Stop press: Unions support Labour

Two stories in today's Times examine the shock revelation that the trade unions are due to play a prominent role in the forthcoming election.

Two stories in today’s Times examine the shock revelation that the trade unions, instrumental in the formation of the Labour party, are due to play a prominent role in the forthcoming election. Left Foot Forward looks at the evidence.

Rachel Sylvester in the Times writes that:

Like Lord Ashcroft, Unite has been generous financially, contributing £3.6 million to Labour last year, nearly a quarter of the total donations the party received. Since March 2007 it has given more than £11 million.

The latter is clearly a big number but put in context it looks rather smaller. According to a written parliamentary answer from 2009, 1,291,408 Unite members contribute to its political fund – working out at under £3 per member per year since March 2007. Rather less than the average of £1 million a year donated by Lord Ashcroft’s company Bearwood Corporate Services over the same period.

Meanwhile, Tom Baldwin reports that:

Four of the most recent selections by constituency parties in winnable seats have led to senior trade union officials becoming parliamentary candidates.

But although it may be shocking to those who wish to see the destruction of the trade unions, Unite’s parliamentary group already has 156 members. Indeed, a number of senior Labour politicians of the past and present had prominent trade union backgrounds. These include

Jim Callaghan – Assistant Secretary of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation before going on to become Prime Minister

Ernest Bevin – General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and later foreign secretary

Alan Johnson – General Secretary of the Communications Workers Union and current Home Secretary

 

31 Responses to “Stop press: Unions support Labour”

  1. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Ashcroft & Unite are not analogous. Ashcroft gives £1m per year; Unite members give £3 per year //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  2. Wes Streeting

    RT @leftfootfwd Ashcroft & Unite are not analogous. Ashcroft gives £1m per year; Unite members give £3 per year //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  3. Claire Spencer

    Great stuff from @leftfootfwd – the fact that the contributions are compared is ridiculous. They are woven together! //bit.ly/aVATg8

  4. Tim Ireland

    RT @thedancingflea: Great stuff from @leftfootfwd – the fact that the contributions are compared is ridiculous. They are woven together! //bit.ly/aVATg8

  5. Jonathan Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ashcroft & Unite are not analogous. Ashcroft gives £1m per year; Unite members give £3 per year //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  6. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: #CAshcroft & Unite are not analogous; #CAshcroft gives £1m per year, Unite members give £3 per year: //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  7. Liz McShane

    Well put Will. About time someone challenged all this Union bashing. Ashcroft & Unite are as different as chalk & cheese. It is just straw clutching (no pun intended btw).

  8. Political Animal

    Good response from @leftfootforward to the 'Ashcroft and unions are comparable' fallacy: //is.gd/a1xNa

  9. Billy Blofeld

    This is shaping up to be a very dirty election.

    We can but hope that the doors get blown off the garage and the Labour Party is finally exposed for laundering money from government, to the unions so that in turn it is used to fund the Labour Party and Labour attack blogs.

    Corruption? Labour? …… of course not. Labour is entirely innocent and stands up for the rights of the common man at all times doesn’t it 😉

    P.S. Will – I’m reading Rawnsley’s book. I remember an interview you gave spitting feathers about Blair sacking your dad from the FO. Interesting to see Rawnsley’s revelations that Blair was suspicious your dad had been sidling up to Brown and that was the reason he was fired from the Foreign Office. Politics is a weird and selfish world…….

  10. Liz McShane

    Billy – I think you put too much sugar on your Rice Krispies this morning..:

    “We can but hope that the doors get blown off the garage and the Labour Party is finally exposed for laundering money from government, to the unions so that in turn it is used to fund the Labour Party and Labour attack blogs”…..

  11. Billy Blofeld

    Liz,

    Do you think so?

    //www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/employment/trade-union-rights/modernisation/page16097.html

    … either I need to take less sugar, or you need to start smelling some coffee. We’ll find out soon…….

