PCS Union is not affiliated to Labour or any Party, but we have publicly supported Jeremy Corbyn. We were honoured he was the first Labour leader to address our conference.
Ours has been an uncomfortable relationship with Labour leaderships over the years. Our members will never forget chancellor Gordon Brown in 2005 announcing 100,000 civil service job cuts to the cheers of Labour MPs.
Jeremy a founding member of our parliamentary group, and John McDonnell the chair. Both consistently offered solid support of our union’s anti-cuts demands and vision for an alternative to austerity.
More than that. When Jeremy addressed our conference he gave an outright commitment to:
- restore national pay bargaining – delegated by Thatcher in the 80s in the Tory attempts to divide and rule public sector workforce. This is something that the New labour leadership refused to do in 13 years.
- pledged to oppose further cuts
- Repeal Tory anti-TU Act
Who would have thought – a standing ovation for the Labour Leader at PCS conference?
Like many unions, if we are honest, our members are not all Labour supporters. Of course, proportionally there will be more members of Labour in PCS than say, Tories. In Scotland, a large number of trade unionists are now SNP, some are attracted to Green and other left parties. It is also a reality that there are UKIP supporters that carry a trade union membership card. A significant number of our members nail their colours to no Party mast.
For the average PCS member in a job centre or tax office, earning less than £25,000 still after decades of service, Labour has not been an attractive option for some time.
Tony Blair or even Gordon Brown’s New Labour attacks on public services didn’t exactly inspire support for the party. Neither did Ed Miliband’s austerity-lite or his refusal to support public sector workers taking national industrial action against the Tories pensions grab, or condemn the austerity pay cuts endured by low paid workers. In Scotland, the lack of strong left Labour leadership has driven core working class voters to actually believe the SNP will better protect them from austerity.
In Jeremy, I have seen a surprising number of PCS activists being won over in the hope of real change in this country. These are the people that Labour, if it is to be elected to government, need to convince, and still reach to, beyond the PLP Beyond the CLPS, new activists and beyond Momentum. Beyond the swing voters in marginal seats driving British mainstream politics to a perpetual centre. Beyond these beyond is a working class that still have a legitimate claim “I never left Labour, but Labour left me”.
Only one candidate in this race reaches outwards. He is not the messiah nor a very naughty boy. Jeremy Corbyn is just one man. Yet he speaks the truth to the next generation of political activists that Labour needs if it is to surmount the disaffection with electoral politics and the disdain for managerialism that has grown out of the New Labour years.
The PCS NEC have agreed our members best interests are served by Jeremy’s continued leadership in opposition to the Tories. As a non affiliated union, PCS is committed to do everything we can to support those who support our alternative – Jeremy and John.