Labour back reforming the party’s link with trade unions

Labour leader Ed Miliband

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Labour leader Ed Miliband Labour party back proposals to reform the link between party and the trade unions at a special conference of party members in London.

The conference was held on Saturday to approve changes that involve ending the automatic affiliation of 2.7m union members to Labour and introducing “one member, one vote” in an effort to the party’s leadership elections in an effort to make the electoral process more democratic.

Party members backed the changes by 86.29% in favour.

The previous electoral college system for leadership polls gives a third of the votes each to the MPs, party members and unions.

The opposition leader Ed Miliband has suggested to scrap this ‘block’ voting system which will also bring an end to the automatic enrolment of Union members into the Labour party: they’ll have to “double opt-in” when joining a union if they want to join the Labour party.

He put forward the plans last July after a row over efforts by Britain’s biggest union, Unite, to get its favoured candidate chosen to contest a parliamentary by-election in Falkirk, in Scotland.

Mr Miliband has represented the reforms as a source of bringing more diversity into the Labour party through gaining the confidence of potential supporters who are non-members of any union, whose support the party currently misses out, as he has said: “Think of all the other people, not in trade unions, whose voices we also need to hear: low-paid workers whose boss won’t recognise a union, small business owners struggling to get a loan from the bank, stay-at-home mums who ask whether anyone is going to speak up for them.

“I don’t want to break the link with working people. I want to hear the voices of working people louder than ever before.”

Tony Blair had earlier welcomed the changes to Labour’s voting structures, saying that Mr Miliband had carried out long overdue reforms that were “something I should have done myself” while leader of the party.

The former prime minister Tony Blair has welcomed the proposed reforms and said: “Ed has shown real courage and leadership on this issue.

 It is a great way of showing how Labour can reconnect with the people of Britain.”

The reforms have already made the GMB to slash its affiliation funding to Labour, while Unite will discuss its funding arrangements in the coming week.

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