With Russian troops invading Ukrainian territory, there’s bigger news in the world than Ed Miliband’s “reforms” to the Labour Party’s relationship with the unions – but we did promise you an update, and we do like to keep our promises.
Labour’s Special Conference has approved the package put to them, but the devil as ever is in the detail. The major impact will be two-fold: Labour will lose millions of pounds a year in guaranteed funding from the unions, and instead those millions will be at the disposal of union leaders to donate (or spend elsewhere). In practice, that means Labour’s finances will be dependent on conditional funding from Len McCluskey and pals.
In other words, their influence is set to grow.
Here’s the reaction of Grant Shapps to the news:
“These reforms are a big victory for the unions, increasing their powerbase and ensuring they remain the dominant players in labour politics for years to come. Ed Miliband is left with a situation where the unions are now his political life support machine.”
“They have more power to pick the candidates, choose the leader and dictate the policy leaving Mr Miliband too weak to ever be able to stand up for the British people. The only people he’ll ever stand up for are the likes of Len McCluskey and Bob Crowe who bankroll his party. That means all Ed Miliband offers is more spending, more borrowing and more taxes. It’s the same old Labour Party.”
Any spin from Labour HQ that this is a dilution of union influence should be taken with a large pinch of salt – almost 80 per cent of Labour candidates in target seats were revealed today to be union-linked. As Len McCluskey said at the Special Conference: “This is our party and we are going nowhere.”