Maude has made a cross-party consensus on funding less likely, not more…

26th March, 2012 4:33 pm

Francis Maude had an opportunity to come to the house this afternoon and begin the process of dealing once and for all with party funding. Instead, his performance made it less likely that there will be any cross-party breakthrough for the foreseeable future.

His statement (as he had to be reminded by the speaker) was meant to outline the policies of the government. It did nothing of the sort. It was a rambling, unapologetic attack on Labour, and Labour’s historic trade union link. It was exactly what I said it would be yesterday evening. the process of spinning a Tory scandal into a Labour problem has begun.

Worse than that, it was evasive, high handed and utterly without any meaningful response to any question, or any problem with the Tory approach to fundraising, either real or perceived. Cameron couldn’t find the time in his diary to address the commons on this. If he was watching it in Number Ten (or “in private” as he probably calls his publicly funded accommodation) it was surely through his fingers.

As I also said last night, no party has a perfect record when it comes to big donations, but although Miliband’s attack on Maude was strong, his failure to mount a robust defence of Labour’s union link meant that anti-union rhetoric was given an airing, but the counter arguments went unheard. That means that if we are to get anywhere on party funding in future (which Maude has made much, much harder after that performance), Labour will be just as under attack for the small donations made by millions of ordinary hard working trade unionists, as the Tories are for the huge sums doled out by a select few.

Unless we’re willing to make the argument for union funds, all we’ll be doing is defending them from a defensive crouch. The Tories didn’t look very defensive today, despite the position they’re in. Surelyw e can learn from that?

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  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Surely Labour can deal with this is an effective and morally supportable way?  I myself would not want to be in a union, but I have respect for those who do, and if it is effective for them to support the political party of their choice using the union as a collecting mechanism then I have no problems with the unions doing that.

    Of course, it is for all unions to ensure the options for either donating or not donating money is made transparent and easy for members to choose (after reading some of the arguments on the other thread I have no idea whether it is or not – some say yes, some no).  It is only tick boxes on a membership form – one to opt in or out, and one to indicate which party the member wishes to support with the money.  Then at the end of the year, the union passes the total amounts gathered to whichever parties were chosen.

    That way, it is transparent that the money comes from individuals and no influence is being bought.  If the unions only want to collect money for Labour, then making the case that it is an unpartisan rolled up set of money is much more difficult.

    I am sure that more than 90% of union members would support Labour, so it would not make a great difference to the money that Labour receive.  It would however defuse this topic and put the ball in the court of the other parties.

    • derek

      Aye right! labour will build it’s 100 year history around your pathetic misunderstanding. Maude is a disgrace and his confrontational  manner was all to evident.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        Things should not be set in stone.  If the Labour Party wish to avoid the risk of a potential existential threat through the banning of union funding, why not explore new models?

        On a separate point, if you are abusive to people – as you have been many times in the past, and again (rather mildly for you) talk about “pathetic misunderstanding”, then you won’t have many people bother to respond to you.  There’s no need for it.

        Did it ever occur to you that I have educated myself to an extent on the Union / Labour shared history, but despite what happened in the past, am thinking about possibilities for the future?  I ma not proposing that the links are abandoned, merely that they are managed in a more democratic way and transparent.  Who knows, maybe it would allow Labour to then campaign for a cap on individual donations that is not going to hurt Labour, but will the tories?

        Or are you irrevocably wedded to the past, nothing should ever change, even if it risks financial extinction?

        • The fact is that Labour rely on the unions and the Tories rely on wealthy businessmen and big business for money

          Two ways to change this:
          1. State funding along German lines, which keeps political spending much lower
          2. An overall spending cap which covers BOTH local and national spending.

          The problem is that the Tories have always had something of an advantage and the individual limit donation proposal benefits them hugely. The only way to create a level playing field is a low cap on overall spending

        • AlanGiles

          This time Jaime, Maude was  guilty of introducing a red herring into this particular case: Cruddass said that a donation would lead to a meeting with Cameron AND “the policy committee”

          On Radio 4 today Cameron said that no such committee existed.

