This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SAO - Sending Out the Wrong Message !

It is disappointing to read that DELGA and ALDTU are to lose [at least for the time being] their SAO status within the Lib Dem party.

The crude and arbitary numbers rule of a membership of 250 has accounted for the Association of Liberal Democrat Trade Unionists. The party's initial position on the minimum wage deterred some erstwhile Labour supporting friends from voting for us at the GE, despite agreeing with us on many more policy positions than the government. We cannot be seen to have nothing to say about workplace democracy and rights at work. In short, the perception is amongst some that we are anti-TUs.

For once Blair is right ! Fairness not favours is what we seek. Moreover, if we are to champion social justice we can better understand the aspirations and struggles of ordinary working people through constructive dialogue with trade unions and trade unionists, many of whom represent what could almost be called the 'working poor'.

YOU can help ! If you'd like to know more about ALDTU and would like to help us reclaim our SAO position why not join us if you are a party member ! Contact me for more details [].

DELGA's position, for whatever reason, is a disaster. Having claimed the greatest percentage of the three main parties of the 'pink' vote, to lose SAO status would send out a poor message to the LGBT community, both within and without the party.

I look forward to both organisations reclaiming their SAO status at the earliest opportunity and ask Lib Dems to give their full backing to both.

Barrie Wood


Blogger James said...

As one of the people behind that "crude and arbitrary" 250 member rule, allow me to defend it. 250 members is the smallest number of members we thought could be justified for an organisation seeking privileged status in the party: if you don't even have that, how can you claim to represent a significant point of view within the party?

The Green Lib Dems don't have SAO status, nor have they applied for it despite having 400 members. Yet I think it is fair to say that they are regarded as a more significant body in the party regardless.

The ALDTU have had two years to recruit additional members; instead they've sat on their hands. By contrast, the Association of Engineers and Scientists have had a recruitment drive for the past two years. Good on them.

As for DELGA, it has seemed to be in self-destruct mode for a long time now, going back to the 2001 general election.

True status within the party is not dependent on whether an organisation has SAO status or not; it is dependent what those organisations actually do. If you're concerned about "sending out the wrong message" then why didn't you go out and find enough members 2 years ago?

12:31 pm BST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've tried to join ALDTU several times, only to be met by silence from the organisation!

12:36 pm BST

Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Anon : email me at torbayred at yahoo dot co dot uk and we can take it from there. I WILL personally see to it that you get a response.


I accept you argument in one sense. We do NOT have much influence in the party and membership is settled rather than growing. But, TUs, with 6m members across the UK are an important body of opinion in the country and we need to have good dialogue and links between party and trade unions/ists.

The unions provide us with a link to often low paid workers whose experience iand voice is not well represented in a pretty middle class party : that is in terms of membership and occasionally assumptions.

I accept the challenge that is presented to ALDTU in terms of numbers and that *we* need to 'raise our game' - no question.

12:57 pm BST

Anonymous Will said...

In a party with so many gayers, it's an indictment of DELGA, not of the party, that it can't muster 250 members. But, as James says, being an SAO isn't everything by any means. DELGA isn't being abolished, just losing an "S".

1:19 pm BST

Blogger Barrie Wood said...


FYI : Two years ago I wasn't a member of the party let alone ALDTU !

4:07 pm BST

Anonymous andyt said...

You only need 50 members to send reps to Conference, so I do not see the reson for the 250 cut-off. ALDTU has contributed tremendously to party policy development, most notably on the Rights & Responsibilities at Work paper. Simon Hughes attended our AGM in November and told us that there should be an SAO place for a TU group, but he must have been overruled by the FE. The point is not the privileges that SAO status confers, but the message it sends to the public. The present system has served the party well and is not broken. Why fix it?

4:33 pm BST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

DELGA has the requisite 250+ membership, it seems to be an admin foulup that had them listed to be struck-off.

I'd trace the decline of DELGA more to around 2004; certainly after the 2001 General Election where the DELGA campaign got a good pink press profile and was the best it has run in years.

11:47 am BST


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