The UNISON North West campaign to rid Britain of austerity was stepped up at the recent Annual North West Labour Link Forum. Wendy Simon chaired a lively and productive discussion of delegates from across the Region supported the continuing efforts to “Sack BNP Leader Nick Griffin”, to support investment in jobs and workers rights and to expose the anti-worker and anti-public service agenda of UKIP. The Annual Report focussed on key achievements of the last year and the important challenge of local and European elections, just over 11 weeks away. Lynne Morris pressed the need to build for our Liverpool march against unfair cuts as a vital tool in putting the blame for unprecedented cuts in local services firmly where it lies with the government. Angela Rayner, National Representative, lead a discussion on the Collins Report. Peter Thorne, our delegate at the Special Conference, reported that Collins had carried by 86%/14% with Dave Prentis making a key note speech. The opportunity to build our presence in the party was laid before the Forum.
Motions were agreed, for the National Forum in July, to sharpen our campaigning machine in readiness for the 2015 General Election. Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, Adrian Heald (Crewe and Nantwich) and Amina Lone (Morecambe and Lunesdale) appealed for support in key marginals where UNISON will be co-ordinating trade union support for Labour in the next 14 months. Adrian, a GP, stressed the importance of the NHS. Amina focussed on the need for MPs who have had real jobs and understood the pain of ordinary people.
Arlene McCarthy, standing down after 20 years as an MEP, gave a farewell address exposing the false patriotism of the Con-Dem government, taking to court the European Union to protect bankers bonuses, whilst attacking working people at home. She outlined work done in Europe that provided a framework for regulating the banks, disgracefully rejected by the government. Theresa Griffin, now number one on the Labour list , appealed for all UNISON members to vote in the Euro Elections on 22nd May 2014. She added she had debated recently with her Tory opposite number who had said that there is no in-work poverty in the North West, no child poverty here and that Zero hours contracts are a godsend. Theresa is determined to end Nick Griffin’s stint in Brussels and to fight for workers in Europe.
Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, stressed the class nature of crime prevention, with by far the most prevalent violent crime being domestic and with Mental Health and cuts in provision, being a key issue .
Whilst Jim Dobbin MP (Heywood and Middleton) and Michael Meacher MP (Oldham West) fronted a question and answer session leading to a lively debate. Jim Dobbin stressed that the greatest challenge was to get Labour voters to vote as apathy is a greater danger than defection. He added 5 more years of the Con-Dems will end the NHS as we know it, and living standards are the key issue. On nationalisation of rail, he reminded us Germany still have a publicly owned rail service, whilst Michael Meacher argued that the private contracts should not be renewed at their completion, just bring back in without cost. He stressed that the deficit needs to be brought down, but it would take the Tories 35 years at this rate as austerity reduces the income to refund recovery. Delegates cheered as he said we should increase taxes on the rich, after the Times 1000 richest people in the UK had seen their wealth grow by £190 billion since 2010.
All in all an inspiring day as delegates return to their branches to drive forward our campaigns.