Wednesday, March 29, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: UNISON Seeks to Blackmail Labour MPs

Yesterday I wrote a story (click HERE) about how UNISON is withdrawing financial support from various Constituency Labour Parties in the North West due to Labour's attack (as they see it) on public sector pensions. I mentioned South Ribble as one constituency whose local Labour Party will have to hold a few more jumble sales. I am now able to reveal that the full list of North West constituencies whose funding from UNISON has been cut off contains Leigh (Andy Burnham MP - Home Office Minister), Liverpool Wavertree (Jane Kennedy MP - Health Minister), Oldham West & Royton (Michael Meacher), South Ribble (David Borrow) and Wallasey (Angela Eagle). Money is channelled to these (and other) CLPs through UNISON Labour Link. Its own website admits that...

Some have contended that the Labour Link structures lack democracy and accountability to the wider union and membership. The consultation has shown that there is certainly a lack of knowledge and involvement in Labour Link structures in some branches and more widely in the union.

No money is given directly to Labour MPs. It is all filtered through sao-called Constituency Development Plans (CDPs) to build organisation and for joint campaigns. There are 53 of these agreements across the country with constituencies – several of which do not have Labour MPs. I do not know if funding has been cut off for all 53, but I suspect that is the case. The scale of the funding is also unclear, although a post on the Labour Watch blog says that Wallasey gets £1500. I haven't had time to check with the Electoral Commission website for the details.

As I said yesterday, UNISON obviously believe that if they cut off funding the Labour Party will see the error of its ways and reverse the policy. It's blackmail and it stinks. Perhaps Inspector Knacker should look at this too. The rate we're going, he'll have to create a full time political corruption investigation. And to think we used to piously think this sort of thing only happened in Italy.

6 comments:

jafo said...

I've nothing whatever to do with UNISON (or Labour, thank heavens) but I feel obliged to suggest that surely, any union has the right to decide what to do with their money (so long as it's legal, of course).
It is answerable only to its members, I would have thought.

DM Andy said...

Iain, I don't see how it's blackmail, it's UNISON members' money and it's UNISON members who decide what they want to do with it. If you were a Tory donor and you didn't agree with the direction the party was going, it wouldn't be blackmail for you to decide not to pay would it?

Iain Dale said...

Andy, oh so innocent. The analogy you draw is wrong because UNISON are overtly saying to the Labour Party "change your policy or you don't get the dosh". Withdrawing your money is one thing. Using it as a bargaining tool is quite another. Particularly when it knows the Labour Party is very hard up at the moment for obivious reasons.

Cllr Iain Lindley said...

The Electoral Commission website reveals that UNISON have donated £7250 to Wallasey CLP since 2002.

UNISON donations to the Labour Party since February 2001 total nearly £9 million.

Cllr Iain Lindley said...

Incidentally a search of a few major trade unions reveals most have donated large seven-figure sums since 2001.

Rigger Mortice said...

frightening!