Labour and its relationship with the trade unions

Since Ed Miliband’s speech earlier this week, there have been a range of reactions to what was said.

As I said on Twitter, I felt that what was proposed was very much what Labour needs to do. Yes, the trade unions are our natural allies, but their members should only have to pay the ‘political levy’ if they support the aims of the party. It makes no sense at all otherwise, and plays into the hands of our opponents. OK, there is the risk of diminished funding as a result, but I agree with Ed that the whole issue of the funding of political parties needs to be addressed, with potential caps on maximum donations, and central funding being given serious consideration.

Ultimately I would like to see the end of block votes, with every trade union member who pays the political levy having their own independent vote. That would help put an end to the apparent  power and influence of union leaders on Labour, and would be a significant move towards modernising and improving its democratic processes. A lot to ask? Maybe, but I think it is essential if we are to move forward, and I have confidence that Ed Miliband can deliver on these objectives.

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