Why do Ed and Len seem to 'agree'?

"A defining moment" said a man who's said almost nothing in praise of his party in recent years.

"A bold and brave speech" said another who disagrees with him about virtually everything in politics.

So, how can it be that Tony Blair and Len McCluskey, the leader of Britain's biggest trade union, do appear to agree with Ed Miliband's proposed reforms.

One reason is that they share the view that the status quo isn't working - though they do so for very different reasons.

The historic relationship between the unions and the party it founded does not give Labour the day-to-day contact with ordinary working people which it craves. Equally, it doesn't give the unions the influence or the power they think they deserve.

Another reason is that there is, as yet, no detail, let alone agreement, about how this proposed rule change will work in practice, nor when it will happen, nor what its implications will be for party funding or union votes in selection contests or at party conference or for the next leader.

Mr Miliband doesn't even try to deny that the crisis over the selection of a candidate for Falkirk inspired this initiative. He says he's seizing the moment.

Few doubt that but - with the GMB leadership understood to be furious at the proposals - there are clearly many more than two views tonight about exactly what these changes will mean in practice.

Update:

Last night I reported that Larry Whitty had been asked to negotiate the detailed changes to the relationship between Labour and the trade unions. Labour insisted that he was not the man being given that job.

I now understand that Lord Whitty turned the job down as he feared that Ed Miliband's plan was not deliverable and that the necessary ground work for it had not been carried out.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

What a difference a day makes

In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job as an MP and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick

Features & Analysis

  • Dana Lone HillDana Lone Hill

    The Native American names that break Facebook rules


  • Painting from Rothschild collectionDark arts Watch

    The 50-year fight to recover paintings looted by the Nazis


  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back


  • Signposts showing the US and UK flagsAn ocean apart

    How British misunderstanding of the US is growing


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • StudentsBull market

    Employers are snapping up students with this desirable degree

Programmes

  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.