Friday, July 12, 2013

Miliband Poster Girl’s Union Link Dishonesty

Who would be the perfect person to introduce Ed before he delivered his big speech on trade unions this week? Why, a Labour candidate with no trade union links, of course. Miliband’s team had Birmingham Yardley candidate Jess Phillips warm up for the Labour leader, making sure she emphasised her credentials as a poster girl for Labour’s independence from the unions:

“I benefited from being in the right place at the right time. The right place was the Labour Party, the right time was under Ed Miliband’s leadership because what I found, when I decided to get back involved, was a party crying out for people like me. Not because of my links with any union, company or political pressure group. In fact for the exact opposite reason, because I was none of these things, I am not sure they even cared about me being a member of the party. What I was, was a member of a community. A community who had done something brilliant, we had got organised.”

Just the one problem: Jess’ claim that she was selected “Not because of my links with any union, company or political pressure group. In fact for the exact opposite reason, because I was none of these things” is a bit of a whopper. On leaflets she sent to party members before her selection Phillips admits:

“I have been nominated by all the branches (Acocks Green, Stetchford and Yardley North, Sheldon, South Yardley) and also by the CWU [Communication Workers Union].”

She also explains how she has “worked with the CWU” campaigning on local issues. So Miliband’s shining example of a Labour candidate independent from union influence is union-affiliated after all. Shocker.

H/T Birmingham Post

Thursday, July 11, 2013

McTernan the Tables

Former Brown strategist turned Aussie spin merchant John McTernan’s downfall down under sees him back on these shores offering glowing praise for Ed Miliband today.

“Can [he] turn it round? Almost certainly. [He] has grown in stature, is a robust parliamentary performer, more than able to hold own in a rowdy chamber, is a very effective communicator… and is likely to get Labour back on track for re-election.”

Only that wasn’t from McTernan’s piece on Miliband today, rather it was a 2010 article promising great things for one Julia Gillard. This morning he describes Ed in similar terms:

“No one should ever have doubted that Ed Miliband had steel. He took the crown at the first go – the top job, he reminded us, is not for the fainthearted or weak-willed. Having seized power he briskly rebranded the Labour Party”

Safe to say things didn’t quite turn out as he predicted first time round…

Watson Replaced on Labour NEC by Former Brown SpAd

How’s this for the dawn of a new politics? Tom Watson has been replaced on Labour’s ruling NEC by Jon Ashworth: a former Brown Special Adviser who was parachuted into a safe Labour seat at a by-election.

“Johnny Sparkle” used to be in charge with liaising with the unions for the party, and as the Standard once noted, his contact book is “stuffed with constituency officers and union organisers”. Continuity Labour.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It was Acceptable in the 80s

If 22-year-old Vicky Fowler beats the incumbent Tory MP Marcus Jones in Nuneaton in two years’ time, she will become the first MP to have been born in the 1990s. His majority is only 2,069 so it is not beyond the realms of possibility. Vicky defeated former BBC reporter Miriam O’Reilly for selection. By comparison Sir Peter Tapsell (b. 1930) has served the House since 1959.

H/T @LabourHistory

Labour Stars Turn Out For Fabian Gala Dinner

Finally Ed Balls has turned up. The suspiciously absent Shadow Chancellor held court at the Fabian Society’s champagne reception at the National Liberal Club last night. Following in a tradition their predecessors would have no doubt have approved of, it was survival of the richest at £100-a-ticket. Labour bloggers Laurence Durnan, Mark Ferguson and James Bloodworth chin-wagged with the party’s former head of digital Sue MacMillan before their Norwich North PPC Jessica Assato kicked off the much-needed money-raising auction. Tom Watson generously donated a signed copy of his DCMS committee report, vowing “if you do win it [he] promises not to invite you to a Drenge concert”. The report went for £100, paid by Ken Livingstone’s old pal Nicky Gavron. Worst party ever…

To the Manor Born: Chuka’s Small Business Blunder

Last Thursday the National Skills Academy for Retail organised “Independents’ Day” to celebrate local independent businesses. As is so often the way, the Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna saw the perfect chance for a photo-op. He posed outside The Manor Arms, an independent pub in his Streatham constituency:

Yesterday it was announced that The Manor Arms has been taken under control by Broken Foot Inns Ltd, a pub chain. That went well then.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Watson Endorses Wee Dougie

First Labour Uncut pulled its piece alleging Tommo plotted to get Douglas Alexander deselected in Paisley, after heavy pressure from Unite’s learned friends. The Guardian have not withdrawn the allegation though. Now all of a sudden Watson is backing Wee Dougie to be his successor:

“Douglas is our most experienced front line strategist. He has worked for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and is the natural choice to take forward Labour’s positive message to rebuild our country after the 2015 election. It’s obviously not my choice who Ed chooses replace me but if it was Douglas, he would have my full support. There are millions of people wanting Labour to win the next general election. A unified labour party is an essential component of our plan. I want party members on the ground to be in no doubt that in Westminster, we are completely unified in our desire to win for them in the Euro elections in 2014 and the general election in 2015. Douglas, with his characteristic humility and razor sharp mind can refocus the campaign on the issues that matter to people facing a huge fall in living standards.”

