Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sorry Ed: No New Unison Members

Ed Miliband has urged unions to have  "the courage to change" in his speech to the TUC at Bournemouth this morning. He is looking for union members to opt in to becoming Labour members rather than getting them to pay an affiliation fee. I was watching the Daily Politics today and two union delegates were being interviewed by Jo Coburn (around 36 minutes into the programme). Both the Unison and the GMB delegates agreed that Ed and the Labour Party’s agenda was not the same as that of the unions. Union members were not asking about their relationship with the Labour Party. Their members were much more interested in improving the economy.

Asked if Ed had chosen the wrong time to pick a fight with the unions, the Unison delegate replied that it wasn’t a fight. Ed was just saying that union members should have a choice as to whether they wished to be a member of the Labour Party. Furthermore Unison members had “always” had that choice. In the next sentence “always” was changed to “over ten years” (note: how long is it since Unison had a closed shop?). 

What this means to me is that Ed has not only chosen the wrong time, he is at least ten years too late, at least with Unison, the second largest union in the UK. Interestingly the Unison delegate did think that the Labour Party could achieve 300,000 new members if Ed gets his way and union members are asked if they want to join his party. How can this be? None of them will be from Unison because their members have already made their choice.

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