Ed Miliband has announced that he wants a new model for Labour Party funding. I am undecided on whether this is a good thing or simply a “things change” thing. There are two parts to this motion: funding and control.
Currently, in exchange for the close union ties and considerable donations that are tied to union dues, the unions get a 50% vote in most major internal decisions within Labour, including the choice of candidates in key elections. That will vanish, to be replaced either by internal Labour Party member elections, or by US-style primaries (such as the proposed idea of all Londoners, or all London-based Labour party members, choosing the Labour mayoral candidate for London). Any of these strike me as better than the present system of candidate choice, as it opens the decision-making to a wider audience.
The other side of the coin, however, is that Labour will inevitably lose funding from unions (either reduced funding or no funding, with decisions varying by union). That shortfall will have to be made up elsewhere. The quick ‘n’ easy method is to contact wealthy donors. Unfortunately, wealthy donors typically expect to get rewarded for their donations, in the form of favourable political decisions. This strikes me as a bad thing. To be sure, unions also wanted political concessions. But at least in their cases, the unions were acting on behalf of a large number of people (the union members) rather than on behalf of a single person, thus spreading the benefit across more of the general population.
- Miliband urges union links overhaul (bbc.co.uk)
- Miliband’s union-levy proposals backed by Blair and McCluskey (guardian.co.uk)
- Sadiq Khan: How Labour is opening up your choice of Mayor (standard.co.uk)
- ‘Blairites manipulating Labour selection process’ – Len McCluskey hits back (guardian.co.uk)
- Labour’s real selection scandal | Len McCluskey (guardian.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband’s Clause 4 moment: Labour to change historic link with unions, and go for open primaries (liberalconspiracy.org)
- Crow: if Labour wants distance let’s find another party to back (theweek.co.uk)
- Ed Miliband rejects threats by union bosses to block new funding plan for Labour (independent.co.uk)
- Q&A: Miliband’s union proposals (bbc.co.uk)