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We need to play our role in reforming Labour, says ex-official who backed disaffiliation

The former Fire Brigades Union (FBU) official who moved the resolution for the union to disaffiliate from the Labour party has come out in favour of the union’s new political strategy, which calls for re-affiliation.

In an open letter to members Tony Maguire, who served as the regional secretary of the FBU in Northern Ireland at the time of disaffiliation, argues that with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the Labour party has changed and the union needs to be part of the debate to reform the party. A bitter pay dispute between the union and the then Blair government led to disaffiliation in 2004.

Maguire writes: “The New Labour element of the Labour party has been taken to task for their arrogance and betrayal of traditional Labour values. In a seismic shift Jeremy Corbyn has been thrust into the leadership role and is indisputably committed to rebuilding a Labour party that can do what working people need and expect it to do. Dare I say it? A ‘Real’ Labour party.

“Jeremy Corbyn and his team have a mountain to climb to turn Labour around and gain the confidence of the electorate to put a reformed party into government. The FBU must be a part of that struggle because if we are not then we will truly be a part of the problem. Our union will always need to campaign at the political level and we must be a part of this broad based effort to reform this party that trade unionists built in the first place.”

The FBU announced last month it was to hold a re-call conference to discuss, amongst other issues, whether the union should re-affiliate to the Labour party.

The conference will take place in Blackpool on Friday, 27 November 2015 where a result is expected to be announced later that day.

Read the full text of Tony Maguire’s letter here.

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