Priti Patel is an elected Member of the Conservative Party Board, the 1922 Committee’s Executive and the Public Administration Select Committee. She is also a member of the Party’s Policy Board and MP for Witham.
Ed Miliband’s recent reforms to the Labour Party’s links with the trade unions are superficial – and will do nothing to reduce the undemocratic way trade union barons control Labour. They do nothing to reform Labour policy-making. They also represent further proof that the Labour under Ed Miliband remains a backward looking socialist party committed to the economically illiterate left-wing dogma that would drive Britain to the brink of bankruptcy. Lord Owen has been convinced by the changes to trade union links to donate to Labour, and Tony Blair may also dip into his pockets. But the facts show that changes announced to the system of electing Labour leaders are flawed, and will increase the dominance of trade union votes.
The introduction of One Member, One Vote for Labour leadership elections will still enable Labour-affiliated trade unions to dominate. As we saw in the last Labour leadership election, when the ballot papers get sent out to trade union members, they are leaned on and encouraged to vote for the unions preferred candidate. The changes to the leadership elections have diluted the influence of the MPs and MEPs, whose preferences constituted one of the one-third electoral college blocks, along with the union block and the paid-up Labour membership block.
But what is also important to note is what the reforms did not do. Ed Miliband has been too scared and too weak to change the way that unions seek to dominate the selection of Labour candidates. He has done nothing to respond to the corruption seen during the Falkirk selection. Trade unions will still be able to pull the strings behind the scenes to get their choice of candidates selected. Miliband has also done nothing to stop unions from effectively blackmailing Labour MPs and candidates at a local level by threatening to cut financial and other support for constituency Labour branches unless they do as the union commands them.
Crucially, Miliband has run away from taking action to cut the influence that unions have in Labour’s policy-making . It is scandalous the way that trade unions have been able to use their financial muscle to demand the adoption of policies that protect the vested interests of trade unions. When Labour were last in Government, the Warwick Agreement and decisions to drop the legislation to privatise Royal Mail were just two examples of the way in which trade unions effectively bought Government policies or changes to Government policies. Labour Ministers put the interests of their trade union paymasters above the national interest, and in any other profession this would amount to bribery.
Today, Labour is no different and Labour politicians will obey the commands of trade union barons over the interests of the British public and their democratic will. The fact that Unite union leader Len McCluskey has declared his satisfaction with Miliband’s approach, and that it would involve more trade unionists in Labour’s business, proves beyond any doubt that the party has not changed. Miliband’s strings continue to be pulled by the union barons that put him in his job instead of his brother.
With Labour decision-making continuing to be dominated by the trade unions, Conservatives should not hold back from exposing the dangers of their policies and make the strong case for a Conservative majority Government. On the doorstep, we should remind voters that the biggest danger to our economic recovery is a trade union- backed Labour Government. Just as they did between 1997 and 2010, Labour would attack private enterprise, expand the size of the state, increase dependency on benefits, rack-up massive debts and hike up taxes on hard-pressed families and businesses.
Labour left Government with a deficit in the region of £150 billion and a plan that would have seen corporation tax on small businesses rise, fuel duty increase by 20 pence per litre and higher costs imposed on businesses wanting to employ new staff. The price of a pint of beer would also be higher, bureaucracy would be strangling frontline NHS services and British taxpayers would have been exposed to the costs of Eurozone bailouts. Reforms to the EU would be nowhere to be seen and public demands for a referendum on our membership of the EU would continue to have been ignored.
Let us be in no doubt that Britain would be in great economic difficulties if Labour remained in power. Had Conservatives in the current Government not changed Britain’s fiscal framework, unemployment would be far higher, foreign investment would have dried up, private enterprises would have abandoned Britain and taxpayers would have had to face harsh increases in tax to pay for rising borrowing costs.
When Labour complain about there being a cost of living crisis, we should remind voters that the biggest threat to their pay packets and quality of life is Labour. Ed Miliband and Ed Balls try to con the public with their claims that they will increase spending by raising taxes on the wealthy with taxes on bankers bonuses and a reintroduction of the 50p tax rate.
But any revenues raised by these taxes (and it is questionable whether any would be) would not cover the costs of Labours spending plans, and would not even come close to making a dent in the deficit. Because Labour, under the influence of trade unions, would never reform public services, reduce the size of the state or cut the welfare bill, they would have to put up taxes on hard working families and wealth-creating businesses.
By contrast, Conservative Ministers have once again proved that more jobs and wealth can be created in the economy by cutting the tax burden, reducing the size of the state and standing up to vested interests to reform public services. Corporation taxes on small and large firms have been cut, national insurance costs are down and millions of families have received a tax cut year-on-year as the personal allowance has risen at a record rate. 1.7 million new jobs have been created in the economy by private enterprise, unemployment is falling, more young people are securing apprenticeships and the welfare bill is finally being brought under control with a cap on benefits.
Labour and their trade union paymasters remain on the wrong side of the British people on all these major domestic political issues while we are delivering lower taxes, new jobs and better public services every day. This is why we must get our messages across to the electorate. We should be proud of our record in Government and inspired to campaign hard to win every vote possible in May’s local and European elections; and go on to work towards winning a majority at the next election.