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In response to Labour party reforms, Unite halves affiliation payment to Labour

Unite logoThe Unite executive has been meeting this week and it was announced this evening that, in response to the decision of Labour’s special conference last weekend on ‘party reform’, the Unite affiliation to the Labour party will be cut by half in anticipation of the likelihood that fewer than half those currently paying the political levy will opt into becoming an affiliated supporter of the party. The financial loss to the party will be £1.5m a year.

Whilst Unite states its intention of making additional donations in order to ensure “a ‘fair fight’ against the parties of global capital and the super-rich”, this may be problematic. On the one hand, the Tories have already begun to attack such donations as putting the party ‘in hock’ to the trade unions. Tory chair, Grant Shapps said this afternoon:

It is now clear beyond doubt what Ed Miliband’s union reforms are – another short term gimmick that’s unravelling as soon as it’s been announced. Len McCluskey is deeper in the driving seat than ever, controlling the Labour party’s purse strings going into the General Election.”

But on the other hand, there is likely to be pressure from within the union to make donations only where the party demonstrates its commitment to implement the sort of polices sought by Unite. This is precidesly the conundrum which was predicted if the Collins reforms were agreed and it is therefore a problem that Labour has brought onto itself. It was far easier to defend affiliation fees which are based on levy payments by individuals.

The statement from Unite is as follows:

The decision of the Labour Party Special Conference on March 1 to adopt the proposals of the Collins review sets the collective relationship of Unite and other affiliated unions with the Party on a new course.

The union will rapidly prepare a plan to ensure that we maximise the number of our political levy paying members who express support for our continuing collective affiliation, and who take advantage of the possibility of becoming associated members of the Party. Our representative on the Implementation Committee which will oversee the introduction of the agreed reforms will, among other things, work to ensure that the interests of our members are protected in the forthcoming selection process for Labour candidate for London Mayor and in any leadership election that may occur before 2020.

When the Leader of the Party announced his intention to seek changes in the Labour-union relationship in summer 2013, he made it clear that he did not think it appropriate that the Party continue to accept affiliation fees from those who had not actively assented to such payments. Unite accepted that principle at the time.

By the conclusion of the transitional period in 2020, it will be clear how many members of Unite and other unions actively support their political levy being used to affiliate to the Labour Party. Unite will work to make that number as large as possible. It is inevitable, however, that the final total will be considerably less than the present one million members affiliated. Opinion polling evidence suggests that, while Labour is by some way the most popular choice for Unite members at the ballot box, no more than half the membership in Britain vote Labour at present (many of the others not voting at all).

The Executive Council therefore agrees that Unite’s affiliation will need to be reduced over the five-year period to 2020 to reflect this reality. It will therefore affiliate 500,000 members to the Party for 2014, and will review this number annually.

The Executive Council is, however, also aware that we are now just a year from a General Election, in which it is vital that the British people are offered a clear political alternative to the ruinous economic and social policies of the Coalition government. It is not in the interests of democracy itself for Labour – the only Party which can offer such an alternative – to contest the election without the resources required to make the contest a “fair fight” against the parties of global capital and the super-rich.

Bearing in mind the tight timescales in which decisions may need to be made over this next period, it therefore authorises the General Secretary to respond to any requests for additional financial assistance, beyond the affiliation fee, which may be made by the Labour Party, after first consulting the Executive Council or the Finance & General Purposes Committee.


  1. TC says:

    But which members are Unite disaffiliating? What say do rank and file members have in these arbitrary decisions? Cynical top down abuse.

  2. Mr jeffrey l davies says:

    its quite right totally agree ed wants to cut his ties but doesn’t want to lose the money then go back get rid of the blairites its easy really otherwise I see the unions getting others another labourparty who are labour to do their talking for them has for shitte face snaps they get their money from all those companys and those who ask for favours yes they two facedaswell jeff3

  3. Rod says:

    This is very promising: Unite want a ” “fair fight” against the parties of global capital and the super-rich.”

    Good to see that Unite is in favour of opposing the Labour Party/LibLabCon.

  4. John Reid says:

    It only seems fair

  5. Robert says:

    I cannot be bothered I ended my levy paying day last week changing it to a charity donation.

    This still allows the Union to take out £2 to use as it see fit.

    In the end I suspect this is just one way labour will go the next will be to accept the Tories idea’s on state funding.

    We are hearing today that great socialist Blair is having meetings with his step son Miliband to donate Millions to the labour party, so really ending the need of the socialistic trade Unions all that is left then is the change of name to Progress party. I’m wondering will the money be from an over seas bank account and will it be laundered to get the blood off it.

    You have to love New Labour it’s alive and well.

    Even that socialist public school lad Ball’s has brought Mandy back into politics.

    You have to love politics.

  6. John Reid says:

    Last year the 4 chairs and secretaries of Hornhcruch and Romford Labour parties were all in the PCS, a non affiliated union,I don’t see what the fuss with a union not giving money to labour

  7. David Ellis says:

    This is what Millipede wants is it not? To be able to go to the country saying that his campaign gets barely any funding from trades unions?

  8. John reid says:

    Maybe after Unite ferrying left wing young labour members to vote on mass, Unite could give its moe yet do vote use their vote to, pass resolutions by using their core vote,

  9. Mark1957 says:

    Miliband did the right thing and this is just McClusky being petty, because he opposed greater democracy.

    It is not about “cutting Labours ties with unions”. It is about strengthening the ties with the individual member and contributor…

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