Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Labour now almost wholly dependent on Unions



New donation figures released today by the Electoral Commission show that since Ed Miliband became Labour leader the Party has become even more reliant on the trade unions for funding, with almost nine of every ten pounds of donations now coming from them.

Under Ed Miliband Labour has become more reliant on the trade unions, who now provide nearly 90 per cent of the party’s donations. Figures for the first quarter since Ed Miliband became Labour leader (Q4 2010) show that Labour received £2,545,610.10 in donations. £2,231,741.90 or 88 per cent of these came from trade unions, a massive increase on the same quarter the previous year (Q4 2009), when 36 per cent of their funding came from the trade unions.

Commenting on the latest figures, Deputy Conservative Party Chairman Michael Fallon said: “Ed Miliband was elected by the unions, now almost every pound his party receives in donations comes from the unions. So much for a fresh start.

“With private donations to the Party shrivelled, the Labour party now looks like a wholly owned subsidiary of the trade unions. Unions who oppose any public service modernisation and deny the deficit. Labour under Ed Miliband are abandoning the centre ground of British politics.”

Labour is clearly losing the support of individuals:

Under Ed Miliband, the central party has received no money from private individuals. Figures covering the first quarter since Ed Miliband became Labour leader (Q4 2010) show that the central Labour Party received no donations from private individuals. Across the country, just 15 individuals donated to CLPs, totalling £39,286 (Calculations from Electoral Commission Website).

Labour’s trade union reliance:

Last year 62 per cent per cent of Labour’s funding came from the trade unions. In 2010 Labour received a total of £20,251,827.81 in donations, of which £12,562,086.40 came from trade unions. Therefore 62 per cent of Labour’s donations last year came from the unions (ibid.).

Under Ed Miliband Labour has become more reliant on the trade unions, who now provide 88 per cent of the party’s donations. Figures for the first quarter since Ed Miliband became Labour leader (Q4 2010) show that Labour received £2,545,610.10 in donations. £2,231,741.90 or 88 per cent of these came from trade unions, a massive increase on the same quarter the previous year (Q4 2009), when 36 per cent of their funding came from the trade unions.

Labour’s reliance on the Unite trade union:

Last year almost a quarter of Labour’s union funding came from Unite. In 2010 Unite gave £4,703,381.09 to Labour. In the same period Labour received a total of £12,562,086.40 donations from trade unions. Therefore 23 per cent of Labour’s trade union donations last year came from Unite (ibid.).

Labour has admitted the influence of the trade unions:

Labour has defended its funding relationship with the unions. Speaking to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s inquiry on party funding Ray Collins, Labour’s General Secretary, said that affiliation fees paid by members to the party was not a ‘commercial transaction’ and supported the unions’ role in policy making, saying that he was glad that ‘millions of people’ were engaged with the party. He admitted that the trade unions were engaged in the Party’s policy making ‘at every level’ (Oral evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, 15 February 2011).

What Labour have given to the unions:

The Labour Government’s Warwick Agreement gave significant concessions to the unions. At its National Policy Forum in July 2004 Labour struck a deal to secure funding from trade unions in the run-up to the 2005 general election. In return, the Labour leadership granted unions wide-ranging concessions. These included:

Guaranteed real terms increases in the Trade Union Learning Fund each year until at least 2008 (Britain is Working, NPF Report, September 2004, p.129);

An extension of the eight-week rule on strike action to 12 weeks with no limit for employers who do not fully comply with conciliation moves (TGWU Press Release, 25 July 2004);

Moving towards pensions becoming a collective bargaining issue (TGWU Press Release, 25 July 2004);

The promise of a training levy if employers fail to meet the challenge of improving the skills of working people (Amicus Press Release, 25 July 2004);

Making the charitable status of private schools dependent upon demonstrating clear public benefit (Britain is Working, National Policy Forum Report, 26-30 September 2004, p.159);

Review the right of specialist technology schools to admit some of their intake by aptitude (Britain is Working, National Policy Forum Report, p.159);

