Exclusive: Liam Fox Returns for Senior Trade Union Role

Guido hears that the Trade Union Reform Campaign will announce this afternoon that Liam Fox has accepted a senior role in the group. Having virtually gone to ground since his resignation, he will be joining ten or so other MPs on their Parliamentary Council. Set up by Tories, TURC* is campaigning for more transparency in the union movement and an end to Pilgrims. Developing…

*For the record Neo-Guido advises the group on a pro-bono basis about social media.

UPDATE: The full Parliamentary Council is: Chairman Aidan Burley with Caroline Dinenage, Karen Bradley, Fiona Bruce, Nigel Adams, Liam Fox, Stuart Andrew, Alec Shelbrooke, David Morris, Dominic Raab.

Ed’s Change of Heart

When Ed Miliband was elected in 2010 he said:

“You have put your trust in me and I am determined to repay that trust to you. The first way I need to repay that trust is by uniting our party and taking it forward together.”

He made clear that he wasn’t going to follow the Blairite route of dividing sections of the party against each other with talk of hard choices. Less than two years later he’s had a typo-free change of heart:

In a way he has united his party, all wings seem to have it in for him. It won’t stop him taking their money though…

Unite Join the Splitters

Of all the attacks on his leadership, Miliband will have been most relieved with “Red” Len McCluskey’s war-cry in this morning’s Guardian. Unite the Union declaring that Ed is shifting to the right and thus heading over an electoral cliff was to be expected after the two Eds declared support for the public sector pay freeze and the messy announcement about not reversing cuts. Last night one Miliband insider dryly described it to Guido as “the best news he’d had all year”. While putting some distance between the leader and dinosaurs is a good plan, it’s a little more complex in this case though…

Rumours that this is coordinated are wide of the mark and there are some pretty vicious one liners for McCluskey. Blair and Brown could risk the wrath of the brothers because they were not so dependent on their money. Unite are Labour’s biggest donor at the moment and put Ed in the job. The PLP didn’t want Ed in the first place, and now he’s losing support from those that did. Team  Ed won’t be so cock-a-hoop if the money dries up…

Want to Sack Bad Teachers? Well Start With This One

While we are discussing the frankly long overdue proposal to sack rubbish teachers, why don’t we start with blog-favourite Hank Roberts. He’s a geography teacher at Copland School in Brent  Well sort of, that was before he became a “Pilgrim”. A union official, paid for by the taxpayer to do full-time union duties, rather than the front-line role he should be doing. There are hundreds of these teaching pilgrims.

At one point Hank was costing the school £53,000 per annum to have him on full-time release for his union activities, though since Guido exposed him last May, he has apparently gone back to work for at least two days a week. The school is still having to pay another teacher to cover for Hank when he is agitating – he’s “politically active” to say the least. He should be top of the sacking list.

Union Funded Turkeys Vote Against Christmas

As predicted, union backed Labour MPs mobilised to defeat Jesse Norman’s 10 Minute Rule Bill against Pilgrims. The usual nonsense was spouted in defence of taxpayer-funded trade union officials. John Healey surfaced after his Shadow Cabinet sacking to claim that Pilgrims were merely volunteering to help their unions. If they are volunteers, how come they are paid John?

The Ayes 132 /Noes 211 result is a clear message to the government to get a move on with the promised consultation on the issue. Given Cameron has backed the ban, you can add the payroll vote to that number next time. Guido will be having a look at the union donations of those who mobilised against, including those convention-busting Labour frontbenchers.

Any betting on a correlation?

Labour Abandoning Convention in Union Fight to Keep Pilgrims

In attempting to defend taxpayer-funded trade union activists, Unite the Union have accidentally poured petrol on the fire. Their press release today admits, by their own count, that “around 200,000 workers carry out representative duties.” Strangely the number of these Pilgrims is far higher in the public over the private sector.

Today’s 10 Minute Rule Bill that would ban the practice has been pushed back by Lansley’s boob announcement. Labour seem rather happy about this as it means Members would have wandered off by then, as opposed to a vote immediately after PMQs. Labour sources have confirmed that the Shadow Cabinet will not be voting, but whips are encouraging their frontbench team to weigh in to defeat the motion that would ban Pilgrims. The rules are going out of the window as the unions seek a return for their investments. As is convention, the Government whips are calling for all of the government payroll to abstain. Unlike with the opposition, that includes Ministers and PPSs. The vote is expected after 1pm now.

Union Funded Labour MPs Organising Against Pilgrim Vote

After his OpEd in the Telegraph this morning, Tory MP Jesse Norman will put down at 10 Minute Rule Bill against Pilgrims immediately after PMQs on Wednesday:

Ten minute Rule Motion: Jesse Norman: Trade Union Officials (Refund of Pay to Employers): That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide that pay for hours worked on behalf of trade unions by trade union officials during hours when they are paid by an employer should be refunded to the employer by the trade union; and for connected purposes.

