Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Labour Refuses to Back Cut in Trade Union Donations


Our friends at the First Post need to get a new "Westminster insider", who seems to believe that Lord Ashcroft is actually Lord Ashdown. However, let's move on to the substance of their story, which is that with the party funding talks having broken down, Gordon Brown will now move to restrict the ability of parties to spend money in target seats between elections. They reckon he will introduce a short Bill, no doubt called the "How to stuff the Tories (Amendment) Bill.
Let us remember though, how we got here. The only reason the talks over party funding broke down was because the Labour Party refused to agree that the Trade Unions should, like individuals and businesses, be subject to the same £50,000 donation limit. It really is quite that simple. Jack Straw has bleated this evening:
We greatly regret that these talks have been suspended as a result of the
Conservative Party's unwillingness to negotiate on a draft agreement. We had
understood that all parties had thought in good faith that this draft agreement
was the basis of a comprehensive settlement. We will now take time to reflect on
next steps.
The Conservative Party rightly said that unless the government was willing to discuss trade union donations there would be no point in discussing anything further. Francis Maude said:
We are disappointed that the trade unions still hold Labour over a barrel. The
unions are running the Labour party from the back seat, giving them control over
Government policy. Labour has rejected a comprehensive cap on donations and
clearly do not want to end the big donor culture which has caused the 'cash for
honours' scandal. Labour just want a backroom deal that gives them taxpayers'
cash without proper reform. This would do nothing to restore public trust in our
democracy.
Quite. I am an opponent of any further expansion of taxpayer funding for political parties. Politicians should get the message that the public just will not put up with them sticking their mits further into our pockets.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there a bit of jealousy here, because the 'mole' is actually an insider at Westminster, as opposed to yourself, who is reporting from the 'heart of Tunbridge Wells' ? I think we all know that this mistake would have been made by a sub-editor, as Lord Ashcroft is correctly identified in the article - but then, that is the 'Main Stream Media' for you...

David said...

Maude's comment is solid, but there needs to be an even strong clarification on this. Something along the lines of:

"Damm right we have walked away. We have walked away from a Labour party who wanted to fix the party funding system to suit them. Their desire to limit donations except those coming from trade unions is tantamount to election rigging. No doubt we shall see a future annoucement that all donations to the Conservative party will be taxed."

OK, so with better English, but you see my point ;)

bang the drum said...

Another step on Brown's road to a one party state.

Barnacle Bill said...

How very very hypocritical of ZanNuLabor.
I suppose after ten years of corruption and sleaze. This government has become so blinded. That they cannot see their refusal to put the trade union donations up for consideration is manifestly unfair.
But then again having got away with the Cash 4 Peerages scandal, they must think they can walk on water.
This country's ruling party is becoming more and more like that of a banana republic.

Ed said...

If union members are so keen on the Labour party, they can give their three quid or whatever it is direct, can't they?

If I set up a "young professionals" union whose sole purpose was to campaign for free markets and less government, and incidentally give huge dollops of cash to the Tories you can be sure that Brown would cry foul.

Can we have a democracy please?

strapworld said...

Maud is the wrong man to front this.

I agree with most of the other comments in that the Tories need to come out really fighting.

Labour are going to fight dirty (Its the only way brown knows!) so get the first 'boot' in.

I would place an advertisement in newspapers explaining the Tory position! Especially The Sun. Express. Mail.Times and Telegraph.

Ignore the rest!

#

Madasafish said...

All the Conservatives need to do is say they will - when in power, enact retrospective legislation dated to when Labour enact theirs.. to ban all Donations over £25k.

That would mean the Labour Party would have to repay all doantions over £25k for 2-3 years.
It woul of course bankrupt them.
More to the point, it would stop Labour doing it.

Man in a Shed said...

Would these be the same trade unions that keep receiving all that government money for modernisation - freeing up cash to donate to the Labour party ?

Gordon Brown really does want his one party state doesn't he ....

Anonymous said...

Basically the government are saying that the conservatives are not allowed to contact voters

David Boothroyd said...

There is absolutely no way I would ever accept any funding limit applying to the trade unions in the same way as companies. Never. Never. Never.

Trade Unions are fundamentally different to companies. The idea that tiny weekly sums from millions of TGWU members are comparable with the ceremonial opening of Lord Ashcroft's chequebook is contemptible. The reason the talks collapsed is that the Conservative side was making this contemptible equivalence; I hope the government stuffs them for it.

Ed said...

David Boothroyd why can't these oppressed workers make their own "tiny" contributions to the Labour Party?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Labour is the party that can't go cold turkey on big old wedges of cash.

