Is Ed Miliband about to get into bed with John McDonnell?

Since the Labour leadership contest kicked off, the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaision Organisation, which goes between the party and its 15 affiliated unions has been sending questions to the candidates, including on industrial issues. Many of the answers have been, well, inconsequential in the wider context of the party’s future.

But not this time. Ed Miliband’s camp has (belatedly) responded to a question about the UK’s trade union laws, often called the strictest in Western Europe (including, as Ed Williams says in Tribune this week, by Tony Blair). The questioner asked: “What one restriction do you think most urgently needs lifting and why?”

Ed Miliband’s reply was received today, and in it he says:

“I am determined to make sure that the Trade Unions are able to fairly represent the interests of their members and the wider workforce. Of course industrial action is a last resort, but the right to strike is a fundamental human right which must be protected and I will make sure it is. The British Airways dispute showed that the rules governing strike ballots are in urgent need of reform.”

Brother David – the only other serious frontrunner, according to commentators and the Labour Uncut blog, has said no such thing, and merely comments on unions being a good thing.

Lefty Labour MP John McDonnell has a private member’s bill on this very subject, which seeks to extend legal protection for unions who have ballots for industrial aciton, in order to prevent more British Airways-style injunctions. So I asked his team if he intended to support the bill.

A spokesperson replied that he hasn’t seen the bill, but added: “I do know that he is indeed concerned with the rules governing strike ballots and that technicalities should not interfere with democratic balloting processes.”

Of the other candidates, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott also says strike law should be looked at, and Ed Balls says unions should have better access to workers who want to join.

(from Tribune blog)

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2 Responses to “Is Ed Miliband about to get into bed with John McDonnell?”

  1. Alex Halligan Says:

    Good work. Proofs in the pudding….

  2. John Gray Says:

    No Alex it “is in the eating”

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