New sector forums bringing together unions and employers in low-paid sectors (TGWU Press Release, 25 July 2004);

A threefold increase in the number of trade union ‘learning representatives’ to 20,000 (TGWU Press Release, 25 July 2004);

Working with the TUC to develop the concept of a trade union academy (Britain is Working, NPF Report, September 2004, p.129);

UK Government backing for the Agency Workers’ European Directive (TGWU Press Release, 25 July 2004);

A whole host of safeguards to ensure equality of funding between PFI and conventional public spending (TGWU Press Release, 25 July 2004);

The strengthening and development of the European social dimension (Britain is Working, NPF Report, September 2004, p.21);

Making it easier and more attractive for local authorities to gain greater control over local bus networks (Ibid, p.78);

A commitment to work in partnership with strong, modern trade unions to help unions such [sic] grow’ (TULO guide to the Warwick Agreement, 24 April 2006).

In all, 108 pledges were made to the unions. As of 2008, the Unite union reported that 65 per cent of these had been implemented or seen significant progress (Unite, Report to Unite Executive Committee, July 2008).

The Union Modernisation Fund provides state funding to the trade unions. In 2004, the Labour Government announced a plan to create a new fund of taxpayers’ money to give money to the trade unions. The Union Modernisation Fund (UMF) was created through the Employment Relations Act 2004.

Over £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money has been given to the unions. As of July 2010, the unions had received £5,737,624 of government funding though the UMF (Hansard, 21 July 2010, col. 411W).

Unions are free to spend this money as they wish. Under Section 55 of the Act, the unions can spend money channelled through the fund on almost anything:

‘The Secretary of State may provide money to a trade union to enable or assist it to do any or all of the following -

(a) improve the carrying out of any of its existing functions;

(b) prepare to carry out any new function;

(c) increase the range of services it offers to persons who are or may become members of it;

(d) prepare for an amalgamation or the transfer of any or all of its engagements;

(e) ballot its members (whether as a result of a requirement imposed by this Act or otherwise)’ (Employment Relations Act 2004, Section 55, Article 1).

In round one almost £1 million was used to fund unions’ websites. Grants made under Round One of the fund were announced in 2006. £3 million of taxpayers money was distributed to the unions, with around a third of the money (£947,000) given to projects to develop trade union websites (DTI Press Release, 21 March 2006; UMF: Interim Evaluation of First Round, DTI, September 2006).

In round two state money funded migrant worker projects and websites. The second round of funding was launched in November 2006. Speaking at the TUC Annual Congress in September 2007, then Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden announced that 28 projects had been awarded grants worth a total of £2.8 million (TUC, Briefing on the Union Modernisation Fund, October 2007).

In round three £3 million was used to fund membership databases and IT systems. According to the then Employments Relations Minister Pat McFadden, £3 million was allocated for the third round of the UMF in 2009 (Hansard, 25 March 2009, col. 528W).

The National Policy Forum gives the unions influence over Labour Party policy. Labour’s National Policy Forum was set up in 1997 as the as the party’s sovereign policy-making body. The Forum is made up of 194 representatives, including 30 trade unions (Labour Party Website, National Policy Forum.

What Ed Miliband says about the trade unions:

Ed Miliband supports greater links between Labour and the unions. ‘I think the unions do play a very important role in our party...They provide us with, as well as Labour Party members, a clear link to the lives of ordinary people, and I think that’s the way that their influence should be felt in our policy making.’ (Progress Magazine, 1 December 2009).

And thinks we need more people in trade unions. ‘We need more people in trade unions and we need trade unions to rise to the challenge that they can make a difference to their member’s lives’ (Daily Mail, 27 July 2010).

How the trade unions got Ed Miliband elected:

Backed by Unite. Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley urged Unite members to back Ed Miliband: ‘Getting the Labour Leadership issue right is important in fighting these threats. That is why we are asking you to vote for Ed Miliband’ (Unite4Labour Website, accessed on 25 September 2010).