I look forward to the Amalgamated Union of Hedge Fund Managers...

David Boothroyd said...

That is precisely what they are doing, and that is why any limit on individual donations must be multiplied up when applied to trade unions.

Andy Knight said...

There is absolutely no way I would ever accept any funding limit applying to the trade unions in the same way as companies. Never. Never. Never.

Of course you wouldn't David, because that would mean a Labourite playing fair, and we know you don't like doing that. Why are Ashcroft's contributions (for example the £2 million for marginals) any different from the £4.5 million the TGWU has given Labour over the last 3 years? At least when Ashcroft gives money it doesn't bribe the Conservative party into doing sweet nothing about the postal strikes...

David Boothroyd said...

Andy Knight: If a trade union wanted to give money to the Conservatives (and the CTU were once a power in the land), then it should be subject to the exact same rules as trade unions affiliating to the Labour Party are.

Indeed, if the Conservatives wanted to set up something like 'Aims of Industry' again, and have it as a mass membership Conservative supporting group which charged a standard membership fee, then the same 'multiplying-up' limit should apply.

But a company, either private or public, is a fundamentally different thing. It is not fairness to apply a limit equally to companies and unions, it is equating fundamentally different things. It's as daft as a system of local government taxation where every adult in the council area pays the same standard rate; only an idiot would ever think of it.

Malcolm Dunn said...

Onceagain David Boothroyd you reveal what a tremendous hypocrite you are. You've no interest in fairness in funding at all. All you want is party advantage.I hope the electorate sees through your sleazy little party and gives it the kicking it so richly deserves.

Andy Knight said...

David, you keep saying it's not fair, but then you never explain why. Saying companies are different things from unions may well be true, but how does that make it right that one can give unlimited political donantions and the other cannot?

And as for the community charge comment. Well, I get the same service as my neighbour, so why should I pay more than him because my house is worth more? The amount my council tax has gone up over the past few years... I would welcome the community charge.

strapworld said...

Boothroyd you remind me of a left wing lecturer at a polytechnic. One that is always right, can never be contradicted and whose idea's are, frankly, both undemocratic and yesterday's.

Please go to the confessional, contemplate and ask yourself Why? Why? Why? do I make an idiot of myself defending the indefensible?

"Unions and a few pennies"
I ask you!

You had better get to bed now before Matron comes along.

Prodicus said...

About a century ago I almost joined a trade union. It was clear that I would not have to pay the political levy, but then I asked about the union donating to the Labour Party from its general funds which would of course have included my subs. It was made clear to me that part of my sub would indeed go to the Labour Party, whether I liked it or not. I did not, so I declined to join. When some colleagues heard about this, they left the union, angry at having been conned into supporting financially a party they opposed politically. Unions play this game all the time so please don't tell me that all union members are willing donors to the Labour Party, because they are not.

Jill, London said...

The whole raison d’ĂȘtre of the Labour Party is to be the political arm of the trade union movement. Why the Labour Party’s opponents have never had the courage to describe them thus is a mystery. After all when Attlee took power in 1945 he handed joint power – covertly – to the trade unions – and that deadly duo held this country to ransom until 1979.

As the Labour Party would die without their trade union paymasters, it’s no wonder they use specious – and dubious – arguments to defend their financial lifeline. And – yes – Comrade Brown – who has openly talked of destroying the Conservative Party [as a typically undemocratic Lefty!] – would love to preside over a one-party state.

And I am vehemently opposed to taxpayer funding of political parties because I am sick and tired of MY money going where I don’t wish it to. And if a political party has any worth, it should be able to raise its own money!

David Boothroyd said...

A trade union cannot give unlimited donations; it can only give money which its members have contributed and they do that at a standard rate. The union decides its policy through its own democratic structures.

There are wealthy individual donors to the Labour Party who would be inhibited by a cap on donations; I'm not arguing that they be treated differently from Conservative or Lib Dem donors. But membership organisations, such as trade unions, are in an entirely different category.

I'm opposed to public financing of political parties as well. But does that include the Short money?

Iain Dale said...

David, another way of putting it would be...

A business cannot give unlimited donations; it can only give money which its sharehholders have agreed to and they do that through a democratic vote at an AGM. The company decides its policy through its own corporate governance structures.

There are wealthy individual donors to the Conservative Party who would be inhibited by a cap on donations; I'm not arguing that they be treated differently from Labour or Lib Dem donors. But shareholder organisations, such as companies, are in an entirely different category.

Capiche?