McCluskey prepares to move on Miliband

So, now it’s clear. The way Len McClusky is going to apply the thumb screws to Ed Miliband was revealed this morning with the publication of the preliminary agenda for Unite’s conference at the end of June (h/t Left Futures).

The relevant chapter is headed “Political” and includes the resolutions on Unite’s relationship with the Labour party. The tone can be gauged from the quote below from one of the motions,

“This Conference notes and applauds UNITE’S policy to win back the Labour Party from the right-wing neo-liberals who have infested the party over the past 20 years, and return it to where it belongs as a voice and political vehicle for the working-class people of this nation.”

In all, there are 12 resolutions on how Unite works with Labour that have been selected by the union leadership and they lay down three important markers.

First, money: three resolutions call for a 10% cut in funding to the Labour party with these monies being diverted to union campaigns or the Unite National Dispute Fund. It’s the clearest possible shot across the bows. Money matters, particularly to a party spending more than it raises, and if Labour is not going to advance Unite’s agenda then the funding will slow – 10% to start with, more if there is continued recalcitrance.

Second, control over party structures: there are seven resolutions on this with demands such as mandating sitting MPs to obtain nominations from 66% of affiliated trade union branches to secure automatic re-selection. This is about long term power within the Labour movement. Leaders of the party are transitory but re-writing the rules would give real control over every aspect of the party – from policy positions to who becomes leader.

Third, the Labour party’s policy on cuts: there are two strongly worded motions criticising the idea of accepting cuts, and specifically targeting the two Eds’ speeches in January backing the public sector pay freeze. Given the January speeches were the only comment the Labour leadership has made backing a concrete proposal for fiscal restraint, the warning is clear:- no more loose talk about cutting spending.

With this set of resolutions, Len McCluskey has set out is stall. He will say, “Ed, mate, it’s not me, it’s the members.  I hear what you’re saying about the centre ground, but my members want action”.

Some of the more extreme demands might be traded as an act of goodwill by McCluskey as he triangulates his way to his objective, but if Ed Miliband accedes to the substance of these demands, the nature of the Labour party will be fundamentally changed.

And that will be that.

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24 Responses to “McCluskey prepares to move on Miliband”

  1. swatntra says:

    I must have missed the Resolution cutting McClusky’s salary by 15%, and bringing it into line and proportion with an average UNITE members wages.
    But its true, the relationship between Unions and the Party is in desparate need of modernising.
    Its no good in saying that ‘history’ prevents us from doing this. I think we’ve all moved on a bit in the last 100 years. And its time for review and reassessment and a new social contract or compact or deal.

  2. paul barker says:

    Well, you could restructure labour to run on half the income you have now, you wouldnt need the unions money then* & you would still have twice the money the Libdems run on.
    * Half of labour fundinf comes from the state currently.

  3. Sunny Hundal says:

    Oh christ, this is even more ludicrous than one of Dan Hodges’ pieces. Did he write it? Unite railing against neo-liberalism within Labour is a move against Ed Miliband now?
    Of course! Because they want that well-known socialist David Miliband back!

  4. madasafish says:

    Well if McCluskey has his way, the Tories will be laughing all the way to the next General Election…

  5. kb32904 says:

    *sarcasm alert*

    Oh that’s a good idea isn’t it Len.


  6. Chas says:

    This is the best news I will hear between Thatcher becoming prime minister and Gordon Brown’s death.

  7. GSilver says:

    as a member of unite I REALLY regret giving these people my mobi number and email address. Barely a week goes by that theres comms from unite with what looks like political agitation in support of McCluskey’s desire to be a union hard man … BUT I see sod all support for members in my office facing redundancy simply because my employer wants to ship jobs to india to cover their incompetent contract negotiations.

  8. william says:

    Another 18 years in the wilderness beckons : thankyou McCluskey for replacing Scargill.

