UNISON took dues to represent millions of the lowest paid(mainly female) public sector workers in the country. When they did this they were representing the workers best able to have the conversation about the intersection of class, gender, social policy, our economic system. They represented social care workers, social workers, administrators and the services the most vulnerable people in our system relied on. They were the last line of defence for local democracy. Social work is the shadow neo liberalism casts, and those women were the women who had a substantive critique of what was happening. Austerity was not new for the members of this trade union.
UNISON members were targeted repeatedly, with benefit changes, job losses and service changes. They were often charged with delivering austerity and holding it together for the vulnerable people they served, while being disenfranchised and being hammered by austerity themselves. These were many of the women who saw equality rolled back.
As a union, UNISON spent austerity purging members who challenged the Labour line that ‘some cuts’ were ok, as long as it was their members and services hit. While Dave Prentis took a massive salary. They didn’t just kick them out of the union, they tried to make them unemployable forever.
They justified this purging of activists with the continued existence of obsolete lefty entryism tactics, which were still used by the SWP. The SWP gave them the reason they could sell out millions of low paid workers, and the service users who needed them, and they gave them the reason to attack anyone who challenged the consensus on local authority cuts. Just as the labour orbiting press culture were willing to attack anyone who mentioned that consensus within earshot.
When I started writing about this I spent days on the phone to different trade unions. They all knew. They called UNISON ‘The Witchfinder Union’. I sat with a drunk union bureaucrat who joked about this being common knowledge, but it was just a women’s union. Apparently everyone knows UNISON don’t function as a union, they hide behind bureaucracy and poor record keeping. I wish I had known this when they were taking money from my salary to act as an ineffective part of the disciplinary procedures within local authorities. The SWP were the reason they got away with it. They were so obnoxious that this was justified.
The complex debate about public services role in our economy, inequality, how it manifests in the lives of the most vulnerable people in the country, the voices of millions of women, lost under Labour focused tribalism and stupid lefty factionalism.
A demonstration of how obsolete left wing cultures protect Labour priorities and disenfranchise millions. That the SWP were also a cult who exploited idealistic students and covered up rape of those young idealistic students, was not a surprise. Here is a blog written by Anna Chen(co-shortlistee for Orwell prize). It is the only blog worth reading on the subject of how that particular culture operated.
The death rattle of the SWP is not unwelcome, it is accompanied by cheering. Like the cheering that accompanied the statement ‘women lie’ at their conference. The confusion the left have about the difference between being useless and having no effect is nearly over.