The Miliband McCluskey Love In And Why It Matters

mcclusky-tweet2There has been some mild criticism of the piece posted earlier this week addressing Unite boss Len McCluskey’s recent support of Ed Miliband’s ‘worklessness’ diatribe.

It may be uncomfortable for those who are involved in Unite’s Community Union – the section of the union recently formed for claimants – to find their organisation on the wrong side of the sanctions and benefit reform debate.  But they are and there should be no squeamishness about pointing it out.

At the end of Len’s McCluskey’s recent statement endorsing Miliband’s benefit bashing speech he is quite clear in his support for Labour’s Jobs Guarantee workfare scheme calling it a ‘good start’.

In case there is any doubt about whether this means Unite support benefit sanctions then this is what McCluskey is praising: “a compulsory jobs guarantee, young people will have an obligation to take a job after a year or lose their benefits”.

Of course this won’t be a real job, but a temporary six month placement funded by the tax payer and pegged at the minimum wage – despite Miliband’s so called support for the living wage for everyone else.  It is unclear whether they will even be paid in full for their work, with Labour only offering 25 hours wages and insisting companies provide an additional ten hours ‘training’.  If young people refuse, or are unable to take these jobs, they will be sanctioned.  These jobs are workfare, backed with benefit sanctions and sadly this is what McCluskey has pledged Unite can ‘help bring to life’.

Miliband also voiced his support for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) along with the upcoming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments.  The only purpose to these assessments is to slash benefits and Miliband calls them the ‘right thing to do’.  Just as importantly Miliband didn’t even mention the bedroom tax.  Over half a million of the UK’s poorest people are set to lose their homes or be plunged into debt and poverty, and this wasn’t even worthy of a mention in Miliband’s keynote speech on welfare reform.

And neither was it worth a mention in McCluskey’s gushing response and it is this that damns him.  What Miliband’s speech represents is an all too familiar strategy from the neo-liberal Labour Party.  It is an attempt to anchor the debate on welfare reform away from the demands of claimants and instead offer a pointless choice between Tory or Labour benefit cuts.

To Miliband, the debate on the bedroom tax, the WCA, PIP and other benefit changes is over.  There is to be no discussion about repealing these measures, merely a weak demand that they should be a bit nicer.  Perhaps there might even be a couple less suicides, or not quite so many people will be driven from their homes.  And with Labour’s track record on benefits, they shouldn’t even be trusted to achieve that.

McCluskey and Unite represent, in the popular debate at least. the left, or even far left, of Labour.  For Unite to back Miliband’s statement and ignore his shameful support for Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms means a a job well done for the Labour Party.  It drags the entire conversation away from the current demands of claimants and turns it into a petty neo-liberal squabble about how to fix unemployment by fixing unemployed people.  Whether knowingly or not, McCluskey is playing his part in an attempt to shut down the voices of those who want, and need, the bedroom tax, the WCA, PIP, the benefit cap and workfare scrapped, immediately.

Unite have talked a good game on social security up until this point, even setting up a branch of the union specifically for those on benefits.  This means it is McClusky’s job to represent the interests of benefit claimants.  If they are not prepared to do this then they shouldn’t have bothered wasting everyone’s time and money.  Miliband’s speech outraged most claimants and showed that if Labour are elected then we will need to fight them every bit as hard as we are fighting the current slime.

The head of a union which represents claimants should have been ferocious in condemning Miliband’s speech.  Instead they did quite the opposite, openly supporting workfare, and ignoring everything else. There was no ‘hope’ for claimants in this speech as McCluskey claimed.   If Unite Community Union’s only response to an open attack on claimants  is to call it a good start, then the question needs to be asked, what is the point of the Unite Community Union?

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64 responses to “The Miliband McCluskey Love In And Why It Matters

  1. overburdenddonkey

    lets move on, and forget the past, ed and len agree…yeah long as you don’t carry the burden ay boys….

  2. This blog post demonstrates perfectly why the problem of modern parliamentary politics is not a problem of the Tories, but the problem of Labour, and it’s refusal to offer an alternative.

    Yes, I know many you know this, but very, very many do not, or will not admit it, or face up to the fact that we live in a completely unrepresentative, undemocratic state. So long as all the lazy-minded and frankly downright stupid people keep voting Labour merely because they are not the Tories, instead of spoiling their ballot papers, or voting for a party which actually offers a real and fair alternative to the corporate controlled main parties, then – forevermore – nothing will ever change for the better.
    A vote for Labour is a vote for big business and increasing inequality. I am sick to death of idiots spouting on about Tory cuts, Tory oppression, Tory this that or the other…

    • “…or voting for a party which actually offers a real and fair alternative to the corporate controlled main parties…”

      Which is…?

      • I would have answered the Greens, but for the fact they have a member (if she still is) from Wales who’d be quite happy to have benefits replaced by vouchers (she also drives around in a big ol’ jag).

        Sadly she was endorsed by the so-called People’s Assembly about which I’m, sadly, starting to become cynical.

        Is there anything decent left? Everything seems to be poisoned: there’s an anti bedroom tax movement in liverpool that’s given in to the local fascist facebook club!

      • “…or voting for a party which actually offers a real and fair alternative to the corporate controlled main parties…”

        Which is…?

        Yeah, that’s what I want to know. Go on Dave J, tell us. Where is this wonderful party that’s going to save us all then?

        • I wasn’t claiming to provide easy answers. Just suggesting people don’t vote for one of the main parties.

      • Well, you make a very good point. Perhaps at least voting for say a truly socialist party, if one happens to be standing in your constituency, which is highly unlikely in most places. At least NOT voting for the main parties.

  3. I am sure that the Unite Union is interested in increasing its membership… after all, if as in the case of Derek Simpson upon retirement, they offer a Golden Goodbye of £500,000, they need increased subscriptions for somewhere. I am sure that this will increase to >£1Million for the other *ankers with the Unite Union.

  4. overburdenddonkey

    a day in a life….john winston lennon….@ 3 i used to go to the cinema…to escape the world…i saw, the lone ranger, zoro, count of monte christo…etc etc…i come to realize that this is it, my life…”a fool on the hill.”.comes to mind…and if anything is going to change it is down to me to change it…knowing all the insults thrown at the the downtrodden is one has gone on for centuries..generations…fighting for ones rights and countering their lies is quite another…

  5. Len McLuckski, should be ousted from his high office at the earliest opportunity,(preferably through a window),as surely it is the requirment of any union to represent its members,and not those whom they sponsor.

    • overburdenddonkey

      murray..i believe his predecessor got golden fcukoff of £500 grand….i like your sentiment, though! cash 4 q’s et al come to mine…a group of deprived kids in london said, “why does this government hate us so much” in desparation at what they do, and get away with doing…

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  7. Fuck the lot of ’em. Ed Miliband and those who support him can kiss my Working Class arse. Fuck ‘Blue Labour’, fuck the brown-nosed Union bosses, fuck Capitalism, bollocks to Workfare and Benefit sanctions. Get fucked you bastards.

  8. Pierre Lapin, Jobseeker's Alliance

    David J and the rest of you, I totally agree with all your comments.
    One of the biggest problems facing 99% of our population is ignorance. All of our politicians speak such jibberish that most people don’t see how they are being hoodwinked.. The media and successive education reforms are all part of the conspiracy of divide and rule, and unfortunately the sheeple swallow it, wholesale. Even the people’s own BBC is so strangled by tory trojan horses it follows suit, making the commercially owned Channel 4 seem almost radical in comparison… Oh dear.
    I am a member of the unite community, and I am now composing a kick-arse email that might make them think again… Here’s hoping!
    Where’s the Lone Ranger when we need him? At the moment we are surrounded by bandits!

  9. Dennis Skinner for PM.

    • Skinner talks a good game, but his voting record is surprisingly loyal to Labour’s leadership. (I was surprised when I looked it up. And somewhat disappointed.)

