When Ed Miliband asked the leading union baron what three wishes he could grant if Labour wins power, the answer was straightforward.
‘Trade union freedoms, trade union freedoms, trade union freedoms’ came the immediate response from Len McCluskey, who runs the giant Unite union.
Leaked details of the conversation last night sparked claims that a Labour government would seek to usher in new pro-union laws.
Since Mr Miliband won the Labour leadership – thanks to union block votes – in September 2010, Unite has given £7.5million to the Labour Party and is its biggest paymaster.
Documents passed to the Mail also expose how the union is seeking to get a stranglehold on Labour by training activists as future MPs and seeking to flood the party with 15,000 new members from the union.
Mr McCluskey – known as Red Len – spoke at an event last month about his conversation with Mr Miliband, but his remarks went unreported until they were leaked yesterday.
The union baron was giving a lecture in honour of the late Ralph Miliband, Marxist historian and father of the Labour leader, at the London School of Economics on January 15. He also took questions.
Mr McCluskey said that when Ed Miliband became Labour leader: ‘I met him and he asked me – ‘‘Len, if you had three wishes, three things that you’d like us to do if we got back into power, what would you like them to be or would you like to think about it?”
‘And I said no, I can tell you now – it’s trade union freedoms, trade union freedoms, trade union freedoms.’
Union bosses are demanding a trade union freedom bill that could lead to paralysing strikes, with permission given for simplified ballots, sympathy walkouts at other workplaces and bans on replacement staff being brought in by employers. Mr McCluskey claimed that Mr Miliband asked him to ‘teach him’ about the unions.
The Unite leader also advocated a campaign of civil disobedience, and rubbished Mr Miliband’s ‘One Nation’ approach to politics, calling for the kind of class war that the Labour leader’s father argued for.
Leaked documents reveal that Unite is planning to control the next generation of Labour MPs by training up strike ringleaders as candidates and ensuring they are selected by flooding Constituency Labour Parties with union members.
The union is running a ‘Future Candidates Programme’ at its centre in Eastbourne. The participants are referred to as ‘mainly industrial activists’.
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: ‘This evidence shines a light on Len McCluskey’s plot to take over Labour and cripple Britain with strikes. Far from condemning this strategy, Labour are complicit in it.’
Labour high command said Mr Miliband could ‘not remember’ conversations with Mr McCluskey along the lines he detailed and there was no secret deal over pro-union legislation.
A Unite spokesman said: ‘There is no deal with Ed Miliband on trade union rights and no deal has been sought.’
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