Alec Shelbrooke MP: Union members should opt in to the political fund on an annual basis
Alec Shelbrooke is Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell. Follow Alec on Twitter.
This week’s heightened debate about political funding has raised the important issue of Trade Union Funding.
As a former member of Unite for many years and a firm believer in the need for Trade Unions, I get very frustrated that the leadership of the Trade Unions undermines their important work for their members by constantly playing party politics. Not only this, but trying to twist the Labour party to their own way of thinking; citing the recent declaration by Unite’s Leadership that they will only be supporting candidates for the Labour party who are committed to their demands.
Indeed, how the Labour Party operates their candidate selection process is entirely a matter for them. What is not a matter for them is how hard-working people have their hard earned money –vwhich are used as fees to be protected by a union - used for the political ideological demands of a few at the top.
Many may immediately argue that the leaders of the unions take the action they do to protect their members, but is that really what their members want?
Therefore, following on from my question in the House during Monday’s debate, I think the best way that Unions can remove the perception of abusing people’s membership money is to have their members opt in to the political fund on an annual basis rather than having to opt out; to indicate which party they want to see supported and which constituency they live I (this could be done though entering their postcode).
If what we are told is true that the Unions members are natural Labour supporters, then the vast majority of their constituency contributions will go to Labour. But in order to remove the undermining of the important work of Trade Unions, their member’s political contribution must be used in the constituency where they live and to the candidates of the party they indicate at the beginning of each year that they support. (As an aside; these points are important to stop the phenomenon of the United States Super PAC funding that is obscuring the current presidential race).
This important issue must be addressed at the same time as capped donations, giving a fairer playing field to all tax payers.
> Suggestion nine of Building A Conservative Majority: Cut the unions' election warchest