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).
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.