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One Nation Leveson

A week or two ago John Cruddas, Labour’s newest guru, edited One Nation week at Labourlist.  I understand he commissioned everything himself (apart from my contribution, which I snuck in under cover of darkness), so I think it’s safe to assume that the article have at least a rough fit with emerging thinking in Labour HQ.

Most the articles were so-so, but I quite liked the two pieces on how workplace democracy needs to be established as the sensible way to run things.   There was Sonia Sodah, Ed Miliband’s erstwhile adviser, on Building the institutions of economic democracy:

Giving employees representation on company boards is important but it will achieve little unless it is accompanied by a revitalisation in workplace democracy, through employee associations supported in their work by modern trade unions.

Then there was Sue Ferns of Union 21 on What kind of trade unions we need for the decade ahead

So our agenda must be about fairness at work, investing for good performance and contributing to economic efficiency. And to produce real change it has deliver against all three objectives, not cherry pick……..Times of crisis of necessity impact on trade union priorities, and it is right of course that we stand up for and defend the living standards and job security of our members. But we need both tactics and strategy to build a better future and, whilst understandable, there are dangers in focusing too closely on the tactical response to the day-to-day challenges that confront us.

All very promising.  Come Thursday, though, normal service was resumed.

Ed Miliband’s response to Cameron’s statement failed to make any reference whatsoever to the potential for the people who actually create newspapers – the journalists – to be involved in maintaining press standards. It was left to old-fashioned leftie John McDonnell to build on the excellent work of the National Union Journalists as part of the Levenson Inquiry, and put Cameron (and later Clegg) on the spot:

I wonder whether we could achieve consensus on one of the recommendations in the report, where Leveson recommends the consideration by proprietors of the introduction of a conscience clause to protect journalists who refuse in any way to go against the code of practice. Will the Prime Minister join me in urging proprietors to meet the National Union of Journalists and whoever else to start working on introducing a conscience clause in contracts?

Cameron agreed immediately.

This is of course an important step forward, as it  potentially opens the door to the NUJ’s re-recognition by News International, and I suspect the News International hierarchy will be quietly fuming at what they may see as Cameron’s cavalier acceptance of this particular Levenson recommendation.

So it’s hats off to John McDonnell for this victory for the union he has worked so hard to support, but a warning that there may still be quite a gap between One Nation theory and One Nation practice when it comes to the Labour leadership.

 

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