  9. Peter Watson says:

    Labour may have to get used to having no money from the Unions at all,.Why should any trade unionist pay money to a Labour Party when the Tories do it for free for you,privatise,cut wages and pensions,all in a lemminglike race to the bottom.The Coalition saw Labour’s agenda had started the ball rolling,all they had to do was expand it to everything that moves.Austerity cuts are too are just part of a class attack,invented to prove a Tory class agenda.The trade union agenda is such as I see it but a genuine reflection of the suffering ordinary folk are experiencing.This agenda will not subsist,it can only increase.Remember only 22% of the public expenditure cuts have gone through,we have 78% to come yet.The cracks in social systems and structures can already be seen.What on earth will the UK look like after the 78% is delivered.
    Thankfully Scotland remains a more civilised sort of place to live with an excellent centre left government which is stable,confident and in receipt of the kind of inward investment the rest of the UK can only dream of.Why?Because it has less systemic political risk than England owing to the success of its government.
    Time to emigrate.
    No money from the trade unions means what for Labour.It means those who have had a parasitic relationship with the party must stick their hands in their pockets for once.The Tories can do £250.000 donors,Labour cannot but Labour could do 1000 people at £250 or 100@£2500.I would include myself in their number

  10. Jon says:

    I’m not sure what you’re saying Sunny? Are you saying that the quote is wrong, or that it’s been misinterpreted? It seems pretty clear cut to me.

    Unite have the electoral instincts of Stalin. Ed would do well to position himself with the “working class people of this nation” by telling the job- for- life brigade at Unite to keep their money and find a way of cutting his costs, or, heaven- forbid, saying something which might actually make people want to join the party?

    Long shot, I know.

  11. Desperate Labour guy says:

    The Labour Party is changing its name, due to the harsh economic climate. Hence forth it will be known as…
    “Labour, the political wing wing of the Unite Union”

  12. Desperate Labour guy says:


    Sadly you are not allowed to say sensible stuff, Sunny talks the language of the lah lah lot in Bustminster…. and I’m talking about all of them. Democracy in the UK has been hijacked by the PPE brigade out of Oxbridge and we are but sad passengers on the disaster that is Lab, Con and Libs.

  13. Mike Homfray says:

    Neo-liberalism does need to be abandoned for good. If people wish to vote for that, then they will vote for the coalition parties – we need to offer an alternative

  14. Jon Lansman says:

    The great distortion in this piece is that it ascribes the intent behind the to Len McCluskey. There is absolutely no evidence for that. My piece on Left Futures from which this draws was based on the preliminary agenda for the conference which contains motions from branches and other regional and industrial sector bodies within the union, not from the General Secretary, who may disagree with the motions. The leadership of the union has not “selected” these motions as you suggest.

  15. Rallan says:

    Wow. Unite intends to force Labour politics back to the 1970s, permanently. That’s a potential nightmare for free democracy. Labour must stand up to the Unions in a meaningful way or become just a puppet for them. The challenge of party funding should not be about more donations, but less expenditure.

    Mike Homfray, you spend your time on blogs declaring that the Labour Party should adopt an hard left stance, reject all previous electoral success, and that any Labour supporter who disagrees is a Tory and should leave the party. I’m a Tory, so you ought to just make me chuckle (and mostly you do). But even I am now finding your attitude insufferable. You only recently rejoined Labour and I honestly can’t understand why since your views don’t seem to be shared by many Labour members? It it seems like you should be in the Socialist Workers Party, which actually agrees with you?

  16. Mike Homfray says:

    Tough, Rallan. As a Tory I think your views are immaterial. You won’t be voting for us in any case.

    What cannot be recreated is a one-off collection of voters who opted for Labour in 1997. The last two elections have been characterised by the loss of core voters who moved to vote to the LibDems and to non-voting – the Tory vote stayed about the same in terms of percentages. So, Labour need to stop worrying about people like you who don’t vote for us in any case, and aim to win back those who are likely to do so. Its reasonable to assume that they won’t support the coalition and their ideas.

    And if you seriously think I’m ‘hard left’ or that the SWP would want me, I think you either ought to get out more or read a bit of left-wing theory. Unless you apply that description to anyone to the left of Blair!

