Revealed: The document that explains how Unite intends to take over the Labour party

by Atul Hatwal

This morning, over at the Telegraph, Dan Hodges reports on Unite’s moves to create a distinct party within the Labour party. At the heart of the union’s plans is a political strategy document. Labour Uncut has managed to get a copy of this strategy and it makes for uncomfortable reading.

Unite Political Strategy

Few would claim the last Labour government to be perfect, but much good was achieved. The minimum wage, the social chapter and unprecedented investment in schools and hospitals are just a few of the positives of which the party can be proud.

But these are all dismissed by Unite in their political strategy. Instead, for them, “the record of the last Labour government was, for the most part, a bitter disappointment”.

It’s worth pausing a moment to reflect on that statement.

These aren’t the words of a fringe group within the union. This document was adopted by the union’s highest decision-making body, the Executive Council. It is the settled view of Labour’s largest donor and affiliate.

The question is: if the spending of the last Labour government on public services was a “bitter disappointment”, what does Unite have in mind?

The strategy is a powerful statement of intent. It’s clear that Unite intend to fundamentally change Labour. The authors review Unite’s past approach to engaging with the party and emphatically point out,

“…for all the talk of ‘reclaiming’ the party, little progress was made. This has led to great frustration within the union, the more so since the party’s requests for financial support from our union and others have continued unabated. So its time for a change.”

In one passage, plans are set out to recruit 5000 new members from Unite into the Labour party. But this is no altruistic membership drive; the purpose of this influx of activists is to control local constituency parties. The strategy baldly states,

“This is emphatically not just a recruitment offensive to benefit the Labour party with passive financial contributors – it is vital if we are to impact on constituency parties”.

The document goes on to outline how these new activists will be marshalled by Unite’s political structures to act as a bloc within CLPs. There will be, “Early meetings of Unite Labour party members in CLPs – an RPC and RPO responsibility”.

RPC stands for Regional Political Committee which brings together Unite’s regional political leadership while RPO refers to the Regional Political Officer, who is responsible for delivering the union’s political plan on the ground.

The strategy is explicit that the Regional Political Committees and Regional Political Officers will ultimately be held accountable by the Executive Council to deliver Unite’s political plans for Labour.

Although unions have always had their own political structures, this marks a radical departure in approach. For the first time, a union will explicitly be building a political hierarchy from the ground up within the Labour party, but directed from outside the party.

Central command and control of this new cadre of Labour activists by Unite, to deliver Unite’s agenda, will create a situation not seen in the Labour party since the mid-1980s.

It’s no coincidence that as the union witchhunt against Progress gathers pace, and the eyes of the party and media are looking to the right, on the left, unnoticed, the Unite political strategy is being put into practice.

The 5000 activists are due to be in place by December 2012.

In one sense, what Unite is doing is perfectly understandable. This organisation gives several million pounds to the Labour party each year. It supplies resources such as phone banks and meeting rooms as well footsoldiers to knock doors and make phone calls. Why shouldn’t the union demand Labour do its bidding?

In every other walk of life, the level of contribution made by Unite would be accompanied by very clear deliverables, enforceable through contract.

Only in politics can this charade persist: where Labour maintains that support from the unions is largesse without strings attached while the Tories persist in their fiction that hard headed businessman are happy to part with millions for nothing in return.

The Unite political strategy shows beyond all doubt that, for Labour, they are moving to end this pretence.

At the moment, the Labour leadership seem to be wilfully ignorant of the shift. But as Unite and the other unions grow in influence, expectations will rise. Power is addictive. Once wielded, its use comes more easily.

Today it is Progress. Easy to look the other way for Labour’s leaders. Convenient even for union ire to be directed at the Blairites. But tomorrow, if and when either Ed Miliband or Ed Balls wanted to repeat their speeches backing public sector pay restraint, what would be the reaction?

If anything, this is the real revelation from the strategy document. That the old settlement is being ripped up by Unite. The political terms of engagement are being re-written. Money and resources will now directly equate to control.

