Trade Union Bill "will make elections less competitive"

Press release - for immediate release
Statement from Unlock Democracy

Contact: Alexandra Runswick (alex.runswick@unlockdemocracy.org.uk)

On Wednesday, the House of Lords will vote on a motion to appoint a cross-party Select Committee to consider the effect of the Trade Union Bill on party funding. [1] Clauses 10 and 11 of the Bill would move union donations to political parties to an opt-in system, which will reduce funding to Labour by an estimated £5m a year.

In combination with changes to Short money [2], this Bill will dramatically shift the balance of party funding further in favour of the government. If party funding rules are changed to benefit one party, it could seriously undermine the fairness of future election results.

In 2011, the Committee for Standards in Public Life recommended [3] the move to an opt-in system, but only as part of a full package of changes to party funding, including a £10,000 cap on individual & corporate donations and a 15% reduction in party spending limits. 

Commenting ahead of the debate on the Trade Union Bill motion, Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said:

“The changes made to party funding in the Trade Union Bill will make elections less competitive. This Bill will slash union donations to Labour while wealthy donors are free to plough cash into Conservative party coffers.

Free and fair elections require a level playing field for all political parties. The party funding system is crying out for reform, but changes must be agreed by all parties. The government should not be allowed to rewrite the rules for its own party political gain. Real transparency means looking at both sides of the party funding equation - not just unions, but wealthy donors too.”

ENDS

Unlock Democracy is a grassroots campaign for fair politics, accountable government and citizen engagement.

Notes

[1] http://calendar.parliament.uk/calendar/Lords/All/2016/1/20/Daily

[2] George Osborne announced a 19% reduction in Short money funding to opposition parties in the Spending Review.

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228646/8208.pdf