Ed Milliband knows that he has both public opinion and the majority opinion of rank and file union members on his side, when he talks of reforming the relationship between the Union movement and its political party. There is certainly a case for modernisation to a model which suits the world in which now we live, which is a very different one to that of the early nineteenth century.
Nevertheless it is not as simple as it looks and great care must be taken before knocking the structure down before there is a clear and stress tested plan of what is to replace it. Labour is not just a political party. It is a crusade for human justice and a fair deal for those who serve or toil; is the voice of the underdog, the forgotten, the sick and the weak; its values are fashioned from life and not form luxury; it believes in all of us together rather than me first. It is a Movement, not just a Party.
When we write it we say Labour in the singular; when we speak of the Tories or the Lib Dems, they are plural. The reformers believe that if people contract out of block affiliation and go for individual membership of the Labour Party its roll will increase. This, if it happens, would buck the modern trend. People no longer want to be members of political parties. They want to be members of Facebook or Twitter and through instant social media they like to join campaigns to achieve something worthy. They become followers, not members.
This does not mean that there should be no modernisation to make the Labour Movement more in tune with modern trends, but to base it on an expected surge in individual membership if automatic affiliation is cast aside, is to look back to a different social structure to the one we live in today.
Watch it Ed. You could drive the Labour bus over a cliff.