Angela Rayner MP has spoken out against Conservative plans that will threaten democracy.
She accused the Conservatives of using their Parliamentary majority to fix the system in a bid to keep them in power for a generation.
The Trade Union Bill, currently being debated by the House of Lords, includes a series of measures that will restrict their ability to campaign and speak out on behalf of their members.
This includes a clause that will cut off trade unions’ financial support for the Labour Party, while doing nothing to limit the hedge funds and millionaires that support the Tories.
This will create an overwhelming funding imbalance in our political system overnight.
And this law is being 'backdated', so that five million current members in union political funds will have their membership cancelled. Unions will have just three months to recruit those members all over again.
Labour say that this change comes hot on the heels of attacks on the BBC, the so-called Gagging Act that restricts charities’ campaigning, a cut of 19% in state funding to opposition Parties, changes to make it more burdensome to register to vote, and a redrawing of the Constituency boundaries that experts believe will advantage the Conservatives at the next election.
Labour are urging members of the House of Lords to amend the Bill to stop this latest attack on democracy.
Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, said: “The Tories want to be in power for a generation, and are fixing the system to make that happen.
"This Bill is a deliberate attack on the Labour Party, to give the Conservatives an advantage at election time.
"Why are the Conservatives trying to avoid a fair fight? This is nothing but an outright attack on democracy and an attempt by Cameron and Osborne to cling on to power for a generation.”
Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon, Labour’s Leader in the Lords: “David Cameron’s government is doing everything they can to load the dice in their favour.
"Not content with knocking a million voters off the electoral register, they are now trying to restrict trade unions ability to support the Labour party. Why? Because they know that doing so will give the Tories a massive funding advantage over all other parties.”
“This latest abuse of power is an attack on parliamentary democracy and Labour Peers in the House of Lords will be challenging Mr Cameron’s plans every step of the way.”
• More information about the campaign and the petition can be found at www.loadingthedice.org.uk.
• The Trade Union Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on January 10, and will now be debated in more detail by Peers. More information about the progression of the bill can be found here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/tradeunion.html
• Provisions in the Trade Union Bill are estimated to reduce the Labour Party’s income by £6 million a year: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/11/tories-undermining-labours-funding-with-partisan-trade-union-bill
• The Bill changes the law, so that union members will have to opt-in to support unions’ political campaigning. The change is being backdated, so that the 5 million current members in union political funds will have their membership cancelled. Unions will have just 3 months to re-recruit those members. The Conservatives are claiming this is ‘transparency’, but in fact it’s a one-sided attack on union funding to the Labour Party, whist doing nothing to limit donors to the Conservatives.
Other changes the Government are making include:
- Making it harder to register to vote, and redrawing the Parliamentary map in a way that benefits the Conservative Party.
- Silencing charities who campaign against government policies, through the introduction of the Transparency of Lobbying Act 2014, usually known as the ‘Gagging Act’.
- Cuts to the Government ‘Short Money’ to Opposition Parties. In the November Autumn Statement, the Government cut this funding by 19%, equating to a £2million a year additional loss to the Labour Party.