Blow for Britain's Labour as trade union slashes funding
LONDON (AFP) - Britain's main opposition Labour party suffered a blow on Wednesday when one of its biggest supporters announced that it is cutting 90 per cent of its donations, 18 months ahead of a general election.
The GMB trade union said it would slash the "affiliation funds" it gives to Labour from 1.2 million pounds (S$2.4 million) to 150,000 pounds from next year. The setback comes after Labour leader Ed Miliband took a huge political gamble by announcing he was ending the process by which union members are automatically affiliated to the party, rather than choosing to fund it individually.
Labour receives the bulk of its funding from the trade unions, which founded the party in 1900, and affiliated fees reportedly net it 8 million pounds a year. The GMB, Britain's third-biggest trade union, said the funding cut reflected its estimate of the number of members who would choose to fund the party if they had the option.
Mr Miliband's reform was sparked by a row with Britain's biggest union, Unite, over the selection of a by-election candidate in Scotland. But blasting Mr Miliband for his "apparent lack of understanding" of the impact of the reform on Labour's relationship with the unions, the GMB said there would also be further cuts to its funding for Labour campaigns.