Union heads support end of block vote

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The Independent Online
TRADE UNION leaders are unlikely to stand in the way of abolition of the block vote at Labour Party conferences, according to a poll of senior figures.

Six out of 10 union general secretaries and other officials questioned by the New Statesman &Society magazine in the run up to next week's Trades Union Congress in Blackpool, approved of the block vote's removal.

The scope of trade union involvement in Labour's affairs is being discussed by a 15-member group set up by the party's national executive committee, which will report to annual conference at the end of the month.

But it appears there is little support for the status quo with more than three-quarters of trade unionists supporting a system of one-member, one-vote for the selection of parliamentary candidates and for the election of party leader.

Despite their enthusiasm for reform, the 43 officials were divided on exactly what structure should replace the block vote.

A minority favoured the automatic conversion of trade unionists paying the political levy to full individual party members. Others suggested that trade unionists must pay the full pounds 15 membership fee, while a third group warned of the danger of automatic links giving Labour membership to Liberal Democrat and Tory voters.

The poll also established Gordon Brown as the trade unionists' favourite politician. Mr Brown, the shadow Chancellor, polled 7.9 (on a maximum rating of 10). John Smith, the party leader, was in second place on 7.8. Mr Brown and Bryan Gould were the only two politicians to improve their rating on a similar poll last year.