Tuesday 21 April 2009

Another Funding Scandal

Lifted from LabourHome by way of Political Betting:
“If the Conservative party had a single donor called UnitePLC that provided 40% of its donations, provided the CEO of the Conservative party, had its Head of PR setup websites for the Conservatives, hired people like Derek McPoison to run smear campaigns, unfairly influenced the process whereby many of its UnitePLC employees become Conservative MPs through donations and Uniteplc block votes in CLPs….. we would all be outraged at the infiltration of the Conservative party by a single company. But if we just changed the word Conservative to Labour in the above and deleted “plc” we arrive at the state of the Labour party.”
Yes, this kind of influence is in principle unhealthy. But is there proof Unite are receiving political favours for propping up this rotten corpse of a party? Can Labour right now be credibly accused of pushing a pro-union political agenda? 

The real scandal is not one of undue influence. It's that my former union is happy to throw money and personnel at Labour for very little in return.


PhilC said...

UnitePLC would not be run by democratically elected officials accountable to their staff and with the aim of improving all their conditions rather than narrow profit for a few.
You're not comparing like with like.
And as you rightly point out - they get little in return for this investment - so it's kinda moot.

Anonymous said...

Replace "Conservative party" with "a hypothetical democratic party" and "UnitePLC" with "the people" and you'd have "a democracy" :)

Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid!!! Is my Union actually trying to reclaim the Labour Party?
Are the rumours that the left dominated the recent political committe held in London last month true?
Are the anti TU commentators on Labourhome aware of this and are now getting worried?
Is the story that Whelan got slapped down by lay members at the executive committee last month means we are seeing a change at rank and file level to the attitude towards the Labour Party?

The Blair/Brown wing are shit scared of the influence of Unite. Policies being pushed by Unite are to the left of what they stand for (which isnt hard if you think about it)

Who knows how its goping to turn out?

Phil said...

I don't hold out too much hope, anonymous. The Labour party has become very heavily dependent on union funding these last couple of years, and what have trade unions got in return? Have CWU members received good value? What about public sector workers organised in Unison?

On a partially related point, assuming a new workers' party is set up in the next couple of years, what role for trade unions in it? Would they expect to retain the privilege of block voting? And what would be the response of the left to this? Did the RMT wield a block vote when they were affiliated to the SSP?

Anonymous said...

Hi Phil. To be honest there is the same amount of hope of reclaiming the LP as there is in getting a creditable electoral response with the rush no2eu initiative.

We can talk all we want on the merits and faults of the block vote but if we are to have a party of Labour BASED on the TUs then the issue needs to be addressed.

In an odd way the Unite attempt to get more clout in the LP and the RMT no2eu initiative are srangely related. Both are an renewed attempts by trade unions to have a say in the political process from both inside and outside the LP.

The other point to make is that all this talk of 'reclaiming' Labour over the last 6/7 years has amounted to nothing because there was never a serious strategy to do it. Unite now has a political structure which can now be applied for that job. But like the CNWP it will take years to come to fruition.

I guess you know little about the new Unite Political set up Phil?

Phil said...

I don't know much about Unite's political set up at all. Can you point me in the direction of something that's been written about it?

Re: reclaiming Labour, well, good luck to them with that. I can't see it happening myself but I'm not the sort to deny reality if it does happen.

Re: No2EU I would be surprised if it gets a great vote. I know the SP is working hard to get as big a vote as possible. But from the point of view of setting up a new workers' party, the importance of No2EU doesn't lie in the vote but in the relationships that are being built during the course of this campaign. These will be crucially important for the general election next year.

Andrew Coates said...

Well, if anyone thinks Charlie Wheelan (UNITE's Political whatnot) is going to 'reclaim' the Labour Party might members of UNITE ask, reclaim to what?

He's got a record of being a bit like the Number Two Shite in The Loop.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, Whelan isnt the lay membership , he is an employee of the Union. Have faith in the elected lay membership.They are the people meant to change things.

Phil, on the political committee, check firstly the new rule book on the Unite site.You will see there the provision for the new rule book. To look for reports of the Politicasl Ctte is going to be harder because there has so far been , well one! But if you need to find out I would suggest you cjeck out Gill Georges or Ian Allinsons blog who have been known to print their own GEC reports which may in future include reports of the political ctte.

Remember if a new workers does eventually happen sometime in the far,far future, it would probably use the contribution of union political committees. Every union should have one and indeed some do.