Poll: Unite’s members show distance from Labour

By politics.co.uk staff

A majority of Unite members do not feel they are well-represented by either Ed Miliband or its general secretary Len McCluskey, a poll suggests.

A survey by former Tory donor Michael Ashcroft found 47% of Unite members felt the Labour party does a bad job of representing ordinary working class people – more than the 42% of people who felt Labour does a good job.

Half of Unite members said they would vote for Labour at the next general election, but the poll suggests just 12% would join Labour as individual members if Miliband's reforms are implemented.

The Labour leader wants to switch the affiliation system so that members would opt-in to fund Labour.

"Len McCluskey rightly observes that whether individual trade unionists will rally to Labour will depend on whether Miliband gives them 'reasons to want to be associated' with the party," Ashcroft said.

"This is largely about policy. But the policies he himself advocates seem unlikely to have the desired effect."

Ashcroft's poll comes as Conservatives call for trade unions to be given a menu of political parties to fund.

His research showed 23% of Unite members are Tory supporters, with seven per cent preferring the Liberal Democrats and 12% backing Ukip.

Miliband has made clear his reluctance to share union funding with other parties, citing Labour's "historic links" with the unions.

Last night he announced plans for a 'special conference' in spring 2014 which will complete the rule changes. Miliband hopes to return the Labour party to a mass membership model, but analysts have warned he risks seeing an overall reduction in funding levels ahead of the next general election.

Only 30% said they would contribute to the political fund under an opt-in system – and three-quarters said they would not join the Labour party as individual members if contributors to the political fund were no longer affiliated automatically.