Success with a 10 Minute Rule Bill is rare, but it should be a good reminder for the government about this issue in the run up to their promised consultation. Cameron has pledged to scrap taxpayer-funded trade union activity so it would be embarrassing for him if it were to fall. The union funded Labour MPs are having their thumbs screwed by the brothers to organise against the vote:

From: LLOYD, Tony
Sent: 05 January 2012 14:25
Subject: Ten Minute Rule Bill next Wednesday after PMQs

Dear Colleague,

You may be aware that the Conservative backbencher Jesse Norman MP is introducing a Ten Minute Rule Motion on Wednesday 11th January. It will be opposed by Labour MPs in the Chamber and it would be useful if you could be around to vote against. Its timing is subject to statements and PMQs but it will be the first piece of business after 12.30.

Regards,

Tony
Tony Lloyd MP
Manchester Central

What Tony doesn’t mention in his email is that he is the chairman of the Trade Union Group of Labour MPs.

The group greases the wheels for unions to manipulate legislation. They seem to be getting their money’s worth today…

Rachel Reeves Deceives

Guido can’t think why the Tories decided to pull IDS from the Daily Politics today. He’s said to be fuming, particularly at Ken Clarke, and made said fury perfectly clear over the phone to him this morning. Owen Paterson has been stirring things up too. Either way it was the Pilgrims™ section of the show that Guido particularly enjoyed:

Leaving aside her terrible attempt at justifying the practice of full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials, Reeves had the cheek to try and claim that she was not funded by Unite the Union. She acknowledged that they gave her Leeds West Constituency money (£1,500 in May 2009 and another £1,500 in the April before the election), but she categorically denied she had received money directly from Unite:

“I don’t get any money from a trade union…”

In November 2007, two months after being selected as Labour’s candidate for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves declared a donation from Unite of £1,979.50 to the Electoral Commission. Donation Ref. No. C0002459 was paid directly to one Ms Rachel Reeves.

Unions Feeling the Heat

Guido has been watching with great amusement as the unions slowly lose their nut when presented with any scrutiny of their activity. The Labour MPs in their pocket rush to their defence and while other lobbyists are caught on camera, the spinmeisters at the TUC still argue that their movement’s donations are the cleanest in the business. The Trade Union Reform Campaign, set up by Aidan Burley MP and Tory candidate Mark Clarke, has already been welcomed by the PM, and has seen the unions scrambling to defend the practice of Pilgrims – badly. Another Tory MP has called for a register of interests for union bosses, given the level of public money they receive. The government response was shock that one did not already exist…

With the unions seemingly unable to even get their own members out on strike, Unite are now looking to sign up people on benefits to join. Apparently its “only 50p” a week – though he wouldn’t phrase it like that about a suggested cut. The war is warming up, and Guido hears that the Daily Politics will be well worth a watch…

Green Party Demonstrates Care for the Environment

Guido got a press release from the Green Party yesterday telling him they were the only party that supported the strikers. Obviously the Greens would be marching with the unions. Then dumping their placards on Embankment afterwards…

Clarkson Takes Firm Line On Union Unrest

Cameron also took a firm line on Union Pilgrims at PMQs yesterday:

“I think the idea of full-time trade unionists working in the public sector on trade union business, rather than serving the public – I don’t think that is right and we are going to put that to an end. The evidence today makes that even stronger.”

Defunding the left of the £113 million wasted on union agitators which can be switched to frontline services is no small thing.

Compared with Clarkson, it is a centrist position…

We're All in This Together

MPs are going to suffer this Wednesday.  Catering staff are going on strike, so no £15-for-three-courses subsidised meals on expenses for them. It is tough at the top…

Cash for Votes Gets PMQs Treatment

There was audible gasps of righteous indignation from the Labour benches when Cameron sung the praises of the Taxpayers’ Alliance at PMQs today. He quipped that at least they didn’t pay to put down amendments. Another happy reader

Why Labour Won't Condemn the Strikes

Just in time for PMQs the Quarter Three donation figures reveal that 89% of Labour’s funding comes from the unions. With Dave buying land with £140,000 cash from a lobbyist you can see the dividing lines drawing themselves. Handbags at noon.

Bung to Burnham Buys Backing

When is a smear not a smear? Simple answer, when it’s the truth. A spokesman for Andy Burnham has called the complaint made about his conduct to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner a “weak smear”. What do you think?

Back in May, while he was still the Shadow Education Secretary, Andy Burnham tabled an amendment to the Education Bill that would require all secondary school pupils have access to independent careers advice. If it had been accepted, it would have been a replacement for the cuts to the “Connexions” service. He admitted it would cost £200 million.