Where Unite lead the other unions are likely to follow. How Labour’s leaders react will determine whether the party has a viable future in the centre ground of British politics.

Atul Hatwal is editor at Uncut

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23 Responses to “Revealed: The document that explains how Unite intends to take over the Labour party”

  1. Political Realist says:

    Ah well, ten years of Tory mis-rule beckon. Shame: Ed was starting to look convincing. But once the Tories get hold of this, Labour are unelectable for a generation.

  2. Rallan says:

    I am a Conservative but I voted Labour when I thought they were the only viable party of government (1997 & 2001). In fact I have voted Labour more times than I have voted Tory! Honestly, I am unlikely to vote Labour again given the state of the country when you left power.

    But under no circumstances could I ever vote for the Labour party that Unite are looking to create. And I know that many lefties are clear that they would not want my vote.

    I cannot see how Traditional Labour and (what was) New Labour can co-exist. No matter how many times you say “broad church”, you obviously can’t stand each other. It can only end with divorce. Traditional Labour have all the resources, so I think they’ll come out the winners.

  3. John says:

    The current behaviour of the unions is why the Labour leadership should back state funding of political parties.

  4. Les Abbey says:

    Possibly the very thing you accuse of Unite of doing is what Progress has been quite happy to do.

  5. Dr Alan McCowan says:

    “The minimum wage, the social chapter and unprecedented investment in schools and hospitals are just a few of the positives of which the party can be proud.”

    This is self-deluding rubbish. The minimum wage is a great idea in principle, but rendered utterly meaningless if you introduce it in a society where you then let the cost of living outstrip it vastly every year. A security guard on £1.50 an hour in 1995 was still better off in every meaningful sense than one on £6 an hour in 2012, who’s getting paid four times as much but is paying out around 15 times as much for their housing, gas, electricity, water, transport and food as they were 17 years ago.

    Investment in schools and hospitals? What, the PFI “investment” that’s going to cripple our children and our children’s children when they’re still paying for it 40 years from now because Blair and Brown kept it off the books?

    And seriously, does anyone have any idea what “the social chapter” even WAS any more, let alone how it’s meaningfully affected anyone’s life? I’m a politics nerd and I honestly couldn’t tell you a single thing about it, except that if it did do any good it was almost certainly outweighed a hundred times by all the civil liberties Labour crushed.

    Good luck, Unite. Maybe you’ll make the Labour party remember what it’s supposed to be for again. If we want Tories, we’ll vote for bloody Tories.

  6. Felix says:

    Conclusion: Rallan is a deeply confused person.

  7. Rallan says:

    “Conclusion: Rallan is a deeply confused person”

    Heh. That I don’t pre-decide my vote on tribal lines must seem very alien to you. But dont worry. Labour is clearing my confusion by moving itself unelectably to the left.

  8. Ralph Baldwin says:

    So it’ll be a fight for democracy and liberty against the thuggish control madness and hypocritical rich-wannabes in Labour then?

  9. swatantra says:

    Yes to State Funding and No to any vested interests corrupting political Parties
    And its time we had OMOV in the Labour Party.

  10. Rallan says:

    Absolutely no to state funding. The parties do not deserve it and they already get far too much public money (which they keep very quiet about).

    The main parties do not have any special rights. If they cannot gather enough popular support (ie donations) then they haven’t convinced enough people, and so should not be in a position of power.

    Meaningful caps on donations are what we need, rigorously enforced. Let the parties actually earn their corn by engaging and persuading the people. I don’t understand why labour has a problem with this given the large support base you have.

  11. john Reid says:

    maybe the gmb and sunison could get them expelled like progress, once agin Ed M’s silence is deafening and he knows this osrto fthings going on, reminiscent of wilson turning A blind eye to militant again, and then 18 years in oppostion.

  12. If state funding had been put in to place a decade ago the public would now have accepted this state of affairs and pol parties would be masters in their own houses, to the benefit of the country and electorate..

