By a Newsnet reporter

Following the row between the Labour Party leadership and trade unions over reforms to the party, the GMB union has announced that it is to slash its funding of Labour from £1.2 million to £150,000 and blasted the party for its “lack of understanding” of the union movement.

The union said that it would also be reducing spending on Labour campaigns and initiatives, leaving the cash-strapped party to struggle to make up the shortfall.

Tensions have been building between Labour and the union movement following the bitter row over Unite involvement in the selection of a replacement for disgraced MP Eric Joyce in Falkirk.  In response to the dispute, party leader Ed Miliband announced that in future trade union members who were paying the political levy would have to be asked whether they wished to affiliate to the Labour party. 

Under current rules, trade unions can decide how many of their political fundpayers are affiliated to Labour.  The executive of the GMB union, which represents many workers in the public sector, have decided to cut the number of union members affiliated to Labour from 420,000 to 50,000, with a concomitant  reduction in funds paid by the union to the party. 

As of January, the annual amount paid by the GMB to Labour will fall from the current level of £1.2 million to just £150,000.  It is thought that other unions may follow suit, leaving Labour with a funding shortfall which could total £9 million. 

The funding difficulties are likely to have a serious impact on Labour’s ability to mount effective campaigns in next year’s European elections and the Scottish independence referendum. 

In a statement, the GMB union said:

“The GMB central executive council (CEC) has voted to reduce its current levels of affiliation to the Labour Party from 420,000 to 50,000 from 2014.

“This will reduce the union’s basic affiliation fee to Labour party by £1.1 million per year.

“It is expected that there will further reductions in spending on Labour Party campaigns and initiatives.

“GMB CEC expressed considerable regret about the apparent lack of understanding the proposal mooted by Ed Miliband will have on the collective nature of trade union engagement with the Labour Party.

“A further source of considerable regret to the CEC is that the party that had been formed to represent the interest of working people in this country intends to end collective engagement of trade unions in the party they helped to form.

“The CEC also decided to scale down by one third the level of its national political fund.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, shadow Treasury minister Rachel Reeves tried to play down the impact of the GMB decision.

“Most of the money the Labour party receives comes from small donations and members.

“Of course we welcome the support we get from the trade unions but this is a decision for the GMB and Ed has spoken about the need for greater transparency and openness in that relationship and we’re going to be doing more to reach out and get affiliations from individual members directly to the party.”

Other Labour figures do not share Ms Reeves’ optimism.  Labour MP Ian Lavery described Mr Miliband’s affiliation reforms as the “biggest political gamble” in the history of the party.  Mr Lavery, chair of the trade union group of Labour MPs, said he believed fewer than 15% of union members would opt to join Labour.

Mr Lavery said:

“People are not queuing up to join Labour – quite the opposite.  They are waiting to see what the party will bring to the table in its manifesto.”

Despite claims from Labour’s front bench that the bulk of their funding comes from individuals and small donations, figures from the Electoral Commission reveal the true extent of the party’s financial dependency on block funding from the trade union movement.  According to the Electoral Commission, unions provided 77% of Labour donations.  In the second quarter of 2013, £2.4 million of the party’s funds came from trade unions and only £354,692 from individuals.

Labour’s lead over the Conservatives has narrowed to 4% in recent opinion polls, and Mr Miliband has struggled to make an impact on the public, with a mere 2% of those polled believing he was a “natural leader”. 

Midterm, governing parties are normally at the height of their unpopularity, and the Conservatives can be expected to narrow Labour’s opinion poll lead even further in the run up to a General Election.  On current polling figures, Labour is unlikely to form the next government.


