The cosy club that needs to be opened up

THE PHONE MESSAGE left on Michael’s Guest’s voicemail was polite and to the point. It was from the GMB Union’s office.

The caller explained that Michael wouldn’t be allowed to take part in a by-election hustings organised by the union because the GMB only invites candidates who are members of a party with at least one MP in Parliament.

The GMB are perfectly entitled to decide who they will or won’t invite to take part in their version of open debate. And they are to be commended for organising such an event in the run-up to the Copeland parliamentary by-election of February 2017. But by ruling out independent candidates like Michael Guest can they be said to be aiding the democratic process?

Let’s face it, every independent candidate would be in Michael’s position and will therefore be banned from speaking at such a meeting in what is claimed to be a free society.

UNIFY believes that this attitude is one of many examples of how the political elite – and yes, that includes powerful trade unions in this country – are making up the rules to suit themselves. The main political parties don’t want to rock the boat. They like the status quo because it guarantees them a share of the power.

None of them wanted Brexit, nor did they welcome Donald Trump’s victory. These seismic events are viewed by them as major challenges to their hegemony. But the political landscape is changing, even if dinosaurs like Tony Blair can’t see it.

Despite no longer being in power, he still tries to exert his control over our lives by urging a revolt against Brexit. As a result he is all over the media.

The comparison between the treatment of the former Labour Prime Minister and Michael Guest, an independent councillor, is illuminating.

Both attempted to use their influence to change the way voters think.
Both attempted to exercise their right to express their views. One, still a member of the cosy club that runs the country, succeeded and was heard. The other, an outsider who recognises the need for change, was silenced.

Surely that can’t be right?