  13. Mouth of the Umber says:

    Oh dear. Sides are being create and battle lines drawn. Both sides need to take a step back and look at what they are doing ! ! !
    The majority of ordinary members will dislike the internal bickering and leave the LP or get confused by the technical details, feel excluded and will leave or become inactive ! ! !
    Somebody needs to start a bit of reconciliation.

  14. Joe says:

    Unite have a right to make their views known.

    Internal debate has to work both ways. You can’t have Unions trying to outlaw other groups within Labour *cough-progress-cough*, but you also can’t have people moaning about a Union wanting Labour to alter its policy.

    You don’t see the Tories having a period every time the Tax Payers alliance publish a report calling for some outrageous right wing policy do you?

    Proper debate about how to modernise Labour is the only way we’ll get a winning manifesto for 2015.

  15. Ralph Baldwin says:

    Joe “Proper debate about how to modernise Labour” you are having a laugh aren’t you? Debate is not permitted by the Party except to term one of your senior imbeciles on Question Time “behind closed doors” lol.

    You are well and truly screwed, you should just take your medicine from your Leadership and accept it like a good pleb.

  16. Rallan says:

    “If state funding had been put in to place a decade ago the public would now have accepted this state of affair”

    A self declared selfish “elite” impose an unwelcome, clearly unwanted change for their own benefit/ideology, and expect that the public will do what their told because our political masters are (they claim) so much wiser and righteous than us? To hell with that! That was your attitude to mass immigration & multiculturalism too, and look where that’s heading.

  17. Bill says:

    I was a member of the Labour party for 17 years but finally left under Tony Blair. Perhaps I may consider rejoining after all.

  18. RRichard says:

    Ralph Baldwin, you were elected as a Labour Cllr and betrayed the people who elected you when you became a Tory. Fancy putting your new views to the people of Mayesbrook. Your a disgrace who has no right to lecture anyone.

    Re: the article. Getting working people to *shock horror* join the Labour Party. Such a threat. A ridiculous piece of spin by a delusional author.

  19. This report is interesting in a number of ways. One thing I picked up on was this:
    “We end to end the discrimination against working class candidates, BAME and women candidates for public office. That only 4% of the MPs in Parliament are from manual occupations is a notable part of the crisis of working class representation.”

    Fair point, I thought. Until you think about the noticeable omission in this: LGBT candidates. If Unite wish to create a truly inclusive party, it’s worrying that they have forgotten this significant minority. There are two lesbian and fifteen gay MPs in our Parliament, yet that is hardly representative. Indeed, there are more gay Tory MPs than Labour MPs. The Treasury’s recent 5-7% LGBT population estimate translates to 45 LGBT MPs in a fully representative Parliament. Unite should be ashamed of omitting this from their report given the size of the shortfall.

  20. John P Reid says:

    bill do you only like being in labour when we lose elections

  21. Moose says:

    So Unite want to get as much control in Labour as they can. Fine, the more who see Labour as their route to the future the more relevant and the more worth fighting for it will become. There’s nothing stopping other interests from joining the fray. Labour used to be a cross section of the ordinary people of this country all jostling for a hearing, forming and reforming alliances, compromising, drawing lines; this is how a political party creates the melting pot in which it renders itself fit to serve. Don’t throw up your hands in horror, get in there and fight your corner!

  22. Victor Dubinsky says:

    Shock horror! The Labour Party actually having the Labour movement involved in it! This is an outrage! I want it to be run by Oxbridge and Ivy League graduates who are members of a right-wing group funded by business magnates that won’t publish its membership list. I was in the Tory Party until I realised that the plebs had no say in what Labour did, I will most certainly be defecting back to the Tory Party like Luke Bozier now that the loony left will have a say. Who knows what mad, Trotskyite, Bolshevik nonsense they’ll demand! Decent social provisions? Disgusting!

  23. watfordnorth says:

    Unite havent assisted Watford CLP for some time I’m a labour member I have stood twice not once has a union rep assisted.

    I am not a unionist but defend then to the last breath but they do need to stop this BS. with regard to taking control of the party.

    The leaders complain about the oxford Cambridge bunch but they are on over 100k and claim expenses and so forth utter BS in my opinion

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