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Labour 'looks disunited due to row'

Labour has been warned it looks like a "disunited" party because of the row over its links with unions, as fresh funding cuts were revealed.

The GMB has decided to reduce its funds by over £1 million after leader Ed Miliband said he wanted to change the way union members are affiliated. Under his plans, union members would have to opt in rather than being automatically affiliated to Labour.

Other unions, including Labour's biggest affiliate, Unite, have held back from following suit, offering a breathing space to Mr Miliband, who makes a crucial speech to the TUC Congress in Bournemouth on Tuesday.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, warned that people would not vote for a party which was "squabbling".

He revealed that the number of members Unison affiliates to Labour, in a system similar to the one championed by Mr Miliband, is set to fall from half a million to 430,000, costing Labour £210,000.

He told a press conference in Bournemouth: "We look like a disunited party. Where I grew up, in Leeds, we were told never to wash your dirty linen in public."

Mr Prentis said Labour had lost the election in Australia because of internal squabbles, adding: "It will happen to the Labour Party in this country if it does not get its act together."

He said any malaise in British politics could be blamed on politicians following controversy over issues such as MPs expenses and the Iraq war.

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, said Mr Miliband had a challenge ahead of him to convince working people that Labour still had their interests at heart.

He rubbished suggestions that Unite had influenced the outcome of an internal investigation by Labour into claims the union rigged the selection of a party candidate in Falkirk. Mr McCluskey said Unite wanted to move on from the controversy and concentrate on policies.

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