Posts Tagged ‘Collins report’

Party reforms hang in the balance as Collins fails to resolve the big question

05/02/2014, 10:37:22 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The NEC has spoken. By a vote of 28 to 2 the Collins report was accepted and will now go to the special conference next month. Much of the reception to the report has been warm, and there is much to commend it, but lurking in the detail of the report is an important unanswered question.

There are to be two separate “opt-ins” for individual trade unionists: the first to give permission for political fund contributions to be used by the union in supporting Labour, and the second for the trade unionist to join Labour as an affiliate member.

The latter would give the right to participate in Labour’s leadership election, though not parliamentary selections. Only trade unionists who have agreed to their political fund contributions being used to support Labour can then opt-in to become an affiliate member of the party.

Underpinning both opt-ins is a single requirement: consent. This is where the problem lies.

What constitutes consent should be easily defined. When Ed Miliband started this process last July, he gave a very clear statement,

”Individual Trade Union members should choose to join Labour through the affiliation fee, not be automatically affiliated.”

To most people, this would mean members of trade unions signing a form to show their choice. In the context of the double opt-in, it would be a form with two boxes to tick – one to say yes to commit political fund contributions to Labour and the other to say yes to join Labour as an affiliate member.

But in the Collins report there is no such definition. Instead, it deliberately avoids clarity.


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