From today’s Financial Times:
When Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, made a plea for Labour to discover a new vision and strategy last month it appeared to mark a watershed in heightened tensions between the party and the unions.
Mr Barber, the figurehead of the union movement, is well-known as a party loyalist who rarely speaks out of turn…
Derek Simpson, joint head of Unite, is another voice in the union movement now ramping up the pressure by demanding a clear sense of purpose from the Labour leadership.
There is agreement across the ideological spectrum within Labour that the party must reconnect with the electorate; they are just not entirely sure how.
Even within the unions there is a sense of “disgruntlement” with the party, according to Mr Simpson. “Lots of members will say they were Labour voters but haven’t made up their minds and don’t know who to vote for next time,” he says.
Another Labour figure says there were always tiffs between the unions and the party that they set up just over 100 years ago. But he said the bad feeling was worsening. “It is now being felt through the grassroots, it is not a disagreement between some general secretaries and the government over a certain bill or how much money should go into the NHS. The discontent has broken out of the Westminster village and into the real world.” Union members increasingly are voting for the Liberal Democrats, British National party or even the Tories – their traditional enemy – as Labour’s star fades, he says.
You can read the full piece here.