How much can something be diluted before it eventually disappears?
Ed MIliband is apparently out to discover the answer, via a bold experiment in policy homeopathy with his “reforms” to the trade union link.
The original, full-strength potion that he proposed back in the summer had plenty of problems, but since then it has been watered down again and again.
Now, according to the Guardian, he’s done it again.
Spooked by the prospect of Unite voting to reject his plans (fittingly, on the basis that they fear losing power in leadership elections), he intends to only apply the opt-in on Labour affiliation to new union members. Alternatively, Miliband is offering to delay the changes for five years.
It’s easy to see why the Labour leader is weakening his proposed remedy even further. He desperately needs union money, and he lacks the authority over his own MPs and party officers to face down McCluskey.
There are two consequences of this decision.
The first is that his supposed medicine to the “old politics” has become outright quackery – those concerned about what went on in Falkirk will get no reassurance from these delays and dilutions.
The second, and more important, consequence is that the strategic chaos in Labour policy will continue indefinitely. Labour Shadow Ministers, like Rachel Reeves, who want to engage with reality and the concerns of voters will continue to run up against the loony demands of the hard Left who pay their campaigning bills.
Faced with the choice of losing the bulk of his donations or losing control of his campaign, Miliband has chosen the latter. Next, he and his Shadow Cabinet will have wrestle with the consequences.