Labour Affairs is the magazine of the Ernest Bevin Society
What is the Bevin Society?
The Bevin Society exists to promote the interests of working people in Britain. We hold that working people need to act collectively through political parties and trade unions to promote their interests. We collaborate with those in the Labour Party and the trade union movement who share this objective. The interests of working people in Britain need to be defended in the short term through wage bargaining and lobbying for legislation that protects their ability to act collectively. But this on its own is not enough. In order to secure full employment and good jobs for all, the power of the state needs to be harnessed. We argue that the British state, which has complete control over its money and taxation policy, should use this power to ensure full employment in all regions of the country. It should not be hindered by outmoded ‘housekeeping’ ideas about how an economy should be run, but should focus on building up strength in a balanced economy that accords a proper place to manufacturing and the activities that support it, such as transport and agriculture.
To do this, we advocate that the Labour Party, supported by the trade union movement, set out a programme that puts full employment and regional equity at the top of the agenda for any future parliament elected with a majority for change in the interests of working people. Getting the right MPs elected is important, but so also is the building up of strength outside parliament. Trade union involvement in the governance of enterprises, the development of vocational education and training, regional and local development is necessary, as is a national policy that recognises the potential of working people collectively to undertake the measures needed to secure the success of a labour-oriented government even if these measures go against the grain of some traditional forms of British trade unionism. We should include proposals such social partnership, industrial democracy at plant and enterprise level as part and parcel of collective bargaining strategies, while recognising the vital role that unions play on bargaining for wages, job security and good working conditions. We will work with trade unionists who support such an approach.
Labour Affairs, incorporating the Labour and Trade Union Review (LTUR) is the magazine of the Ernest Bevin Society, which started publishing LTUR in the 1980s. The situation of the trade unions and the workforce have changed, but our principles, as explained above, remain constant. A selection of previous articles can be found here: https://labouraffairsmagazine.com.
We have interviewed prominent trade unionists and commentators, most recently Frances O’Grady, to be found here: https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/before-2018/2014-magazine/2014-09-magazine/2014-09-interview-with-frances-ogrady-tuc-general-secretary/
The same section of the labour affairs magazine website (Articles by Topic/Trade Unionism) carries other interviews with trade union leaders famous in their day.
For us, the market is a very bad master but can be a good servant if kept under control. The power of the state has to be harnessed to promote economic development, to legislate for industrial democracy, to protect the environment and ensure that market forces do not destabilise and destroy communities. We envisage such change as a long term and incremental process.
We support the revival of a unionist labour movement in Scotland, working in collaboration with like-minded colleagues in England through the devolved Scottish government. We hold that Northern Ireland has been and continues to be misgoverned by Westminster which has deliberately kept communal antagonisms alive to exert leverage on the politics of the Republic of Ireland. British political parties should either work to integrate Northern Ireland into the political structures of England and Wales or allow self-determination for the province with a view to eventual union with the republic. There is no stable halfway house.
The UK should be adequately defended and should promote its interests as an independent state on the fringes of Europe, but recognising the importance of friendly economic and political relations with the EU and its constituent states. It has no business either pursuing post imperial projects in the Far East nor in serving the national interests of other foreign powers. It has no quarrel with Russia, China or Iran and seeks good relationships with all countries based on the recognition of a mutual interest in peace and co-operation.