Opinion: Time for Lib Dem members to unite against UNITE’s Labour propaganda

The Guardian reported last Friday that the uber-union UNITE is to get its members canvassing one another on behalf of the Labour Party.

In spite of justified criticism of the Government throughout the parliamentary cycle, UNITE always comes out for Labour when an election’s nigh – it never learns! Its members’ publication (paid for out of the political levy, or not?) is full of pro-Labour propaganda.

I believe it behoves a trade union to campaign for policies that would help its members, not nail its colours to the mast of just one political party, regardless of whether it’s doing working people any good or not. If it sees good policies in other parties, it should promote them too, and assume union members have enough intelligence to weigh up the evidence and decide whom to vote for themselves.

If anyone rings me to canvass for Labour I shall ask them if they know about our £10,000 tax threshold which would help many union members, and canvass them back at their own expense! But am I alone in thinking this is an abuse of their membership list and open to data protection challenge?

If there are any other Lib Dem members of UNITE out there, perhaps you’d like to join me in some sort of response to this?

* Amanda J Taylor is a Lib Dem city councillor in Cambridge. Her website is here.

Editor’s note: Lib Dem blogger Alex Folkes has written to Electoral Commission chair Jenny Watson asking the Commission “to require that any spending by Unite at this general election to be treated as spending by the Labour Party for the purposes of election law and accounting purposes. Where another ‘third party’ campaign organisation is also shown to be a front for a registered party I believe that the same should apply.”

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • It’s the below the radar help that the Unions also give, such as getting Union officers to canvass, deliver etc etc. What do all these sponsored Labour MPs get from Unite? Don’t they pay for constituency offices, agents and the like?

  • Unless the situation has changed in recent years, trades union members who do not support the Labour party can and should opt out of paying the union political levy.

  • I recall some years ago my own union’s newspaper (TSSA) carrying a feature article promoting the Labour candidate in my own ward. Ironically all three councillors in the ward were TSSA members – and Liberals. Our Labour opponents were not!

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