How unions bought Labour election win

The full extent of trade union backing for the Labour Party in the run-up to the last general election has been revealed. The unions, in addition to paying £10 million into Labour's general election war chest, pumped carefully targeted resources into specific marginal seats for the first time.

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the unions paid for six million direct mail shots, organised a postal vote recruitment campaign, provided teams of drivers, set up a nationwide website and sent almost 200 campaign officials to the marginal seats.

The logistical support, which was worth millions of pounds, helped galvanise trade unionists to go out and vote in May 2005. The unions boasted that the strategy made such an impact it "helped Labour win a third term".

The disclosure provoked charges of hypocrisy against the Prime Minister, who only last week signalled that he would introduce legislation to limit the Tories' spending in marginal constituencies.

The move by Gordon Brown was designed to crush the influence of Lord Ashcroft, the Tory party deputy chairman, who is in charge of a £2 million marginal seat fighting fund raised by Conservative donors.

But the Tories will now step up their attacks on Mr Brown, who ran Labour's election campaign, because the trade unions were running an identical strategy.

A document produced by the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation, said: "The key seat co-ordinators between them generated several hundred volunteers which translates into many thousands of hours of reported work that would not have occurred."

Chris Grayling, a shadow cabinet minister, said: "This is breathtaking hypocrisy on the part of the Labour Party and undermines Gordon Brown's claim to try to introduce a new style of politics into Britain."


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