It is surely more of an issue that a vote for Labour is a vote for Ed Miliband, than the issue that David Cameron, or at least his strategists, is painting as the main issue: that Labour are closely associated with the Unions.
To shorten a boring scandal to a basic level, Unite the Union was accused of signing its members to the Labour party to gain influence over the chosen candidate for the constituency of Falkirk. Miliband was portrayed as weak and although an inquiry did not find evidence of wrong-doing, what happened was suspicious enough to allow Cameron to go for it on saying that Labour belong to the unions and are bad and corrupt as a result and that Miliband is weak. Earlier this month, Miliband had a speech at the TUC conference, but it was felt that it was overhyped as Miliband did not specify major Union-Labour reform links and did not offer much to anyone on either side of the fence on the issue of the Trade-Union-Labour-Party-Relationship.
Cameron’s line in PMQs before the summer recess slammed Miliband as ‘too weak to lead the Labour Party, and too weak to lead the country’, and it is now his job to disprove this, so is a non-fight with the trade unions really the path to follow? That line will stick. That is Cameron’s card for the election, to weaken Miliband if the economy gets around to a serious recovery, and he played the card to the extreme with roughly twenty mentions of Len McCloughski in a session back in June.
As we enter conference season with less than two years until the next election, Cameron can now really play for political points on Labour’s trade union relationship. The concerning thing here is that if this succeeds, it means that Labour, or more accurately, Miliband, would have failed to make Cameron the villain on a rich-helping-the-rich level. Surely Miliband can maintain Labour’s lead on the issue of trust in terms of political corruption over Cameron? It is surprising, and almost reinforcing to Cameron’s portrayal; that Miliband isn’t defending the link to the unions as some kind of representation of the working poor in a way that Cameron could not continue to prosecute him for.
Tax-dodging donors, elitist industrialist group leaders, murky media mogul friendships are the things that are surely more easily tarnished alongside the Tories over Labour. If both drown in these muddy waters, there is surely a path back in for the Liberal Democrats, or have UKIP already claimed that ground?