Their present system gives Union members a third of the vote, and this is separate from any Union members also having a second vote if they are a member of the party.
MPs have their own vote as well, perhaps a third one if they are also members of a Union. There is yet another vote still for a fourth category, though I cannot recall just now precisely what that is - some kind of affiliate, but the details escape me for the moment.
All of this is why David Cameron alluded to the number of votes Harriet Harman and husband Jack Dromey had between them at a Prime Minister's Questions sessions a couple of months ago (they had seven votes between the two of them!) and rightly so.
In practice, the present membership situation is:
- Labour party - around 177,000 members
- Trades Unions - approx 2,7000,000 members (Unite alone has around a million)
Remember that they currently have only a third of the vote!
?For Labour, giving Unions any power or influence within the party will lead to often-justified claims by their opponents of being in the Unions' back pocket. It was the key ingredient in getting Ed Miliband elected as party leader, after all (not forgetting that there were other influences as well, but this was the biggie).
Yet without the Unions' bankrolling of the Labour party - particularly the public sector unions such as Unite - the party would have gone bankrupt years ago and would no longer exist (many folk would say that would be a good thing, and who am I to argue?) Its current life is built on that shaky and unprofessional foundation alone - Trades Union funding.
Yes, there are still rich donors to the party (far too many of 'em, with no sense or no morals or no something-or-other); but many of their previous backers eventually saw through all the spin and the lies and no longer support Labour financially if in any way at all. Therefore we need to watch what Labour gets up to in regard to their review of internal election policy.
Could, then, this 'review' be why the Unions supported "Red Ed", so that he would prepare the ground for constitutional changes that would soon ensure their virtual total control of the Labour Party?