Ed Miliband has personally thanked Unite for their help in getting him elected. Ed Miliband has reportedly personally thanked Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley: ‘EdMili just put an arm around Unite’s Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson and said simply: “Thank you”’ (Paul Waugh’s Twitter, 25 September 2010).

Charlie Whelan boasts of Unite’s influence. Just after the result was announced, Charlie Whelan tweeted that over half of Unite’s votes went to Ed Miliband: ‘53% of unite members voted for Ed Miliband’ (Charlie Whelan’s Twitter, 25 September 2010).

Ed Miliband received £100,000 from Unite last year. Ed Miliband received £100,000 in donations from Unite last year (Electoral Commission, Register of Donations to Regulated Donees, 2010).

Nearly two thirds of the donations registered by Ed Miliband came from trade unions. Ed Miliband’s campaign received £100,000 from Unite, £28,000 from the GMB and £5,000 from UCATT – equivalent to 62 per cent of all the donations registered on the Electoral Commission website. In comparison, David Miliband only received £35,000 from trade unions – 8 per cent of the total donations he received (Analysis of the Electoral Commission Website).

And nearly one third of the donations registered by Ed Miliband came from Unite. Ed Miliband’s campaign received £100,000 from Unite – equivalent to 32 per cent of all the donations registered on the Electoral Commission website (Analysis of the Electoral Commission Website).

Unite break spirit of rules to aid Ed Miliband. Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, included a leaflet pledging its support for Mr Miliband along with the ballot papers for the contest it sent to its 950,000 members eligible to vote. Party rules say you cannot include in the ballot envelope any literature backing a candidate (The Independent, 10 September 2010).

Charlie Whelan says Ed Miliband only won because of the unions. 'We said vote for Ed Miliband because he more fits in with our policies...it was clear that the union vote turned out for Ed Miliband’ (The Times, 18 November 2010).

Meanwhile, Conservatives continue to widen their base. The Conservative Party received 106 small value (£0-£25,000) donations in Q4 2010 totalling £666,177 (Calculations from Electoral Commission Website).

UPDATED COMMENT:

His Grace has been asked (challenged) by James Mills ('Labour Party stooge') and Tom Harris MP (Labour Party conscience) to point out that a union membership fee is a political levy: one has the option to pay it or not. His Grace responded that this option is given only on joining, and so inertia determines perpetual support for Labour. Mr Harris ignored the intertia point, reiterating that 'you can opt out subsequently if you wish'. Mr Mills prejudicially asserted: 'Let me guess, your (sic) not going to correct ur highly miss leading (sic) blog post now you have this new information??'. His Grace is always happy to clarify as necessary.

35 Comments:

Blogger DomFisher said...

Message to the coalition. Stop all public sector funding of unions now.

23 February 2011 at 14:32  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I agree with Mr DomFisher.

Indeed, the Coalition should pass a law that compels unions to ask their individual members every year if they want their subscriptions to contribute to the funds of the very Party that has engineered job cuts in the public sector.

23 February 2011 at 14:41  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

Apparently many unions use money (ie. members' contributions) to fund campaigns to keep legal, and promote, abortion, so people who are union members have blood on their hands.
At least in the past, the Labour Party really did reflect the values of workers, who were normally members of unions, which funded the Labour party. Since Blair, however - or perhaps before - Labour has come to despise ordinary British working people (as proved by Gordon Brown's "bigoted" aside). I wonder if this is why there are now so few personal members?

23 February 2011 at 14:44  
Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

Well the Unions started the Labour party so nobody should be surprised by this really.

They get a few other donations when they're in power (people hoping for favours, quite reasonably), but when they're not it is just the founders who pay.

Plus ca change.

23 February 2011 at 14:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scotty

The left wing spin is always that "millions" of people show their support through the trade union money - yet none of the trade unions give their members a choice of whether their fees are used to support the labour party.

So the "support" of the unions relies on a few of the fat cat union bosses deciding to use their members money in this way.

