Len Fixes it For More Labour Candidates

Three more Unite candidates selected this weekend. Natasha Millward, one of the Unite 41, will run in Dudley South, she is also an Area Organiser for UNISON and has the backing of the GMB to complete her union hat-trick. Then there is Tulip Siddiq. The proud Unite member won a dramatic selection in Hampstead and Kilburn after a man was headbutted and police were called. The cops are busy with Unite selections at the moment.

Unite-backed trade union lawyer Jo Stevens was selected in Cardiff Central with the backing of her pal Tom Watson, who generously declared “I believe in her”. Yvette Cooper’s staffer Leonie Mathers will run in Sherwood, she has the backing of the USDAW union. Finally, Guido readers’ favourite Rowenna Davis is the candidate for Southampton Itchen. That’s probably one the Tories can cross off their target list…

Labour’s Lobbying Reform Proposals Do Not Go Far Enough

Guido welcomes Labour’s new tough stance on lobbying after thirteen years of prostituting in government. They have outlined amendments to be put down to this week’s lobbying bill, amendments which include a change to ensure all professional lobbyists working in the UK will be required to declare their full list of clients and an approximate value of their lobbying activity. In an obvious dig at Crosby they will also demand that “anyone doing a senior job for the government of the day – whether in-house or a contractor, formally for the party or directly by the government – who is a professional lobbyist must be declared.” New appointments to government would also be scrutinised in a similar way to how senior officials or ministers leaving to take up posts in related areas have new their jobs put before a Cabinet Office committee. Solid stuff, but does this go far enough? Not at all.

Labour’s back-of-a-fag-packet announcement today does not take into account successful lobbyists that pay money directly to government figures. Surely, government MPs should  for obvious conflicts of interest reasons have to resign from any union that financially supports them, and not accept money from them directly or indirectly to their constituency parties, whilst in government? Labour’s John Trickett said this morning:

“Labour is determined to stand up to vested interests and we will push amendments to the government’s lobbying bill that will once and for all clean up this aspect of politics.”

Except where their union paymasters are involved?

Labour Plan to Make Benefits a “Human Right”
Secret Recording Reveals Plans for Lib-Lab Deal

fabian-wolf-in-sheeps-clothingThis covert recording obtained by Guido – made at the Fabian Society’s recent £100-a-ticket gala – reveals that Labour are planning to enshrine welfare payments as a human right, with plans to extend the Human Rights Act to include ‘economic and social rights’. Essentially enshrining socialism in law. No wonder the symbol of the Fabian Society is a socialist wolf in sheep’s clothing…

The Sun reported the plan which Labour’s Shadow Minister for Scotland, Willie Bain, himself describes as a “scrounger’s charter”. In response Labour put out a statement claiming “The discussion at a Fabian Society event was about methods used abroad, not something the Labour Party is considering as a policy.”  If you listen to the actual recording you will realise that is complete spin:

After admitting it will be a lot easier for Labour to do a deal with Vince Cable he says a Lib-Lab coalition would make welfare benefits a “human right”:

willie-bain“Sadiq asked me to do this and Jon Cruddas is keen on this as well is to look at whether economic and social rights can be put into law. At the moment the human rights act just deals with civil political rights. It needs really careful handling because I think the politics of this would be the Tories would say it’s a scroungers charter, helping skivers….we might just talk about having a commission on it. It might need a commission after the election…that’s something again where there’d be a communality with the Libs.”

Lawyers will love this, welfare reform would be impossible because it would be a “human right”…

Labour Ministers Opposed Plain Packaging

plain-packsLabour are trying to make a big issue out of the government formally dropping plain packaging, as if this was all Lynton Crosby’s doing. The policy was not actually in the Queen’s Speech so this announcement was hardly a surprise. The fact is it is hard to find a major lobbying firm that is not, or was not retained by Big Tobacco at some point over the last 30 years.

It is not as if when Labour was in government ministers showed any more enthusiasm for the plain packaging idea:

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State Health, 16 December 2008:

alan-johnson

“I have to say, however, that despite the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right about the huge response in favour of plain packaging, there is no evidence base that it actually reduces the number of young children smoking. We want to keep that under review, and when there is an evidence base for it, it could well be another important measure to meet our goal, which is to reduce the number of young people smoking.

Gillian Merron, Public Health Minister, 25 June 2009:

gillian-merron

“No studies have been undertaken to show that plain packaging of tobacco would cut smoking uptake among young people or enable those who want to quit to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would undoubtedly need strong and convincing evidence of the benefits to health, as well as its workability, before this could be promoted and accepted at an international level – especially as no country in the world has introduced plain packaging.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State Health, November 2009:

sad-burnham

“No studies have shown that introducing plain packaging of tobacco products would cut the number of young people smoking, or enable people who want to quit, to do so. Given the impact that plain packaging would have on intellectual property rights, we would need strong and convincing evidence showing the health benefits of this policy before it would be acceptable at an international level.”

Exactly the same lines spun by the current government yesterday…

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

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.

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Quote of the Day

Boris tells the Sun:

“I think it’s a measure of his desperation, isn’t it, that yesterday we had one of the most absurd political spectacles that this country has ever seen. Not since the Tsar and Tsarina prostrated themselves and asked for economic guidance from Grigori Rasputin, has there been such a ridiculous political pilgrimages as the mission of Ed Miliband – the heir of Keir Hardie for heavens sake – to seek economic guidance from Russell Brand.”

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