OVER TO YOU BROTHERS AND SISTERS!

 

THE PART OF THE UNIONS.

The grip of Corbynistas on the Labour Party is now extending to the trade unions. As they assemble in Brighton this weekend for their Congress, very few unions are backing Owen Smith. They are the GMB, the Shop workers, Community and the Musicians. Unite The Union (I love the arrogance of that title, I bet it goes down well with the others) is remaining loyal to Jeremy Corbyn. The General Secretary Len McCluskey may be too far to the left for the taste of Middle England but he is facing a potential challenge from an even further left opponent when his post comes up for re-election. That helps to explain “the reality” (his favourite phrase) of the position of the biggest union of all.

I’ve had a look at the Brighton agenda and it is full of worthy policy debates on wages and conditions at work. But as the brothers and sisters sit through the debates they may like to reflect that they are wasting their time. They will continue to have an important role in defending workers rights under existing conditions but in respect of legislative change, they and Labour are impotent.

The unions created the Labour Party to form governments which could represent the interests of workers. The last one left office six years ago. Will Labour win in 2020 or even 2025? Unlikely. Why do they think Theresa May has ruled out a snap election? Because she is so confident of controlling this parliament with Labour divided, even with a majority of 12. She can afford to wait to get her 100 seat majority in 2020.

The unions need to put their financial muscle behind a new centre left party capable of winning power for their members.

TOWN CENTRE CRISIS.

I was sad to hear that the famous jewellers, Preston’s of Bolton, is to close. That proud town’s centre is in a real crisis with another traditional store already shutting its doors.

Emotional shop staff blamed the perfect storm of the Trafford Centre and on-line shopping. Downtown backs Business Improvement Districts in places like Liverpool. Bolton is not alone in facing a bleak future unless some imaginative steps are taken to find a new offer to counter the mega shopping and leisure centres and the computer.

GREAT PROGRAMMES.

The autumn TV season has got off to a great start. ITV’s Victoria plays fast and loose with historical facts (Melbourne was old and fat, not hunky) but the stand out programmes for me so far got less publicity.

Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain was quite outstanding with her two reports on life in Bangladesh. Her natural open and friendly style, surely means a full career in television beckons.

The second outstanding programme was the latest look at Salford FC owned by ex United legends the Neville Brothers, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

Production teams have to gamble on who to follow as the season develops. They chose an out of form striker who couldn’t get a game but returned to score vital goals to secure promotion. Roy of the Rovers eat your heart out.

Follow me at www.jimhancock.co.uk

UNION CHALLENGE FOR NEW LABOUR LEADER.

 

You don’t get me, I’m part of the union.”

On Monday the government will introduce in parliament the biggest crack down on the trade unions in thirty years. Len McCluskey’s Unite union is up for the challenge. The General Secretary will spend the weekend at the Trades Union Congress testing support for his call to break the law to resist the Tories plans.

The issue will be an interesting test for the new Labour leader. To support or oppose particular strikes has been one of the most difficult problems for Labour leaders for decades. Barbara Castle crossed the unions in the 1960s, Jim Callaghan’s government was brought down by them in 1979, Neil Kinnock’s discomfort over Arthur Scargill’s miners strike in 1984/5 is the stuff of legend and Ed Miliband’s refusal to take sides became a joke on You Tube.

The reason why the party, created by the unions, has agonised over the issue of union power is because it has feared losing moderate voters. It is this equivocation that has dismayed the left, and particularly the young. During the leadership election they have surged back to Labour in the expectation of more crusading policies. Their argument is that if the party fights with conviction for working people, more will join, Middle England will be overwhelmed and a socialist Labour Party will sweep to power in 2020. The battle over the Trade Union bill will be a first test.

The measure will make unlawful a strike unless 50% of those being asked to strike, vote in the ballot. 40% of those asked to vote must support the strike in key public services. The strike mandate will only last four months Unlawful picketing will become a criminal, not civil, offence. Most controversial of all is the right being given to employers to hire agency staff to break the strike. The Labour Party’s finances are set to be hit with a further provision to require union members to positively agree to pay the political levy.

The number of working days lost to strike action in the 12 months to April was 704,000, a far cry from the 13 million a year in the 70s. However there have been a number of strikes on the London Underground and in schools causing major inconvenience to parents and commuters. This has been the trigger for ministers to act. What will New Old Labour do?

SOCCEREX CONFERENCE.

I attended the excellent global soccer business conference in Manchester this week and thought I would share with you a comment by a panellist. It came during a discussion about fans’ use of new media. Facebook and YouTube had come out of left field with nobody seeing what impact they would have It was noted that some football clubs had given up trying to stop fans taking mobile phone shots of matches and embraced the clips on their websites.

Then the prediction of the next big thing, fans resistance to being the falls guys in the war between Sky and BT for TV soccer rights. As was correctly observed the poor fan now has to pay two huge monthly fees to get full match coverage. Who could stop this? Well perhaps Apple will come to the fans rescue, wipe out BT and Sky and unify the package at a cheaper price. Just a thought.