23 February 2011 at 15:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Tony Blair will fund the Labour Party. He can afford it and Ed might give him a knighthood.

23 February 2011 at 15:56  
Anonymous Rog said...

It does seem strange to be giving taxpayers' money to the unions, who obviously don't need it since they then shovel it toward the Labour party. It's practically money laundering.

I also heartily agree that union members should have to explicitly opt-in to political donations, or just outlaw it being collected with subs altogether.

Two money saving initiatives the government should be pursuing as a matter of urgency.

23 February 2011 at 16:11  
Blogger DP111 said...

So what we have is that the Unions fund the Labour party. And when Labour is in power, it grants all the wishes of public sector unions, specially their wage demands, which the taxpayer has to fund. The Unions then contribute to Labour for the next election.

In any reasonable world, this would be deemed as corruption.

23 February 2011 at 16:22  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Very nice Your Grace but I do not want to have taxpayer funding of political parties. In Germany this has produced horrendous corruption - the FDP has a castle in Spain. Helmut Kohl had the Leuna Affair whereby Mitterand provided funding through Elf-Total - or Schreiber the arms dealer handed over suitcases of cash in Geneva in return for sales of Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia.

This was how illicit funding supplemented taxpayer funding...which funnily enough increases year on year

23 February 2011 at 16:29  
Anonymous Seth said...

er, and the Tory Party are funded by... the banks, which wouldn't have influenced government policy toward them at all of course.

23 February 2011 at 16:33  
Anonymous Voyager said...

David Miliband's campaign was funded by a Morgan Stanley Director. Every party at the last GE was funded by hedge funds. The Conservative Party still receives donations outside the limits and since Cameron took over reliance on City funding has reached levels commensurate with Pro-City taxation policies.

That Labour gets funding from the Unions shows only that Lord Sainsbury and Bernie Ecclestone are not donating. After all the scandals of Cash for Honours who can blame them.....however LibDems and Conservatives give honours for cash....Andrew Feldman for example.

I really wish people would not try to make out one party is whiter than the other; they are all corrupt and engaged in larceny against the taxpayer

23 February 2011 at 16:34  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

How many Milibands does it take to change a lightbulb?

Ansewr: None.

You can't change a lightbulb, you need a electrician for that mate;~)

23 February 2011 at 16:42  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

As I was required to join a Union in my work, I did. But I also refused to pay the "political precept" despite all attempts to bully me into it or to play the good old fashioned Union Blackmail game ...

23 February 2011 at 17:36  
Blogger starcourse said...

The maximum loan or donation from person or organisation should be capped at £50k pa.

If as an unfortunate side-effect Labour goes bust .... maybe they should have cut their deficit faster.

23 February 2011 at 17:41  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

The one time I needed help from my union, they let me down and I lost my job. I bitterly detest them all. Labour are very good at spending other people's money and making themselves rich in the process.

May fleas infest their nether parts and may their arms be too short to scratch.

23 February 2011 at 17:47  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Pretty sobering your grace. Party funding does not always stir the public in part as the contempt felt for politicians for creating a mess , does not useually make one rush to the purse to help out the union subs negate this somewhat by demands and as some have pointed out with considerable co ercion.Some may well come round to realise "hold on a mo" have the unions helped create the deficet by funding labour.
The point perhaps difficult to get across is understanding which party is pretty much based on ensuring you are voting for freedom .Having had the Brown terror you may have thought a mass movement to just stopping funding labour would have occured . There is no sign of a stop the deficet growing campaign from the labour , stop the cuts does not even begin to answer the damage the deficet will do which is the useual labour trick of telling half truths about ecnomic realities and trying to avoid the sticky mud .
Future ecnomics is not really socialist either as centralised economies end up being protectionist and stifle innovation , but the love of centralised systems hasnt worn off yet as they are seen as tax efficient .
The uk people know somthing horrible has occured , they understand debts , flagrant salaries and abuses of public sector pay and they know it could not go on.
The one solution I am surprised labour didnt take was to to accept a huge permanent pay cut for those public sector employees on over 50k a year , but as we now know some jobs were just money for old rope . The cost of too much money being spent on politics is always the socialist hangover proved in other contries that have the flower bills , works of art and marble palaces .
The unions may also do themselves longer term damage by not admitting that it had got out of hand and that the growth that will come a few years down the line (otherwise impossible under ed Balls plans so far) were not the right thing to do .
But it is tempting to wonder if you want to vote for socialism you should just have personal donations who knows it may even compel ed to write more honest manfestos .

