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

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Party Funding Review - a pincer movement against political trade unionism

Professor Keith Ewing - as the leading adviser to affiliated unions on political party finance – is well placed to warn of the dangers which a so called donations cap will pose to trade union political influence. In a Tribune article he warns that in a worst case scenario the Tories may use the review to ‘propose measures that would require the Labour party to rip up its constitution and drive the unions to the margins of political life:’http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2011/09/kelly%e2%80%99s-eye-on-the-labour-union-link/

Keith offers 2 stark warnings:

1. Regarding the cap on donations, the definition of which undemocratically includes affiliation fees, ‘the Tories continue opportunistically to propose a £50,000 cap on donations to political parties, to apply equally to bankers, companies and trade unions. This carries grave dangers for Labour, at a stroke undermining the principle of affiliated membership by unions’

2. Self styled Tory expert on union democracy, Andrew Tyrie MP, is seeking tighter regulation on union political funds. Tyrie, chair of the House Commons Treasury Committee, claims that ‘there is “no regulation”, we have “appalling abuse where there is not really a genuine opt-out, let alone an opt-in” and that “the vast majority” of trade union members do not get “a genuine choice’ on whether or not to pay the political levy;

Keith links the Government’s review of funding to Labour party’s internal reforms in the Refounding Labour process and argues that: ‘with an unexpectedly secure base, this is not the time for affiliates to be making irrecoverable constitutional concessions that will weaken Labour democracy, or the trade union voice in party affairs’