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

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Swindled at the checkout

I purchased some insurance the other day and when the invoice came through the company had deducted a £1.20 donation to the Conservative Party. I tried of course to opt out and get my £1.20 back but they said I had no choice. The same happened on a trip to Top Shop where I bought an overpriced skirt for one of my teenage daughters. This time they took off 80 pence for the Tories.

Then my council tax bill came through. The council had used JCB to help build a local school so by default I had paid yet another donation to the Tories! Next came my wage slip I contacted my union to stop paying my political fund and by the following month I had my union subs adjusted downwards by 80 pence.

Of course this is just an illustration ... but the reality of Miliband’s self-aggrandising and less than scrupulous attack on unions has allowed the real scandal of Tory donations to go underground once again. Because in every walk of life UK consumers are sucked into inadvertently supporting the Tory party through big corporate donors with no choice and no transparency and certainly no opt out or opt in! A sum to the tune of £72m raised over half of all Tory funding in the past decade from their top 50 donor groups.

This spreadsheet produced by the LSE goes into the realms of the corporate giants and wealthy donors whose donations to the Tories swamp any union funding of labour. Using ‘legal’ devices of donations through different companies and family members to avoid the donations cap. Even more galling is the fact that some of the biggest donors to the Tories are companies where YOUR public sector pension fund invests.

I don’t recall future or current public sector pensioners getting a say on those company donations do you? And yet in UNISON’s application form we get to tick a box to opt in for a political fund or a general fund donation. Our members have a choice. What a shame I don’t get to tick a similar box with my insurance company?

Anna Rose