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Ed Miliband’s interview with Michael Crick yesterday: Let me be very clear; I want to be clear; I’m very, very clear about this. Those poker “tells” in full, as decoded by Hopi Sen.
Well clearly its absolutely clear, full of the clearest of clarity.
I just thought I’d make that clear because clearly there will be some who think its not er…….. clear.
Let’s be very clear about this, the much-maligned Daily Mail* has discovered that Ed Miliband has taken representative democracy back to the pre-1832 Reform Bill days of pocket boroughs, rotten boroughs and the forty-shilling freeholder franchise.
While a much-trailed rule change to cut the trade unions’ 50 per cent of the vote at conferences never happened, what did happen at the 2011 Labour party conference was a hardening up of the rules governing candidates for all elections.
The Labour membership rule book specifically states “In addition to fulfilling any statutory requirements for the relevant public office, persons wishing to stand as a Labour candidate must have continuous membership of the Party of at least 12 months. Where not otherwise prevented they shall [the word 'shall' replacing 'should'] also be a member of a trade union affiliated to the TUC or considered by the NEC as a bona fide trade union and contribute the political fund of that union.”
As a result, four out of five voters are disqualified from representing the Labour party in local government, the European parliament or at Westminster because they are not trade union members. Labour is effectively operating a candidates’ closed shop, and the trades unions’ stranglehold on the party is complete.
*Andrew Pierce, How the unions got Red Ed in a headlock
I have already told you that Pierce is talking rubbish.
The rules he gets into such a state about have *always* been there – if he is claiming otherwise, then he is simply wrong. Or mendacious.
You have said that the rule about restricting Labour candidates to trade union members has always been there. Apparently it hasn’t. A key word was changed during the 2011 party conference, toughing up the rule about candidates, the word ’shall’ being substituted for ’should’. There is a world of difference between ‘Where not otherwise prevented they should also be a member of a trade union…’ and ‘Where not otherwise prevented they shall also be a member of a trade union…’ The latter is an instruction, not a preference.
In any case, what is the point of keeping a rule which you say is routinely flouted? Why not get rid of it entirely, just like Clause IV, and avoid any ambiguity?
My impression is that the semantic change has made little difference in practice – there are still lots of LP members, and some councillors (probably an MP or two as well) who are *not* in any union. Nor is that likely to change.
As for your second point, I will concede that is a good question. I suppose the TU wing of the labour movement need some sops to convince them they are getting their money’s worth
My real point is that Pierce’s apocalyptic reading of the situation is as far removed from reality as can be imagined.
Two questions occur to me.
Shouldn’t Labour represent labour?
Were TB and GB in a union?
Subsidiary questions: Shouldn’t action to improve that representation be applauded, even by Conservatives?
If TB and GB were in unions, why did they favour bankers, B. Ecclestone, Et Al?
Surely, the corruption prior to 1948 is as far back as you have to go.
Could only stand 1:45 of this
1Piggott’s post: Jacobson, Heller and reflections on “real life”
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