Unions' influence on party politics
Peter Riddell (report, September 14) concludes that “for Mr Blair, the unions are part of the problem, not the solution”.
Only a handful of public sector unions are causing the problem — and these aren’t really representative of ordinary working people. Most workers don’t belong to any union. Others are in unions or associations not affiliated to the TUC. And of the 70 unions that are affiliated to the TUC, more than two thirds are apolitical (in that they are not affiliated to Labour or any other party).
When Labour modernised itself in 1994, it promised to bring an end to class-based politics. The party manifesto in 1997 assured us:
The same manifesto declared:
It surely is an anachronism that a small group of public sector unions are still able to influence party politics, often over non-industrial matters. Unless the unions affiliated to Labour can show they are able to deliver a broader membership base, state funding of political parties has to be considered as the more democratic option.
Depoliticising the unions in this way might even encourage more people to join.