Unions' cash buys anti-conservative influence

Senior Conservatives have claimed that Labour and the unions have a "symbiotic relationship" which has piled extra burdens on employers. Shadow business secretary Alan Duncan said in a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies, published on Friday, that a string of initiatives from the government since 1997 had favoured union interests.

Co-authored with shadow business minister Jonathan Djanogly, the study argued that employment legislation, the trade union modernisation fund and an EU working time directive had all benefited unions.

It added that the two-way relationship was confirmed by generous union donations to the Labour Party. Djanogly said: "Now, trade unions and Labour MPs are calling for more employment protection and more rights for trade unions.

"A further Employment Bill is being prepared for 2007/08. The process is now accelerating at the very time as the Labour Party is becoming more dependent on trade union donations.

"Trade unions continue to be generous donors to the Labour Party. Data from the Electoral Commission shows that since the beginning of 2001 (when parties were first required to declare donations), the unions have given over £55m to the Labour Party, two thirds of all the donations made to the Labour Party."

Duncan added that the Conservatives would be "determined to bring down the big donor culture, whether from individuals, corporations or trade unions".

"Money should not be allowed to buy influence," he said.

"Although this paper is not a statement of Conservative Party policy, it does highlight areas and proposals which we believe merit a thorough review and debate. I hope that this paper will initiate that."


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