Rodney Hide writes in NBR:
The stunning revelation of Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater’s e-book Dodgy Unions is how little they give the Labour Party.
I had always thought it was millions.
That’s because of the power union bosses exercise over the party. Union bosses get to vote for party leader, they block vote candidate selection, get a say on the party list, have a seat at the all-powerful national council and carry a block vote at regional and national conferences. …
I had always assumed that the Labour Party put up with the unions for the money.
But what’s truly shocking from Dodgy Unions is that Labour sells itself so cheap.
The union movement takes in $120 million a year. It has equity of over $120 million.
But over the past 18 years the unions have given Labour only $700,000. That’s less than $40,000 a year. For every thousand dollars the unions rake in only 33c goes to Labour.
Labour sell themselves cheaply!!
Imagine if the national board of Federated Farmers had a vote for the leader of the National Party, National’s list, electorate candidates and had a guaranteed seat on the board of directors. There would be outrage. And rightly so.
But somehow the unions’ unhealthy sway over Labour is overlooked.
If National had such an arrangement there would be numerous books by Nicky Hager on it. It would condemned by every editorial writer in the land. But Labour gets a free pass for it.
The unions are fat and rich, they have enormous power within Labour but are tightwad funders; so much so that Labour is running deficits unable to afford its pretence of a democratic election for leader.
Labour MPs have long complained union domination is disheartening and disempowering them and their members. The question I have now, is why do they put up with it?
Because they get deselected if they complain publicly.
Labour’s constitution reads like something from the UN. The all-powerful National Council must have a Maori senior vice-president, an affiliate vice-president, a Pacific Islands vice-president, a women’s vice-president, a youth vice-president, a rainbow representative and two representatives elected by Te Kaunihera Maori, one of whom shall be a woman.
The party exhausts itself on identity politics overlaid with raw union power. It’s no wonder it’s broke and out-of-puff.
National’s board is much simpler. Apart from the leader and caucus rep, it has seven members – all elected by the National Conference. No quotas, no representatives – just the people deemed best suited to serve on the board.
The party needs deep constitutional and organisational reform to be fit for purpose. What’s needed is a leadership not pandering to special interests but smashing them.
As their current leader only got elected by the union block vote, that is unlikely.