outside of Labour, like the FBU until they re-affilliated in 2015.

    The interesting one is Unite, if they are going to fund another party of group then now is the time before it’s too late.

  9. In its statement about its consultation with members about disaffiliation, BFAWU said: “As a Union, we have been involved with representatives of the Labour Party across three centuries. Indeed, the first recorded meeting was with Keir Hardie in 1893, following a demonstration of journeymen in London. We also worked very closely with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in helping to shape Labour Party policy. However, despite the importance of Trade Unions and the inevitable current and post-Covid economic plight heading towards working people, today, we feel further away from having a political voice than ever.”

    Hodson and BFAWU clearly intend this statement to be a seen as a warning shot.

    Chances are, though, that to Sir Keir, David Evans, Baron Peter Mandelson, et al, this is more like an ejaculatory promise. Starmer will be boasting to his likudist and billionaire sponsors “I told you I could do it, disassembling the Labour Party is easy-peasy, a proverbial “piece of piss”.

  10. Strictly Come Dancing strategy
    Whatever we the members, unions and supporters of our Labour party decide to do, can it be coordinated and look good
    Foxtrot Foxtrot Salsa

  11. “Disaffiliation by the Bakers would send a shockwave through the party………………..”
    I am informed by a reliable source that Keir Starmer is partial to a custard cream. Its a long shot but it just might work, what if instead of disaffiliation the bakers of the world in solidarity downed pastry knives.

  12. Or
    91% of members can’t wait to vote out Temporary Embarrassment
    My dog would win the next Leadership election and he’s been feeling a bit ruff recently

  13. My father was a life-long member of the Labour Party. He never attended meetings & he had a problem with Viscount Stansgate who he believed could never understand poverty & Socialism was only an academic ‘the posh classes’, however he we would go & see Anthony Wedgewood (call me Tony) whenever possible; a real love hate relationship.

    Every morning he would read his Daily Mirror & listen to BBC News B4 sitting back in this chair with his head in his hands, muttering to himself about the Labour Party & politics. He loved the rhetoric of Michael Foot but thought that he was unelectable, my dad believed that a true Socialist would never be allowed into power; Harold Wilson & then Tony Blair were a compromise the Labour Party would have to make, the acceptable faces of Socialism. Whenever we met, I argued with my father about this & about Jeremy Corbyn, who he compared to Michael Foot. My father is dead now, but I too have my head in my hands most mornings when I listen to BBC News & Sir Keir Starmer & I mutter to myself about the Labour Party politics…….

  14. Bakers union Ian Hodson, references above, Starmers eagerness to support the Spycops bill. This alone should ring alarm bells to anybody who calls themselves a democrat. Shami Chakrabati calls it the most chilling piece of legislation she has known, but Starmer refused to vote against, instead whipping the PLP to abstain.

    If the rumours are true, it’s because Starmer was involved in framing the legislation. (The Guardian, 4th February 2021).

    “Insiders say Starmer was at the heart of decision-making on the bill, arguing existing practices needed to be put into law, while calling for further safeguards”.

    So far he is resisting having to give evidence in a court case, into the police spying on a group of environmental activists, who were unjustly convicted of plotting to occupy the Ratcliffe on Soar power station in 2009.

    Starmer has shown himself to be relaxed about abiding by rules and democratic procedure. His socialist credentials have been shredded. We know he is deceitful and evasive as evidenced in his refusal to publish who was backing him for the leadership and his involvement with the Trilateral Commission. He is refusing to give evidence in a trial, which has implications for other convictions, where social activists were allegedly spied on by the police. This happened on his watch as DPP.

    Can Starmer as PM be trusted to be in charge of upholding our laws, freedoms and the remnants of democracy we still have left? No, I think not.

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