Today I’m in York, where I’ve been addressing our union’s annual Labour Link Forum. It’s always a great event to attend, to hear passionate, politically active and motivated UNISON activists talk about how we are taking our union’s politics into the Labour Party.
Our union has always been affiliated to the Labour Party. I have been a member of the Labour Party for over 40 years. I know what an incredible difference Labour governments can make to the lives of our members. But we must always remember that our union is not a fan club for the Labour Party – Our relationship is founded on truth, honesty and of course friendship. And the very best friends are those who are honest enough to say when they disagree, as well as give wholehearted support when that support is justified.
So from Brexit to privatisation and social care to local government funding – I know that our Labour Link will remain vital in fighting for our union’s politics within Labour. Influencing, convincing and fighting for that radical Labour government our members need.
It’s not just Labour people I’ve been speaking to this week though. Yesterday I was in Bournemouth as a keynote speaker at the Local Government Association’s annual conference. It was a great opportunity to speak to local government leaders about our union’s vision for local government. As the biggest local government union in the country, we will always fight for local services – and for the funding that’s needed to provide them. After a decade of austerity, local services are at breaking point – so my challenge to local councillors was for them to join with us, whatever party they’re part of, in the battle for the funding for jobs, pay and services.
In the coming months, our new Local Service Champions campaign will be a huge priority for our union – building towards October 17th, our first Local Service Champions Day. I hope that getting behind the UK’s forgotten army of local government workers is something everyone in our union can get behind – and that councillors and local employers will get behind those workers too.