This Bill is an affront to democracy

Lisa Forbes
Lisa Forbes
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Whether you are a supporter of the Labour Party or not, I’m sure we can all agree that a one party state is not beneficial for the people of this country or for our proud tradition of democracy.

The Conservative government is attempting to pass legislation that will see the Labour Party’s funding cut by £6 million every year with their ‘Trades Union Bill’, currently passing through the House of Lords.

One aspect of the Bill aims to prevent public sector organisations from allowing their payroll department to deduct union subscriptions from the wages of their employees, known as ‘check off’. This is a practice that has been used for many years and is a method employees have chosen to pay their subs’.

By abolishing check off, many will simply cease to be members, impacting massively on the ability of the Union to protect people in the workplace. Additionally, as the Unions have, since their existence, supported the Labour Party with funding, the changes will result in less funding for the Conservatives’ main opposition.

They know this only too well as it was an idea floated back in the days when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Her government recognised that the Conservatives shouldn’t attempt to interfere with the funding of their main rival, famously saying ‘’legislation on this subject, which would affect the funding of the Labour Party, would create great unease and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.” Before her, Winston Churchill was quoted as saying “Matters affecting the interests of rival parties should not be settled by the imposition of the will of one side over the other”.

The funds received from the Unions mean the Labour Party have offices and staff throughout the UK allowing them to organise, campaign and be the effective opposition that people expect in a properly functioning democracy. With such a huge drop in income this organisational ability would be hugely diminished. Money donated to Labour from the Unions is the cleanest money in politics. It comes from millions of working people who only have a vested interest in decent terms and conditions in their workplaces. This is opposed to money donated from hedge fund managers or huge corporations who have their own interests.

The Trade Union Bill, when considered alongside the millions of voters who’ve fallen off the electoral register after Tory individual registration reforms and then their proposed gerrymandering of constituency boundaries, which will have a greater detrimental impact on Labour than themselves, leaves one assuming that all this amounts to a vicious, vindictive assault on their main rival’s ability to be an effective opposition and indeed, attempts to keep themselves in power indefinitely.

This is an affront to democracy and a cynical attempt to destroy their opposition and the Trades Unions - who have been so effective in improving conditions in many areas such as paid holidays and maternity/paternity leave.

I would advise anyone who values our proud democratic process to contact Donald Allister, Lord Bishop of Peterborough, and express their deep concern and reservation about this Bill and urge him to vote against its implementation.