WHY DO WE PAY FOR TORY BLAIR?
'Betrayed' rail union cuts cash for Labour
By Clinton Manning, Business Editor
July 2, 2003
BETRAYAL: Tony Blair
TONY Blair's relationship with the unions sunk to a new low yesterday as the RMT slashed financial support for the Labour Party.
The country's biggest rail union said it would now donate just £12,000 a year, compared with £150,000 in 2001, and seek closer ties with other political parties.
General Secretary Bob Crow said branches should be allowed to support other parties because New Labour had "betrayed" its grass roots.
He said: "Like a marriage, sometimes it is better if there is a divorce. I am not urging a divorce but how long can we sit back and support a party that has gone further than the Tory party?
"People say do we want the Tories in again. I say, how would we know?"
A stream of delegates were cheered as they attacked New Labour at the union's annual conference in Glasgow.
Craig Johnston, from Carlisle, said: "We waited 18 years for this Government only to find out that we have Tony's Tories in Downing Street."
The RMT has 65,000 members but only 1,000 are in the Labour Party. It will seek closer ties with the Scottish Socialist Party, Plaid Cymru and Green Party, as well as London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Bobby Law, who represents London Underground, said Labour had betrayed workers. He said: "We are going to have to bang heads together so we have an alternative in England."
Mr Crow also accused the Cabinet of being "war criminals" over the "illegal" war with Iraq and said he expected his union to support George Galloway if the Labour MP was expelled. Many delegates accepted the decision could lead to the union being expelled from Labour for breaking party rules.
Labour chairman Ian McCartney said the party did not want to break its link with any union affiliate.
He added: "I know of no serious Labour figure in the union movement who is in favour of ending our historic link. The ball is very much in the RMT's court."
The RMT decision is the latest and loudest in a growing chorus of union protests.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, recently said Mr Blair had delivered little more than John Major's Conservative government.
Last year, the Communication Workers Union cut its funding by £500,000 over three years - a reduction of about 20 per cent.