The warm reception to Ed Miliband’s speech yesterday was so eerily positive that it could never have lasted. Today we get the first taste of the real battle to come, with the GMB warning that they’d be ‘lucky if 10% of our current affiliation levels say yes, they want to be members of the Labour party’ and that as a result the union could disaffiliate from the party.
This is a challenge for Ed Miliband to show that he is determined to force these changes, even if it means calling a party-wide ballot to overrule the union bosses
But this is also an opportunity for the Conservatives. If the unions accept that few of their members would choose to join Labour too, then there is a reasonable argument to make for giving members an option to join the Tory party too. Given around a third of Unite members vote Conservative, these big reforms announced by Miliband could be the chance the Tories need to start reaching out to some of their natural voters too. They could argue that currently the unions are doing their members a disservice by only offering them one party.