Prospect Political Fund – Why we need it!

23 01 2013

Prospect’s 2012 National Conference took the unanimous decision that to safeguard our campaigning and lobbying activity in defence of members’ interests, the union must retain a political fund.

Without a political fund we run the risk of legal challenge to actions that would be in support of legitimate negotiating objectives but which the courts might deem to be ‘political’. We have received clear advice that the absence of a political fund could leave the union dangerously exposed at a time when we particularly need to campaign effectively in the parliamentary and political arena. National Conference also endorsed the status of the fund and the party political neutrality of Prospect.

By law, a new ballot to maintain a political fund is required every ten years. Both Prospect and Connect held ballots in 2003. To renew the political fund in 2013 we need to hold a ballot of members by 31 March 2013. The ballot will take place between 4-27 March.

Current ‘political’ activity by Prospect

  • Prospect’s campaigning activity on behalf of members covers a range of topics and has an impact on all their interests, regardless of sector, industry, working or retired member status. These activities include:
  • Opposing harmful privatisation and contracting out
  • Opposing harmful national government policies, for example the RPI-CPI switch for indexation of pensions; the rundown of health and safety protection; the tripling of university fees
  • Opposing policies that lead to threats to members’ jobs in the public or private sectors, for example public spending cuts; cancellation of investment programmes and contracts; termination of grant aid
  • Lobbying individual MPs in their constituencies over the local impact of national policies, for example opposition to job losses or site closures, especially during a general election campaign.

These are all activities that Prospect either has been or is continuing to pursue. They are also clearly political – though not, it should be stressed, party political.

The term ‘political fund’ is itself a misnomer, forced on unions by the 1984 Trade Union Act. Its introduction was clearly aimed at getting union members to reject proposals to set up political funds.

In fact no union has voted to reject a political fund – a tribute to the effective way unions explained the issues to members and won majority support in ballots. If it was called a ‘campaign fund’ nobody would even question its purpose – to support industrial and negotiating objectives. But the 1984 Act continues to make a separate political fund necessary.

Information for members

The National Executive Committee is committed to campaigning on this issue and is keen to be given the opportunity to speak to as many members as possible prior to the ballot.

an area of the website devoted to this campaign has been set up which has more information on the political fund