New Labour plans could lose Party 90% of union funding
The general secretary of the GMB trade union, Paul Kenny, has warned that Ed Miliband’s proposals on reforming the relationship between the Labour Party and the unions could see them lose a huge portion of funding and affiliation. Kenny made the remarks on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning.
The Labour Party leader has expressed his desire to change the way Labour receives funding from the unions in wake of the Falkirk scandal, which saw some members of trade union Unite unwittingly signed up to the Labour Party in a bid to get the union’s preferred candidate elected.
Currently, members who pay into their union’s political fund are affiliated to the Labour Party on a collective basis. Miliband’s proposals would see this changed to an opt-in system whereby the party would only receive funding from union members on an individual basis.
Kenny described the notion of requiring GMB members to become individual associate members of the Labour party as a “bold move,” saying: “Our history shows us that’s not what they pay the political levy for…. if they wanted to be individual members of the Labour party they could.”
GMB is Britain’s third biggest union with over 400,000 members currently collectively affiliated to the Labour Party. Kenny said he would have to ballot GMB members in order to comply with the proposed changes and said that “[Labour] would be lucky if 10% of our current affiliation levels say ‘yes’ they want to be members of the Labour party”.
Kenny described campaigning with Labour on political issues and being a signed up member of the party as being “two completely different things”. The proposals could see Labour’s funding from the GMB alone drop from nearly £2 million to as little as £200,000.