Trade Unions and the Labour Party?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by headgear, Sep 27, 2007.

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  1. Can anyone tell me why the unions give money to the labour party?

    I'm assuming that not all union members are labour supporters and as the unions instigate strike action from time to time then they obviously don't agree with government policies.

    I don't understand why the labour party has to take money from the unions when it gets enough from bribes (cash for honours etc)

    I've got no particular political agenda as I think all politicians are cnuts - just a genuine thirst for knowledge!
  2. Historically the unions started the Labour party.

    Why they still give money now is a total mystery to me. They'd be better off starting from scratch imo.
  3. A fair few of the Unions have ceased or withheld their donations. AMICUS rings a bell. These days, they'd be better finding someone else or starting from scratch.

    I suspect, like so many grass-roots Labour activists, they're clinging on in the hope they can wrestle their party back from the small-c conservatives who've taken it over.
  4. It is historic.
    The unions and labour both started to get working people a fairer deal.
    Things have gone wrong since then.
  5. Unions that give money to the Liarbour Party (e.g. Unison) have an opt-out for those members that object to contributing their hard-earned wedge to a bunch of to$$er$ that have ruined the country.
    Oh dear, that wasn't very politically neutral of me, was it?
  6. Where do you think the top union blokes get employed later on in life?

    How many labour cronies were union reps?
  7. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    A short history of the creation of the Labout party by the TUC here:'The+Labour+Party'+AND+DesPurpose+contains+'WebDisplay'
  8. EX_REME wrote:

    Maybe some truth in that. Personally though, I think it is more they are clinging on in hope it's all a bad dream.
  9. The 'Torygraph' answered this question just a couple of days ago:


    Union donations buy a load of favours from Labour
    By Christopher Hope
    Last Updated: 12:45am BST 24/09/2007

    It's back. Yes, today the 2007 Labour Party Conference begins in earnest. And, just in time, an interesting document crosses my desk listing the demands from the party's biggest single donor: the unions.

    The eight-page paper lists 60 demands which the unions want to hold the Government to and helpfully assigns each demand to a different government department. The range of the demands is staggering.

    Of course there are the obvious ones you might expect: commitment to full employment, protection for striking workers, review of employment tribunals and support for union recruitment in small firms.

    But what about the others? How about "military intervention only as a last resort" or "commitments on world debt relief"? Both of these rather far-reaching commitments are ticked as "done" by the two Labour ministers who signed off the document, called the Warwick Commitments Checklist.

    Other demands (marked "in progress") include "more support for developing countries and their civil society organisations to participate in WTO" and a request that the "EU code of conduct on arms control" is strengthened.

    The unions are even calling for "safeguards on any move toward electoral reform" which, given that the Labour Government was elected by a minority of voters at the last election, is a bit alarming.

    You might wonder what arms control, military intervention and support for the WTO has to do with a group of worker-representative bodies whose main job – according to the Trades Union Congress website – is to "take on the bad employers, and work with the good to make them better".

    Why does this matter? The unions give money by the lorry-load to the party: in 2006, Labour received donations of more than £12m – of that figure, £8.5m, or 70pc, of the total came from the unions. Since the beginning of 2001, when parties were first required to declare donations, unions have given £55m to Labour.

    The return on the unions' investment has been pretty good so far. As well as the Warwick Agreement – which helped to secure union backing for the 2005 general election – unions have benefited from a £10m modernisation fund. So far the cash has been spent on projects such as modernising the train drivers' union's website and building links between the TGWU and their Polish brothers.

    And the money keeps coming. During the TUC's conference earlier this month, Gordon Brown announced that the Union Learning Fund will be increased from £12.5m to £15.5m from next year. This fund, according to its website, was set up in 1998 to "promote activity by trade unions in support of the objective of creating a learning society".

    According to a covering letter signed by senior Labour figures Jim Fitzpatrick and Hazel Blears, "the Government remains fully committee to implementing the entire Warwick Agreement over the course of this Parliament".

