The Staggers 29 May 2015 Labour must defend the trade union link A group of Labour MPs write in defence of the party's trade union link. Families and members of the TUC attend an anti-austerity demo in Westminster. Photo: Getty Images Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up There has been much discussion in the wake of the disastrous general election result about the future direction of our party. A full and frank conversation must take place, involving all parts of our party and country – that includes the millions of people in trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party. The trade union link is the umbilical cord connecting a party of a few hundred thousand to a coalition of trade unions with a membership of over six million. The whirling cesspool of some of the British right-wing media continues to smear trade unions, their leadership and their links with the Labour Party. While millions of people in the UK face huge hardship, the gutter press keep the stories off the front pages, replacing them with crackpot tales of ‘Red Him’, ‘Red Her’ or ‘Red Anyone’. Shamefully, there are many in our own party who see the aims of the unions as alien to their own and hurl around the lexicon of our enemies willy-nilly. The phrases trade union ‘barons’, union ‘bullying’ or ‘sabotage’ should have no place in the vocabulary of Labour politicians. Perhaps some of those from the nouveaux wing of the Party should read their history and understand that the unions created the Labour Party and not the other way around. We can never forget our responsibility towards working people, the people that the Labour Party was created to represent. It is trade unions that give a voice to those people, and it is our obligation to respectfully engage with them and their elected representatives. Unions will participate in the leadership election under rules agreed just last year to broad approval. It would be ludicrous to suggest any further revisions at this stage could be warranted. Our affiliated trade unions should be encouraged in their endeavours to engage and sign up their members as affiliated supporters of our party, and to treat this with suspicion is absurd. We must also be clear that elected union leaders have a right and a duty to express their views on policy and on candidates on behalf of their unions. Those who seek to silence such contributions to open debate within our party only create an impression of intolerance and a desire to limit discussion to a charmed parliamentary circle. Ian Lavery MP Jon Trickett MP Jo Stevens MP Roger Godsiff MP Marie Rimmer MP Angela Rayner MP Pat Glass MP John McDonnell MP Grahame Morris MP Ian Mearns MP Harry Harpham MP Rachael Maskell MP Ronnie Campbell MP Dave Anderson MP Richard Burgon MP Stephen Hepburn MP Alan Meale MP David Crausby MP Dennis Skinner MP Clive Lewis MP Jeremy Corbyn MP Jess Phillips MP Liz McInnes MP Kate Osamor MP Kelvin Hopkins MP Louise Haigh MP Rebecca Long-Bailey MP Paula Sherriff MP Chris Matheson MP Catherine West MP › Who are the MPs competing to become Labour's deputy leader? Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!