Thursday, November 3, 2011

Labour MPs’ Pilgrim Fightback
Called Union-Busting Tory MP “Prick” and “Twat”

It’s taken Labour a week to come up with a semi-coherent defence of taxpayer funding for trade unions. John Healey has taken to LabourList, on behalf of their paymasters, to defend the practice. The gist of his argument is that union reps do good things therefore it is a good thing. It completely fails to take into account that regardless of what good they do, why should we pay for it rather than the unions: representation of the workers is the key reason people pay to join unions, and their union subscription fees should be used to cover it. Any work time spent on union activity should be invoiced back the union. Anything else is back door corruption and a multi-million pound political subsidy from the taxpayer to the Labour Party.

But at least some in Labour Party seem to be trying to engage properly, which is more than can be said of the union heavies on Labour benches. When Aidan Burley’s adjournment debate speech rattled them last Wednesday, instead of constructive arguement, the Tory backbencher was shouted down, heckled and jeered by amoungst others Tom Blenkinsop, Ian Lavery and Steve Rotheram. All MPs with strong union funding ties.

When the mace went up after the debate, the tension was not dispelled. Lavery, who is PPS to Harriet Harman, called Burley “a prick” – something he did not deny when Guido asked him about it, simply saying instead that “I’m not denying anything… I’ve got no comment to make.” Guido has four witnesses willing to go on the record saying that Steve Rotheram said “You just love winding people up, don’t you, you twat”. An allegation that Rotheram vehemently denies:

“…in fact I was the peacemaker on the night (Blessed are the Peacemakers eh!) I admit that when another Member made a disparaging comment about Mr Burley I did say sarcastically to him that there wasn’t a Court in the land that would find against the accusation . I also told him that he wasn’t going to wind me up when he was shouting towards me “what are you going to do about it” in an aggressive tone. … I have spoken with my legal representative and will defend myself against this accusation and will have more than 4 Members to support what I ‘actually’ said.”

Guido guesses he’ll have to see Steve in Court then…

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Video: Aidan Burley’s Pilgrim Bashing

Pilgrims Harangued

Guido is waiting for the video, but last night’s adjournment debate was certainly one of the more lively ones in recent history. Instead of a backbencher and a Minister discussing seagulls, Aidan Burley’s rampage against the “Spanish practices of taxpayer-funded trade union officials pulled a solid crowd and sent Labour’s union heavies off the scale. Eric Pickles appeared on the frontbench which is a good sign that he will keep his promises…

Burley’s whole speech is here and well worth a read, especially given that the term Pilgrim has now been cemented in official record:

By way of an example, the excellent, independent and non-taxpayer funded campaigning website order-order, or the Guido Fawkes blog, has been highlighting the practice of paying union officials out of the taxpayer purse. Following its campaign, full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials have become known as “Pilgrims” in the media, after Guido Fawkes exposed one such full-time union rep named Jane Pilgrim as a full-time trade union organiser working in the NHS for Unison. She came to public attention in 2011 after criticising the Government’s health policies. Despite being billed as a nurse, she was found to be a full-time trade union official, being paid £40,000 by the hospital. She is now under investigation by both St George’s hospital and Unison for running a private health consultancy—called The Pilgrim Way—on the side, creating a conflict of interests. As the website states: “There is no justification for the taxpayer paying a lobbying organisation to fight for an unsustainable mess in the interests of a vocal minority group. We don’t pay the arms dealers and the tobacco lobbyists’ staffing bills”.

Guido is tempted to bike a copy of Hansard down to St Georges Tooting…

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pilgrims to be Debated In Parliament Tomorrow

Straight after the 7pm vote in the House tomorrow, surviving Tory PPS Aidan Burley will redeem himself for his voting behaviour yesterday. He has tabled an Adjournment Debate on a favourite subject:  “Funding from the public purse of trade union officials”.

Burley will get around fifteen minutes to speak and is guaranteed a Ministerial reply. Though the promise to end the practice of tax-payer funded officials was made at Tory conference, it’s not as if the government have had a good week for doing what they once said they would.

Good to see that the pressure is being kept on…

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mad Frankie Swings the Axe

Hot off the podium:

“…the support they get from the taxpayer has got way out of hand. Just in the Civil Service alone this so-called facility time is costing no less than £30 million a year. Can you believe that there are around 150 civil servants who are actually full time trade union officials, all on the public payroll? We can’t go on like this. That’s why I’m announcing today that we’re consulting on limiting the time civil servants can spend on trade union work, and on ending the employment of full time union officials at the taxpayer’s expense.”

Guido will be buying the champagne later…

How the New Weekly Bin Collection Policy Works

Pickles on Pilgrims

It’s down to Pickles and Maude to announce the end of trade union funded public sector officials – or as Guido christened them – Pilgrims. As revealed yesterday, after months of campaigning on the issue, Pickles will this afternoon say:

But in the game of Town Hall Top Trumps, there’s a non-job which beats even the Civic Sex Snooper.

Taxpayer-funded, full-time, trade union officials.

They cost the public sector – that’s taxpayers to me and you – £250 million a year. This is money taken away from frontline services. Guess what… You won’t find Labour criticising them. Silence from Ed Miliband. His Labour councillors voted to close libraries, but keep bankrolling union officials on the rates. And surprise, surprise. Not even a dicky bird from Labour’s local government spokesperson, Jack Dromey, No wonder. Because he knows the unions are still bankrolling Labour. In my book, that’s not All Right Jack. If unions want to raise money for Labour – do it in your own time, not on the rates. We’re going to call time on this last closed shop.