          Only one of them can be telling the truth. If Cruddass was telling a falsehood he was, in effect, offering something he couldn’t provide (because it doesn’t exist), therefore it was a confidence trick.

          You have to believe Cameron or Cruddass: If Cameron is telling the truth, it shows what poor judgement the man has, following on from the Coulson affair and the A4e debacle. And he has only been P.M. for 22 months.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I don’t see the link, but indeed agree with you.  I’m not sure how you can read my post as in any way defensive of the tories or Cruddas.  There’s no link in my mind.

            All I am trying to do, from the perspective of someone who is neither a union member nor member of the Labour Party, is to be constructive and outline what could be a way of evading what to me would be an existential threat to the Labour Party.  No one has to accept it.  It does however seem to me to be dangerous for an opposition – with a minority of votes in the Parliament, but nearly entirely dependent on Union funding – to not have a “cunning plan”.  Maybe my thoughts do not represent a “cunning plan”, but at least they were an attempt to try to defuse something I see as a potential bomb.  I don’t want to see Labour diminished as a political force.

            What Derek responded with – apart from his grumpiness – does not seem to me to be a “cunning plan”.

          • AlanGiles

            I wasn’t implying you supported Cruddass, Jaime. What I mean is, if I were Francis Maude, I would be more concerned that the former treasurer had embarrassed his party, and if we are to believe the P.M. offered for sale something he was unable to supply, which is fraud. As the fake company was based in Lichtenstein, Cruddass was also laying himself open to criminal charges, as it is illegal for foreign companies to make political donations to U.K. parties.

            The Labour/Union link is transparent and always has been, and is not illegal. It would seem that Cruddass could be guilty of two criminal offences. That should be the issue which exercises him IMO.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Not transparent?  I’m not sure that is entirely the case, what with the revolving money between donations and the modernisation fund which seem to correlate neatly.  But I’m not concerned with that myself.

            Not illegal?  You are correct, but that is not to say that the status quo is not subject to a new law, which may state that all donations have to be individually registered and accounted for.  The tories are cunning.  They may think that if they made this new law it would not much harm them, but would make life much more complicated and expensive for Labour to administer.  Labour would lose money from those who could not be bothered to set up a payment, and the cost of administration would be much higher.

          • AlanGiles

            With all due respect, Jaime, for somebody “not concerned” you make a very long post.

            Of course, all laws are subject to change, but this is March 26th 2012 and what concerns us here in this specific case is what Cruddass and Southern got up to, which is documented on tape, and which is highly inappropriate behaviour, it has nothing whatsoever to do with union donations to Labour.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas


            yes, I do need to work on brevity.  In part it is because I am slightly obsessive about detail, and try to make sure I leave no uncertainty in meaning.

            Also, while I value where the conversation takes us – and there are pockets of knowledge that pop up which are good to read, without being un hidalgo vanidoso it was a deliberate choice of mine to make an original post – not a response – because I felt that there is a broad and long term political risk to Labour of being too tightly wedded to the union block funding.  That is what “concerns me here” to borrow your phrase.  I acknowledge your real points about Cruddas, but it is not what I was addressing.

            Perhaps both of our points stand with equal merit on the same ground, mutually co-existing but not inter-twined?

          • derek

            @Alan, less of the due, what about some No- LoL!

          • derek

            Trade union agreements with business are a mutual consent between the employers and the representatives (workforce and union), if the government was to introduce such a thing as a ban on trade unions collecting levy payments, then you’d be effectively ending that mutual agreement causing all types of difficulties.These structures work and they work well threatening to end them would be a disaster for employment, production and continued improvement.

          • geedee0520

            What agreements with business will be affected if there is a ban on Unions collecting political levy payments?

            This is entirely a Union/Political Party issue and nothing to do with employers, who may well collect union subs on their behalf but have nothing to do with how the unions spend it.