  10. There was a thing a while ago claiming mclusky was a commited communist backed by russia…tories made a thing about it…

  11. We need a party that represents us, but we’ll either end up with one that gets 3% to 5% of the vote and no seats, or one that splits the left wing vote so much that the Tories get back in. Why vote for Labour? That’s like staying with someone who beats you.

  12. The sick and disabled seem to be blamed for all GB’s problems, Parties are ganging up on them, being refused basic human rights and now the Unite Union taking much needed monies under false pretenses. I actually thought about joining in the beginning but i am glad i didn’t..I was hoping that vulnerable people would get support from not only Unions but Politicians too but it’s easier to hang on to the Tory coat tails but in the end we should Not be surprised with these events as the Unions have been stickin it to their own members for years. I would be demanding my money back after this

  13. Rosemarie Harris

    We need more people to join unite and start fighting from inside we had a chance to get rid of this highly paid union offiical and yet he got back in because not enough people with reasons are in this union. Community membership is that it’s about that our community if everyone voted who could we properly wouldn’t have had this brown nose elected again please use your vote where ever in unions or elections we get what we deserve …A pratt!

    • I initially thought that it was a positive sign that Unite set up the community union, but on further thought I asked myself why people joining were ‘community members’ and not just ordinary members? I’m also sceptical about mainstream unions, as they do tend to brownnose the Labour Party too much, and haven’t actually been much of a challenge to either the Tories in the Conservative Party, or the Tories in the Labour Party. It’s also a waste of money, as whilst £2 a month isn’t a huge amount of money, I want to at least know that my trade union would support me rather than stab me in the back. Instead of promoting itself on it’s ability to defend it’s members it stresses that it has discount arrangements with high street stores!

      I have joined a union, and whilst it’s true that it’s not as big as Unite, it actually does support the workers who are it’s membership, is extremely democratic and directly controlled by the members, has no paid officials. Workers are all equal members, no matter what their employment status, and if you get work, or change trades you can stay in the same union, though you might have to change to a different section. If you are unemployed monthly membership is as low as a pound a month.

      It’s a union entirely controlled, and run by the members, for the members, but you have to be prepared to actually do something yourself, with the help and support of others.

      My union is also ‘non-political’ in that it is a union for all workers, though those of a sexist,racist or homophobic disposition would have a hard time, as the union regards all workers as having equal rights. No money, or support goes to any political party. The union I am a member of also respects the right to practice your religion, or none, as the case may be, but it endorses no religion.

      What is the union I’m a member of? It’s the I.W.W. – Industrial Workers of the World.

  14. Off subject …. but how much does MP expenses cost the tax payer in comparison to JSA?

    • Murray…..there’s probably more people now than ever that are claiming in work benefits because of part time worthless minimum wage jobs……….MP’s shouldn’t be allowed to claim any expenses on the bounty they receive, Torries have always been on the side of people with money, now all the other parties are jumping on the gravy train, in power or not!

  15. The phrase ‘workless’ appears in the Newcastle document. Making Newcastle a working city’ it wants to enlist ingeus and avanta in Its campaign and go beyond normal jobcentre powers..

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      They just don’t learn do they – Providers like Ingeus and Advanta are laughing all the way to the bank – effectivley taking the taxpayers money this stupid government are only too happy to give them and showing NOTHING in return.

  16. all for Unite

    what is the point of the Unite Community Union?… to make them money I did email them last year asking what i would get for my £26 a year they said, advice on ‘claiming the right benefits’ debt management etc next they will be doing welfare to work contract. I did read last year saying they had 100k people in the Unite community union membership so that would be 50k a week not bad. How many million members have you lost in the last few years? To be asking people who are struggling to pay there bills is Unbelievable

    • Leave Unite Community Union > join I.W.W, pay as little as £12 a year.

      What do you get? More or less what you want from a union, as it’s a union where you decide with others. Be prepared to be expected to get off your backside and do something though – you will get loads of support and training.

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  18. All these money people in bed together, all lost sight of humanity, empathy and there own morality, makes me fucking sick, poor, sick and disabled have no chance!

  19. The tax payer has been brainwashed with dwp lies and psychobabble, this or any previous government never upset the greedy utility companies cos most of them are shareholders! We are always gonna be fucked by greed!

