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Labour’s NEC backs ‘historic’ union link reforms

4 February 2014

The Labour party’s National Executive Committee has backed Ed Miliband’s plans to change the party’s trade union links by 28 votes to two, which marks a resounding victory for the Labour leader. There was little doubt that the NEC would endorse the reforms, which will still take five years to be implemented, and in the end the two members who opposed the proposals (another member abstained) were vocal leftwing backbencher Dennis Skinner and Christine Shawcroft.

The next step is for the party to vote on the reforms at a special conference on 1 March. Miliband said this afternoon:

‘Some people will find change difficult to accept. Others are worried about the consequences. But at the PLP last night, the Shadow Cabinet this morning, and the NEC this afternoon, there was a strong consensus that change must come. Because we must have the courage to change our party and change our politics if we are to change our country once again.’

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Labour figures want to make this another example of Miliband’s ability to win in a David-and-Goliath-style contest. But there is also an effort to emphasise Miliband’s ability to take his party with him on these matters, in contrast to David Cameron’s inability to take his party with him on the bigger matter of government policy. Miliband invests deeply in his MPs, and to a certain extent the support he has enjoyed is a reward for that as his backbenches feel they have good reason for backing him. These union reforms are hardly going to electrify the public, but Miliband and his team know that they need to sell them as big and historic, partly because they’ve convened a special conference to vote on them.

Aside from the vote at special conference, though, there is the pressure from the union leaders to make Labour an ‘attractive’ party to trade unionists. Len McCluskey, who has been reasonably polite about these changes and about his union’s willingness to implement them, is still saying that Miliband will need to work harder to coax trade unionists into joining the party. What that means in terms of policy, though, depends on whether Miliband decides to listen to Len McCluskey’s version of what trade unionists want, or read the polling, which offers quite a different conclusion.

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Show comments
  • Holly

    Miliband could cut all links/ties to the unions, change the anthem and colour of their canvassing leaflets.

    But it is Miliband, and his ilk that is the real problem with the Labour party today, and all this union stuff is just a way of deflecting attention from the Labour front bench.
    I can not stand the hypocracy of this lot.
    The Labour front bench, along with the back benchers do their ‘rich bad’, ‘Labour rich good’ routine every day of the week.
    Miliband, and the other rich Labour bods continue to slag off anyone else who also happens to be rich, and especially those who dare to be richer, and put into the economy. Instead of simply taking out of it, like Miliband & Co do, with great success.
    The saddest part of all this is, people fall for their ‘rage against the rich’.
    Usually those at the bottom.

    • Mynydd

      Mr Miliband and the Labour party have no problem with being rich, they just want them to pay a fair share of the tax to help reduce the deficit the rich bankers created.

      • Holly

        Are you on the payroll of this site?
        Because getting a reply to you is never going to happen.
        I just put the same sort of comments on Labourlist….Where you are allowed to comment freely….GOOD OR BAD.

        Talk to your moderator Fraser?

  • Tony_E

    What this is doing is reducing the power of MPs in choosing a leader, while the Unions will do exactly what they did before. When leadership ballots went out, they went out in ‘Vote Ed M’ envelopes.

  • Smithersjones2013

    As I understand it none of this really alters the fundamental power within the Labour party. The Trade Unions control the purse strings and the policy direction and MP’s will decide who the leadership candidates are. The only thing that has changed substantially is that once the Unions and the PLP have decided all the important matters then the membership will decide which of the party stooges becomes leader.

    All it means is the Unions and PLP will have to have sewed up their stitch-up that bit earlier in the process.

  • DWWolds

    Why are union leaders all so ugly?

  • McRobbie

    McCluskey is happy with the proposed changes..and that means they will still leave him in control of the strings that move milieband.

    • HookesLaw

      It effectively allows cut price uinion membership an overwhelming vote in party matters. Except at conferences I understand where the unions will still have a block cote. How does this dress up as reducing the union link?

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