I wanted to bring you up to date with a few items of news following the attendance of a UNISON delegation of the South West Regional Labour Conference in November.
Much of conference was aimed at gearing up for the next GE which did lead to a little push back from many of the assembled that they lack much to say on the doorstep right now. Its clear that many of the policies we might have trumpeted from the last manifestos are no longer valid, but we have little to replace them with yet, and there was a mixed reception for the idea that we need to do all our big reveals in the run up to the next election. Issues like Transport, Jobs and housing should resonate in this area if we can set the agenda.
The rural votes debate of course brought up the call for electoral reform and it is beholden on UNISON to come to a view on PR. This branch and most others in the south west seem to be behind it and will attempt to bring motions to NDC and Labour Link conferences next summer.
Environmental policies that are far the most advanced and include a £28b annual spending pledge should be a trump card, but we haven’t got the message out there and all the COP26 publicity went to the Green Party and others with Labour largely absent from demos in the region.
UNISON was able to bolster Labour’s green reputation by heading off a potentially damaging motion from GMB advocating gas and nuclear power as transitional fuels. We do understand their concerns and Labour needs bold plans for a just transition to move these skilled workers into green jobs now.
There was some excellent discussion on housing policy including on the need for ecologically sensitive developments (NIMBYS often dress in green clothes) and some stark statistics such as average house prices in Bristol are now 9x average annual salary and Cornwall has 10000 air B&Bs and just 69 current rental opportunities.
Our members have been saying for years that Councils need more powers to build social rented housing, regulate the private sector and drive up standards. There were also calls for a second home tax and taxes in inherited income to pay for investment.
Unions were also to the fore on the debates around Covid which don’t need repeating here.
The tragic death of Bobbi-Ann in Plymouth was marked by a minutes silence and several motions on Women’s safety and motions were also passed advocating universal childcare and pensions justice for the WASPI women
Would you like to get involved in UNISON Labour Link?
We would like to hear more form Labour Link members about how they would like us to work with the party, what we expect from them and what our priorities should be.
We also need reps to attend the local CLP meetings on our behalf
If you have anything you would like to contribute, please get in touch with me or joint LL Officer Jamie Bannerman
Kevin Treweeks, Labour Link Officer