What is the problem with unions funding the LP?

(17 Posts)
BrittaPerry Thu 09-Aug-12 11:52:56

Genuine question.

Why do people see it as a negative that Labour is partially funded by and partially controlled by the unions ( plus Fabians etc) as opposed to individual rich people? To me it is a massive positive that the funding comes from little amounts from lots of working people (and, to me, pretty obvious n the name of the party...)

Is there an actual reason, or Only in the kind of ideological way? I just think I'm missing something...

flatpackhamster Thu 09-Aug-12 13:20:43

I don't see it as a problem. Where I have a problem at the moment is that Labour shoved masses of money to the unions. There's the Union Modernisation Fund, which is taxpayers' money going to the unions to 'help them modernise'. Why should taxpayers pay for that? It's something on the order of £6 million a year.

Then there are the 'Pilgrims'. These are public sector employees who work, full-time as union reps. They are paid for by the taxpayer, and the taxpayer then has to pay for employees to replace those union reps. The costs are immense. In Whitehall alone £36 million a year goes on Pilgrims. Every council has them, every PCT has them, every department has them.

So all that money's paying for the unions, who then give that money to Labour. It's basically just Labour getting the taxpayer to pay for them, and that makes me very cross. It's corruption.

limitedperiodonly Thu 09-Aug-12 13:33:57

It's a fuss over nothing and I wish people would stop whingeing. To me they expose their pettiness and ignorance.

I don't complain about the large number of companies that fund the Conservatives. It would make life difficult for me but I could boycott them if I really wanted.

I don't even get that exercised whenever Conservative donors are shown to have very tentative links with the UK. If they're within rules, they're within the rules.

I'm in favour of union support for the Labour Party, being a union member, a Labour voter and someone who knows about the foundation of the Labour Party.

Even if I wasn't in favour I'd weigh up the benefits of union membership versus the particular policy I was opposed to. I did that in the mid-80s when my union decided to oppose the MP David Alton's Private Member's Bill seeking to curtail abortion rights.

I am in favour of abortion but was uneasy about my union taking that stance when other union members might be opposed and feel compromised about membership. I decided it was better for me to continue and that Alton's assault on abortion law was more worrying than my union's opposition to.

What's the big deal? The money has to come from somewhere and like you said OP, the link is obvious.

ComradeJing Thu 09-Aug-12 13:49:17

I think it's to do with the influence that it is perceived to give to unions within the labor party. For example David was seen as more electable and a better candidate but Ed won because of the union vote - or at least that was the impression I got from the papers. Many people who approved of thatcher and how she 'broke' the unions wouldn't vote for someone who is perceived as under the thumb of the unions.

Perhaps it's also because unions are seen as big, nasty, demanding etc where as conservative doners are much more hidden - policy decided over a single malt after dinner type thing.

I may well be talking rubbish grin putting dd to sleep and bored but interested.

SunWukong Thu 09-Aug-12 16:49:10

The only people who see it as a problem are rich Tory donors who think it's far too communist to have a party backed by a bunch of grubby workers rather then a nice rich individual.

Orwellian Thu 09-Aug-12 18:16:28

Nothing, as long as it is not taxpayers cash (given to the Unions) being used and as long as there is no problem with big corporations funding the Conservative party. Two sides of the same coin.

In an ideal world none of the parties would get extra funding and they would have to survive on their own real world merits. Ho hum.

Denise34 Thu 09-Aug-12 21:41:16

Unions are hardly representative of "grubby workers" nowadays, are they?

edam Fri 10-Aug-12 21:46:44

orwellian - not quite two sides of the same coin. The union levy is voluntary and democratic- individual members can opt out. Companies do not allow their shareholders to opt out of paying donations to the Tory (or any other) party. Or their employees, whose work makes the profits that are handed over by the bosses.

Before the unions, only the rich had political representation. By banding together in unions, ordinary people were able to put together the funds to participate in democracy; to create a political party that might represent their views, aims and objectives. The union movement was progressive and democratic and the Labour party was born from shared effort and a wish for progress and democracy. Quite different from the fat cats seeking favours from Tory politicians.

Of course it's not quite that simple, 100 years on. But the principle still stands.

limitedperiodonly Fri 10-Aug-12 21:57:28

Yes, edam. And I also believe the Union Modernisation Fund was abolished in this Govt's Bonfire of the Quangos in 2010 or 11 which didn't result in quite such a big conflagration because some of the organisations were quite handy and this govt would like to introduce a few of their own.

So if it was a problem, it no longer is one. Unless someone can correct me.

The TUC have put forward a defence of the Pilgrims that they smooth conditions between management and the workforce.

But again, if someone wants to cite evidence that they're a pernicious influence, then I'll listen to it.

niceguy2 Sat 11-Aug-12 09:08:09

In principle there's nothing wrong with unions funding the Labour party. Well no more than rich donors funding the Tories.

