Finance nightmare haunts Labour

17th July, 2013 9:28 am

Such is the increasing unthinking, banality of much of the Metropolitan media, that two significant contributions to the debate over Labour’s links with the unions were lost over the weekend.

The first came from former MP, Minister and Diarist, Chris Mullin, who warned that the proposed changes to union affiliations could lead to ‘a decade of one party rule’, with Labour starved of cash, out of office.

He also said that it was high time that we began to hear many of the positive arguments for trades unions, since what they have achieved over decades in terms of holidays, maternity rights, equal pay and much more makes up what we might like to describe as our ‘civilised society’ – albeit one that the Tories seem determined to sweep away.

Mullin might have mentioned that all too often the anti union rhetoric has been most damaging and noxious when it has emanated from super-annuated ex Labour Cabinet Ministers, such as Messrs Mandelson, Blunkett, Reid and Howells. Most of these are now taking the corporate shilling, and each appearance by any of the above often serves to remind many voters why they turned against Labour last time around.

The second came in the shape of wise counsel from Professor Keith Ewing of the UK Constitutional Law Group and a long standing Labour Party member. Writing in Tribune and on Unison Active, Keith Ewing warned of another imminent political attack on free speech – and the unions.

It came in the Government’s recent announcement on political lobbying, which in a quite great breathtaking assault on the unions had the audacity to compare these great democratic and voluntary organisations to private corporations.

The intent is quite clear – any money spent by an affiliated union campaigning at a general election will be declared as Labour Party spending and not as ‘third party expenditure’ as it is at the moment. This legislation has its origins in what has recently been instituted in New South Wales, and bares all the sticky finger prints of the Prime Minister’s spin-meister, Lynton Crosby.

If this goes through, at a stroke the voice of the unions during election time will be silenced unless the Labour Party agrees to what the unions are doing or saying, for fear that it will cut into party election spending. It is as Keith Ewing says, nothing more than a blatant attack on free speech.

If this legislation does succeed it begs the question; where will Labour find the £20 million it will need for the General Election?

In different circumstances, Ed Miliband would be able to call upon the unions to help, even if it did mean that they had little or nothing to spend on their own campaigns. But he has managed to throw a serious spanner in the works with his proposals that trade unionists should ‘opt in’ to the political levy for Labour.

For the real problem in advance of this possible legislation – and in advance of any rule changes on the party union relationship, the hare has been set running. Although Ed Miliband has been told that many of those on the Executives of affiliated unions have been seeking to move away from a link they believe has brought them precious little over the years, the recent storm around Falkirk and the attacks on the unions often from within the party have persuaded still others that the relationship is all but over. It is therefore possible that some unions may disaffiliate from the Labour Party before the next General Election is even called.

It is staggering to think that so little of this has been thought through and just how vulnerable Labour as a party has now become. It is astonishing that no attempt has been made to speak in advance to people such as Keith Ewing, or indeed any of the union general secretaries, before the die was cast.

If I were Ed Miliband, I think I might be tempted to put the planned Trade Union Review by Lord Ray Collins into the deep-freeze, take what the Tories say on the chin – after all they will never call for individual shareholders to ‘opt in’ to the Conservative Party – and sit down with the unions to resolve the differences that have emerged since the utterly unnecessary and overblown Falkirk affair.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • Kris

    To be honest it’s summer and sunny and I was ignoring politics for a bit ( hint: most people are) then Ed Miliband sent me an email about Labour and the unions and Falkirk… I am not sure who in the comms department thinks this is a good idea but I really doubt it is.

    Anyway for me the real issue is the corporate lobbyists and the fact they have their claws quite clearly into all the parties — and this looks like a blatant attempt to have it all their own way with the Labour Party. So I was unimpressed with Ed’s plan to shoot himself in the foot– what I am looking for is strong action against corporate lobbyists and influence – this was just another sign that far too many people in Labour ( the article mentions some key offenders) are for big global business who have no interest in Britain or its people except to exploit for cash. I am beginning to lose faith in Ed to do anything about it. If this carries on my vote is lost to Labour but in any case without funding they are doomed anyway.

    Who on earth is advising on handling this? The comms strategy is a total mess and has been for some time but this one takes the biscuit and has made a summer storm in a tea cup that would have passed most people by in to a full blown crisis.

Latest

  • Comment Featured This sorry tale of Corbyn and Malhotra’s office politics reveals the mistrust at the top of Labour

    This sorry tale of Corbyn and Malhotra’s office politics reveals the mistrust at the top of Labour

    There are no winners from the row over access to Seema Malhotra’s office. The whole episode – from “unauthorised” entry to complaint, television appeal and then staff being cleared – has led to anger on both sides. To members it has probably prompted despair. Meanwhile the voting public looks upon Labour and is, once again, mystified. The fascination of the press and broadcasters with this dispute is not difficult to understand. It perfectly suited their narrative of another in a series of proxy battles […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Cooper: Labour risks fresh slump in core vote unless it responds to harsher world of work

    Cooper: Labour risks fresh slump in core vote unless it responds to harsher world of work

    Changes in the workplace and the world of big business means Labour is at risk of losing its traditional support base, Yvette Cooper has warned. Some of Labour’s current problems come from a failure to connect with working class voters who have been left behind by globalisation, Cooper argues in a new book published with the Changing Work Centre, joint initiative from the Fabians and Community, the union. Labour is not inspiring those who want to work hard or offering them answers to the […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Smith unveils wealth tax as part of 20 policies to tackle inequality

    Smith unveils wealth tax as part of 20 policies to tackle inequality

    Owen Smith today pledged to deliver “fair employment, fair taxes and fair funding”, as he revealed a manifesto of 20 policies. In a speech on the site of the old Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire, the leadership contender promised to ban zero hour contracts, repeal the Trade Union Act, build 1.5 million new homes and end the public sector pay freeze. Smith has criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership for failing to bring forward policies, and aims to use today’s series […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured “The kind of revolution I’ll deliver” – Owen Smith’s speech on industry

    “The kind of revolution I’ll deliver” – Owen Smith’s speech on industry

    Here is the full text of Owen Smith’s speech at the Knowledge Transfer Centre Advanced Manufacturing Park on the site of the old Orgreave coking works today: This place is a symbol of what we can do at our best. How Labour can build a fairer, more prosperous and contented country. But, let me be clear, under the Tories, we have become an unhappy country. A frustrated, divided and profoundly unequal country. Where individuals and whole communities feel deeply that life […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn: Owen Smith is copying my industrial policies

    Corbyn: Owen Smith is copying my industrial policies

    Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign has accused rival Owen Smith of lifting policies from the Labour leader. Corbyn campaigners said Smith’s policies on equality, re-industrialisation, workers’ rights and development in the north of England have been announced by the leader or John McDonnell over recent months. Smith, the leadership challenger, today announced a set of policies designed to tackle economic inequality, saying neither Corbyn nor Tony Blair was sufficiently radical. Smith promised to introduce a Ministry of Labour, increase the top rate of […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit