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GMB Congress to consider investigating party-within-a-party “Progress”

The preliminary agenda for the GMB Congress, due to start in Brighton on 10 June, is now available on its internal website. The agenda reveals significant disaffection with the stance taken earlier this year by Ed Balls on public service cuts and pay, with motions from seven out of nine regions, some of which also propose some cut in the funding of the Labour Party or individual MPs.

There is also a motion proposing an investigation of party-within-a-party, Progress,whose annual income, it notes, is now “more than the maximum ever achieved by the Militant tendency“. It also notes that “prominent Progress members have briefed against Ed Miliband…. it was Progress who argued that Labour’s front bench needed to support cuts and wage restraint… (and) the November 2011 edition of Progress magazine sought to undermine Ken Livingstone’s campaign for London mayor“.

The ful text of the Progress motion is:

Congress notes that that the pressure group within the Labour Party, Progress, has now raised over £2.8million to fund its activities. Its annual income is now well in excess of the maximum ever achieved by the Militant tendency (which raised £283,818 in 1986 according to its published fighting fund totals).

Congress notes that Progress provides training for its preferred candidates for parliamentary selections, and promotes candidates for internal elections, and has been described as a “party within the party”. Congress notes that the principal Progress patron is Lord David Sainsbury who has been a donor since April 2004 and continues to fund Progress at the rate of £260,000 a year. His donations of over £8.4million to the Labour Party stopped when Ed Miliband became leader. Progress is also funded by pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Pharmacia.

Prominent Progress members have briefed against Ed Miliband to the press, and it was Progress who argued that Labour’s front bench needed to support cuts and wage restraint. Congress regrets that Ed Miliband caved into this pressure. Congress notes with concern the support by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband for public sector pay restraint, thus giving credibility to Tory arguments about the deficit.

Congress notes that the November 2011 edition of Progress magazine sought to undermine Ken Livingstone’s campaign for London mayor, casting doubt on his suitability as candidate.

Congress notes that Progress advances the strategy of accepting the Tory arguments for public spending cuts.

Congress believes that such factional campaigns to undermine Labour candidates, and to soften opposition to Tory policies, endanger the unity of the party and the movement in our fight against the coalition government.

Congress resolves that GMB will work to maintain unity within the Labour Party, but that the Labour Party can only succeed when we promote policies that benefit working people.

Congress resolves that the national political officer should monitor the factional activity of Progress, and report to the CEC with recommendations.

Southern Region

Other Motions on the Labour Party

This is a selection of the contents of other motions on the relationship between the GMB and the Labour Party

Our Union must strengthen its political voice and must, in particular, take steps to ensure that the Labour Party is properly responsive to the needs of our members.”

Midland & East Coast Region

Congress is disgusted at the recent statements by Ed Miliband, and Ed Balls, to continue with the Tory policies of public sector pay freezes. This is a clear example where two Ed‟s are not better than one.

Congress is deeply concerned by the recent statement by the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls and the subsequent interviews by Ed Miliband. The idea that opposition to the Coalition‟s cuts and wages policies is based on a narrow trade union stance is wrong and needs to be challenged.

London Region

Congress…. is disappointed at statements from Labour Leader, Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls saying they cannot promise to reserve any Tory cuts and have endorsed Tory Chancellor, George Osborne‟s public sector pay freeze. Congress believes we are facing class war from the Tories and need to fight back.

Yorkshire & North Derbyshire Region

Congress is appalled by the lack of support by the Labour Party Leadership for legitimate, lawful industrial action. It would appear that the present Labour Leadership has learnt nothing from mistakes made by Labour under the Blair and Brown Governments, which alienated traditional supporters and paved the way for a vicious Tory/Lib Dem Coalition hell bent on destroying jobs, services and living standards. Failing to support workers taking legitimate and lawful action will not win back that support.

North West and Irish Region

It would appear that the labour party is happy ignoring its responsibility to the millions of workers and vulnerable people who are suffering vicious attacks from the cabinet of millionaires. They seem happy ignoring the half a million people who joined the TUC‟s march for an alternative last year and the half of the country, at least, who are against the cuts. If Labour wants to win back voters‟ trust after years of New Labour betrayal it has to remember their responsibility is to the working class people and just as importantly us in the Trade Union movement. It must remember the principles on which the party was founded.

Birmingham & West Midlands Region

This conference believe:

  1. That the statements from Paul Kenny, Len McCluskey and others attacking Balls and Miliband are welcome.
  2. That it is more than ever clear that we cannot “wait for Labour” to deliver change and that we will have to fight ourselves against the Tories.
  3. That the millions of pounds shoveled to Labour by some unions have been wasted.
  4. That the workers should not pay for the bosses and bankers crisis. We could defend and improve public services by such measures as taxing the rich, collecting the £120 billion of tax that is avoided and evaded by the rich and corporations, imposing a tax on financial transactions (“Robin Hood Tax”) getting rid of Trident nuclear weapons and withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan.

Southern Region

Where trade unions decide that industrial action, including strike action, is required to defend jobs, pensions, or terms and conditions of employment, we believe that Labour MPs, and all other elected Labour representatives, should publicly support that action, attend picket lines, and take part in demonstrations in support of the action. Conference therefore… agrees that no GMB funding is to be provided to any Labour elected representatives who fail to actively support industrial action by trade unions in his/her constituency.

GMB Scotland

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