In February Ed Miliband promised “seismic changes” to Labour’s relationship with the trade unions, vowing that reforming the unions’ grip on the party would be “bigger than Clause IV“. Red Len’s baby mama Jennie Formby, Unite’s meritocratic political director, explains how that is going in their political report for the last year. Firstly she calls Ed’s reforms “a distraction that nobody wanted”, before confirming that it’s business as usual for Unite.
Describing the Labour politicians in the union’s pocket as “Unite MPs”, Formby reveals how Unite have successfully lobbied Labour MPs to raise issues in the House, going as far as influencing voting:
“Chair of the TU Group of MPs, Ian Lavery, secured time for a 10 Minute Rule Bill on the Bedroom Tax and we worked hard both with Ian and with the Labour Party to get them to impose a three line whip on this.”
She admits “we have been involved in discussing a number of other issues with MPs in order to build support for key issues” including welfare, the NHS and low pay. And, ironically, the Lobbying Bill.
In a section titled “parliamentary selections” Formby reports “target seats are now nearly completed” but “we wait for retirements in other seats”. There is also a new “candidate training programme”, where “successful candidates will be expected to give a commitment to participate in all the training modules” and will be “judged” on their suitability to be an MP on important issues to constituents such as “commitment to working class values of the Trade Union” and “active membership of the union”. How’s that seismic change-y thing working out for ya, Ed?