Monday, 9 July 2007

Cllr Sven Rufus writes about the Green party, TU's and Co-ops

I'm in the GMB, my local branch have paid for adverts in our local Green Party newsletter. Now I have been elected as a Councillor, they are more interested still in what we can do together. I will be nurturing this relationship - in so many ways the TU movement is a natural partner for the GP. We should be drawing them towards us, we need to find common ground and build on that. On that note, the Brighton and Hove GP-TU group was on the picket supporting the CWU in their recent action. This support has been noted by the CWU at a national level, and contrasted to the complete absence of any contact from anyone in the Labour Party. Simple actions like this help build links for the future.
As for Coops and Mutuals - I am also a Committee member of the Local Co-op branch, and hopefully as soon as the group is properly convened,I will be on the national Environment Working Group for the Co-op too. I have raised the issue of Co-op support for Co-op Party (and thus the LabourParty) several times and I think the message is beginning to get through. I have also raised the issue of Co-op Party support for Labour with Co-op Party members, but inevitably, this is not being so well recieved. The people I work with in the Co-op are almost all Labour, and almost all disenchanted. The Co-op Party does not allow me to join as I actively campaign against the Labour Party, (in breach of the 1st Co-operative Principle - no discrimination allowed on various grounds including political). As the Co-op part funds the Co-op Party, despite the breach of the 1st Co-operative Principle, I believe that there is real scope for opening theCo-op's eyes to what the GP can also do for them. It should be noted that during the recent Local Elections, I was running on a manifesto that made more mentions of Co-ops than did the Labour Party manifesto (yet the Co-op Party paid £1200 towards publishing the LP manifesto). As with the Unions, I feel that of course we should be prepared to take any support that comes from people with a natural link to our philosophy as long as it is on our terms and we are not dictated to about how we should do things or what stance to take.Trade Union's and Co-ops are striving for many of the same outcomes as us and so of course we should work with them to get the job done. If these organisations have explicitly set aside funds to help influence political decision making, we have as much right to ask for support as do other parties. In fact we should be highlighting to these potential partners that the money they offer Labour has come to be seen as an automatic right by that Party, and often does not lead to the outcomes TU's and Co-ops are after. If they are not giving value for money to their funders, then a new relatonship may offer them more hope of achieving their own ends.

Furthermore, as the TU movement and the Co-op have memberships massively greater than the GP's, developing a good working relationship with them offers us the opportunity to get involved more in promoting the GP agenda to their members. If the GP establishes a relationship with my union, the GMB, that gives us access to 700,000 people. The Co-op has 4 million members - these numbers soon add up. If more people understand our message, we have a better chance of success.

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