Ed Miliband’s speech on the Labour/Union link – key extracts

Here are the key extracts that have been released of Ed Miliband’s speech on Labour and the union link. You can read Mark Ferguson’s in-depth analysis of the proposals here.


“One Nation is a country where everyone plays their part and a politics in which they can, a politics that is open, transparent and trusted – exactly the opposite of the politics we saw in Falkirk. That was a politics closed, a politics of the machine, a politics hated – and rightly so.

“What we saw in Falkirk is part of the death-throes of the old politics. It is a symbol of what is wrong with politics. I want to build a better Labour Party – and build a better politics for Britain.”

Strengthening Labour’s connection with working people

“We need to do more, not less, to mobilise individual trade union members to be part of our party: the three million shopworkers, nurses, engineers, bus drivers, construction workers, people from public and private sector, that are affiliated to the Labour Party.

“The problem is not that these ordinary working men and women dominate the Labour Party – the problem is that they are not properly part of all that we do. They are not members of local parties, they are not active in our campaigns.

“Trade unions should have political funds for all kinds of campaigns and activities as they choose. But I do not want any individual to be paying money to the Labour Party in affiliation fees unless they have deliberately chosen to do so. I believe we need people to be able to make a more active, individual, choice on whether they affiliate to the Labour Party.

“So we need to set a new direction in our relationship with trade union members in which they choose to join Labour through the affiliation fee: they would actively choose to be individually affiliated members of the Labour Party and they would no longer be automatically affiliated.

“I believe this idea has huge potential for our Party and our politics. It could grow our membership from 200,000 to a far higher number, genuinely rooting us in the life of more people of our country.

“Moving to this system has implications for both the trade unions and the Labour Party which need to be worked through. But I am clear about the direction in which we must go.”

On the introduction of primaries:

“Since I became Labour leader, we have opened up our policy making process so that everyone can have their say, we have opened up the party to registered supporters, and we have opened ourselves out to communities by delivering change on the ground rather than just leaflets through letterboxes.

“If we are to restore faith in our politics, we must go further in involving members of the public in our decision making. We must do more to open up our politics. So I propose for the next London Mayoral election Labour will have a primary for our candidate selection. All Londoners of voting age should be eligible to take part. All they will need to do is either be a party member or register as a supporter at any time up to the day of the ballot.

“And we will examine how we can use this idea elsewhere too, such as in future Parliamentary selections where a sitting MP is retiring and where there are not sufficient members of the local Party to make this a properly representative selection process. Because we all know there are parts of the country where our Party could be re-energised as a result.”

Changing politics

“There is no place in our party for bad practices wherever they come from. We are the party of the people, not the party of unaccountable power – wherever it lies. And we will always challenge unaccountable power – whoever wields it.

“We will do so within our party. And we will do so within our country. But these reforms are not just putting right what has gone wrong in our party. It is about something else. An understanding that people far too often feel politics happens somewhere else, involves someone else, is nothing to do with them. Just like other institutions like banks, unresponsive services, political parties are too often seen as remote from people’s lives.

“We must change it with a party not of 200,000 but of many, many more. We must change with MPs and candidates from more diverse backgrounds, more accountable to their constituents.  And we must change by reaching out at every opportunity to the people of Britain.”

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