X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Coffee House

The malign influence of trade union extends beyond the takeover of Labour

10 September 2013

10:00 AM

10 September 2013

10:00 AM

Money passes hands. Allegations are made. A would-be MP is suspended, only to be pardoned once evidence is mysteriously withdrawn. Such is the murky world of Labour’s relationship with the trade unions.

Since the revelations of vote rigging in the Falkirk candidate selection the Westminster bubble has become obsessed by a number of questions. How much funding does Labour get from trade unions? (too much), what exactly did they get in return? (Ed Miliband) and will Red Ed will be able to stand up to paymasters? (he won’t).

As Ed Miliband travels to Bournemouth the unseemly brawl of student politics are being writ large in one of the UK’s largest political parties. These arguments, internal and unending, demonstrate once again that the organised left is too busy debating itself to focus on the things that really matter.

But the tragedy is not that Trade Unions don’t understand what matters to ordinary people, it’s that all too often their influence is malign. This Wednesday, Unite are planning a strike that will shut up to 30,000 pubs across the country. Ed Miliband has nothing to say about it.

Last week Britain’s largest teaching unions decided that manning the barricades was the most appropriate response to plans for performance related pay. Stephen Twigg has refused to take a stand against this reckless action.

[Alt-Text]


Yesterday the TUC passed a motion calling for coordinated industrial action. Trade union leaders are aiming to bring about the first general strike since 1926. Not only has Ed Miliband refused to comment on these plans, but he will give his first speech since the summer in the TUC’s den.

Labour MPs love to say that the union link gives them grounding in the lives of everyday people. But the trade union movement of today is not an accurate representation of the hardworking people of this country. Their priorities are not the priorities of voters.

Ordinary trade unionists must wonder what on earth they pay their subscriptions for when they see the fiasco over Falkirk. It’s a signs of a fundamental disconnection between union members and the union barons.

We all know about trade union fat cats, but the role of a General Secretary has become every bit as urbane and gentrified as other professions. Bankers have Canary Warf and the City, lawyers have the Inns of Court, and trade unions have the Euston Road. The headquarters of Unison, Unite, the TUC, RMT, TSSA and NUT all share a square mile patch in central London just to the south of Euston station.

Ahead of the last election Populus found that a third of Unite members planned to vote for the Conservative Party. That is the same Conservative Party that was promising, and are delivering, tough decisions to deal with deficit, welfare changes and education reform. Trade union leaders and the Labour Party stood against our plans then, and are against them still.

A YouGov poll for Labour Uncut showed this week that 63 per cent of union members want to see less power for unions in the Labour Party. Len McCluskey meanwhile promises that he will fight any attempts to weaken his union’s power. His union is responsible for over a quarter of all Labour’s donations since September 2010.

Labour has received £25,021,458.83 from the trade unions while Ed Miliband has been leader. GMB and Unison have reduced their funding of Labour in line with members wishes, but there’s a growing clamour to know why only Labour receives union funding, when their members support all parties. It is indicative of the movement’s failure to capture the mood of their own members.

Those trade unionists who voted Conservative in 2010 must be feeling vindicated. The economy is turning the corner and we are making sure work pays – but the trade union dinosaurs and their political wing in the Labour Party have nothing new to offer but strikes and internal strife.

Trade unions have lost their mandate to represent hardworking people, and unless the Labour Party changes they’ll never regain their mandate to govern.

Priti Patel is the Conservative MP for Witham

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close