The very title of the Bill gives the game away, linking - as it does - the issue of political lobbying (which is essentially about how a few wealthy people pervert democracy with large sums of money) with the unrelated question of trade union political activity (which is essentially about how very many non-wealthy people can sustain democracy, each with a small sum of money).
Or - as Frances O'Grady put it very well (http://www.tuc.org.uk/union/tuc-22391-f0.cfm) this is the spirit of those who transported the Tolpuddle Martyrs, alive and well almost two centuries on. The Bill (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0097/14097.pdf) proposes to set up a register of lobbyists but then goes on not only to limit the rights of trade unions to campaign (in ways that have been thoroughly demolished by Keith Ewing - http://www.tradeunionfreedom.co.uk/keith-ewing-another-political-attack-on-free-speech/) but also introduces new, unrelated, administrative requirements in respect of the maintenance of membership records by trade unions.
This latest assault upon trade union rights by our real enemies could lead to the weak-kneed and weak-willed in our movement seeking a shabby compromise with Ed Miliband's transparent drive for state funding of political parties (perhaps some cobbled together nonsense about "Associate Membership"?)
No one who has ever campaigned for Labour Party democracy should have any truck with such nonsense.
The Tories attack the trade unions because they see - sometimes more clearly than our own leaders - the political potential of our movement.
That potential rests upon the unique, organic link between trade unions and the Political party to which they relate - a link which is founded upon collective affiliation and collective representation.
The Tories wish to weaken our movement in every way because they see how that link can threaten a status quo inimical to the interests of working people.
Ironically - or perhaps not - Progress and their ilk within the Labour Party want to end the link for the selfsame reason - because it inhibits their project of presenting "austerity-lite" as the best that can be hoped for (and challenges their certainty that we are best led by Oxbridge graduates funded by Lord Sainsbury who have never had a real job).
There can be no doubt that this Bill is a partisan attack upon Labour by the Tories. In this way it should demonstrate - both to trade unionists and Labour Party members - the vital importance of coming together to elect Labour politicians committed to fight this Government and report to our members.
Those who wish to "break the link" from "the left" might wish to reflect upon the fact that they find themselves in agreement with David Cameron. Perhaps now is the time to defend the link?
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