Ed’s proposals are being briefed out. At first glance they seem a sensible attempt to reduce control of the Labour Party by union vested interests. As always the key factor is money. Here it doesn’t look so good. The unions seem to keep control of the purse strings:
“…for too long we have operated with structures which were laid down in a different era which did not anticipate the new forms of communication and community activism available for a modern political party.
And, in a 21st Century political party, it is no longer acceptable or fair for people to give money to it without having made an active choice as individuals to do so.
So every individual member of an affiliated trade union will be given a straight “Yes or No” choice about whether they want to pay a small sum to ensure their union’s voice is heard within the party.
Trade unions will continue to affiliate collectively to Labour but, for the first time, the payment of affiliation fees will become a wholly transparent process based on individual positive consent.
These reforms will be introduced during 2014 and will apply to new members of affiliated organisations first. It will be fully implemented for existing members of such organisations within five years – which is the time frame recommended by successive reports into the future of political funding by Sir Gerald Hayden Phillips and Sir Christopher Kelly.
During this period, affiliated organisations will be encouraged to help the party maximise the number of people who agree to pay an affiliation fee.
At the end of this period, the affiliation of each organisation will be determined by the number of members who have consented to the payment of affiliation fees. Only those who have made a positive choice to pay affiliation fees will be counted.”
These reforms are a good start, unfortunately it is still the case that he who pays the piper calls the tune…
UPDATE: Source says “it’s a five-year plan. And anything political phased in over five years is unlikely to come to pass.”