Miliband Seeks Special Labour Meet to Loosen Union Links

Ed Miliband called on his U.K. opposition Labour Party to hold a special conference early next year to approve new rules on union affiliation, part of a drive to distance the party from organized labor.

Police are investigating whether Unite, Britain’s largest labor union, tried to fix the selection of a Labour candidate for Parliament. The party leader is seeking to use the crisis, which caused the resignation of his campaigns chief, Tom Watson, to loosen links with unions, which currently provide the bulk of its funding.

Miliband proposed earlier this month that, rather than every union member being automatically affiliated to Labour unless they opt out, individuals should have to opt in to supporting the party. That would give Labour access to their contact details, information unions currently refuse to share. Miliband said he wants his party to ratify his plans at the conference.

“The changes we are embarked upon are about this -- about rooting our party in every part of Britain, including the workplaces of Britain,” Miliband said in a speech in London today, according to extracts published by his office. “We want to open up our policy making, clean up the lobbying industry and take the big money out of politics.”

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