    Imagine any of the rich businessmen who donated to the Tories inflicting these demands on the party. If the document was made public, the businessman would sound like a pussy-stroking Bond villain with implausible desires on world domination. Yet somehow these demands are acceptable because they are made by trades unions. You could not make it up.

    I hesitate to blow my own trumpet, but it was in this column in February that I raised the prospect that Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, might not see a second term. I speculated then that Mr Brown might want to make a break with the past and appoint Rachel Lomax as the first female Governor for 300 years. Of course I had no idea that the Northern Rock crisis would bring my prediction so close to reality. Right now Mr King is damaged but still holding on to his credibility.

    But he is not out of the woods yet. The Treasury has to release letters from Mr King at the height of the crisis and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, has to decide whether to give him another five years in November. I reckon it is 50-50 at best that Mr King will still be Governor by this time next year. And sadly I think he will jump before he is pushed.

    So farewell then Dame Anita Roddick. I played a small role in her latter-day notoriety by foghorning the scoop in these pages that she wanted to give away her entire £51m fortune.

    I think I made a bad impression on her when I turned up to meet her at the British Library as (a) a man and (b) wearing a suit. I looked too much like one of the City analysts who were giving Bodyshop such a hard time.

    Dame Anita was a spiky interviewee, sitting forward in her chair and asking questions back to me. I remember pointing out rather indignantly that this was all a bit unfair because I was the one who had been asked to meet her by the British Library. I even suggested giving up on the interview there and then.

    Dame Anita warmed up. Institutional investors were "financial fascists" and "dinosaurs in pinstriped suits", she said. "They have made lots of money. But they only see the bottom line and that does not include social justice and human rights. It does not include the environment, it is only profit and loss."

    Well, at least we agreed on one thing.
  10. Politics has had a siesmic shift--the old capitalist vs socialist arguments vis a vis the economy has pretty much ended. As far as that is concerned the only major argument now is how regulated capitalism should be and how much profit should be taxed. Some of the unions may be living in the past on that.

    What they don't seem to get is that free movement of labour is going to average wages and living conditions down to the EU/World average, i.e massively downwards. And New Labour, for PC reasons, is basically on the same side as big business when it comes to the free movement of labour.
  11. The few old-style fighting unions left, e.g. RMT on the London tube, the firefighters, refuse to give Labour money now. They've disaffiliated, pay no money, send no sponsored MPs to Parliament, and have no say in Labour Party policy-making.

    The traditional idea was you fought employers - represented members' interests - on three fronts: industrially, politically and legally. Industrially, that meant strike action to bolster negotiations to win collective agreements in the key areas (pay, holiday, pension etc). Politically meant sending sponsored MPs to Parliament to maintain a legislative framework favourable to trade unions (that's not worked for a while - little Thatcher anti-union legislation has been repealed). Legally, it meant employing lawyers to fight employers through the courts and the tribunal system.

    Current thinking is it's better to be inside the tent pissing out. The RMT and the firefighters are, arguably, special cases. The bulk of British trade unions are too weak, i.e. unable to deliver decisive strike action, to untie the political apron strings.
  12. Thanks for answering guys - the way I see it the way things are going there will only be one party soon what with Brown attracting in turncoat MP's from other parties - maybe he's starting a dictatorship!

    I just hope people will vote properly based on performance and policies rather than voting for a particular party because they always have!
  13. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
  14. I am a Union member but a couple of years ago I transfered part of my subscriptions from the Affiliated Fund (Labour Party) to the General fund. I become very disillusioned with the way labour were running the country.
  15. Ah yes. The notorious 'modernisation fumd'. A 10 million quid gift from the taxpayer to the unions. 7 million quid was immediately donated straight back to the Labour Party. (Note : That's the Labour Party - not the government). All very convenient considering, at the time, the Labour Party was at serious risk of going bankrupt.

    If anybody can explain to me why this isn't fraud/misuse of public funds/money laundering I'd be very grateful.