We cannot strangle our Unions and still be a democracy

Posted on 20 January 2016 (Permalink)

“Dictatorships everywhere come for trades unionists. The Conservatives are using their Parliamentary majority to fix the system in a bid to keep them in power for a generation” said Graham Allen MP.


The Trade Union Bill, currently being debated by the House of Lords, includes a series of measures that unions say will restrict their ability to campaign and speak out on behalf of their members. This includes a clause that will cut off trade unions’ financial support for the Labour Party, while doing nothing to limit the hedge funds and millionaires that support the Tories. This will create an overwhelming funding imbalance in our political system overnight. This law is being backdated, so that 5 million current members in union political funds will have that membership cancelled. Unions will have just three months to re-recruit those members.


Graham says this change comes hot on the heels of attacks on the BBC, the so-called Gagging Act that restricts charities’ campaigning, a cut of 19% in state funding to opposition Parties, changes to make it more burdensome to register to vote, and a redrawing of the Constituency boundaries that experts believe will advantage the Conservatives at the next election.


He is urging members of the House of Lords to amend the Bill to stop this latest attack on democracy.


Graham Allen MP said:


The Tories want to be in power for a generation, and are fixing the system to make that happen. From the cuts in funding for opposition parties, bringing forward the deadline for Individual Voter Registration to the upcoming boundary review, it has all been done to the advantage of the Conservative Party.

The Trade Union Bill is another part of this assault, having a disproportionate effect on the Labour Party, which will do nothing to affect the Tories funding.

This is a deliberate attack on the Labour Party. Why are the Conservatives trying to avoid a fair fight? This is nothing but an outright attack on democracy and an attempt by Cameron and Osborne to cling on to power for a generation.”




Notes to editors


  • More information about the campaign and the petition can be found at www.loadingthedice.org.uk.
  • The Trade Union Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on January 10, and will now be debated in more detail by Peers. More information about the progression of the bill can be found here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/tradeunion.html
  • Provisions in the Trade Union Bill are estimated to reduce the Labour Party’s income by £6 million a year: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/11/tories-undermining-labours-funding-with-partisan-trade-union-bill
  • The Bill changes the law, so that union members will have to opt-in to support unions’ political campaigning. The change is being backdated, so that the 5 million current members in union political funds will have their membership cancelled. Unions will have just 3 months to re-recruit those members.  The Conservatives are claiming this is ‘transparency’, but in fact it’s a one-sided attack on union funding to the Labour Party, whist doing nothing to limit donors to the Conservatives.


Other changes the Government are making include:

  • Making it harder to register to vote, and redrawing the Parliamentary map in a way that benefits the Conservative Party.
  • Silencing charities who campaign against government policies, through the introduction of the Transparency of Lobbying Act 2014, usually known as the ‘Gagging Act’.
  • Cuts to the Government ‘Short Money’ to Opposition Parties. In the November Autumn Statement, the Government cut this funding by 19%, equating to a £2million a year additional loss to the Labour Party.