Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Smoke and mirrors

The big political story today is The Independent's report on Ed Miliband's new wheeze to appear to distance the Labour party from big Trades Union donations, and also looks to reduce the Unions' vote proportion in the party's future leadership contests. This looks decidedly fishy when one reads it carefully
  • The new scheme seems to be in reality just a way to hide the Unions' involvement in funding Ed's party by splitting it into millions of smaller regular donations (the current default-is-on, you-have-to-formally-opt-out Political Levy in another guise) all within a new "cap" of £500. This would be its first impact of three (at least) significant effects.
  • The second effect of such a cap, which Ed would apply to all donations to all the country's political parties if he should ever become PM, would be to disadvantage all the other parties, who don't get significant Union funding, if any.
  • The third result, leading on from this, would be that the Unions would effectively have the power to buy and thus possess (i.e. control) nearly all of our politics - which, as I have written before, is Red's real job while party leader. Indeed, it might help him to remain leader beyond the 2015 election if he is to introduce it personally.
All of this can be deduced from a careful reading of all that is currently in the public domain.

I was therefore interested to see that my initial suspicions have been confirmed by Jim Pickard at the FT Westminster Blog. He goes a stage further in the way the policy could be battled out between the two traditional parties' leaderships; but I'd suggest that all other parties should also oppose any attempt to introduce this oh-so-crafty scheme, as they will all lose out and only Labour will then still be a powerful force in our politics.

All others will be completely marginalised by starving them of funding!

As for the changes regarding Union voting power in the party leadership contests from a third to a quarter: I suspect this is just part of the camouflage to hide the real agenda regarding funding, and my suspicious mind tells me that there is probably a counterbalancing offer that isn't yet public. I also suspect that a way has been devised to get around that, and/or a way to quietly return the figure to a third in a couple of years or so, when no-one is watching, or so they'll hope.

UPDATE: the ever-alert and insightful Peter Hoskin has elaborated on the Pickard piece in a couple of useful ways, in his customary concise form of writing, so it is worth spending two minutes reading. His conclusion, that the whole thing is merely a ruse, is interesting. I wonder if he could be right...

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