Posts Tagged ‘union link reform’

The real reason why the Co-op saga is bad news for Labour

27/11/2013, 07:01:39 AM

by Rob Marchant

First, let’s get a few things straight. The Co-op Bank is not the Co-op Group, and is not the Co-op Party, a separate political party which sponsors MPs, among other things. Problems for one does not necessarily mean disaster for all three.

And there are two further stories currently being bandied around, both fallacies. And a third story, which no-one seems to be telling, which is the truth.

Fallacy one: the Labour Party is tainted with the scandal of Paul Flowers. Tosh.

It is no more Ed Miliband’s fault that his banker was found to have dodgy personal habits and was not apparently a very competent chairman, than it is any of the thousands of business or charitable customers of the bank who were similarly disappointed. No, the attempt to link Flowers to Labour is a rather desperate attempt by the Tories and right-leaning newspapers to succeed where they have largely failed in getting the public’s attention over Falkirk; a matter over which, in stark contrast to the Co-op, the party’s behaviour is open to serious question.

Fallacy two: the Labour Party will be broke because of the loss of donations from the Co-op. Wrong. There are currently 32 MPs sponsored by the Co-op Party who have been told, according to the Guardian, that they might face a 30% cut in funding. What is the worst that can happen to them? Well, it’s that they might have to do what other MPs do: raise funds themselves to fund their constituency offices. So what?

A bit of a back-of-the-envelope calculation: funding of the Labour Party during the first ten months of 2013, above the minimum donation threshold, from organisations containing the word “Co-operative”, amounted to the princely sum of £17,478.25 (by all means check my calculation at the Electoral Commission here). Even allowing for a margin for error, compare that to the millions the party receives annually from trade unions and you can see how ludicrous it is to think the party’s funding will be seriously hit.

The third point is not a fallacy, sadly, but it is the one no-one seems to be focusing on.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Exclusive Uncut poll reveals trade union members overwhelmingly back Ed on reform

08/09/2013, 09:55:24 PM

by Rob Marchant

As delegates gather in Bournemouth for the Trades Union Congress, one subject will surely be a major topic of conversation for delegates from the larger unions: the future of their relationship with the Labour party.

While the relationship between the party leader and the leaders of the main unions has never been easy for either side, it is safe to say that relations are at a turning point in their 113 year-old marriage. As things stand, a smooth and trouble-free conference season seems an increasingly remote prospect.

To recap, the disastrous selection process for Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Falkirk West, where allegations of malpractice triggered the resignation of Tom Watson MP as its election campaign coordinator – and which even now is subject to wildly differing versions of events – has kicked off a wholesale reform programme of everything from party funding to MP candidate selection and conference voting.

Then, last Friday night on the eve of the TUC, the party suddenly accepted that no wrongdoing had taken place. Simultaneously, candidate Karie Murphy – Watson’s office manager and friend of Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union – pulled out, in what seemed almost certain to be some kind of deal, after threats that Unite could boycott the party’s conference later this month.

Although McCluskey, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, accepted the principle of reform of the union link from the outset, one wonders if this stance will continue. And other union leaders have been notably less enthusiastic.

The GMB responded last Monday by announcing a cut in affiliation fees of almost 90%, estimating that only around a tenth of current levy-paying members would sign up.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon