Miliband Moves to Distance Labour From Union Leaders

Ed Miliband will move to distance his opposition Labour Party from the bosses of the U.K. unions that founded it, as police investigate whether one of those unions tried to fix the selection of a candidate for Parliament.

Miliband asked police on July 5 to investigate the behavior of Unite, Britain’s largest labor union, over its actions in the selection of Labour’s candidate for the seat of Falkirk in Scotland. In a speech in London today, Miliband will describe what happened there, which Labour still hasn’t disclosed, as “a politics closed, a politics of the machine, a politics hated -- and rightly so,” according to his office.

In his speech, the Labour leader will try to use the crisis, which has caused the resignation of his campaigns chief, Tom Watson, to create a new relationship with unions. He’ll propose that, rather than every union member being automatically affiliated to Labour unless they opt out, they should have to opt in to supporting the party. That may reduce the ability of union leaders to influence the party.

“I do not want any individual to be paying money to the Labour Party in affiliation fees unless they have deliberately chosen to do so,” Miliband will say. “I believe we need people to be able to make a more active, individual, choice on whether they affiliate to the Labour Party.”

Unite has donated 11.8 million pounds ($18 million) of the 60.2 million pounds Labour has received since the 2010 election. Writing in the Sunday Mirror on July 7, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said the union had behaved within the rules at Falkirk and warned Miliband to “step back from the brink of a ruinous division.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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