Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Labour funded by trades unions ? I wonder why ?

There’ve been a lot of slurs thrown about in the Tory blogosphere & press regarding the union “Unite”, and its funding of the Labour Party election campaign.

Who would have thought a trades union would give money to the Labour Party ?

Well anyone who’d studied the history of the Labour movement I guess.

The Labour Party was founded in the late 19th Century at the behest of …    that’s right – the Trades Union Congress – which was responding to calls from member unions, to provide a means to unite the efforts of all broadly socialist groups into a single entity to challenge more effectively as a force in parliamentary elections.

The Labour movement is an amalgam of many organisations and groups – of a fairly diverse range of political opinion, influenced for instance by the Temperance movement, Non-Conformist Christian groups, but all united by their dedication to democratic socialism. Many groups – for instance the Fabian Society are very clearly part of this movement – although it is not necessary to be part of the Labour Party to be part of the Fabians.

The Labour Party itself can clearly be seen to be a child of the trades union movement – and not the other way round. Not that it really matters – they arose out of the same schools of thought.

It follows that it’s only natural that a trades union should raise funds to elect a Labour Government. It’s not secret, it’s perfectly transparent, and it’s exactly what one would expect.

Personally I’m quite proud that the contributions of workers, working collectively, are used to fund the Labour Party.

I think it’s much more fitting than having a sugar daddy.

There’s more on this here Luke’s Blog: Shock, horror! Labour linked to unions! ; and here Bob Piper : An amazing discovery

March 16, 2010 - Posted by | politics | , , , ,


  1. How is UNITE not a sugar daddy? It may not be a person, but it still has an agenda, which it pursues by giving money to the Labour Party. Labour has laid this trap for itself when it tried to criticise Lord Ashcroft’s donations (c.5% of Conservative donations) whilst relying on donations from UNITE (60+%?).

    The Trade Union Modernisation Fund payments are also rather questionable; at best, they make comments (which you don’t repeat, although many others have been making play with) about Ashcroft’s money not having been taxed look less serious: in substance, the Labour Party is in part being funded by money given by the state to TUs, then donated by the TUs to the Labour Party…

    Just because the Labour Party and the Trade Unions have common roots or common ideology does not get them a pass on party election funding standards. Why should one type of entity (TUs) be treated so differently from high net worth individuals or corporate entities?

    As the Daily Ref highlighted today, a majority of UNITE members do not back their leadership on donations to the Labour Party, or on the person of Gordon Brown.

    God help Labour if UNITE obey their members and carry out the BA strike in the weeks before a general election.

    Comment by Matthew Taylor (MTPT) | March 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Unite is a union – the money is from collective donations – lots of small ones. It does have an agenda – a very public and obvious one – it supports the Labour Party – the Labour Party and Unite are both part of the wider Labour movement – this is so obvious I can’t imagine why anyone can’t see that.

      I’ve no idea how much Lord Ashcroft has donated – but it’s certainly not open. I watched William Hague being very evasive about Lord Ashcroft’s tax status just a few weeks since on TV – he clearly knew he was non-dom – but pretended he did not – Why ? If there’s nothing wrong with it why hide it ?

      In honesty I had never heard of the UMF before today – but it’s clearly intended to prevent the “strife” which was so unproductive in 70’s – and clearly has some support from within the Conservative party. I’ve yet to see any of those figures confirmed by reliable sources by the way.

      Why should one type of entity be treated differently – because if funding of parties, & elections were simply a matter of who got the most funding then democracy would end – the party with the richest supporters would be be able to provide the strongest election campaigns – I don’t think that’s fair – I am a member after all of a social democratic party.

      The poll to which your link refers is interesting. It does demonstrate that the UMF money is not there just for Labour supporters by the way. It’s also a little old and with a small sample – 1024 out of over a million members – 0.1% or so. I actually found it difficult to interpret so I’m not sure .

      I’m fairly certain that Gordon Brown’s intervention is to bang heads together and get things sorted quickly to avoid a damaging dispute – I’m confident he will succeed. That it’s being spun as him siding against Unite is interesting. I suspect he’s also sick to the back teeth of both BA & Unite for not getting this sorted out.

      “God Help Labour & Unite” – There is no God 🙂

      Comment by northernheckler | March 16, 2010 | Reply

      • Apologies for cock up in publishing comment, which meant my reply went out first. I blame WordPress.

        And the Tories. Obviously 🙂

        Comment by northernheckler | March 16, 2010

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