Martin Smith is right (April SR) - the pressure is on to democratise the trade unions' political fund.
This has fed into support for a political alternative to New Labour. In Scotland the credible alternative is the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) with seven MSPs, whereas south of the border the launch of Respect has raised the level of discussion. After expelling the RMT for supporting the SSP, New Labour is now threatening to discipline the CWU for giving a donation to the SSP. This can only stimulate the debate further.
In my own union, the RMT, several branches have supported Respect since it was launched, and many branches are inviting speakers and looking at the alternatives very seriously. This has not come from nowhere. If you speak to staff on the railways you will find enthusiasm for a political alternative.
Rail workers have been at the forefront of fighting the privatisation disaster, and many were also against the war. Respect could be a natural alternative for them to support.