23 February 2011 at 18:17  
Anonymous tony b said...

>yet none of the trade unions give their members a choice of whether their fees are used to support the labour party.

THAT is a complete and utter lie. No other word for it. You CAN choose.

And without trade unions, my friends, people would still be working 18 hours a day in factories for tuppence a day. I know some of you want to go back to that - I don't.

23 February 2011 at 18:42  
Anonymous tony b said...

"In any reasonable world, this would be deemed as corruption".

If of course it were true, which it isn't.

23 February 2011 at 18:44  
Anonymous tony b said...

You lot do seem very confused about Labour and about unions. Can you discuss between you whether Labour gives in to public sector wage demands or makes cuts? There seems to be a slight difference of opinion there. Let me know when you discover any actual facts.

23 February 2011 at 18:47  
Anonymous tony b said...

Interesting banner too - "Union members first, Britain second". I presume these are British union members we're talking about here? It's certainly a worrying thought that ordinary British people should have any influence over how their country is governed, isn't it? Oh dearie me. Next we'll be giving ordinary people the vote. Thin end of the wedge, blah blah blah.

23 February 2011 at 18:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony b...

It's when you look at union wages for their employees that you realise whose side they are on.

And it ain't yours and mine.

23 February 2011 at 20:35  
Blogger Span Ows said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

23 February 2011 at 21:13  
Blogger Span Ows said...

The Labour and Union excuse/bluff that Union donations are "the will of the members" an "the workers" money and that is free choice etc should be called: as D. Singh said (2nd comment)

Indeed, the Coalition should pass a law that compels unions to ask their individual members every year if they want their subscriptions to contribute to the funds of the very Party that has engineered job cuts in the public sector.

...a bit badly worded but I agree in essence; I suggest that each year an OBLIGATORY referendum/letter/poll/whatever ask each and every member the SCALE of the donation i.e. ALL, 75%, 50%, 25% NONE. This gives clear and specific options and would clear up he Labour/Union COMPLETE AND UTTER LIE that it is their members choice (which at present it most clearly and emphatically is not)

23 February 2011 at 21:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 1970s I opted out of the political levy.
It is not that difficult. I banged on the door of the secretary of the branch of TGWU post entry closed shop to which I belonged and asked for the money back.
She could see I was in no mood for a no answer BUT at the time I said I believed in free trade unionism and I still do.
Political donations should be limited to 500 pounds per individual.
The Tory stance on donations is one of the many reasons of why the vast majority of Britons should not vote for them.

24 February 2011 at 03:47  
Anonymous Sage said...

I think Labour made a big mistake in making Ed Miliband their leader. If he came to power in 2015, I can only imagine him as a horrendous Prime Minister. Labour must not win the next General Election.

24 February 2011 at 05:17  
Anonymous Voyager said...

. If he came to power in 2015, I can only imagine him as a horrendous Prime Minister.

He won't. Ed Balls will be Leader. Labour will not win the election...no party will...but I doubt a coalition will be the answer....and it won't be 2015....more like 2012

24 February 2011 at 05:45  
Blogger Prodicus said...

Union executive committees are free to spend general funds any way they like including on political donations. Members may opt out of the political levy, but they cannot prevent some of their sub money going to Labour. Well, I say 'to Labour', but I mean 'to which ever political party... etc.' As if.

