Ed Miliband Exceeds Expectations
Meanwhile, it is fair to report that Ed Miliband has exceeded expectations. Interestingly timed to coincide with the arrival of the royal baby, he has announced a special Labour Party conference next spring to approve changes to the rules on trade union affiliations. (The last special conference was in April 1995 to approve the wording of the new Clause IV, in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, pictured.)
Once again, this is brave and right. I had feared that, having announced that he wanted to break the link between the party and the unrepresentative union leaderships, actual change would drift until after the general election.
The special conference ensures that change will happen in good time. The appointment of Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, to help to oversee the changes ensures that they will be good changes. I still for the life of me cannot see how the changes are going to work. If the party is to make good on Miliband’s observation that, “It just doesn’t make sense for anyone to be affiliated to a political party unless they have chosen to do so,” it would make no sense to allow union leaders to continue to donate large sums of money to the party from their general political funds. But the details hardly matter, because the principle is right.
As for making the changes under the cover of monarchist fervour: no harm in that at all. This isn’t a repeat of rewriting Clause IV and Miliband is wisely not pretending that it is. It is an essential and important rewiring of the Labour-union link, and there will be time enough to advertise to the voters that he has done it when he has.Tagged in: ed miliband, labour party, trade unions, trades unions
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