Of course he is…

Via @labourlist

Ed Fudges as Len Smiles

When Miliband wasn’t getting the names of his “friends in the journalistic community” wrong in the Q&A after his speech, he was fudging a series of questions about how his union reform will actually work. Crucially he would not give an answer on the key question of timing. Will the reforms happen before conference? Before the election? Ed wouldn’t say. He also dodged questions about Gordon’s other jobs and whether he would resign if he cannot convince the unions to come on board.

Len McCluskey’s smile and praise for the speech tell Guido he thinks the reforms won’t really dilute his power. “One Man One Direct Debit” is very simple: if money goes direct to Labour Party, the reform is real. If it goes via the unions, it isn’t. Follow the money…

FLASHBACK: Ray Collins Helped Plan to Set Up Red Rag

Almost farcically, Miliband has chosen former Unite assistant General Secretary Ray Collins to lead the party’s trade union review. Back in 2009 Collins denied knowledge of the Red Rag* attack site that sought to smear Tory MPs. Despite him being at a planning meeting held at Unite’s HQ with Damian McBride and Derek Draper.  On the Unite side were Charlie Whelan and Andrew Dodghson. Collins did not know of the specific intended smears, he did however know of the intention to launch the anonymous attack site. He can hardly claim to have no responsibility for the site  just because he didn’t know which particular smears were going to be used. He still helped plan and facilitate the setting-up of Red Rag…

*Unite now funds the PoliticalScrapbook blog, which is tamer than the one originally envisaged by its union backers.

New Leaked Unite Briefing Details Plot to Stitch Up Seats

Joey Jones has a private and confidential briefing note that was handed to Len McCluskey in March. It outlines, explicitly, Unite’s plot to stitch up seats.

“The central task of the Political department since the last EC has been to maximise the possibilities of working class and progressive candidates in the Labour Party Parliamentary candidate selection process… Selections are now commencing in a number of seats – and the rest of the selections in the marginals will be completed at least by the end of the year.

 Our expectations are realistic, but we campaign as hard as possible for victories.  A key part of our general political strategy involves winning more Unite members to join and become active in the Labour Party. This has been particularly urgent in those constituencies with forthcoming selections. Indeed it is also readily understandable if you want a progressive working class Labour candidate, join and work for one is the simple message. As soon as the boundary review was abandoned, we accelerated our member development programme. Only members joining prior to six-months before the commencement of the CLP selection process are eligible to participate in the process.

We are working with other Unions to ensure general agreement around candidates in selections. With some give and take broad agreement has been reached across the main trade unions involved. Regions have been asked for their preferences – and in the main have produced comprehensive proposals – usually following regional discussions with TULO or, Big Four unions.

Future Candidates Programme: Our second Future Candidates Programme took place in February. We now have 30 potential candidates on the programme, and will be inducting a further 20 after Easter.  This is a serious long-term training programme, aimed at developing Unite Activists so that they can become candidates for public office.”

They go on to express disappointment at the Labour policy review and plan greater union involvement in setting party policy:

“The Labour Party policy review is proceeding in two ways.  Jon Cruddas is directing the Policy Review, involving Shadow Cabinet groups, and with a number of meetings at Westminster. This is not developing as well as we might like – and we are seeking to get bigger trade union involvement in this.”

You can read the document in full here. Caught red handed…


Seen Elsewhere

Users of Gay Hook-Up App Grindr Infected | TechnoGuido
ISIS Raising Funds Online Using Bitcoin | TechnoGuido
UKIP’s Youth Challenge | BBC
ISIS Operative: This Is How We Send Jihadis To Europe | BuzzFeed
Shapps Defends Bashir Defection | Seb Payne
Tory Leadership Contenders Jostle Over Europe | Alex Wickham
Cutting Taxes is Good For You | Art Laffer
Suspects Will Now Have to Prove Innocence | Laura Perrins
Labour Cllr: Cops Shouldn’t Stop Petrol Thieves | HandF Forum
Creeping Cultural Acceptance of Anti-Semitism | Eric Pickles
Time For Greece to Leave Eurozone | Allister Heath


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Boris on British Jihadis. Apparently based on MI5 intel:

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally w***ers. Severe onanists. They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and that the world is against them. They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”


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