Labour Attacked for Funding Trade Unions From Council Tax
When I posted a few days ago about Labour’s secret funding of Trade Union officials using £1.4m of Council Tax I expected some reaction and the usual personal attacks from Labour. It is typical of Reading Labour that rather than just defend a practice which they clearly think is acceptable, the leader of the Opposition, Cllr Jo Lovelock has attacked the messenger. Apparently I have “no credibility” and hold “far right” views. If Councillor Lovelock really thinks that it is “far right” to believe that Trades Unions (which can afford to fund expensive party political campaigns) should not be funded from Council Tax Payers’ money, then she has a lot to learn about public opinion.
It was also amazing to see that a story which I broke on 21 January is not just on the local TV and radio but was raised in Parliament yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions. It seems that my information that £1.4m was spent over 8 years was not the whole story – the total amount is probably more than £1.4m over a much longer period! However, to be fair, we have now assumed that the £1.4m was over 12 years. Still £1.4m and all funded from Council Tax at a time when Council Tax doubled under Labour.
Labour’s public defence of the payment also seems to have shifted in the last day. When I first blogged the story Labour commenters said that all that had happened was that Council Tax payers had funded some occasional time off for Union duties, which sounded bad but less unreasonable. Today it has been confirmed by the BBC and by a Labour activist on Twitter that in fact full time posts were funded for the NUT, Unite and Unison.
Labour claims that this was already “well known” and that I and others should have known as I was a member of the Local Joint Forum in the past. I have checked previous minutes and can confirm that this information was never revealed at any meeting I attended, or at others I have looked at. A colleague has been checking the last 8 years “Gold Papers” which are the Council’s Budget papers, and it was not mentioned there either.
Decent Council Tax paying residents have been contacting me and my colleagues to express their shock that at least £1.4m of Council Tax receipts were used by Labour to fund their Union colleagues, money that could have been spent on schools, roads, social service and housing.
Nationally last year Unite paid Labour £818,366 and Unison paid £396,515 (Source: Electoral Commission). The Reading Labour Party has received regular donations from Unions. In 2009 Unite gave Reading Labour Party £1,000, Unison gave them £1,500. In 2010 Unison gave £1,720, as recorded to date on the Electoral Commission website.
More to come……..!