Miliband plans to cut union block vote


The unions are getting it from all directions at the moment. Whilst Conservative ministers are threatening to restrict further the unions ability to go on strike, the Labour leader is planning action to cut their powers too.

This, despite the fact that Ed Miliband was only elected leader on the votes of affiliated union members.

While all the attention has focussed on Ed Miliband's plans to abolish elections for the Shadow Cabinet, the Labour leader is planning for more controversial reforms - to the unions' role at the annual party conference. And that could prompt a huge fight.

In Wrexham on Saturday Miliband told Labour's National Poilicy Forum:

"If we want conference to have more legitimacy inside the party with the leadership, the conference must be more legitimate in the way its decisions are made."

"We can't modernise our party and make it fit for the 21st Century unless we look at the way conference works and that's what we are going to do."

That line was largely ignored by the media, but I am told on high authority that it was meant as a warning to the unions that Miliband wants to cut back their block vote at the party conference.

Currently unions account for 50 per cent of votes at the conference, though in the past they made up 90 per cent of the vote. Ed Miliband would like to take the percentage much lower.

And now might be the right moment to do that, with the unions on the defensive. And a good punch-up with the unions of the left can often be a big boost to a Labour leader's reputation, as Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair all showed. But the leader has to win his battle.

But it would be a big risk for Miliband at a time when the party is dependent on the unions for more than 80 per cent of its funding.

Michael Crick Article written by Michael Crick Michael Crick Political editor, Newsnight

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Are you moving into comedy? The over privileged,quintessential Tory Boy, with no record of gainful employment was a failed spin doctor for a company that went bankrupt owing millions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Well overdue I would have thought, considering this was parodied long ago on 'Not the 9 o'clock news'. In which half a dozen union leaders are sat round a table and when it comes to deciding on whether to have tea or coffee they have a show of hands with 1 for coffee and 5 for tea, but because the coffee man's block vote outnumbers all the others' they all have to have coffee. Time for tea!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    whilst todays unions are a deplorable bunch, i find it sad that the party that was set up by the working man as it were is now trying to seperate its self from the workers
    ed is obviously only doing it as he wants to get his party re elected BUT is this what the party envisaged at its inception, being as abhorrent as the left its sad that they dont have any leaders who want to truly represent them

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    A good move - but then, why do the Unions have a vote in the party affairs at all? Making a clean break with the Unions would make the Labour party more legitimate to the working middle England.



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