Right now, it’s a dangerous time for our politics and for our society. The historic successes of our movement are under threat while the forces of hate and division are on the rise.
For those with labour values, that’s difficult to watch.
This week, tens of thousands of people were on the streets across our country, protesting against the vile, racist immigration policies of Donald Trump.
Trump is a man of grotesque vulgarity who has broken all of the rules of politics, honesty, decency and morality. And yet has been elected anyway.
That’s hard to take.
Likewise with Brexit. I voted to Remain and UNISON backed Remain. Not because we’re a pro-European union, but because we knew that staying in Europe was the better option for our rights at work, and the services we work in.
Yet like in America, the brazen lies of the right won the day – and like in America, intolerance is on the rise.
UNISON will always stand against hatred, and we’ll always speak out when we see it.
Unlike our Prime Minister – we won’t hold hands with bigots and racists.
The past week has shown so clearly the difference between a Labour government and a Tory government.
Jeremy Corbyn – backed by Labour MPs from all wings of the party – has called on Trump’s state visit to be cancelled, and for the appeasement of this far right bigot to end.
He has spoken truth to power.
Meanwhile, Theresa May wouldn’t criticise Trump, wouldn’t condemn Trump and wouldn’t even cancel his invite to Buckingham Palace while he’s targeting those from Muslim countries. But she would hold his hand.
That was a perfect symbol to show why we need a Labour government; a government with our values of solidarity, compassion and equal rights for all.
That is what our union expects from our government – and it’s certainly what we expect of Labour.
We also expect assurances on the proper funding of our public services, on ending the public-sector pay cap, on ending privatisation rather than selling off our NHS to the US health companies as Theresa May seems destined to do – and we expect our rights at work to be not just defended but extended outside of the EU.
All of that, and much more, is what we expect from Labour, and we will continue to fight for that within the party. And we will fight across this country for a Labour government, one that UNISON members need so much.