UNITE general secretary Len McCluskey launched a scathing attack yesterday on shadow chancellor Ed Balls and right-wing Labour figures who “don’t get it” when it comes to ordinary people’s lives.
The union leader savaged party rightwingers' cuts trumpeting, declaring: “If we go to the electorate with a paler shade of austerity then we will lose.”
Laying down the gauntlet to opposition leader Ed Miliband, the Unite leader — who has thrown his weight behind Labour in the fight against a vicious Tory Party — said: “He’s got to enthuse our union. He’s got to enthuse our activists. He’s got to enthuse me.
“The truth of the matter is, of course, there are still enormous strains with the Labour Party. We’ve some in the Labour leadership that don’t get it.”
Too many had never had real jobs and only understood people’s frustrations come election time, he said, adding: “They’re having difficulties cutting the umbilical cord with the City.”
By contrast, “we represent real people,” Mr McCluskey said.
“With difficulty we slog along” trying to get Labour to act on anti-trade union laws and set a radical agenda, he added.
“I think they’re beginning to get the message.”
Mr McCluskey hit out at a packed fringe in Liverpool where he backed the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and Institute for Employment Rights in their fight to overturn Britain’s draconian labour laws.
The Unite general secretary spoke after fiery declarations of resistance against the worst anti-trade union legislation in the developed world.
Top lawyer John Hendy QC rubbished the warping of history that suggests that unions in the 1970s — then at the height of their power — were somehow a drag on progress.
“Far from being the decade of the winter of discontent, the 1970s was a vital decade in British history,” he said.
“It was the most equal decade ever in British history.”
Mr Hendy said: “Collective bargaining has got to be top of the list of labour movement demands from the Labour Party.
“If it turns out that the Labour Party doesn’t deliver, we’ll have to think again.”