I suspect the 'problem' is a hangover from the late seventies where the loony unions of yesteryear effectively held the country to ransom.

That and a lot of people now think that unions are outdated and full of left wing idiots who want to do nothing but cause strikes for minor/petty reasons as some sort of political statement.

The biggest problem for Labour really is that because so much of their funding comes from the unions that it can mean they are stuck when they need to criticise them. Remember the beginning of the teachers strike? Most members of the public were opposed to it. But Labour couldn't say that without upsetting their donors.

But that's no different in my mind to the Tories being unable to criticise their biggest donors either.

I guess unions funding the LP is better than the American system in which only rich corporations and well funded lobby groups seem to have any sway.

EdithWeston Sat 11-Aug-12 09:16:35

I have no problem with any of this - provided that there is a change and Unions fund the Pilgrims (and any future modernisation programmed).

flatpackhamster Sat 11-Aug-12 12:12:16

limitedperiodonly

Yes, edam. And I also believe the Union Modernisation Fund was abolished in this Govt's Bonfire of the Quangos in 2010 or 11 which didn't result in quite such a big conflagration because some of the organisations were quite handy and this govt would like to introduce a few of their own.

So if it was a problem, it no longer is one. Unless someone can correct me.

It isn't a problem now, but it did funnel £60m or so to the unions, which they then gave to the Labour party to fight its elections.

The TUC have put forward a defence of the Pilgrims that they smooth conditions between management and the workforce.

But again, if someone wants to cite evidence that they're a pernicious influence, then I'll listen to it.

I haven't seen any objection to the role of the Pilgrim. What I've seen objections to is that the Pilgrim is paid for by the taxpayer. A representative of the workers should be paid by the workers themselves, not by the taxpayer.

limitedperiodonly Sat 11-Aug-12 13:33:55

The UMF is over now, unlike contributions paid to political parties by companies where I spend my money. Or, indeed their dealings in countries of whom I don't approve. But like I said, I could boycott them if it vexed me that much.

Good industrial relations could be said to be of benefit to the country seeing as industrial disputes between intransient employers and unions cost us all so much anguish and money.

And the objection about taxpayers' money funding Pilgrims is not dissimilar to the objections about companies having to provide union representatives time to do their union work.

As long as no one is taking the piss I don't have a problem with it. Like most people I want employers and employees to discuss things rationally and treat each other fairly before things reach a state where they affect my life.

ttosca Mon 13-Aug-12 16:01:13

In principle there's nothing wrong with unions funding the Labour party. Well no more than rich donors funding the Tories.

On the contrary, there's something much less wrong with unions funding the Labour party, as the Labour party members are more represenative of the population as a whole. They are workers who receive a wage - like the vast majority of the population.

Of course they will fund to fight their interests. However, their interests here largely co-incide with the population.

On the other hand, funding of the Tory party by Goldman Sachs is not likely to produce policies which are beneficial to the population as a whole.

I suspect the 'problem' is a hangover from the late seventies where the loony unions of yesteryear effectively held the country to ransom.

Uh huh. You realise the large corporate entities have 'held the country to ransom' ever since, right? How is threatening to completely move overseas unless corporation tax is lessened or unless the labour market is deregulated NOT 'holding the UK to ransom'?

That and a lot of people now think that unions are outdated and full of left wing idiots who want to do nothing but cause strikes for minor/petty reasons as some sort of political statement.

Yeah, unions sit around thinking about when they can strike to 'make a statement'. Even though they don't get paid during a strike. And even though it inconveniences the public. Absolutely right...

niceguy2 Mon 13-Aug-12 16:37:17

I hear what you are saying about companies threatening to leave being akin to holding the country to ransom and to a certain extent I agree with you. But the answer is not for UK to do anything stupid on its own. We need to act in unison with all the other western economies so that multinationals cannot divide and conquer.

And as for the unions, bear in mind that the union chiefs do get paid. The strikers don't (generally). So the chief's have no real skin in the game.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 18-Aug-12 17:59:59

There must be many employees that find themselves in a conflict of interest i.e not supporting the Labour Party but wanting to be represented by a union. They have no choice where their fees go.

CommunistMoon Sat 29-Sep-12 01:07:51

Yes, you do have a choice. When you join union you have to choose whether or not to contribute to the affiliated political fund - if you don't then your union dues do not go towards funding the Labour Party.

Some of the most successful and forward-thinking unions are not affiliated to the Labour Party and stopped funding them years ago, e.g. PCS and RMT.

I imagine lots of Tesco workers don't want the profits they have worked hard to create to be handed over to the Conservative Party, but hey, private enterprise is all about choice, except for those who can't buy any.

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