Ed Miliband on collision course with trade unions

 

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Indy Politics

Ed Miliband is heading for a showdown with trade union chiefs after he set out new plans to curb their influence over the Labour annual conference.

Under proposals tabled by the Labour leader, the unions' voting power would be reduced below its current level of 50 per cent.

Supporters of the move argue it would help make the party more accountable to activists and members and reduce the influence of union general secretaries wielding huge block votes.

But it is bound to be strongly resisted by the unions - not least because it was their voting muscle that helped secure the Labour leadership for the younger Miliband brother.

Among his proposals is giving the party's national policy forum one-fifth of the vote at the conference, thus reducing the unions' share to 40 per cent. He is alternatively suggesting that elected representatives, such as MPs or councillors, should be given a vote at the conference.

The proposals are being discussed by Labour officials ahead of the party's conference in Liverpool next month.

Mr Miliband has said he wants to proceed on party reform by consensus, but equally will not back off from moves to democratise Labour.

However, negotiations with the unions over the issue are shaping up to be acrimonious and may not be resolved until the Labour conference of 2012.

Mr Miliband is also pressing for unions hand over a list of their three million political levy payers so that Labour activists can contact them directly - a proposal being resisted by the unions.

Definitely on the conference agenda in Liverpool will Mr Miliband's plan to scrap elections to the shadow Cabinet, enabling him to pick his top team.

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