Unite members don’t (unite, that is)

A poll of Unite members reveals today that only 12% would like to join the Labour Party.

Following the public debate about whether union members should be offered the option of opting-in to the political levy, rather than opting-out as at present, only 30% of Unite’s members would choose to opt in.

The Lord Ashcroft poll surveyed over 700 members of Unite, the UK’s largest union, which draws its members from across a wide range of industry sectors. It seems that one third of them didn’t know whether they paid into the political fund and over half would prefer an opt-in system.

In fact, the survey reveals a much more eclectic view of politics and policies held by Unite members than might have been expected by recent headlines about branches in Falkirk  and other constituencies.

To the question: Would you support or oppose the Unite union making further large donations to the Labour Party in the future?, only 39% supported while 49% opposed. And to the question: Do you think that donating funds to the Labour Party is an effective way of advancing the interests of union members?, 65% said No.

86% of members were in favour of introducing a benefit cap, whilst 72% were against reducing the voting age to 16.  57% disagreed with this statement: I want my union to campaign against government spending cuts, using strikes and civil disobedience

And finally, more members (47%) thought that the Labour party is doing a bad job of representing the interests and addressing the concerns of ordinary working people in Britain, than those who thought it was doing a  good job (42%).


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  • paul barker 23rd Jul '13 - 4:05pm

    If 12% really were open to joining The Labour Party & that was reflected across The Affiliated Unions, that would triple Labour membership. That wont happen of course. The big problem with these sort of questions is that we dont answer truthfully, a good example is intention to vote where the number saying they are certain to vote is always substantially higher than the the number who do vote.
    Theres a history of Labour leaders announcing plans for a “Mass-membership Party.” Tony Blair set out plans to raise Labour membership to a Million from 400,000. In reality the membership fell more than half to just above 150,000 in 2009.
    The only certain result of the Milliband plan are more division & less money. Long may he reign.

  • paul barker

    what is the current number of LD members?

  • Ed Shepherd 24th Jul '13 - 8:29am

    How did Lord Ashcroft select which 700 Unite members to survey? Are Unite members details freely available? Where did he find those details?….Somthing fishy, I think. Hmmm….Personally, I agree that New Labour does little to represent the views of the working class these days and trade unions might be better off spending their money in other ways than supporting New Labour. But those who seem to want to celebrate the ending of trade union funding of the Labour Party should be careful of what they wish for. Trade union members might vote to spend their subscription money in other ways and they might not be ways that the Lib Dems want them to spend it. I suspect most union members would probably benefit more from the money being used to build up extensive “fighting funds” than supporting political parties.

  • Ed: He had to survey something like 15000 people to find 700 unite members, according to Mike Smithson on political betting

  • AlanPlatypus 24th Jul '13 - 10:33am

    I’m a member of a union that gives money to Labour, I don’t recall if I consented to my subscription being used in that way or not. It does concern me when I see the people at the top of certain unions banging the Labour drum because my cynical side says they’re looking out for their own interests first and foremost. This survey adds to that.

  • LDV – following BR Crombie, please answer, what is our membership number right now?

    I do not think that we have much to crow about unfortunately!

  • Ed Shepherd 25th Jul '13 - 6:49am

    “Ed: He had to survey something like 15000 people to find 700 unite members, according to Mike Smithson on political betting”
    He didn’t find 700 Unite members. He claims to have found 700 people who responded to a random email in which he asked thousands of email addresses whether that they are Unite members. There is no evidence that those who responded to the survey are Unite members, there is no evidence that they are 700 different people….Apparently there are over a million people in Unite. 700 alleged members out of 1 million+ equals 0.0007% of the membership. Not exactly a very reliable survey, is it? It staggers me that anyone would take a survey like this seriously or think that it tells us anything useful about politics. It just tells us that very wealthy men are capable of carrying out useless surveys. Frankly, I care little what percentage of Unite members want to be members of the Labour Party. I am too busy trying to fight for better pay and conditions for me and my colleagues. I don’t think any of the three main political parties are bothered about us.

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