Austin Mitchell Resignation Confirms Guido Story, Despite Denial
Guardian Scrub Report of Miliband Seat Stitch Up From Website

Labour’s Austin Mitchell has announced via YouTube that he is standing down in 2015. However, this was well known after Guido revealed it was on the cards in the Sun back in January. At the time Mitchell said:

With a more lucid quote given to the local press:

“There is no truth in it. I haven’t said anything to anyone about stepping down. That will be decided by me and the local party which will meet to discuss it and nothing will be done or decided until then. I don’t know who has been shouting their mouth off. It could be an attempt to try to discredit the unions, but I am totally mystified. Meanwhile, I am getting better and am feeling younger and more vigorous.”

Bizarrely the original Guardian report about Mitchell’s announcement, published at 19.48 last night, included details of how Labour and the unions are stitching up the seat for former Miliband apparatchik Melanie Onn. By 21.10 history had been re-written and the intrigue had disappeared from the Guardian’s website. Regular readers will remember that Guido also revealed the details of this plot back at the beginning of the year:

“Austin Mitchell isn’t going to be running again in Grimsby and all the stops are being pulled out to secure the seat for former Labour HQ staffer Melanie Onn. Miraculously Onn was given a cosy regional campaigning role with Unison. Labour insiders say she got the gig at Ed’s personal request. That must be Ed’s promised ‘new, more open politics’ in action.”

So who got on the blower to shut that one down?

Unite Annual Report Mocks Ed’s “Seismic” Reforms

In February Ed Miliband promised “seismic changes” to Labour’s relationship with the trade unions, vowing that reforming the unions’ grip on the party would be “bigger than Clause IV“. Red Len’s baby mama Jennie Formby, Unite’s meritocratic political director, explains how that is going in their political report for the last year. Firstly she calls Ed’s reforms “a distraction that nobody wanted”, before confirming that it’s business as usual for Unite.

Describing the Labour politicians in the union’s pocket as “Unite MPs”, Formby reveals how Unite have successfully lobbied Labour MPs to raise issues in the House, going as far as influencing voting:

“Chair of the TU Group of MPs, Ian Lavery, secured time for a 10 Minute Rule Bill on the Bedroom Tax and we worked hard both with Ian and with the Labour Party to get them to impose a three line whip on this.”

She admits “we have been involved in discussing a number of other issues with MPs in order to build support for key issues” including welfare, the NHS and low pay. And, ironically, the Lobbying Bill. 

In a section titled “parliamentary selections” Formby reports target seats are now nearly completed” but “we wait for retirements in other seats”. There is also a new “candidate training programme”, where “successful candidates will be expected to give a commitment to participate in all the training modules” and will be “judged” on their suitability to be an MP on important issues to constituents such as “commitment to working class values of the Trade Union” and “active membership of the union”How’s that seismic change-y thing working out for ya, Ed? 

* Do nothing.

Awkward Len Moments

An afternoon full of awkward Ed Miliband moments during Len McCluskey’s Press Gallery lunch today, not least his verdict on the Labour leadership:

“I believe the British electorate are of a mind unless there is a real alternative to say you know what, we best stick with the devil we know. Miliband has got to give hope to people. He has got to demonstrate that he will do something different in power… They come up with ideas but no one seems to be pulling them together in a coherent way.”

Who was sat listening attentively on the front table just a few feet away? One Angela Eagle: Chair of Labour’s National Policy forum…

Loony Unite Boss Wishes Members Would Kill the Rich

One for someone in the Lobby to ask during their lunch with Len McCluskey today. Unite assistant general secretary and policy chief Steve Turner has, somewhat unfortunately, been caught on tape calling for the murder of the 85 richest people in the world. Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee were in the audience, but don’t seem to bat an eyelid. Listen here:

“The world’s 85 richest people control the combined wealth of the world’s poorest 50%. 50% of the globe – the combined wealth of 85 people. You could put them on a double-decker bus and travel round London. I only wish it was one of our members and they’d have an incident on route, should we say. And while that’s happening, 23,000 London bus workers are members of my union and I’m sure we’ll find one to do that deed.”

