Labour Party funding: We’re not getting value for money!

It’s scary coming back from a holiday these days – you feel you need to have a quick check that they haven’t done away with the NHS while you weren’t looking. They haven’t, but they’re working on it.

These are bizarre times. Labour dismantles the NHS. Labour attacks the welfare state. Labour presides over a nasty ragbag of attacks on civil liberties, including the introduction of ID cards and detention without trial for ever-longer periods. Labour slashes public sector pay. Labour glories in retaining the Tories’ anti-union laws. Labour presides over an economy that’s sliding into chaos, with the costs of food and fuel spiralling way higher than the wages of most workers. Labour persecutes asylum seekers, and creates an atmosphere in which the BNP can flourish. Labour supports vicious war mongering in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those are just the things that spring to mind as I type this…

What’s the response from our unions? Warwick 2 was a resounding silence. And the priority now for the biggest unions seems to be to throw more and more money at the Labour party in the hope that things will somehow ‘come right’. Unite, as the biggest donor, gave £1.5 million to Labour in the second quarter of this year (41% of Labour’s total funding). Unite has given an astonishing £11 million to Labour since the 2005 general election.

Are we getting our money’s worth? Clearly not. The £11 million might have been better spent campaigning against the vicious policies we’ve seen from this government. It’s interesting that Labour has been able to reduce its dependence on union funding in the last few months. The Guardian reports how they’ve done it – hefty donations from three extremely wealthy men (Sir Ronnie Cohen, private equity millionaire; Nigel Doughty, founder of private equity firm Doughty Hanson; and John Aisbett, former Goldman Sachs partner). I suspect the millionaires will get a better return on their money than the union movement.

The Tories are set to win the next election – not because they’re any less dangerous and reactionary than before, but simply because Labour has systematically betrayed working class people in Britain. To have our unions continue chucking money at the Labour Party solves nothing. Unless the Labour Party changes its policies quite systematically, it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of re-election. Swapping Brown and Harman for Johnson and Cruddas (the rumoured ‘dream ticket’) brings to mind images of deckchairs and large liners heading straight for icebergs.

Unions have become a cash cow for Labour. We hand over the money and we get nothing back – while Labour lurches blindly along its set course to self-destruction. It’s time to get tough. If Labour continues attacking our members, we have to pull the plug on the money.


2 Responses to Labour Party funding: We’re not getting value for money!

  1. Alan G says:

    The members of Britain’s trade unions provide the majority of funding and support for the Labour Party.

    The Labour Party is the governing body in the United Kingdom.

    The government has made a derisory pay offer to the majority of public sector employees this year.

    The members of the trade unions could soon be balloting as to whether their members should take industrial action.

    Any individual involved in strike action will lose pay.

    The Labour Party will still receive its funding from the union subscriptions.

    So………………….how can a union ballot its members and recommend strike action, that will result in the loss of pay for those taking industrial action, when the union itself is still giving its members money to those who are causing the trouble?

    Answer…………….the unions must reimburse striking members FROM the money it would normally give to the Labour Party. The more who strike, the more it will cost Labour!

    Whilst I agree with the “Cut my pay – no way” campaign, for the reasons I’ve already stated, I would be reluctant to vote for strike action whilst the unions continue to fund the Labour Party – a two prong attack is required, industrial action whilst with-holding funding!

  2. Gill George says:

    I agree with much of what you say, Alan. A leading Unite member suggested recently the idea of ‘performance related pay’ for Labour – the funding is conditional on them delivering, and they get it a bit at a time when we have visible proof that they’ve done the right thing. I quite liked that one.

    The challenge we’ve got is that the big unions (including Unite) are so closely tied to Labour at leadership level. We need to change that, but that means changing union policy. One way of doing that is to start sending resolutions from branches and regional industrial sectors through the union structures and on to the Executive Council. Another way is to make sure that activists get motions submitted to the next policy conference on better accountability and democratic control when it comes to using our political fund. We need to be doing these things, but it won’t be a quick process.

    In the meantime, we can’t afford to sit back and let the Government slash our pay. So we have to get organised, build a fightback, make sure we win a ballot for industrial action, make links with unions like PCS and NUT… And if we win, that exposes the nonsense of just handing over the dosh to Labour more effectively than anything else. There’s just no choice about it. We need a ballot on industrial action, and we need to win a ‘Yes’ vote.

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