Has Labour got a plan? If it does, the GMB doesn’t like it, announcing this morning that it will cut its affiliation funds from £1.2 million to £150,000, effective from january 2014. The cut is to reflect the number of the union’s members who it estimates would choose to affiliate to the Labour party under the new reforms announced by Ed Miliband.
In a statement this morning, the union said:
‘GMB CEC expressed considerable regret about the apparent lack of understanding the proposal mooted by Ed Miliband will have on the collective nature of trade union engagement with the Labour Party.
‘A further source of considerable regret to the CEC is that the party that had been formed to represent the interest of working people in this country intends to end collective engagement of trade unions in the party they helped to form.’
Rachel Reeves was on the Today programme this morning, and tried to link her latest attack on the cost of living with the GMB’s concerns about the breaking of the link, arguing that her campaign on wages would be just the sort of thing that would attract GMB members. Her leader can argue that this fits in with the David vs Goliath picture that he likes to paint of himself, standing up boldly to big beasts, even when it inconveniences him.
But the fact is that this will seriously inconvenience Miliband, beyond any useful messages it sends out. The latest round of donations declarations published by the Electoral Commission might have been mired in a row about a will, but it also underlined the Labour party’s current reliance on trade unions. Affiliated unions were behind 77 per cent of Labour donations in the second quarter of 2013: £2.4 million from trade unions and only £354,692 from individuals.
The reason I ask whether Labour has a plan is that Miliband’s MPs will now be desperate to know that he does have one. This blow from GMB was hardly unexpected. But what the Labour leadership doesn’t want to do is to appear zen-like and too relaxed. One of the reasons Tory MPs stayed disciplined over the summer (until the Syria vote) was that they had been given clear briefings in meetings, and had read briefings in the media, about the plans their party had for attacking Labour and Ukip. They felt reassured that things were in control, and when the leadership let its grip go, they spun out of control. The Labour leadership will want to give the same impression of control and a grand plan to its own MPs: and one that lasts a little longer too.Tags: Ed Miliband, GMB, Labour, UK politics, Unions