A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The unions and the leadership election

There's some very informative stuff on the union role in Labour's electoral college in a piece by Patrick Wintour today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2010/jun/16/jon-cruddas-harrietharman

The scary bit is that only 8% of union levy-payers actually voted in the 2007 deputy leader race.

The whole point of the unions having 33% of the electoral college is that this provides an opportunity for millions of ordinary working people to have a say in choosing Labour's leader. If that right isn't used we lose the democratic mandate and mass input balloting union members should provide.

The Party, the union leaderships and the five candidates' campaigns need to do some serious planning for how that 8% turnout is turned into a 50%+ one.

This means the unions using all the comms tools they have at their disposal to encourage turnout, not just posting out ballots and hoping they come back. It means the candidates using the mass media to reach this mass potential electorate, not just traditional internal Labour channels of communication, and creating campaign teams to get out the vote union-by-union, particularly within major unionised workplaces. And it means the unions thinking about how they can balance a desire to promote the one candidate they want their members to back with creating opportunities for all five to communicate with members so that trade unionists get to make an informed choice, which is more likely to increase turnout than just being bombarded with General Secretary endorsements of the favoured one.

The ballot process is also a one-off chance to get a large number of union members to become full individual members of the Party. This is critically important. The current surge in Party membership is great news - my CLP has grown 30% - nearly 200 extra members - but as CLP Membership Secretary I can see that the addresses of the new members are overwhelmingly in middle class streets and that virtually none of them say they are union members. We need a Party membership that is diverse and includes the voices of ordinary working people. Part of the problem is that our membership fees are far too high for many people to afford but at least this ballot process gives us the chance to ask four million people to join.

5 Comments:

Blogger Silent Hunter said...

I think you're missing the point Luke.

Labour AREN'T Democratic. That's one of the reasons they were booted out of government.

11:44 pm, June 16, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke what % of union members vote Labour? I am a Union member but I do not vote Labour. Do you really want me to choose your next leader.

As it happens I will vote, for the person most likely to leave Labour out of power for long enough that their economic mess is cleared up.

Balls or Abbott?

6:32 am, June 17, 2010

 
Blogger Wilfred said...

Labour kicked out 75,000 of their RMT members 6 years ago and this figure has now gone up top 82,000, so more people joined the RMT once it was no longer in the Labour party.

Its time the LP got in the real world.

10:10 am, June 17, 2010

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Quite a lot of people are members of unaffiliated unions, particularly in say, teaching and lecturing

4:20 pm, June 17, 2010

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You laud the fact that membership has increased recently (maybe that can help pay off the Labour party debts and overdraft). I recall membership went up massively after Blair won in 1997. How long did that last? Remind me please.

4:55 pm, June 22, 2010

 

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