Mark Clarke is the Chief Executive of the Trade Union Reform Campaign. He was previously the candidate in Tooting, during which campaign he exposed full-time trade unionist Jane Pilgrim, who gave her name to the trade union “Pilgrims”. Follow Mark on Twitter.
Francis Maude’s long-awaited clampdown on the abuse of taxpayers’ money by trade unions is underway. To be fair, he has made a formidable start. Firstly, he has forensically uncovered the scale of abuse across the civil service. Not content with the first answer he received, he asked again and again what was going on. Every time he asked, he uncovered a larger and larger number of civil servants moonlighting from their jobs as trade union activists. He also uncovered scandals beyond even the worse ruminations of Conservative activists, such as the fact that some full time trade union activists had been promoted in the civil service pay grade while doing nothing more that trade union activity.
The fact that Labour entered into a faustian pact with the unions and allowed, even encouraged, this abuse should be hung around their neck each and every time we talk about the wasteful years of their rule.
The even more remarkable part of Francis Maude’s achievement is that he had to achieve this from a standing start. The Conservatives were caught on the hop by this issue and were largely unaware of the spread of the union movement during the years we were in opposition. As a result, we had nothing in our manifesto and no clear point of view. It is testament to the campaigning of the broader conservative movement in the form of the TaxPayers' Alliance, the Trade Union Reform Campaign, ConservativeHome, Guido Fawkes and many backbench MPs that this issue has been fully exposed and forced onto the agenda.