Ed Flip-Flops on "Opt In"

“If Ed follows through with what’s being trailed, it will make Blair’s Clause 4 moment look like a resolution of the Tufty Club”, so says Dan Hodges. Miliband will today attempt to mend the financial link between Labour and the unions, requiring union members to positively opt-in to their political levy rather than opt-out. The problem? Convincing the union bosses themselves to agree to stop pulling the strings on labour leaders. Forcing the union bosses to accept something they see as weakening their personal power – McCluskey himself says as much in the Guardian – will be a huge test of  Ed’s resolve. McCluskey incomprehensibly argues that getting union members to positively opt-in is disengaging. Kinnock took on Militant, Blair took on Clause 4 and ignored the unions. Ed’s hope is that the unions go along with opt-in even though they hate it in the knowledge that, if they don’t, he’s done. He’ll be seen as too weak to lead the country if he can’t lead his party.

It will be something of a personal turnaround, the once union-backed leadership contender Ed Miliband is on the record as having explicitly opposed an opt-in as recently as last year. Only this weekend Tom Baldwin was briefing the Sunday papers that Labour had no intention of doing anything on the union front. This is either a weak panic move or the strong seizing of an opportunity presented by Unite’s fraud fiasco in Falkirk…

Guido wishes Miliband well. As with Nixon going to China, only he, a Labour leader made by the unions can break the union bosses control of the Labour Party. If he succeeds in genuinely breaking their financial stranglehold on the party he will be entitled to demand wider political funding reforms, a cap on donations to end millionaire donors bankrolling the Tories. He will do politics a service if all political parties have to rely on their supporters for money, parties will have to meaningfully engage with their grassroots,




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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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