  20. something survived...

    Tough on poor people, tough on the causes of poor people.

    Red= yellow= blue.

    • Except they’re not. The proximate cause of this much poverty is the already-rich sucking every single spare penny they can out of the economy at the top, in tax avoidance, multimillion pound directors’ bonuses and dividend payments that aren’t remotely justified by profits. Far from being tough on that, our political class has positively encouraged it, on all sides, and Labour are showing fuck all sign of doing anything differently, whatever pretty speeches they might give.

      Frankly this endorsement from McCluskey, after months of Miliband using him as a punching bag, looks like either the culmination of an extended period of cynical theatrics, or the desperate gullibility of an abused partner defending their abuser against all interventions. I honestly can’t decide which is more likely.

    • And/or reading ‘the causes of poor people’ as being (bedroom tax protests/anti-poverty campaigns against being directed to food banks/vouchers replacing emergency cash loans/right to remain alive etc.): – all x3 have collectively applied Tony’s ‘Tough on …’ mantra in every case (with a very few notable exceptions) when they could have opted to speak up in defence of those hardest-hit on numerous occasions. They have joined in with the bullying and justified their actions and should all be sent to see Jeremy Clarkson – immediately!

  21. Obi Wan Kenobi

    It looks like the DWP are trying to cover up Mark Hobans original press release dated 3rd June:

    ‘Press release Government announces details of post Work Programme support.’

    The original: –

    The Updated Version, which has the whole latter half of the original release missing:

    • Obi Wan Kenobi

      This updated version completely misses out the most important paragraph for anyone finishing the Work Programme:

      ‘Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching. This will allow their adviser to check their work search activity online should the claimant give permission’.

      Typical DWP trying to move the goalpost again.

      • Eric Greenwood (4727)

        How many of those Millions were forced onto it by trickery by the DWP and PCS union members? How many of these employers are counted each day, I have seen the same jobs day in day out, i have seen the same jobs with only a slight difference of location.. THE UJM is a sanction machine its a scammers paradise

  22. strangerinhisowntown

    As on jobseakers for last few months, and applying for any jobs that I can (must be in hundreds now), I’m at breaking point and since April being hit with the bedroom and poll tax all the money I had left after paying all the bills I spent on food and to help look for work. Now I’m in the possition do I feed myself and get into dept, or pay and starve. With most jobs being favoured to east Europeans where I’m from as witnessed first hand it does not help are local econemy or the majority of jobseakers find and get back in to work. My friend refused a part job which he was unable to get as of lack of public transport as he does not drive, the job was a fifty mile round trip, has now been sanctioned. funny thing is he live right next door to one of the largest distributors in England who don’t seem to be taking on local people and has built a small village too house the Europeans (true). Which we have applied on numerous occasions to no avail. These politions and the dwp need to start protecting local economies and culture help local people back into these jobs to stop the large gap in the local unemployed and get them back there feet…..

  23. Are you suggesting throwing out all the Eastern Europeans? 🙂

    • Would that be such a bad idea? I’ve nothing against Eastern Europeans or Europeans in general for that matter, but if you remove this guaranteed source of cheap labour from the market the employers will have no choice but to employ locals and it would also be a driver for higher wages. Why do you think the CBI is so keen to import as much of this cheap labour as they can?

  24. Eric Greenwood (4727)

    Unions are only out to get what they can from working members, they will screw anyone to get more money for the leaders. They dont actually care about members, If i said give me money each year and i will do bugger all for you, i will spend that on giving myself a 6 figure wage and expenses, what would you think that i was a scammer..

  25. strangerinhisowntown

    No not kick any one out, but prioritise jobs for the local population first instead of advertising job for here abroad and then hire non locals. give the native british folk and local economy a chance in our own land. Maybe they’ll leave on there own accord then. I don’t have that chance to leave….

  26. Off topic again…but everyone should watch”Mark McGowan Artist Taxi Driver”on u-tube,its a dont miss!

  27. It sounds as though big Len is looking for a peerage from not-so-red Ed. As a House of Lords member,he’d earn almost as much as he does being Gen.Sec.of Unite.

