In attempting to defend taxpayer-funded trade union activists, Unite the Union have accidentally poured petrol on the fire. Their press release today admits, by their own count, that “around 200,000 workers carry out representative duties.” Strangely the number of these Pilgrims is far higher in the public over the private sector.
Today’s 10 Minute Rule Bill that would ban the practice has been pushed back by Lansley’s boob announcement. Labour seem rather happy about this as it means Members would have wandered off by then, as opposed to a vote immediately after PMQs. Labour sources have confirmed that the Shadow Cabinet will not be voting, but whips are encouraging their frontbench team to weigh in to defeat the motion that would ban Pilgrims. The rules are going out of the window as the unions seek a return for their investments. As is convention, the Government whips are calling for all of the government payroll to abstain. Unlike with the opposition, that includes Ministers and PPSs. The vote is expected after 1pm now.