Guess who had been pushing for this idea – Unison:

“Careers services for young people in England are being slashed by up to 50% which could lead to 8,000 job losses, the public services union Unison says. Cuts in grants to local authorities for youth services could mean one in four staff at Connexions careers advice services lose their jobs, it says.”

What a strange coincidence… or perhaps not. Burnham took a grand from the union in May 2010 and crucially again at the end of Febuary 2011,  just weeks before he joined in with their campaign to save “Connexions”. And what a strange coincidence that Burnham did not declare this donation when tabling the amendment, despite it being given in such a recent period of time. The matter has been reported to John Lyons and it seems a pretty open and shut case – there was no declaration at the time the amendment went down, despite the rules being very clearThere has always been a perception that the unions have Labour by the balls, but this lot are proving the assertion beyond any doubt…

Balls, Cooper, Burnham and Byrne Facing Investigation

Labour claimed in yesterday’s Sunday Times that the Cash for Votes allegations are a “weak smear”. However Guido wouldn’t be so cocky. The paper reported:

“Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, and Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, are accused of failing to register a potential conflict of interest and so breaching parliamentary rules.”

The matter is currently with John Lyons, but Guido thinks you should be able to judge on the matter too. Which naughty puppet to start with…

Christmas Cancelling Teachers Union Makes One Exception

Yesterday the Express reported that the militant head-bangers over at the NASUWT were ordering their members

“not to put up festive decorations or help produce Nativity plays and carol concerts in a dispute which could go on for months. Union rules say that members will be expected to “stick rigidly” to the 32.5-hour working week. They will also be told to refuse to perform any duties on a list of “21 administrative and clerical tasks that should not be routinely carried out by teachers” according to a national document outlining pay and conditions.”

Bah humbug etc! 

So imagine Guido’s amusement when this invitation reached his inbox this morning:

Will the NASUWT officials bother putting the tinsel up for this one? Or is organising their own Christmas party an “administrative and clerical tasks that should not be routinely carried out by teachers”? They couldn’t have anything interfering with their strict adherence to that 32.5 hour week now could they…

Parliamentary Labour Party Coordinating Union Obfuscation

The Labour leadership seems to be getting rattled by the continual highlighting of their members’ servitude to their biggest donor and string-puller: the unions. Regular readers will know that Guido caught Sadiq Khan and Kate Green red-handed and the Tories went very publicly for Rachel Reeves.

At Monday’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, backbenchers were given the following advice:

Correct, you do not need to declare membership, but when local donations are received they should not only be registered with the Electoral Commission, but also mentioned in the Register of Members Interests. However this is classic Labour obfuscation –  denying charges that nobody is making. The trouble they have got themselves into isn’t about these two things, it’s about declaring an interest when scrutinising legislation, or speaking on an issue or subject that your donor has a direct interest in. Guido will repeat it until he is blue in the face, Rule 74 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct is very clear:

“It is the responsibility of the Member, having regard to the rules of the House, to judge whether a financial interest is sufficiently relevant to a particular debate, proceeding, meeting or other activity to require a declaration. The basic test of relevance should be the same for declaration as it is for registration of an interest; namely, that a financial interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question. A declaration should be brief but should make specific reference to the nature of the Member’s interest.”

This is the advice the whips should have been dispensing.

Only 27.6% of GMB Members Want a Strike

Before anyone gets overexcited about the 83.7% of GMB union members voting to strike, lets take a wee reality check.

The turnout was a mere 33%. So in reality just 27.6% of the members voted to strike.

Just over one in four members want to walk out. But hasn’t stopped the spin…

UPDATE:

Guido,

Following one of your stories today, you may be interested to know that, as a UNISON member, the first I found out about the date of the ballot was when the results were announced on the news. I had not received a ballot, and I was not even emailed by a UNISON representative in order to alert me to the fact that a ballot was doing the rounds. Upon returning to work following the ballot results, I contacted my representative to be told that I “should have checked the website”. I protested that I did not have time to do this every day and further asked why it was that we were not emailed to inform us of the ballotting when the mass email system had been previously used for such major occurrences as that same representatives standing down from (and returning to) his position a year or two ago.

No response.

I emailed my concerns onto the UNISON Head and Deputy Head of my organisation several days ago.

No response.

Anonymity appreciated on this one please. I’m genuinely a little concerned about all of this and don’t want to ruffle any more feathers than I already have what with swingeing cuts and all of that malarkey.

Watch: Clegg Slaps Khan's Donor Connections

There may not have been Prime Minister’s Questions today, but Guido wouldn’t want you to miss out on your weekly dose of Parliamentary bashing. Over to Nick Clegg, who has clearly been reading Guido’s work on Cash for Votes and Sadiq Khan’s dodgy connections with the GMB:

See how they squirm…

Video via Liar Politicians
[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

“We have no plans to write off existing student debt.”

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