  28. Milliband+ most union leaders will all was look to there own interest first! it has always been this way,Jack Jones never got a knight hood because he supported OAPS plight against both Tory and Labour party policies this type of action right wing Union and Labour leaders hate suck up to the system house of Lords here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Its all about trying to hide the elephant in the room, ‘The real unemployment figures’
    Its been going on since the 70s, schemes and subsidies costing the taxpayers of this country billions of pounds, if not trillions.
    If the true figures were ever published no person would ever vote again.

    Its just a giant con game.

  30. I hope Unite are monitoring this blog, then hopefully they will see this reply. I am a member of the community branch but also a community organiser which means I promote the union and recruit members. I am also in the process of setting up a branch of community membership. Not anymore, I am finished with them. I will also be advising those I have recruited to also to also leave. What’s the fucking point. All that hard work for nothing. I also have three prospective members/ all on ESA one of whom has just had his benefits stopped despite having no fingers on his right hand and missing toes due to industrial injury. This morning I have phoned my regional coordinator and told them of my desicsion. They can fuck off, along with the Labour party who I stopped having even the slightest hope in long ago.

    • I’m certainly not a unite official or anything, just a rank-and-file member, but I wanted to reply and I hope you see this. When you say you’re leaving and you’ll be encouraging others to leave/not to join, what’re you planning to do next? Cos if you’re leaving to set up an independent local group, then good luck -it may sound sarky but I honestly mean it, you might want to contact Edinburgh claimants for advice. But if you’re not planning to do anything after you leave, then I don’t think that’s good, you’d be giving up a chance to fight workfare and sanctions now because of some bureaucrat supporting possible sanctions at some point in the future. If it looks like labour’s likely to come to power at some point soon then we’ll need to plan out how we fight their workfare plans with less or no union backing, but right now unite are willing to offer claimants resources to fight the workfare schemes we have at the moment, and I think that’s worth taking advantage of unless you have a better option.

  31. Anybody who questions the robbers running our country is considered to be a nutter yet speak the truth- an example of one of them here:-

  32. Here is another keiser report on how the marketeers are robbing us:-

  33. Power to the people – protesters fighting for the ordinary person’s interests.

    • Now we can see what all the surveillance is REALLY for.
      They know what’s coming; they’re just getting prepared.

  34. sorry here is the link for the power to the people G8

  35. Pingback: Join The Riff Raff Outside The People’s Assembly On Saturday 22nd June | the void

  36. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » The Facts About Boycott Workfare and the Unions

  37. As a member of Unite Community, and someone who shares your basic perspectives, I suppose I should say something here. When I first heard about the idea, I was very skeptical – I think one of the important things about organising as claimants is that it offers space to try more democratic ways of doing things, so the idea of setting up a new group linked to the TUC bureaucracy seemed like a terrible idea and I had no interest in getting involved.
    Then I met the people in my local group, and realised that no matter what I think of the project in general, at a local level it offers a chance to organise with other claimants, and in particular to get involved in workfare protests, which is something I’d wanted to do for a while but never been able to. Currently my branch is involved in activity around the bedroom tax, workfare, and leafleting jobcentres to let claimants know about the dangers of Universal Jobmatch. Yeah, if it was an option I’d rather be in a self-organised group with no links to the bureaucracy or an IWW claimants union, but those things don’t exist in my area and being in a Unite Community union is better than no community union at all.
    Short version: yeah, the Unite bureaucracy is shit, but then union bureaucracies have always been shit, and workplace union branches can still offer a chance for rank and file workers to defend their interests, just like Unite community branches can offer a chance for ordinary claimants to organise. If there’s something better on offer in your area, by all means do that instead, but if not I still think joining Unite can be worthwhile.

  38. Boycott workfare is the only independent protest organisation at the moment it seems, it is disgusting to think that others like unite are in league with parties that support workfare and sanctions.
    Unite may be trying to unite the splintered left but need to review their policies.

  39. Pingback: Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » The Facts About Boycott Workfare and the Unions

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