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TU Group statement: FBU, ASLEF and the question of Labour Party affiliation

The Trade Union Group is deeply disappointed by the decisions made by both the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) at their respective annual general meetings in May 2022 to affirm their affiliations to the Labour Party.

The Labour Party is an imperialist, anti-worker, anti-trade union and anti-socialist party, which was founded to siphon the revolutionary instincts of workers and to harness the privilege of a distinct layer of the working class who have benefited and continue to benefit from British imperialism.

That trade unions in 2022 should continue to remain in the thrall of a political party dominated by a class which detests workers and everything they stand for is in itself a damning indictment on the movement as a whole, but for those same trade unions to remain in the thrall of a party under the leadership of an establishment stooge like Sir Keir Starmer, who has left the Tories completely unchallenged for over two years and yet has gone to war against every faction in his own party which does not subscribe to his pro-Nato, pro-Israel and pro-imperialist dogma makes these trade unions at best servile cash cows for the Labour Party and at worst complicit in the most egregious actions of this self-proclaimed party of the working class.

At least one senior trade union dignitary has gone on record via social media to state that their union’s newly-reaffirmed relationship with Labour is proof of their desire to ‘stay and fight’.

This is nonsense. There will be no ‘stay and fight’. There will be only ‘stay’.

As every day passes, members’ money will continue to pour into the coffers of a Labour Party which will only ever tolerate those trade unions foolish enough to continue to remain affiliated to it for as long as they provide them with a revenue stream.

It is obvious that the link between the Labour Party and the trade unions is not, as some on either side of this abusive and dysfunctional relationship will maintain, a link between the party and the working class. Instead, the link is between the party hierarchy and a layer of detached trade union bureaucrats, whose commitment to their unions has become subsumed by their own personal ambitions to become Labour MPs, councillors and paid members of Labour Party staff in the future.

The Trade Union Group acknowledges that the fact that two affiliated trade unions even countenanced a debate on their continued affiliation to Labour is a sign of progress of a sort, however that both the FBU and ASLEF chose not to reject Labour and instead affirmed their relationship with a party which today serves only the interests of a privileged, metropolitan, middle class-elite layer of the population clearly demonstrates that the trade union movement is as detached from the working class as the Labour Party.

We believe that the time has come for trade union members everywhere who desire a real transformative socialist programme for this country to desist from contributing financially to the Labour Party where this is an option, and, if necessary, to withdraw from their union’s political levy entirely.

– Ends –

WPB Trade Union Group

29th May 2022