Union motion compares Progress to Militant


2:49 pm - June 11th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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A motion at the GMB conference compares the Labour grouping Progress to Militant Tendency – the entryist group that was expelled from the Labour party in the 80s.

The conference kicked off in Brighton yesterday and is scheduled to last a few days.

The motion states that Progress was running “factional campaigns to undermine Labour candidates”, especially Ken Livingstone.

It also accuses “prominent” Progress members of briefing against Ed Miliband to the press.

The full motion (via Left Futures) is below:

Congress notes that that the pressure group within the Labour Party, Progress, has now raised over £2.8million to fund its activities. Its annual income is now well in excess of the maximum ever achieved by the Militant tendency (which raised £283,818 in 1986 according to its published fighting fund totals).

Congress notes that Progress provides training for its preferred candidates for parliamentary selections, and promotes candidates for internal elections, and has been described as a “party within the party”. Congress notes that the principal Progress patron is Lord David Sainsbury who has been a donor since April 2004 and continues to fund Progress at the rate of £260,000 a year. His donations of over £8.4million to the Labour Party stopped when Ed Miliband became leader. Progress is also funded by pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Pharmacia.

Congress resolves that the national political officer should monitor the factional activity of Progress, and report to the CEC with recommendations

Congress resolves that GMB will work to maintain unity within the Labour Party, but that the Labour Party can only succeed when we promote policies that benefit working people.

Congress believes that such factional campaigns to undermine Labour candidates, and to soften opposition to Tory policies, endanger the unity of the party and the movement in our fight against the coalition government.

Prominent Progress members have briefed against Ed Miliband to the press, and it was Progress who argued that Labour’s front bench needed to support cuts and wage restraint. Congress regrets that Ed Miliband caved into this pressure. Congress notes with concern the support by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband for public sector pay restraint, thus giving credibility to Tory arguments about the deficit.

Congress notes that the November 2011 edition of Progress magazine sought to undermine Ken Livingstone’s campaign for London mayor, casting doubt on his suitability as candidate.

Congress notes that Progress advances the strategy of accepting the Tory arguments for public spending cuts.

Congress believes that such factional campaigns to undermine Labour candidates, and to soften opposition to Tory policies, endanger the unity of the party and the movement in our fight against the coalition government.

Congress resolves that GMB will work to maintain unity within the Labour Party, but that the Labour Party can only succeed when we promote policies that benefit working people.

Congress resolves that the national political officer should monitor the factional activity of Progress, and report to the CEC with recommendations.

Jon Lansman also clarified on Twitter that…

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


The militant comparison is surely valid in this case – they are both entryist groups and the motion compares the amount of funding each group gets, as opposed to anything about them.

The other thing to be aware of is that the militant comparison doesn’t mean that they are advocating expelling progress or progress members or whatever.

Surely it would be better to approach this with a bit more balance – the motion as it stands is pretty mild, and in fact the motions on withholding funding from some labour MP’s is much more interesting and radical.

“Congress notes that the November 2011 edition of Progress magazine sought to undermine Ken Livingstone’s campaign for London mayor, casting doubt on his suitability as candidate.”

This is a complete distortion. No one in the sensible wing as far as I know ever expressed the slightest doubt on this subject.

“Congress resolves that GMB will work to maintain unity within the Labour Party,”

Ok that was quite funny.

To be fair, Militant, though annoying, were at least socialists.

I’ve heard Progress-ites claim that ‘Progress is just a magazine’.

Amusingly, this makes the comparisons to Militant all the more relevant. After all, they were ‘only a newspaper’.

Progress is funded by forward thinking pharmaceutical companies and Lord Sainsbury, whereas militant was funded by thousands of individual donations, generally from working people.

Progress make sure that valuable, business friendly candidates aren’t lost to the Tory or Liberal parties.

While this is nothing like the purge of alleged Militant members, alleged militant sympathisers and left wingers in the 80s (which may need to be repeated as some left wingers are creeping back into local parties), if businesses want to back individuals within the Labour party who they feel are responsive to their views, why shouldn’t Progress facilitate that. They’ve certainly helped get the number of Labour MPs who went to public school up to the level it is now, which I believe is around 60%.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Steve Cohen

    GMB right to raise concerns about Progress, but setting a precedent for expulsion would end up used against the left http://t.co/ThSjlvvT

  2. Jack Mcglen

    http://t.co/PJDwIMUS GMB union motion on labour party cliques 'Progress'. Pleased they're fighting these tories in red rosettes.

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Union motion compares Progress to Militant http://t.co/aCAevLAp

  4. Jack Mcglen

    http://t.co/PJDwIMUS GMB union motion on labour party clique 'Progress'. Pleased they're fighting these tories in red rosettes.

  5. Martin Steel

    GMB right to raise concerns about Progress, but setting a precedent for expulsion would end up used against the left http://t.co/ThSjlvvT

  6. GMB Union

    MT .@sunny_hundal: #GMBC12 conference motion compares Labour group Progress with Militant http://t.co/2YhtebYe << full text

  7. GMB Union

    GMB right to raise concerns about Progress, but setting a precedent for expulsion would end up used against the left http://t.co/ThSjlvvT

  8. Carl Roper

    GMB right to raise concerns about Progress, but setting a precedent for expulsion would end up used against the left http://t.co/ThSjlvvT

  9. Dan Crowter

    http://t.co/J8gsYC8g LMFAO.

  10. BevR

    Union motion compares Progress to Militant | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/CSOORqGi via @libcon

  11. BevR

    Union motion compares Progress to Militant | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/CSOORqGi via @libcon

  12. Alex Braithwaite

    Union motion compares Progress to Militant | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/s4erPLuu via @libcon

  13. BevR

    Union motion compares Progress to Militant | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/CSOORqGi via @libcon

  14. Lee Hyde

    Union Motion Compares Progress to Militant http://t.co/sZddRI3Z /by @sunny_hundal via @libcon ft @progressonline @GMBPressOffice « Finally!!

  15. Mark Carrigan

    Union motion compares Progress to Militant http://t.co/FjgW2inu

  16. The real beef unions have isn’t with Progress but Ed Balls | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] have isn’t with Progress but Ed Balls by Sunny Hundal     Anyone surprised by the vociferous attack on Progress by the GMB union hasn’t been playing attention closely enough. There have been […]

  17. Owen Jones

    @DAaronovitch @lukeakehurst @DPJHodges Here you go: http://t.co/ThSjlvvT You could have always googled it before condemning it, David.

  18. Jonnie Marbles

    This "Progress" lot sound like right dickheads http://t.co/KduOzUym

  19. Aaron Stebbings

    This "Progress" lot sound like right dickheads http://t.co/KduOzUym

  20. Union leaders declare war on nobody… that’s Progress! « A Thousand Cuts

    […] Union motion compares Progress to Militant […]





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