What is the GMB playing at?

September 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm (Jim D, labour party, perversity, reformism, unions, Unite the union, workers)

Kenny: slimming down his affiliation

The GMB’s decision to cut its affiliation to Labour from 420,000 members to 50,000 (and thus its funding for the party from £1.2 million to £150,000) is a genuine mystery – especially as Paul Kenny and the rest of the GMB leadership are presently (and very uncharacteristically) incommunicado.

Is this a “clever” negotiating ploy, sending a message to Miliband: press ahead with your proposals (ie union members to “opt in” rather than “out” of Labour Party affiliation) and this is what you’ll get?

On the other hand, all that Kenny’s done is implement Miliband’s proposals before they’ve even been properly discussed and voted on. Not very good tactics, I’d say – especially as there’s been no GMB campaign against Miliband’s plans and no consultation with GMB members. The figure of 50,000 seems to be based on an entirely speculative estimate that this is the number of members who would choose to “opt in.”

By the way, don’t bother looking on Kenny acolyte Nooman’s blog for any explanation. All “Gizza’job” Nooman has done today is reproduce the GMB Central Executive Council’s statement sans comment or explanation.

Meanwhile, over at UNITE, the United Left group (which has a majority on the union’s Executive Council) has passed a near-unanimous resolution calling on the EC to defend the Labour/Trade Union link and resist any proposals that undermine the principle of collective affiliation to Labour. Though Len McCluskey isn’t named in the resolution, in effect it’s calling upon him to reverse his publicly-expressed support for Miliband’s proposals.


  1. Jim Denham said,

    I’ve just noticed that Nooman also has a post at ‘Left Futures’, though it’s scarcely more informative than what he’s put on his own blog (‘Socialist Unity):

    Nooman also says a little bit more in the below the line comments at SU.

  2. Andrew Coates said,

    It’s certainly not made a good impression on anybody I know.

    Perhaps Jim, it illustrates something about the way the GMB functions.

    Er, perhaps….

    Which leads us back to Comrade Newman’s previous activities, building support for the Labour Party as a member of Respect, and cheer-leader for George Galloway.

    I doubt if anybody’s forgotten that either.

  3. Jon Lansman (@jonlansman) said,

    This would not affect the GMB’s voting strength until 2015 since the relevant affiliation levels in any year are based on those applying on 31 December in the preceding year. The GMB would therefore have an undiminished vote at the spring special conference and at Labour’s annual conference in September 2014 at which the final year’s national policy forum documents are agreed, even if they maintain this position (which I suspect will be changed before 31 December 2014).

    That is important information since, without it, it is easy to draw the wrong conclusions. This is clearly a signal prior to negotiations, indicating just how pissed off Paul Kenny is. It should not be taken as an indicator that he sees walking away from Labour as a good idea (though that was my worry when I first heard about it). It would be crazy for any union seeking to defend the link to reduce their voting strength or fail to be represented at the conference when the decision is made.

    Unite’s Scottish region has decided that their representatives should boycott Labour’s conference in 3 weeks if Stevie Dean has not been reinstated by then. Whilst we should absolutely sympathise with Scottish comrades over the disgraceful treatment of Unite members in Falkirk, it would not be sensible for Unite not to be represented at all in Brighton.

    • jackhaslam said,

      ‘This is clearly a signal prior to negotiations, indicating just how pissed off Paul Kenny is. It should not be taken as an indicator that he sees walking away from Labour as a good idea’

      That seems a pretty sound assessment to me.

      The following youtube clip gives a bit of background:

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