24 February 2011 at 08:39  
Anonymous Ian of the Midlands said...

Your Grace,

Reading this left me cold.

This is the usurping of the democratic process & the onwership of Her Majesty's opposition by an entity that has no regard for Britain or democracy.

There are enough warnings from history regarding socialism - European history alone is littered with the victims of this failed fanatical, extremist ideology & tribal creed.

Sooner rather than later, socialism & fabianism will have to be declared & defined as a threat to the indicidual & humanity & outlawed.

24 February 2011 at 10:53  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Well, let us something not already known. As Prime Minister Lloyd George once quipped about the Commons, he had the TUC in front of him and the CBI behind him. And that was in the 1920's when we had an empire...

24 February 2011 at 11:05  
Blogger George said...

Quote """"His Grace has been asked (challenged) by James Mills ('Labour Party stooge') and Tom Harris MP (Labour Party conscience) to point out that a union membership fee is a political levy: one has the option to pay it or not."""

So how does that interact with closed shops and the highly pressured nature of being forced to join unions when in the public sector.
Unions have lost the raison d'etre for their original creation, they now represent a political arm of the Labour Party, or rather are the Labour Party and seeking to take total control of politicking, so as to gain advantage economically and politically.
NuLab under Blair and Brown pandered to these people with the Modernisation Fund, which was bribery and corruption on a grand scale and a cynical ploy to ensure that the NuLab experiment was publicly funded.
Unions should be made to bear their own costs, membership should be totally voluntary and the public sector should not be forced to grant time off for union busuness, provide accomodation or collect union dues and subs by way of payroll giving. Additionally, Unions should be made to pay taxes on their income, they are a business, a lobbying business with no controls and very little in the way of moral and ethical comncerns.

24 February 2011 at 12:17  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace

Absolute union control of the Labour Party is inevitable under the scenario that you outline and absolute union control will be the death of the Labour Party. Fortunately the bruvvers seem unable to reverse engineer their own success, which depended on the improbable merger of Fabianism and Luddism. The unions know no better than to offer Luddism and consequently will succeed in destroying any broader debate within the Labour Party. The ideals of the Luddite wing and the Fabian intellectuals were once symbiotic but are now irreconcilable. The reason for this is simple, the union movement does not tolerate open debate within itself and consequently will not tolerate open debate within the Labour Party. Ed Milliband is a doomed puppet. So why does the union movement refuse to accept open debate? Because to permit debate would potentially threaten the movement's raison d'etre and thus threaten the careers of the union leadership and officials. So how do the union leadership retain control of the membership? By the sheer inertia of the membership. See wikipedia entry for Unite, the largest union, in which the leadership has been elected by just 14.5% of the membership, 152000 votes in all. It is therefore possible that the entire Labour Party is now controlled by just 152,000 trade unionists, or 0.25% of the UK population. Good luck, Ed.

24 February 2011 at 22:53  
Anonymous old blue eyes said...

Many years ago when I was secretary of a branch of the clerical section of the NUM I proposed an amendment to the proposal making political levy automatic unless a person opted out. My amendment was to allow the member to nominate the political party to which his or her levy should go. As you can imagine the proposal caused an uproar.

24 February 2011 at 22:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Labour now almost wholly dependent on Unions”

...plus several million imported voters that the Tories and Lib Dems are now also wooing while totally ignoring the rest of us.

Isn’t ‘democracy’ wonderful? Let’s promote it in North Africa and the Middle East and see if anyone notices the difference.

26 February 2011 at 13:33  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"Sooner rather than later, socialism & fabianism will have to be declared & defined as a threat to the indicidual & humanity & outlawed."

Blimey.

27 February 2011 at 05:41  
Blogger DeeDee99 said...

So why hasn't Cameron acted to stop the transfer of public money to the Trades Unions.

At a time of public spending cuts, that should have been high on the list of priorities. If the unions have money to spare to handover to Labour, let them fund themselves.

This is basically enforced taxpayer support for the Labour Party.

3 May 2011 at 07:17  

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