UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Omerta on Party Finance Inquiry

The Tories and the Liberal Democrats have a common agenda to break the Trade Union Labour link and unsurprisingly the Coalition agreement in May 2010 included a pledge to ‘pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics’.

Accordingly, the Committee on Standards in Public Life has been holding an inquiry into political finance since July 2010. A consultation document was published, responses sought and 10 hearings have been held across the UK: http://www.public-standards.org.uk/OurWork/Party_Political_Finance.html

The inquiry was due to report in ‘Spring’, then ‘late Spring’ and now its website states that the Committee plans to ‘to publish their report and any recommendations for change later this year’.

It is widely acknowledged that a cap on donations (the definition of which includes affiliation fees) would be incompatible with the collective affiliation of unions to the Labour Party. Trade unionists would still be able to make political contributions but on an individual basis and not necessarily only to the Labour Party.

Press coverage of the inquiry’s likely recommendations has dried up in 2011 and reports of the recent Labour Party NEC meeting on 17 May make no reference to this vitally important issue. Instead Labour’s focus is on internal constitutional reforms and policy reviews.

The omerta surrounding the inquiry suggests a deadlock between the political parties similar to that which led to the earlier Sir Hayden Phillips led review being aborted in 2007. Unlike Gordon Brown at that time it is unlikely that the Con Dem’s will settle for the status quo: http://www.partyfundingreview.gov.uk/