          • derek

            Don’t be silly, ban companies from diverting a payment to the unions and the stewards will have to collect the dues, halting production, creating anger and resentment from both sides.

            It’s a customary practice as it stands and part of the mutual agreement, to bring an end to the collection is in breach of that customary practice.

            Good will and good intentions would become strained. Geedeeo get a clue!   

          • geedee0520

            Who, anywhere, is suggesting that employers stop collecting Union subs? No-one apart from you it seems.

            I’ll repeat it for the hard of hearing – what Unions do with their money is nothing to do with employers.

            Clue getting is something you should work on.

          • derek


          • derek

            What would Labour do if the tories made it illegal to donate money via companies or unions” From a post above by Jaime and he has the cheek to hit the like button. Mutton dressed as lamb.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            How about you address the substantive point instead of reverting to abuse (again)?

            Who, anywhere in this thread, is advocating that companies are banned from collecting union subs?  It seems that it is only you responding to something in your mind who raises this non-threat and then becomes mentally exercised about it.

          • derek

            How about you making a substantive first?

          • William

            Is Maude a suitable figure to be the Tories’ representative in round table discussions on party funding? I think not.

          • treborc

            This should have been a great chance for Miliband to show us what he could do, Maude was terrible, I was screaming at the TV for Miliband to stick it to them, but he did not, not saying he was terrible but boy did he miss the opportunity

    • William

      Come on Jaime. It is one thing for an incredibly wealthy individual to make even more money through personal contact with the Prime Minister and a mass organisation representing millions of people seeking to influence government/party policy. The 2 situations/examples are not interchangeable.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        I believe, although I am ready to be corrected, that the links between Labour and the unions in terms of influencing policy are not so different from tory millionaires.  There are what? about a dozen unions affiliated to the Labour Party, each with a General Secretary.  You only have to look at headlines in the last couple of months to see (for example) Len McCluskey making not very veiled threats about future support for Labour depending on good behaviour in his eyes by Ed Miliband.  As Labour are currently not in power, it maybe not such an issue, but when Labour are in power again, it becomes an unhealthy influence, in exactly the same way a dozen tory millionaires are.

        If you can prove to me that the union money is handed over without condition to Labour, not dependent on a certain policy agenda, then I will relax a bit.  But I have the evidence of my own eyes that makes me very sceptical.

        It reminds me of the ending of Animal Farm, where instead of the pigs and humans becoming the same, it is the tory millionaires and the union barons becoming indistinguishable.  About a dozen of each.

        • AlanGiles

          Jaime, Let’s be frank about this – throughout the New Labour years the unions continued to give money to them, but they got little out of it. The only union leader Tony Blair liked was Ken Gill (“he was always described as TBs favourite union leader). On the whole the unions were ignored; for example several Education secretaries refused to go to the NUT Conference.

          I am sure Cameron’s friends get more for their money than the unions got, to put it crudely.

    • John Ruddy

      But Jaime, that IS exactly how it currently works!

      Its just a tick in a box on the membership form, and if you change your mind, a phone call to HQ.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        So, given that I am not a unionist and am not knowledgeable of the options, can you tell me if the choice of political parties to support is currently an option on the membership forms?  That is the change I propose, which defuses the issue.

        If the choice is “Labour or nothing”, then that remains monolithic and open to easy arguments about a lack of democratic alternatives.

        • Alexwilliamz

          Err no they can either support the Labour party or not. they can also choose to join a union or not. The unions and Labour are linked so hence the option to support Labour, there is often more than one union out there who can represent you if you don’t fancy an affiliated one.

          How many parties would you suggest should be on the union paper? Should the BNP have a box to tick etc etc.

        • Dave Postles

           If you shop at Next, there is a latent political levy from you, since Wolfson is a staunch Tory party supporter.  I don’t have time to check out which retailers and services donate to the Tory coffers.  I try to avoid those of which I know, thus shopping mostly at the Co-op, but I suspect that a lot of the time (e.g. petrol) I have contributed to a latent levy to the Tory Party.

  • AlanGiles

    Maude no doubt hopes that Cameron’s story that he has only “entertained” three major donors (and they were “friends”) is true, or at least believed.

    It all comes down to how much you think Cameron’s word is worth: since he is apparently changing his mind about a third landing for London Airport, to pick just one example, I would say his word is not worth very much.

    In the World At one today Cameron denied that there were ever the policy committee men/women at those dinners which Cruddass said there were, in fact, he said no such committee existed, in which case IF he is telling the truth, he should be referring the matter to the police because Cruddass is plainly a confidence trickster, offering things for money which do not exist.

    • William

      Nice one Alan. I believe that the actual criminal offence committed by Cruddas is 
      ‘Attempting to obtain money through false pretenses ‘  and this often results in a custodial sentence.
      Anyone know if and where he pays taxes? He has a £10 million flat in Monaco, a £5 million house in Hertfordshire, a house in the Antibes, a private jet and a yacht. Looks as though he is a tax dodger but I don’t know.

      • geedee0520

        ‘Looks like he is a tax dodger’ – ask the Milibands about IHT avoidance, Ken Livingstone about avoidance etc. They look like tax dodgers to me but I don’t know…..

        Meanwhile, major political leader meets with donors who funded election victory and will continue to do so. The sainted Obama said – £250k get real!

      • AlanGiles

        Yes William, I think you are right – obtaining money by false pretences is more than likely what he would be charged with, and as Cameron has denied publically that the “policy committee”  exists, I should think there would be a very good chance of a conviction.

  • That Cameron didnt have the guts to come to Commons himself is typical of this PR man who only likes to be assoicated with things that put him in a positve light.  Maude is just a scoundrel.

  • It truly never ceases to amaze me how blinkered party tribalists become when an agenda either suits their purposes, or indeed, goes against it. The comments below demonstrate this perfectly.

    • treborc

      Using a name like Lisping Ed shows that your a bit of a bigot really, does it not, or to be honest a moron

  • mikestallard

    Please think about this from our lowly point of view.
    I am not in any Union.I am not a millionaire thrice over.I do not run a charity.I am not an intern with a parent in the political cadres.

    So who is representing me?
    And all the other voters who increasingly stay at home on polling day.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas


    if you track back through the thread, you’ll find it was me who raised a substantive point as a top level query, and then throughout the thread you chuck in verbal grenades that do nothing to address any point raised by myself or others.  Rather typical for you.  That despite the fact that several of us take pains to make this a constructive debate.  Then you wind up by saying that you want me to raise a substantive point?  I wonder if you have ever raised a substantive point in your entire existence, and conclude no.

    I’m fairly sure that I would lose patience with your mulish and aggressive attitude should we ever meet.  You appear to be the epitome of a bear with a very sore head, and on several dozen occasions in the last year your only response to normal debate is to hurl abuse.

    You are giving a really good impression the sort of character who is drunk at the back of the auditorium, yowling and shrieking by 5 in the afternoon, before mercifully for the rest of us being ushered out to go and sleep off your demons.  A sort of Rab C Nesbitt with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  Perhaps Gregor Fisher modelled Rab C on you, and then decided to give the character a human face by making him somewhat sympathetic?

    • derek

      Jaime, your ignorant to the history of the movement. Nobody is agreeing with you, indeed the threads is full of posts that counter your stupidity.

      I’m telling you this Boy, your Stethoscopeless  opinions are wearing thin.

      OTOH, if you were to be coherent and really did have a valid response, other than the attack mode on labour and it’s history, I’d probably listen in.

      I truly think you have an identity problem and you kinda think that your brain is the size of Africa, you keep coming up with these ridiculous ideas? look! take the sweat band from your head and breathe a little more, who knows, maybe those misfiring neurons will hit the mark and you’ll come out of that cyberspace zone and make a decent contribution……I hoping for you Jaime, I’d like to help you help yourself and those around you because I’m a good guy.  

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