‘Union paymasters’ vs ‘we’re making more money for the rich’

Warning, this is not satire:
Image from kittysjones.wordpress.com

Just a few brief thoughts, as I’ve been watching BBC News and hearing about the Tories shabby attempt to misuse the proposed legislation for a ‘register of lobbyists’ – the Tories are trying to hijack the bill to – as the BBC puts it – ‘force Labour to defend its union paymasters’.

Thought 1

‘The unions’ are not some massive, monolithic power bloc that is trying to further shady political aims. The unions are you, and me, and millions of ordinary people – and for many of those people, the unions are the only voice we have that is in any way effective in influencing policy at a high level, and the only defence many of us have against exploitation and abuse.

When the Tories spout their usual dismissive, mocking line about ‘Labour’s union paymasters’, what they’re really saying is ‘Labour is funded and influenced by ordinary people. A ‘condemnation’ that all political parties should emulate.

Thought 2

Labour – and I have personal experience of this in various ways – is always operating on a shoestring. The money Labour receives from unions just about keeps it going. For all the uninformed accusations that Labour is just as much in thrall to rich corporate and private interests, Labour doesn’t receive massive private and corporate donations from unaccountable – and usually hidden – interests who expect those interests to be promoted even at the expense of ordinary people.

Contrary to what the Tories would love us to believe, Labour is not swimming in union money. When the party needs to fund campaigns and local or national action, it comes – because it has to – to its membership to seek donations for the fight. And it just about scrapes by.

If the Tories succeed in making it harder for unions to fund Labour, it’s only because they want to starve out the possibility of effective opposition to their plans – and as we’ve seen, those plans bode nothing but ill for ordinary people in general and for the most vulnerable in particular.

Thought 3

The fact that Cameron and co think that sneering remarks about ‘union paymasters’ are actually an insult shows how utterly detached they are from the lives of ordinary people. Used to lavish and usually at least semi-covert funding from their own paymasters – unelected, unaccountable smalls groups of extremely rich and self-interested people who expect repayment with interest for their support – the Tories have no concept of funding as a popular phenomenon. And they don’t care, because they get by just fine as things are – and we can all ‘eat cake’ as far as they’re concerned.

Which would you rather have running the country? A party funded by unions which represent the organised efforts of ordinary people to protect themselves from the powerful – or a party funded by and for the interests of shady individuals and companies bent on exploiting the rest of us ever more efficiently?

No-brainer. I applaud those ‘union paymasters’ for having the best interests of ordinary people at heart and trying to turn that into policy, as indeed they should.


  1. Desperate authoritarian government, legislative oppression of Desperate and authoritarian government, and legislation to stifle opposition, dissent and the wider population steadily.

    Picture is by the brilliant Robert Livingstone, btw

  2. Many years ago it was suggested that no political party would be allowed to accept money for campaigning, all funds would come from the public purse, then there would be no reliance on “Union or big business” paymasters.

    1. ok. But I suspect that’s an ‘after you’ situation – Labour could never vote for it unless the Tories did, and the Tories would never vote for it.

  3. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    I’m not a member of a union myself – I was in the National Union of Journalists for a while but this was at a time when that union had no teeth at all and seemed to be a poodle for the newspaper bosses. In other words, it was no bloody good at all; for all I know, nothing has changed.
    However, I support the idea of trade unions as representatives of the working man and woman, standing up ‘en masse’ for those who would have no weight individually. When unions actually fulfil this function, they are among the proudest achievements of humanity; they show we can look after each other as well as ourselves.
    This is why I agree with this article – especially where it states that Labour’s union funding means it is funded and influenced by ordinary people, and that this is something all political parties should attempt.
    If David Cameron mocks Labour’s “union paymasters”, he should at least bear in mind that we know who the unions are. Who are HIS paymasters? We don’t have such a clear indication, I suspect the best way to find out is (as ever with a Tory-led government) to follow the money. Who has benefited most from the Coalition government’s decisions?

  4. That may well be so, but it doesn’t change the fact that the current lot at the top in the Labour Party wouldn’t change a damned thing – and in-fact have freely admitted that they’re Thatcherites themselves, and would pretty much carry on with what the Conservatives have done; the only difference is that they might *think about* doing it a bit slower – they *might*, if they ever get around to feeling like it.

    Yes, they might do things on a shoe-string, but they aren’t actually interested in doing the things people need them to do — they just take the money and do what *they* want to do with it, which usually amounts to filling their pockets and laughing their way to the bank. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much what all of the main parties do, once they’re elected into office. They spin us a line, convince us to put them in-charge, and then they just swan around doing what they like, however they like, and damn the rest of us.

    1. I don’t quite agree with your conclusions, as I think there’s a lot of nuance going on that isn’t immediately apparent. However, Ball’s speech yesterday was pretty woeful.

  5. It always sickens me when I hear Cameron during PMQ’s for instance making derogatory comments about union support of Labour, as if unions are a bunch of crooks or something similar. I totally agree with your analysis and when I saw the headline about this today it came as no surprise. The difference between union sponsorship of Labour and the funding of the Tory party is obvious. Unions are totally open about their agenda for support which is to PROTECT the interests of labour against the excesses of capital and there is so much evidence throughout history of the blatant exploitation of labour by capital that no-one could possibly argue otherwise. The problem with Tory funding is that despite the requirement to put it on public record its still not immediately transparent and open and you have to dig deep to discover the massive network of vested interests that exists between big business, finance and conservative politicians and how they move ceaselessly from the boardroom to parliament and back again. Unions are honest about their reasons for supporting Labour but whenever its suggested that a Tory funder has donated in order to support a particular policy or change of law they invariably deny it. Given the way the NHS and welfare is being destroyed at the moment I’m particularly worried about the wide range of connections that have been cultivated between Tory MP’s and the insurance industry.
    I now truly hate these Tories and for me that emotion is quite rare.

  6. Great post Steve-& so bloody true ! problem is the Docile Electorate fall for such nonsense every time-depressing really [manipulation of opinion aided by the that famous arm of the Tories -the Media ! ]


  7. The problem is that Union Bashing is the national sport, and despite the Unions being basically castrated of power by the Tories and further stmped on by the Likes of Blair, people believe the lies…

    In the same way as the public have been poisoned against the unemployed and the disabled. Hitler did it with the Jews/Gypsy’s/Homosexuals etc., The Untermensch (Not to be confused with Louise) of the far Right Tories & Lib Tories, demonise the poor, the unemployed, and Just like the German Nazi’s they too attack Homosexuals, the disabled etc,.

    Blogs like yours do a great job of informing, keep up the good work!

  8. That makes me a Union Paymaster then. I pay my subs each month and show an interest in policy making.

    1. Well done! As do I – and happily tick the box each year to confirm that I want a percentage to go to the Labour party. I only tick ‘yes’ because there isn’t a box for ‘I should bloody well say so!’, though..

  9. “We’re raising more money for the rich …!” Cameron said. That’s one monumental Freudian slip.
    Here’s an interesting 13 minute video from across the pond on the same subject: how the rich just keep on getting richer. Senator Bernie Sanders, back in Dec 2010, speaking about the continuing support for the enrichment of the already super-rich – at the expense of the poor and the ‘middle-class’. … a lot of similarities to our experiences here in the UK.

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