'NOT ANTI-UNION'

Lymington Times – 9 September 2000

Most of [Labour PPC] Alan Goodfellow's confused ramblings (letter, September 2) are not worthy of a response, particularly as he now concedes that the person he claims to have lobbied successfully in relation to a Dibden Bay container port was the same Labour MP – Angela Smith (Basildon) – with whom I had been working all along as was widely reported at the time.

He does, however, make the strange assertion that I have "spent all [my] political life attempting to smash trade union representation". In reality, I have waged only one campaign on trade union issues: between 1984 and 1988, with the late Woodrow Wyatt and others, I successfully fought for changes in the law to make tamper-proof secret postal ballots compulsory for the election of senior trade union officers and executive committees.

The key to this campaign was that we secured a majority in the House of Lords for this legislation by working with trade unionists on a cross-party basis, with notable contributions from the then SDP as well as Conservative peers.

Predictably, the effect of this was to make trade unions more representative of their memberships and to make the Labour Party more moderate and thus more electable (!) because of their influence upon it.

Unreconstructed Socialists like Alan Goodfellow may regard all this as "attempting to smash trade union representation", but I doubt if Tony Blair would agree with him.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Cadnam, Hampshire

[For more details of the Postal Ballots campaign, see LETTERS IN THE PRESS, dated 30 April 1984 and 11 June 1984.]