(photo Paul Mattsson)
Members of the Newham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) organised a successful protest outside the Labour Party special conference on Saturday 1st March in opposition to the Collins Review proposals being voted on inside the Excel centre in east London.
Protesters had their mouths gagged and held placards saying, “Don’t let Labour silence trade unions”. A picture of Ed Miliband walking past one of these placards was featured on the BBC website.
The conference was held in Newham, the borough where trade unionist Keir Hardie was originally elected as a West Ham South MP in 1892 before he went on to become the first Labour Party leader.
Former Labour MP and TUSC national chair Dave Nellist sent a message of support to the Newham TUSC group, saying “Labour’s real regard for the unions is shown by them devoting a mere two hours of conference to overturn 113 years of shared history”.
TUSC supporters approach Miliband before Labour Party special conference, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
One of the speakers at the protest was TUSC’s prospective mayoral candidate for Newham, Lois Austin: “Keir Hardie would be turning in his grave if he saw this conference.
“I joined the Labour Party when I was 15 as I wanted to be in an organisation that fought for working class people. I was also the national chair of the Labour Party’s youth wing, the Labour Party Young Socialists, in the late 1980s.
“But socialists like me were forced out or silenced by people like Tony Blair who were backed by big business to rid the party of socialists. The Collins Review is the last nail in the coffin of trade union representation within Labour”.
Another Newham TUSC council candidate, Bob Severn, said: “If you shop at Sainsbury’s, you don’t get to ‘opt in’ whether your purchases will end up funding the Tory party. These rule changes are about ending the remaining influence of organised working class people in Labour, to secure it as a pro-austerity, pro-big business party”.
But TUSC welcomes trade unionists as Labour closes the door.
Press coverage of TUSC protest can be seen at the following websites:
Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ed-miliband-labour-party-reforms-will-bring-people-back-into-politics-9162294.html and picture at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ed-miliband-gains-backing-from-lord-owen-as-labour-approves-reforms-9162835.html