Letter of the week: Is Gordon a union man?

Darcus Howe's powerful call to revive trade-union influence to help restore democratic involvement in British political life (Columns, 25 September) ought to be a standard text for a Labour government under Gordon Brown. One of the failings of the Blair years has been the refusal of the Downing Street elite to enlist the unions in developing the so-called "modernisation programme".

I am convinced the unions would have responded to genuinely encouraging noises from the Prime Minister. But, for most of the past decade, Blair and his entourage have regarded the unions as an embarrassment, part of a labour-movement history best forgotten. This drove John Monks from the TUC general secretaryship. It also encouraged a bloody-mindedness among some union leaders, which has played into Blair's hands.

This is a moment to encourage a revival of positive trade unionism. It can be done as Howe suggests. But it requires a new thrust from government - something a Brown premiership would be wise swiftly to adopt.

Geoffrey Goodman
London NW7

This article first appeared in the 02 October 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Warming up: a new double act