2013-09-04 20:46

Labour no longer represent working people in Scotland.
Since Blair,they see themselves as a version of the American Democratic party who court corporate support.
This has been demonstrated recently by the Labour fronted anti Scottish organisation’s acceptance of a large donation from a corporate interest.
Labour now represent the interests of big business instead of their constituents.
At the heart of this corrupt lobbying system is the Westminster establishment which is now open for business.
The finest democracy that money can buy.
Possibly a future Scottish parliament may end up in a similar place but for sure it would be over many of our dead bodies.
2013-09-04 21:14

Is that a gie shoogly peg ah see afore me?
2013-09-04 22:00

Seems like at least one trade union has realised that Labour is no longer the “party of the people” and are a useless opposition to the Tories with whom they agree on most things.

How long will it take before Labour voters realise the same?

Not for nothing did Thatcher claim her greatest achievement was “New Labour”.

I see that Labour are claiming that “Most of the money the Labour party receives comes from small donations and members.”

Not so according to a SKY news item tonight that claimed the largest donor amount namely 50% of Labour’s funding comes from Trade unions with 39% coming from the taxpayer funded “short money” and a miniscule 7% only from their actual members.
2013-09-05 08:44


“ Not so according to a SKY news item tonight that claimed the largest donor amount namely 50% of Labour’s funding comes from Trade unions with 39% coming from the taxpayer funded “short money” and a miniscule 7% only from their actual members. “

NuLabour Party finances in the Guardian in graphical form:…/…

There is a menu down the left-hand side to show different sets of data.

2013-09-04 22:06

How long before the other Unions wake up and follow suite.??
2013-09-05 00:14

Let’s hope other Unions do the same and put these red Tories in their place.

Labour gave up on the working classes yonks ago and even out-Toried the Tories on occasion.

Just a shame that many Scots are clinging on to a memory of what Labour used to be rather than seeing the truth – poverty, inequality & debt all increased under Labour.
willie boy
2013-09-05 06:40

There is huge discontent within a Labor party that now openly stands in the shoes out Mrs Thatcher, and quite frankly Miliband is at is odds with many rank and file.

In Scotland the discontent ids even worse and Labour is a party on the verge of disintegration.

Labour for Independence. Trade Unions for Independence, the message that London policy is not accepted is Crystal clear.

Change is coming. In Scotland Labour no longer speaks for the wishes and visions that traditional Labor voters want.

Watch this space as the Labour movement in Scotland shift en masse to a pro independence, pro socially fair agenda.
2013-09-05 08:19

gopher3 + Massan_Gow

What may be interesting is that the TUC Conference is being held at Bournemouth 8th – 11th September.

Will NuLabour be given a further kicking by other unions, for example Unison, Unite and CWU etc. My guess will be yes…. But lets wait and see the outcome.

By the way, for those that have not seen it, the following link is to the Clydebank Trades Union Council meeting held towards the end of last year.…/
2013-09-05 10:46

Labour / Tory donation from unions

It was a bit of a quandry for socialists in trade unions to give to Labour, who are now effectivley a partner ‘buddy’ organiztion to Tory Governments and legislation.
This should have happened years ago, the SNP aren’t perfect but at least they can claim left of centre ground in Scotlands social democratic agenda.

This will cripple the remnants of a ounce proud people oriented outlet. Its been coming hope more unions follow suit; the Labour party deserve it for abandoning the working class and particularly the Scottish People.
2013-09-05 16:48

Well the bookies seem to have made their minds up.
UKIP well ahead to win the most votes in the European elections and the Tories in front for the General election.

This is what we have to look forward too with a NO vote.
call me dave
2013-09-05 18:59

Lamont speaking to Scotland twice today
1. FMQ’s — Must do better. Same old.
2. BBC TV tea time news
Short statement re: The Falkirk row and
the fall out with the unions have
damaged the Labour party.

PS: Having commented earlier on a trimmer ‘First Eck’ she too has,to my eye, come back in slimmer mode.

Nice to see two politicians giving a lead in the campaign to reduce obesity in Scotland.


We don’t want to see this, on either side!
2013-09-05 19:25

As a GMB member (who asked that my contribution didn’t go to fund Labour) I am pleased that they are doing this. More unions need to sit up, take notice that the party they fund has abandoned the working class and follow suit by cutting funds.

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.