Charlie Whelan says . . .
Don't believe it - "Unions fear assault on Labour link"
Why on earth should the unions "fear" a break in the historic link with Labour? For years, some trade unionists have argued that the Labour Party and the unions should go their separate ways. It is also true that, for quite different reasons, others in new Labour have been saying the same thing.
The fact is that there is no good reason why the constitutional link should remain. Tony Blair used to enjoy telling the story, taken from the film Life of Brian, about "what have the Romans ever done for us?"; he would reel off a list of what Labour had done for the country since taking office. If a trade unionist were to ask today what the Labour government had done for them, the answer would probably be "not much". This may or may not be true, but the unions believe that they have got very little for their money.
In America, where there is no direct link between the Democratic Party and the unions, it could be argued that they get far more for their money. So why not do the same here?
As far as I can tell, the only reason why most union barons still resist breaking the link is that they would not be able to cast their block vote at party conference - as if a conference decision ever made any difference to how the Labour leadership acts. It is only this vanity that prevents a sensible debate and an amicable divorce.
All we get at the moment is union funds being wasted on infantile adverts in the Guardian attacking the government, and silly threats, which Blair probably loves.
Union members have nothing to fear from a break. It may even prompt leaders like John Edmonds to run their unions, instead of behaving like second-rate politicians.