A mysterious story coming out of Bristol today, with Labour candidate Josie Channer standing aside after it was revealed she had failed to pay over £2,000 in parking fines. She won the selection by beating off competition from GMB officer Rowena Hayward, described at the time by the furious CWU union as an “excellent union candidate”. Rumours swirl of yet another stitch up…
No matter how senior a Labour figure you are, you can’t criticise Len McCluskey without the mother of his love child tearing you a new one. Jennie Formby, who inexplicably happens to be Unite’s political director, has given Unite-sponsored Miliband boot-boy Michael Dugher both barrels for having the temerity to question Red Len’s leadership:
“Self-styled ‘humble member’ of our union, Michael Dugher used to work for Amicus before the merger that led to the creation of Unite. A loyal bag carrier to Ken Jackson in the AEEU, Blair’s favourite trade union leader, he has been developing an image as a political fixer in the union movement for decades, perhaps over-inflating his role.
Certainly his career path explains why he now has a tin ear for our movement today. After leaving Amicus, he entered a succession of jobs first working as a special adviser to Stephen Byers, longtime plotter and avowed critic of the Labour/union link. After Byers left office, Dugher ended up working for Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, finally ending up as the replacement to Damian McBride as the spin doctor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Michael’s eventual selection in Barnsley was no accident either, supported as it was by the Amicus “union machine”. We don’t remember him raising concerns over his union’s influence in politics at that time… Dugher says that history will judge unions “pretty badly”. If he represents what is now called a rising star in the Party, history will judge all of us badly.”
All together now: “Stand by your man“…
Some determined FoI-ing from Tory MP Stephen Barclay published in the Mail and the Telegraph today. Email chains from ministers and officials serving in the previous government show how Labour tried to block the release of a report into neglect at NHS hospitals. Barclay is now calling for Burnham to go:
“Labour tried to cover up failing hospitals before the last General Election. Andy Burnham told the House of Commons in July there was no shred of evidence of political interference with the health regulator. But these emails show a clear paper trail of political meddling – leading back to him. He needs to correct his statement when Parliament returns on Monday. Andy Burnham owes a big apology to the patients and families who suffered, and he should resign. No one will ever trust Labour with our hospitals again.”
Which only increases the chances of him staying…
If Miliband’s Mail-bashing was really about sticking up for his dad, he would not have used jarring political lines about the “cost of living crisis” in his letter to Lord Rothermere yesterday. His interview with LabourList this morning betrays the real motivation for why Miliband and Alastair Campbell, who is at the centre of this, have gone after the Mail:
“What we’ve seen over the past five days is a symptom of that and it’s time he took a long hard look at the way his papers are run because I don’t believe that reflects the values of the British people.
“I want to know how these practices are allowed to happen. Not on the basis of being “one rogue reporter” or “one rogue editor”, but what is it about the culture and practice of the organisation that makes these kind of things acceptable?
If we’re going to have those massive debates about the cost of living, we need to have proper standards of decency in our press.”
This is about Leveson, the Royal Charter and state regulation of the press. Miliband believes it is for politicians to decide whether papers “reflect the values of the British people”. Read that as whether they reflect his values. He wants to know how papers are “allowed” to print opinion that he disagrees with, that he finds offensive. That last line, “we need to have proper standards of decency in our press”, is chilling. It shows an incredible mindset from Miliband that he feels it is a politician’s place to decide what constitutes “decency” in the media. As Fraser Nelson notes, next week the Privy Council meets to discuss newspapers’ attempt to prevent state regulation of the press. Hugh Grant and Hacked Off have already tried to hijack the story. Miliband’s timing is no coincidence…
Despite spending the last three years calling Ed Miliband a weak leader, Dave spent vast swathes of his speech addressing the Eds directly and doing a line by line take down of Labour’s Brighton announcements. While Labour are jeering that the PM is rattled, they are less quiet about the fact the Tories have finally managed to get some decent, simple explanations to why Miliband’s new policies are crackers. The official pre-briefed version of the speech had Labour mentioned 14 times and Balls twice. The version actually delivered has plenty more digs (26) and references to “what we heard last week.” Last year he said the word “Labour” just twice.
It was Cameron down the camera, looking directly into the eyes of the viewers, helped by giant autocue screens placed in his line of sight in the middle of the audience. Guido’s favourite bit was when the PM claimed that he did not lead a party of shoddy compromise, apart of course from when they made a shoddy compromise to get into power rather than attempting to rule as a minority government. But who cares for details eh?
Graphic and counting courtesy of Political Scrapbook.
Miliband’s decision to rise to the Mail saying mean things about his dad went well then. Touch a nerve?
“Britain has always benefited from a free Press. Those freedoms should be treasured. They are vital for our democracy. Journalists need to hold politicians like me to account — none of us should be given an easy ride — and I look forward to a robust 19 months between now and the General Election.
But what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday was of a different order all together. I know they say ‘you can’t libel the dead’, but you can smear them.”
So Ed gets a fifth of the page, the Mail use to the rest to twist the knife. Comprehensively. What did he expect them to do?
Ed tried to stitch up a seat for Bad Al. Panic not, Campbell claims he turned the offer down, telling the Times:
“Burnley was one of the seats around the country that the party planned for an all-woman shortlist, Ed offered to un-pick it if I fancied running for it, and I thought long and hard. But in the end I decided against it.”
As Guido reported at the time, despite denials, Campbell’s wife Fiona Miller was looking to stand in Hampstead when Glenda Jackson announced she was standing down. Thankfully she has also thought better of the idea. You have to question Ed’s judgement given he was willing to bend the rules for someone so toxic. Very “new politics”…
What could have caused Bad Al to spurn the chance to further the cause of his beloved Labour Party in parliament? He would of course have to give up the lucrative fees for “strategic advice” to tyrants and declare the villa in France in the register of interests…