'Save our party' conference: exciting developments

Mark Fischer spoke to Alan Simpson MP just before he rushed off to another meeting

Has today been a good day for the Labour left?

This is a real sea change for the Labour Party and the wider labour movement.

The most significant development was that we had a queue of the major trade union leaders wanting to be on the platform and wanting to say two things. First, that they are passionately committed to the link between their union and the Labour Party. But at the same time they are equally clear that this stance implies no endorsement at all of the policies identified with New Labour.

Last time we spoke, you emphasised that the trade unions were the key to the fight against Blairism in the party. You must be encouraged by recent developments.

I am. We have spent the last year working with all of the major unions, trying to bring home the message that they are the key to what happens to the party in parliament and the country. Now, critically you have seen a massive shift in the position of the trade unions.

If people now stand on a New Labour ticket in any union leadership election, it is the kiss of death! You just can’t win it - even if you are the only candidate! The union leaders are now picking up very different messages from their membership. In turn, the members are much more assertive about taking a more militant stand. They have begun to realise that many of the union representatives have been going to Labour’s national executive and policy forums and voting against the agreed policies of those who sent them there.

So the democracy that people are talking about in the party is also a renewal of the democracy inside each of the respective unions. And that now provides us with a real, credible platform to make the party and the movement accountable. That is genuinely exciting.