Friday, 12 March 2010


So for my absence recently, work's been a bit mental.

Anyway, yes, the Unions. They all seem to be up in arms at the moment, don't they? Train strikes, BA strikes, Civil Service strikes. And yet, despite this, the government is remaining startling quiet on it. You'd think the last thing they'd want during the run up to an election is a country ground to a halt due to strikes, especially when the majority of those wishing to strike are on the public payroll (and thus directly the government's responsibility, as opposed to the BA air crews who are not). As David Blackburn over at The Spectator suggests, is this because the Labour party relies on them entirely for their funding and thus existence?

The simple fact of the matter is that without the unions, the Labour party wouldn't exist. The only reason they weren't made bankrupt back in 2005 was because Unite promised to bank roll them. In the last 5 or less years, the unions have given Labour over £30m, and that money (as well as feet) are making big differences in a lot of the marginals (the same place that Ashcroft's money is).

So fair's fair, non? Both parties have big donors funding their campaigns in the marginals. Well, no, because there's an obvious conflict of interest involved here. The government has to deal with the unions on a daily basis, especially when so many of them are made up almost entirely of public service figures. The government also funds the unions via the Union Modernisation Fund - that's tax payers money going into fighting for Labour, which seems a bit wrong. So can we trust the government - when it's a Labour government - to deal with the Unions, when they're wholly relient on them for their own existence?

Here's my solution: Remove from all legislation any mention of unions. That's it. That one move will solve it all. Allow unions to exist, of course. They are merely the free association of people. Let them strike when they want, ballot or no. They can run with whatever rules they want for officers, leadership, whatever. Likewise, allow employers to sack people for any reason. Striking, being a part of a union, whatever. If the union is stronger, they'll win out. If the business is, they will. Unions can still donate to parties, but the government wouldn't be able to fund money back to them, and with their legislative powers regarding unions reduced, they'd be less inclined to fund parties in the first place. This isn't a plan to stop Labour existing - I think they should, and they need to - it's to stop a minority at the top of the unions from controlling either the government or the main opposition. It's worth remembering that if the Unions didn't donate on their members behalves, their members could still donate individually if they so wished.

As it stands, bring on the strikes. It'll only do harm to Labour.

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