Collins says “consensus is that change is necessary”. Prove it, publish the responses

Ray Collins, former Labour General Secretary

Ray Collins, who is leading Labour’s inquiry into the relationship between the party and its affiliated trade unions, clearly takes criticism on board.  Within hours of criticism from LabourList that party members were being left out of the consultation process, he circulated an email to party members thanking them for “hundreds of written submissions” which he claims to have read and which he says “have helped to inform” the report he will deliver to Ed Miliband ahead of a special national executive committee to consider it on 4 February.

In this email, he claims that “the overwhelming consensus is that change is necessary” (though he also adds that  there is “huge support for strengthening our link with trade unions“). Could it be that Ray is being economical with the truth? There are several reasons for this: Continue reading

The battle for the soul of the Labour Party (part 47 – the unions are sold a dummy)

Defend the Link  full colourSometimes, news stories simply distract the reader from what is really happening.

Yesterdays ‘news’ on the Collins review of the Labour Party — trade union link is that Ed Miliband’s reform plans are faltering: there’s a hiccup in the negotiations between Paul Kenny on behalf of the affiliated unions and the Leader’s office, but it’s about the way Labour elects its leader, not about the link at all. The Press Association story quotes a “union source close to the talks” as saying:

A major stumbling block is the refusal by the Labour leadership to change the electoral college voting system to one member one vote. The leadership is protecting the undemocratic position of MPs in that voting system.” Continue reading

Secret deal with Lib Dems may end Labour – union link whatever party decides

State funding no thanksThe Sunday Times (£ – but see also the related story at Exaro) yesterday revealed a secret deal between Labour, Lib Dems and the Tories to provide political parties with  £40m in state funding and cap party donations (including from trade unions) at £5,000 which would effectively cut the Labour Party-trade union link whatever is decided at Labour’s special conference on 1 March. The agreement collapsed because of different views about how the money should be allocated (whether it should be based on votes or seats won – which would deprive UKIP and the Greens of any significant funding and also penalise the Lib Dems). But sources close to Miliband confirm that they intended to implement the plan after the 2015 election but had been hoping to keep it secret apart from a vague commitment in the 2015 manifesto to the reform of political funding. Continue reading

The hidden agenda of the Collins review

DEFEND THE LINK MEETINGIn his interim report on Labour’s union link (‘Building a One Nation Labour Party’), Ray Collins makes it clear that once a new affiliation system is in place, ‘we would address consequences for other structures in the party, such as the Conference’.

At the moment the union and other affiliated organisations have 50 per cent of the vote at Conference and CLPs have the other 50 per cent. When this balance of voting was put in place a strong argument was accepted that it properly represented the two wings of the federation that makes up Labour. It means both the unions and CLPs have a decisive influence over any changes to the rule book and over all motions carried by conference. Continue reading

The party, not its leader, must settle Labour’s future

Defend the Link colourSo Ed Miliband is to have his Clause 4 moment. Last month’s announcement by the Labour leader of a special conference in the Spring to endorse Lord Collins’ as yet unwritten proposals to rewrite the Labour party constitution is a further provocation of the affiliated trade unions, which demands a strong response.

The announcement compounds what so far has been the most offensive aspect of Mr Miliband’s onslaught on trade union affiliation to the Labour Party, namely the total contempt it revealed for the Labour Party constitution. Like Tony Blair before him, Mr Miliband appears to see himself as the owner of the Party rather than its leader. Continue reading