  12. Joe Anderson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ashcroft & Unite are not analogous. Ashcroft gives £1m per year; Unite members give £3 per year //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  13. Liz McShane

    Billy – I fail to see how the UMF is ‘a money laundering fund’… it seems pretty clear, above board & transparent to me – something which Cashcroft, Hague etc have not been.

    btw I am more of a tea aficionada & I am also not a Trade Union member – not that that should be important.

  14. Tyler

    2 points to make here:

    1) Those £3 donations from union members ARE NOT decided on by the members themselves – they are given wether or not each individual member wants to.

    2) UNITE and various other unions recieve between £12-16 million a year from the “union modernisation fund”, which is effectively a giant slush fund. Without those TAXPYER funds, unions would not have as much money to throw at Labour….and of course it is Labour who are distributing those funds.

    By the way, my polite requests for information to various unions regarding the UMF have been met with silence – which is going to force me to use FOI requests. If you’ve got nithng to hide…..

  15. Guido Fawkes

    Can you just clarify if you have solicited money from Unite / Charlie Whelan for LFF?

  16. Andrew Dodgshon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ashcroft & Unite are not analogous. Ashcroft gives £1m per year; Unite members give £3 per year //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  17. Daymo

    Tyler sorry but as a union member I know that each member can give to the political fund if they wish, it is not compulsary, and a lot don’t. Those that do know where it goes and are, like me in the CWU, happy to fund the labour party and the various union education services that the political fund serves. If you are going to make sweeping statements about unions at least make sure they are true before you post them. All union members have this choice.

  18. Liz McShane

    Guido – would you like to tell us where you get your funding from to run your blog site.. and if that includes any generous donations from the well-heeled Lord Cashcroft?

  19. Will Straw

    Guido,

    As I’ve said before when you asked whether LFF was seeking money from George Soros, I’m not engaging in a game of cat & mouse on who we are seeking funding from.

    To reiterate: we continue to seek funding from a range of sources.

    The names of donees appear on our Thanks page.

    Will

  20. Billy Blofeld

    Liz,

    You willingness to trust politicians is endearing.

  21. Peter Welsh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Ashcroft & Unite are not analogous. Ashcroft gives £1m per year; Unite members give £3 per year //cli.gs/t4rWQ

  22. Liz McShane

    Billy – not sure why ‘endearing’. I just don’t find the link to the UMF (which is the public domain) & transparent a problem – unlike the 10 year old lies, failed promises and assurances that Cashcroft & Hague are in cahoots over…..

  23. Tyler

    OK Liz.

    Are you seriously telling me that the £3.6m that UNITE have pumped into Labour have not bought influence? I’m sure Charlie Whelan and Jack Dromey’s positions, as well as a few others, has *nothing at all* to do with that money, or the £11m totall UNITE has funded Labour with since 2007. Nothing at all?

    Let’s also have a quick look at the UMF as well shall we…Labour gives ~£12m of TAXPAYER money to the unions. Unions give £11m to Labour. Hmm. Suspicious, no? Even if that money is not directly being used to fund Labour, it still frees up a huge amount of money for the unions to give to Labour, which they would have otherwise had to use on the same projects. It’s nothing but a disgusting charage.

    Which leaves your and Labour’s last argument – that Ashcroft promised to become domiciled if he joined the Lords. Apart from the hypocrisy of having many Labour non-odm party backers, you also have non-doms in positions of power (privy counsellor Lord Paul). Thats before you get to the Labour Lords, in government who HAVE done things bordering on the illegal (Mandelson).

    Aschroft only promised to become RESIDENT in the UK, it transpires. Being non-domiciled is NOT illegal. Why should there be one rule for Ashcroft, and completely different rules for Labour non-dom peers, and given how Labour are funding themselves it is disingenuous to complain about the Tory party’s sources of funding.

    I suppose though, I shouldn’t be surprised. Labour are, after all, known for hyprocisy and spin. It’s characterized the last 13 years.