Maude will flesh out the nitty gritty. Interesting to note Caroline Flint has become irrelevent and it’s her deputy, Mr Harman, who is taking the flack.

Having so often set the news agenda, Guido could get used to setting the policy agenda too…

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Exclusive: Defunding Unions – Osborne To End “Pilgrims”

According to an internal CCHQ briefing, produced ahead of Frankie Maude’s speech, the government will announce a “consultation” aimed at bringing an end to full-time taxpayer-funded public-sector union officials. This is a culmination of a campaign started on this blog in April, which was taken up by backbench MP Aidan Burley with David Cameron at PMQs in May. It was then the subject of an EDM proposed by David Morris MP and highlighted at the Rally Against the Debt where speakers (pictured) spoke out against “Pilgrims”.  June saw public opinion swing behind the issue in the polls after the Taxpayers’ Alliance identified £67 million pounds wasted subsidising union activists. Eric Pickles and Frankie Maude soon got behind the issue. Last month saw the first breakthrough when the original “Pilgrim”, the full-time on-the-taxpayer Unison agitator Jane Pilgrim, was returned to front line nursing duties. She is the first of many union activists who will be put back to front line work.

Leaked CCHQ internal briefing:

The initial £30 million saving is more significant than it sounds, it strikes at the heart of the infrastructure of funding for union militancy, directly defunding the left and undermining their ability to muster state-subsidised agitators. The CCHQ briefing document ahead of the announcement refers to a term coined by this blog – “Pilgrims” - as well as crediting the research work of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. We’re celebrating this breakthrough as a huge policy victory, there is nothing we like more than bashing union militants…

UPDATE: Full story background to the anti-Pilgrims campaign here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Original “Pilgrim” Forced Back To Front Line Services Work

St George’s Hospital in Tooting is under new management and it seems that they have begun to clear out the rot. Jane Pilgrim, the “nurse” who was paid a full-time salary not to nurse, but to work full-time campaigning against the government, has been taken off her full-time duties for Unison and returned to the job we pay her to do – looking after patients:

From: Jane Pilgrim
Sent: 15 September 2011 ██:██
To: ███████████████████████
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: on-call

I will not see Emails today until 4PM AS I am clinical.

Urgent calls
07██████████
UNISON 1███

Have a Good Day

Thanks

Jane

Fittingly this small but not insignificant victory comes during the week of TUC conference. Guido hears our old friend Jane was none to happy about the move. Jane can go back to work safe in the knowledge her precedent has possibly ruined her movement’s subsidised fun and games at taxpayers’ expense. Her case has directly lead to the issue of taxpayer funded union officials, or “Pilgrims” as they have come to be known, shooting up the agenda. Guido hears from the more switched on ministers that the days of unproductive Pilgrims are numbered. The government is reviewing the £86 million loophole that pays for the union’s organisational infrastructure, allowing them to save the money raised by member subscriptions for more important things. Like keeping the Labour Party solvent…

You can read the whole saga here. We’re celebrating that this blog has helped to increase public sector productivity…

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pilgrim’s Progress II

Remember our old friend Jane Pilgrim? The union staffer at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, who is paid a full time nurses salary not to nurse? She instead spends her days smearing Lansley. Well Guido hears that she was allowed to carry on as if nothing had happened, despite being busted running a private consultancy firm on the side, that used pictures of the hospital’s management, without their consent, as endorsements. Instead of being sacked, she was promoted by hospital managers to “management lead for trade unions.” Whatever that means. 

While Pilgrim’s actions triggered outrage, with the issue of taxpayer funded union officials reaching Prime Minister Questions, and the government signalling a review into the practice, the original sinner and inspiration for the whole campaign has thus far got off very lightly. However Guido hears the net might be closing in on our old friend.

Geoff Thorne was a hospital porter and Secretary of the St George’s Hospital Unison branch. Like Jane Pilgrim he’s militant and ganged up with her to threaten a nurses strike at St George’s – as if it wasn’t enough that she wasn’t doing any actual nursing. Geoff had a cameo role in the Pilgrim saga when the Mail on Sunday outed him as Pilgrim’s lover and it emerged that he colluded in the lies spread about “meeting” Andrew Lansley, despite the fact that he boycotted the event with Pilgrim.

Well this morning Geoff Thorne was fired. Guido understands that this was for the leaking of confidential information, but is awaiting the official line. Geoff is not the only recent exit from St George’s Hospital in recent weeks. Within a few weeks of Guido breaking the Pilgrim mess back in May, the management at St George’s were cleared out. Normally, these sort of changes would happen as part of a bigger series of moves and restructuring. Not in this case – hospital sources are adamant that St George’s alone was singled out for the cleansing.The Chief Executive “resigned” and cleared his desk within 24 hours – without a replacement, two years early. Within days the Trust Chairman announced the end of her term.  Even though she was eligible for another two years. She used to have Labour Party posters up in her office…

New management has been brought in, and are apparently on a bit of a rampage. Jane isn’t off the hook yet…


Seen Elsewhere

5 Things We Learned From Guido’s Party | GQ
Revealed: Guido Fawkes Anniversary Dinner Guestlist | Peter Oborne
More Owen Jones Errors | Michael Ezra
Why Should Men Get Equal Maternity Leave? | Laura Keynes
Dentists Have Last Laugh Over Sneering Keynes | FT
Why’s Clegg Giving Men Paternity Leave? | Conservative Women
Cam Cannot Stem EU Immigration | David Keighley
9 Mansion Tax Questions for Ed Balls | TPA
Politicians are Lying to You About Immigration | Alex Wickham
Give Journalists Public Interest Defence in Law | Guardian
Cameron is Going to Have to Deal With UKIP | Dan Hodges


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