It’s taken Labour a week to come up with a semi-coherent defence of taxpayer funding for trade unions. John Healey has taken to LabourList, on behalf of their paymasters, to defend the practice. The gist of his argument is that union reps do good things therefore it is a good thing. It completely fails to take into account that regardless of what good they do, why should we pay for it rather than the unions: representation of the workers is the key reason people pay to join unions, and their union subscription fees should be used to cover it. Any work time spent on union activity should be invoiced back the union. Anything else is back door corruption and a multi-million pound political subsidy from the taxpayer to the Labour Party.
But at least some in Labour Party seem to be trying to engage properly, which is more than can be said of the union heavies on Labour benches. When Aidan Burley’s adjournment debate speech rattled them last Wednesday, instead of constructive arguement, the Tory backbencher was shouted down, heckled and jeered by amoungst others Tom Blenkinsop, Ian Lavery and Steve Rotheram. All MPs with strong union funding ties.
When the mace went up after the debate, the tension was not dispelled. Lavery, who is PPS to Harriet Harman, called Burley “a prick” – something he did not deny when Guido asked him about it, simply saying instead that “I’m not denying anything… I’ve got no comment to make.” Guido has four witnesses willing to go on the record saying that Steve Rotheram said “You just love winding people up, don’t you, you twat”. An allegation that Rotheram vehemently denies:
“…in fact I was the peacemaker on the night (Blessed are the Peacemakers eh!) I admit that when another Member made a disparaging comment about Mr Burley I did say sarcastically to him that there wasn’t a Court in the land that would find against the accusation . I also told him that he wasn’t going to wind me up when he was shouting towards me “what are you going to do about it” in an aggressive tone. … I have spoken with my legal representative and will defend myself against this accusation and will have more than 4 Members to support what I ‘actually’ said.”
Guido guesses he’ll have to see Steve in Court then…