  24. Liz McShane

    Tyler – (I presume I am correct in thinking that you are not Tyler as in Tyler Brule…..).

    Of course Trade Unions have influence within the Labour party – I might be mistaken but I think they were there when it was founded…. and as for Charlie Whelan, well he is Political Director of UNITE – so I think the clue is in the title. Again all fairly transparent.

    I am against all non-doms funding political parties so I am glad that Lord Paul has reviewed his position:

    //www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2010/03/160-status-lord-peer-tory

    Cashcroft is deputy party chairman and wields quite a lot of influence within his party and nationally – no mean feat. Shame he can’t even be bothered to pay VAT on opinion polls that he funds for the party – so much for patriotism a la Cameron…..

    //www.newstatesman.com/2010/03/ashcroft-party-vat-polling

  25. Liz McShane

    Tyler et al – you are not the only ones losing your cool over Cashcroft:

    //www.youtube.com/watch?v=AznSOikAHoE&feature=sub

  26. Tyler

    OK Liz, so what you are saying is that it is perfectly fine for unions to fund Labour and demand influence (as well as of course, Labour funding those unions from taxpayer money), Labour to have non-dom peers, but not OK for the Tories to? Do you think it’s good when over half of Labour’s operating funds come from one source, and that union has placemen high up with in the party?

    As for Lord Paul; this is a man who is in trouble over his Lords expenses, and has passed his business over to his sons, partly for tax reasons. I’ll bet he and his family won’t be paying full UK tax on their fortune even if he himself becomes domiciled.

    I’m glad though that you are against all non-doms funding parties though – after all, Labour has had just under £10m from non-doms and the Tories about £4.5.

    The point I was really trying to make though, is that you are playing the typical Labour confidence trick. Hypocritically focusing on one non-story about the opposition to hide the extent of Labour’s sleaze. Brown does it all the time with his “Brownies” (and let’s be very clear, they are lies) and it seems to have spread to the party grassroots. Just because you are a card waving Labour party supporter does not give you any form of moral superiority, and no amount of singing slogans will ever change that.

  27. Henry

    Hmm, ‘you’ve got more non-doms supporting you than we have supporting us’ is not a very compelling argument.

    The point about Ashcroft is that he was only given a peerage after he appeared to commit to being a ‘permanent resident’ in the UK. After endless obfuscation, we now find out that he wiggled out of this commitment.

    Oh, & Tyler, do you think it’s healthy that around 30% of Tory funds come from bankers & property types – who are significantly less popular than trade unions (& certainly don’t represent millions of people).

  28. john lee

    it would be quite hipocritical for the unions not to support labour, wouldn’t it, a bit like the pea denying the pod, sort of, !

  29. Fred

    Liz

    It may be transparent but it is still utterly corrupt for a Labour government to take our money, give it to the unions via the UMF and for the unions to give it back to the Labour party to use for its own political purposes. It stinks. You know this which is why you are throwing up all this chaff about Michael Ashcroft to try and create the impression that all political parties are as sleazy as each other.

    The real issue here is corruption at the heart of the Labour party. Blair tried to reduce the influence of the unions over Labour policy by trying to raise money from a bunch of dodgy rich businessmen instead. When selling peerages for cash blew up in his face the party was forced back into the clutches of the unions. Thus we saw the UMF set up in 2004 and the cash started to flow. If Unite had not bailed out the Labour party financially then they would have gone bust and now we see a dubious assortment of Unite officials being eased into safe seats.

    Thirteen years in and all you can do is say how awful the “wicked tories” are.

  30. Will Straw

    @dizzy_thinks I read @Daily_Ref 's article. Unite members have every right not to sign up to the political fund //bit.ly/aVATg8

  31. Unions – Part two « Northernheckler's Blog

    […] Left Foot Forward addresses this issue tonight at Stop press: Unions support Labour | Left Foot Forward ; […]

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