CWU debate report not accurate

Submitted by cathy n on 25 August, 2008 - 8:58 Author: Maria Exall

The article "A watershed moment in union politics" in Solidarity 3/135 contained misleading comments about the events at the CWU Conference earlier in the month.

Firstly, it made reference to the motion that called for the CWU to campaign to reverse the decision of the 2007 Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth to restrict democracy. This motion did not "fail to reach the floor". It was on the agenda but was not reached due to a prolonged debate on a motion that called for the CWU to disaffiliate from the Labour Party and support a new workers’ party. The motion on the Bournemouth changes, which was a composite from several branches including my own, was due to be supported by the National Executive. Likewise, another motion mentioned in the article that called for us to rebalance the unions political fund money towards campaigning, and to only support certain Labour MPs, was actually submitted by the NEC itself !

The implication in the article therefore that there were bureaucratic manoeuvres to keep motions off the agenda is incorrect.

Secondly, there is no comment in the article on the two significant debates that took place on whether the CWU should disaffiliate from the Labour Party. The first centred on a Socialist Party motion in support of the Campaign for a New Workers Party. The second was on an SWP inspired motion that called on the CWU to support non Labour party candidates in elections (without calling for disaffiliation directly). Both of these motions were the subject of long debate and defeated approximately 10 to 1.

The reason why the CWU Conference rejected these attempts at disaffiliation (one direct, one indirect) was because it previously supported a motion that called for us to use our link with the Labour Party to campaign for issues around the future of the Post Office — a halt to liberalisation, stopping the closure of local Post Offices, and a guarantee on pensions. This motion also threatened a ballot of all members next year on our support for Labour in the General Election if no progress was made on these issues. The motion had been submitted by London branches and supported by the NEC. It was passed overwhelmingly.

As I am sure comrades are aware, this year was a crucial one in the relationship of the CWU with the Labour Party, coming as it did after the post strike of late 2007 when the Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown told postal strikers in the middle of their dispute to return to work. It is therefore politically important, as well as a matter of accurate record, that the events of the conference are reported fairly.

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