Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Only 3 in 10 Unite Members Would Opt In to Political Fund
Just 12% Would Join Labour Party

A damning Lord Ashcroft poll of Unite members out this morning. If members had to opt in to the political fund, where their membership fees go towards the Labour Party, only 30% would choose to do so. 53% say they would not. 57% want the rules changed to an opt-in system. As evidence of just how unrepresentative and anti-democratic Unite is, if members who opted in to the political fund were no longer automatically made affiliated Labour members, just 12% would join the party as an individual member. 65% of Unite members say that donating funds to Labour is not an effective way of advancing their interests. Most amusingly only 16% could name Len McCluskey when given a photo, confusing him with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Last night Miliband announced a “Special Conference” to “ensure that affiliated members are given a real choice about joining the party”. This poll shows exactly why they need to change. And exactly why they won’t…

Monday, July 15, 2013

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?

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

When Owen Jones Met Red Len

Of course Owen Jones is definitely not a union lobbyist. He’s far too busy writing his book to get involved in that unfortunate business any more. After all it was only a bit of “public policy work” that he used to do for the union-funded CLASS think tank anyway. Yet now he doesn’t have the time for all that. Who should Owen be spotted with in Portcullis House this afternoon? One Len McCluskey…

Trade Union Certification Officer Opens Falkirk Fraud Review

The Trade Union Certification Officer has opened a “review” into the Unite union and the Falkirk mess. Responding to a complaint from the Trade Union Reform Campaign, Guido understands that the body that regulates unions wants the Information Commissioner to investigate possible Data Protection Act breaches. The regulator is gathering evidence…

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Union-Funded ‘Transparency’ Website Smears Tory MPs

Search the Money, the website funded by the GMB, Unite and CWU trade unions that promises to “bring transparency to Conservative Party funding”, has made a string of untrue claims about donations made to Tory MPs. The website collates data from the Electoral Commission by constituency, attributing all of the donations on record in that constituency to the current serving MP. However, for the 2010 intake, this means that many of the alleged donations published by Search the Money actually apply to before they were even selected. Search the Money allude to this in a disclaimer on their website, admitting “it is possible that some of the money listed may pre-date new MPs having been adopted as candidates”. That’s an understatement.

Take Sam Gyimah, to whom Search the Money claim to have “found” £107,176 worth of donations. One of those donations, £1,400 from a Claire Ainsworth to the East Surrey Constituency Association, was made on April 1st 2009. That name rings a bell. Could Claire Ainsworth possibly be the wife of Peter Ainsworth, the Tory MP for East Surrey until 2010? Sam Gyimah was his successor, he wasn’t even selected until February 2010. Almost a year after that donation was made. Guido hears a host of Tory MPs are considering taking legal action against Search the Money over similar untrue claims. Oh dear…

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

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

Ed’s Constitutional Failure | ConHome
UKIP Poster Girl’s Naked Photos | Sun
Miliband’s Radical Old Labour Agenda | Fraser Nelson
Meet Team Miliband | Dan Hodges
Run Boris Run | Times
Tories Pledge to End Onshore Windfarm Subsidy | Telegraph
Labour’s Plan to Attack Part-Time Boris | Standard
Ex-Sun Hack Cleared After 582 Days on Bail | MediaGuido
11 Times Boris Denied He Would Stand for Parliament | Buzzfeed
Attacking UKIP’s Posters is Counter-Productive | Guardian
Sarkozy Tried it on With Hollande’s Ex | Times


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A confused Nick Griffin says Nigel Farage is a shill for the City, forgetting that City banks want to stay in the EU:

“Farage is a snake oil salesman, but a very good one. His supposed anti-immigration stance is all smoke and mirrors, as is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘man of the people’. The truth is that UKIP is a pro-immigration party that exists to lobby for the interests of the City of London.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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