  17. Rallan says:

    My political views are immaterial here, that’s true. That’s why I don’t share them, or criticise others for theirs. I only really comment on things that are plain wrong, such as the idea that Unite could use financial muscle to exert direct control over the official opposition in a democracy. I would say the same if the Tories were in a similar position.

    My other point was regards your behaviour (and I have read complaints about you by lefties too). You represent yourself as speaking for the Labour Party, an entirely self appointed spokesman for what it is to “be” Labour, with an incredibly self-righteous know-it-all attitude. And yet I know for a fact that you have not long rejoined and you hold views that would very definitely be embraced by the SWP and very definitely not by the mainstream Labour party. Simply put, I think you are rude and arrogant. That’s not a political view. It’s a personal view.

  18. Mike Homfray says:

    I don’t speak for anyone on here except for me – but as a Labour party member (of over 20 years in all, I left over Iraq along with many others, rejoining in 2010) I certainly want the party to have a profile distinct from that of the Coalition. I don’t think , as a Tory, that you have a clue about what makes up the ‘mainstream’ Labour party in terms of its membership and the way the party is going.

    And your amateur psychology is about as relevant to me as your political opinions.

  19. Rallan says:

    What amateur psychology? I said that I thought you were rude and arrogant. Not talking politics. I’m talking about the way you treat people who don’t immediately agree with you.

    Your opinion is worth no more or less than anyone else’s. Not that your opinion isn’t interesting. You make a lot of very clear arguments. But you have no respect for others (of any political leaning) and it shows.

    And I’ve read a lot of online leftist activity in an attempt to understand the thinking (actually fascinating once I got past my own instictive prejudice). I think I understand the mainstream now. At least enough to say that it’s evident that you’re on the outer fringe.

  20. Ian says:

    Jon Lansman’s comment makes the key point about the article, which is entirely based on a falsehood.

    The preliminary agenda for UNITE Policy Conference includes ALL motions submitted by any of the thousands of UNITE branches and committees. Nobody has “selected” them for debate.

    I realise that in the Labour Party the leader controls the “conference” as a stage-managed rally, but UNITE is far more democratic than that – members can argue for policies without even checking what the leader thinks first!

  21. Holly says:

    Union members haven’t ‘got it’ yet.
    Union leaders are quite content at Labour staying in opposition, hence all the talk of ‘savage’ cuts’, ‘evil entities’ etc. No sane(ish) person is going to believe that kind of talk, that is why they are now pushing it so hard.
    Miliband needs to figure out his left from his right, because he has no idea where he stands, or who’s vote he is after, without annoying Labour’s working class voter/alienating the better off.
    The unions have sussed they picked a duff and now need to ‘save’ themselves.
    Keep Labour in opposition, because Balls will look stupid when Labour have to make more cuts after the election, cut Labour’s funding, using Miliband’s lurching towards the £30-£60k worker, which means MORE money for us union bods.
    I could be wrong though.

  22. Chris Stiles says:

    It’s about time that Unite took the Labour Party back for workers. Anyone suggesting we should continue courting the middle income earners swing vote with neo-liberalism needs to realise that Labour lost the last election doing that. So if you’re not into real socialism vote Lib Dem or Tory. Our Labour Party was made by workers for workers via their trade unions. McCluskey was voted in by members who wanted change, well done to him and members on the Unite Executive for progressing to make Labour a REAL alternative for the masses!

  23. I Monckton says:

    God, what a load of piffle-original article and most of the comments.”There are 12 resolutions….selected by the leadership”. Firstly, there are NO resolutions on the Agenda-they are motions untill such time that a majority of conference delegates vote to accept them. Secondly, nobody “selects” motions in Unite. All branches and constitutional committees are entitled to submit motions, and ALL such motions appear on the Agenda. Thirdly, the conference will decide which motions become Unite policy-the “leadership”, wether that’s McLuskey, other Executive Officers, or the lay-member Executive will not even get a vote.
    As for the New Labour aplogists above (and i’d put money on the vast majority not being Unite members), do us all a favour and piss off.

  24. Cathrine says:

    I hate politic, becouse is like a bi*** , wants money and lies!! Can anyone help me with Damp proofing company ?

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