An important new arrival in the political sphere: the Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC) has its launch party tonight in the House of Commons.
As Jesse Norman MP of this parish said in a recent speech, the issue they raise is…
the funding by the taxpayer of public sector employees who in fact work not as nurses, teachers, social workers, local government officers or civil servants but as trade union representatives.
This is no small issue. In 2010-11, trade unions received £113 million from public sector organisations. That's your money, being funnelled to the unions, helping them to lobby government for their ends and to prop up the Labour Party.
Unbelievably, that equals more than half a billion pounds in payments to unions from the public purse over the lifetime of a Parliament.
The work that those people should be doing whilst doing their trade union activities (often full time) then has to be done by someone else.
This is a very significant subsidy for a particular political perspective, and it is quite wrong. TURC seeks to stop it. Even if they manage it, this funding will have been subsidising the Unions for generations, disgracefully, to the lasting detriment of any level playing field in political debate - but at least it will be stopped in the future. To be clear, as I understand it TURC does not attack Unions or unionism per se (and I certainly don't). But – Jesse Norman again –
is it appropriate for the taxpayer to subsidise any such large-scale activity by private organisations?
Plainly, I think, the answer must be "no" – the use of public money for such ends is entirely wrong – immoral, even - and I therefore welcome the creation of TURC and hope that you do too.
You can follow TURC on Twitter – @TURCPress – or visit their website – http://turc.org.uk/. Conservative Home readers will approve, I think.