Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Power brokers?

Posted on This is My Truth on 2 December

An interesting feature of Carwyn Jones' decisive victory was the trade union section of the electoral college.

It has been widely assumed that with the majority of 'regional' Union executives backing Edwina Hart their members would follow suit. One of the more sobering images of the early part of the campaign was the welcome extended by Unite boss Andy Richards to his favoured candidate. But far from being an uncomfortable echo of 1999the result throws doubt on the influence that union leaders have on their members.

Carwyn Jones was on virtually level pegging with Edwina Hart among Unite members.

Earlier this year a private opinion poll on the political affiliation of Unite members showed that just 34 per cent favoured Labour and 31 per cent the Conservatives. Now only those who pay the political levy to Labour voted in the Welsh contest, but it adds to the picture of a breaking down of the traditional political role that the Unions have played.

If the Conservatives win the General Election and Labour go into opposition union leaders will want to reflect on how they use their remaining political influence, and may want to focus more on campaigning on issues rather than try to play the role of power brokers.

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