Cue a sharp intake of breath from his audience.

UPDATE:

Newsnight Hire Pro-Labour TUC Wonk as Economics Editor

newsnightStephanie “Two Eds” Flanders used to annoy Tory MPs when she was the economics pundit on Newsnight, before her the quasi-Marxist Paul Mason had them shouting at the telly. Well imagine how they are going to react to the news that the TUC’s senior economist Duncan Weldon has been hired as her replacement. Weldon is a former Labour Party staffer who has blogged for the Fabian Society, Left Foot Forward and written a series of posts praising Labour politicians and attacking the Tories on LabourList. If that were not enough he also writes regularly for the Owen Jones launched and Unite-funded CLASS think tank. Guido looks forward to his fair and balanced reporting…

BBC sources say that it would be unfair to blame the former Guardian deputy-editor Ian Katz who is now Newsnight’s editor for the hire as James Harding (ex-Times editor) signs off the hires. Katz seems sensitive to complaints about the politics of Newsnight:

It is clearly provocative in a pre-election year to hire a well known Labour Party advocate for the position when the economy is going to be the central election issue. The BBC’s Charter is up for review in 2017. Conservative HQ will be as suspicious as ever of the BBC…

UPDATE: Livid Tory spokesman: “Highly questionable appointment. Arthur Scargill would be a more objective appointment.”

UPDATE II: Duncan Weldon ran as a candidate for the Labour Party in Crouch End, Haringey in the 2010 elections.

UPDATE III: Duncan Weldon was the economic adviser to Harriet Harman when she was acting leader of the Labour Party. This might just lead some to question his objectivity in reporting on Labour’s forthcoming 2015 manifesto.

UPDATE IV:

A Bottle a Day at the BMA Keeps the Health Secretary Away

Doctors’ trade union the BMA has been getting very upset about “cuts” to the NHS recently, moaning to the government that funding changes could force GP practices to close. One thing in particular they don’t want to cut is their very own in-house wine list, which offers posh plonk such as a £52 Pol Roger advertised as “Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne”.

Cheers!

Did the Daily Mail Kill Bob Crow?

  • Union boss Bob Crow died from heart attack early this morning
  • Today’s Mail ran brutal hatchet job on Crow

The Daily Mail newspaper published a deadly hatchet job on union leader Bob Crow last night just hours before his death from a heart attack, it emerged this morning. In developments likely to infuriate his union members, it was revealed that the Mail described Crow as a “militant” and criticised him for attending a “three-course lunch at Westminster’s fashionable Inn on the Park restaurant”.

The attack appeared on the paper’s website only hours before Crow suffered a fatal heart attack. Bob Crow died at Whipps Cross hospital in Leytonstone early this morning.

RIP Bob Crow 1961-2014

RMT have confirmed union boss Bob Crow has died. If Guido was a train driver, he’d have voted for him…

UPDATE:

Trade Unionists Abuse Brave Strike Breakers

As is the case for millions of other Londoners this morning, the Guy Newsroom would not be able to get in if it were not for brave tube workers ignoring Bob Crow’s strike. This is the sort of abuse strike […]

Bob Crow Wishes You a Fun Journey Home

High life of Bob, the lobster-red baron: With his members bringing misery to commuters this week, rail union boss Crow escapes to sip cocktails in Rio sunshine

Nice tan…[…]

Watson Up to His Grubby Neck in Falkirk Report

When open and transparent Tom Watson quit the Shadow Cabinet he pretended he wanted the Falkirk report to be published, whinging that “I’ve still not seen the report but believe there are an awful lot of spurious suppositions being written.”[…]

Union Reform: Follow the Money

GMB Red Ed Ballot Paper

Ed’s proposals are being briefed out. At first glance they seem a sensible attempt to reduce control of the Labour Party by union vested interests. As always the key factor is money. Here it doesn’t look so good. The […]



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Andrew Neil on the dying Dead Tree Press

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