After being voted in by union power on Sunday I wonder if the new Labour leader will have the courage that Ed Miliband has shown in staring down the unions.
Ed Miliband will raise the stakes in his battle with the trade unions on Tuesday by declaring that his plans to reform Labour’s union links could create a party with 500,000 members.
In a speech to the TUC conference, the Labour leader will confront his critics head-on, accusing union leaders of denying their members the “real voice” in the party that his plans would give them. He wants to make them actively “opt in” to Labour as individuals, instead of being affiliated en bloc by their union as at present.
“We have three million working men and women affiliated to our party. But the vast majority play no role. They are affiliated in name only,” Mr Miliband will tell the Brighton conference. “That wasn’t the vision of [Labour’s] founders. I don’t think it’s your vision either. And it’s certainly not my vision.”
His unrepentant message threatens to raise tensions with union bosses, with whom he will hold private talks today. Labour MPs claim the speech is a critical element of Mr Miliband’s attempts to restore his authority after what has been a difficult summer.
Affliates are undemocratic and need to be resisted. If I was in government I would ban affiliate membership of political parties, I would ensure that onlynatural persons could be members.
I would also address donations from non-natural persons. Fiji has now introduced such a ban on donations. Only natural persons can donate to political parties, blocking unions and companies from attempting to buy a political party.
Will labour’s new leader have such courage. Not likely.
Union leaders fear Mr Miliband’s plan will weaken the party’s links with its union founders. But senior Labour figures suspect union bosses want to preserve their personal clout. They welcomed a YouGov poll for the Labour Uncut blog, revealed in The Independent yesterday, showing 60 per of the members of Labour-affiliated unions welcome the reforms and only 20 per cent oppose them. “It shows… hundreds of thousands are excited by the prospect of their voice being heard by a major political party,” said a Labour source.
Confront the unions, they are a cancer on the body politic.