Sunday, July 28, 2013

Labour union donations revealed

THE full scale of the unions? financial grip on Labour is revealed today by a Sun investigation.

They have donated an astonishing total of ?120MILLION in the past 12 years.

Four out of five Labour MPs have been bankrolled by unions ? including almost 100 who have received five figure sums.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has taken donations worth almost ?170,000.

More than ?118,000 of that is from Unite, the union run by ?Red Len? McCluskey which is accused of vote-rigging.

Mr Miliband?s policy chief Jon Cruddas has had even more. He has taken ?210,000 ? including ?157,000 from Unite or the unions which merged to form it.

And every full member of the shadow cabinet has benefited from union cash ? with all but four getting money from Unite or its predecessors.

The Sun probe comes as Mr Miliband battles charges he is in the pockets of left-wing union barons such as Mr McCluskey.

He announced plans to reform the way the unions fund his party in the wake of claims Unite tried to ?fix? the election of a Labour parliamentary hopeful in Falkirk to get its preferred candidate the job. Our investigation shows it is a high-risk strategy that could bankrupt Labour.

We studied union handouts to Labour dating back to 2001 when online Electoral Commission records started.

In that time the party has had 7,354 union donations worth more than ?120million. They include cash and perks like advertising, travel or use of buildings.

Since Mr Miliband became Labour leader in 2010 the unions have stumped up ?23.6million ? almost half the party?s ?51.8million income.

He won the leadership from his Blairite elder brother David by the narrowest of margins.

David?s initial poll lead vanished after Mr McCluskey and other left-wingers threw their weight behind his brother. Donations to Labour big guns such as Mr Miliband, Mr Cruddas, Gordon Brown and Ed Balls go to their private offices.

But most Labour MPs have seen union support poured into their constituency parties.

Between them, 211 current MPs? local parties have had donations worth ?2.4million.

That?s an average of more than ?11,000 each from the 15 unions officially affiliated to Labour.

Chart showing unions donations & political beneficiaries

Specifics ... biggest donors and most notable beneficiaries

Almost half the donations came from Unite or the unions which merged to form it in 2007, Amicus and the TGWU.

All nine of the MPs on the party?s ruling National Executive Committee have had support. Unions already have 11 of their own representatives on the body which oversees policy-making ? more than any other section of the party.

NEC members Euro-MP Glenis Willmott and Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, have also benefited from union handouts.

Union cash is used for staffing, campaigning and other costs. There is no suggestion it goes into MPs? pockets.

Under Mr Miliband?s proposed reforms, union members will no longer automatically be docked the ?3 a year ?political levy? that goes to Labour. Instead they will have to ?opt in? to the payment.

Mr McCluskey has warned it will cost Labour millions ? but also predicted the move could give the unions more power and influence.

He said: ?We?ve been taken for granted by people who welcome our money but don?t want our policy input. They want our resources at election time but don?t want our members as candidates.?

Mr Miliband?s overhaul was hastily announced after the ballot fixing allegations in Falkirk.

Police were called in amid claims Unite bought membership for activists so they could support the union?s preferred candidate.

It was claimed some of those Unite members who were signed up knew nothing about it.

A criminal investigation was ruled out last week. But Labour has promised disciplinary action. Police are looking into alleged fraud by Unite in two London parliamentary seats, Ilford North and Lewisham Deptford.

They are among 41 seats Unite is said to be targeting to get its members picked as Labour candidates ? tightening its grip on the party.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps said The Sun?s investigation showed how the likes of Mr McCluskey were puppet-masters pulling Mr Miliband?s strings.

He said: ?Day by day, the unions? stranglehold on the Labour Party increases as they quite literally buy the candidates, dictate the policy and choose the leader.?

But Labour said: ?The Labour Party and Labour MPs receive funding from a wide range of sources, details of which are provided to the Electoral Commission and the Register of Members Interests.

?In recent months the Labour Party has seen a significant increase in donations from individuals.

?Ed Miliband has been clear he is determined to modernise and strengthen Labour?s historic link with the trade unions, giving working people a real choice and a real voice in the Labour Party.?

Of the ?51.8million Labour has been given since Mr Miliband became leader, ?20.4million came from public funds.

Donations higher than ?500 from individuals were worth ?3.9million. Companies added ?1.2million.


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