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

Unison Balloted Non Members For Strike Action

A worried co-conspirator gets in touch with a Unison strike action ballot paper. This was sent out to a former Unison member despite the fact that they no longer work in the public sector. They left eighteen-months ago and no longer pay dues to the union. Either one of those things alone should have ruled him out of voting on strike action…

Right at the bottom of the forms sent out, in the smallest print on the whole page, is a reference to people “leaving employment before 30 November” not being “entitled to vote and should not do so”, however Guido can see no way that this would be verified or checked if these ballots are being sent to all and sundry.

The legitimacy of strike ballots is often questioned in terms of turnout and percentage of the vote, but this potential of widespread fraud goes way beyond that…

Bercow's Blind Eye to Labour Donor Balls Up

In November 2007, two months after being selected as Labour’s candidate for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves declared a donation from Unite in November 2007 of £1,979.50 to the Electoral Commission. As the election got closer, the cheques from Unite kept coming. They gave her Leeds West Constituency £1,500 in May 2009 and another £1,500 in the April before the election. All of these donations were declared with the Electoral Commission correctly. But funnily enough she decided not to put the details on her Register of Members Interests when she won the following month…

This lack of information on the Register of Interests is probably why nobody noticed that Reeves wasn’t declaring an interest throughout the life of the Pensions Bill in Parliament, but Rule 78 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct is very clear:

“Members are required to declare relevant interests on the Order Paper (when tabling any written notice initiating a parliamentary proceeding.”

When Bercow was asked in a Point of Order about this earlier, he decided he didn’t want anything to do with it. To the cheers of the Labour benches.

Odd, but not the end of the matter…

Sorry Was the Silliest Word

It seems that Kate Green apologising to the House yesterday for not declaring her financial interests, despite putting down amendments to legislation on behalf of unions, may shape up to be a massive tactical error for Labour. There is no excuse them not to apologise now every-time they are caught red-handed…

Quick off the mark the Tories are scouring every outlet for evidence of Trade Union influence on legislation, and it didn’t take them long to find Labour’s rising star Rachel Reeves doing the dirty:

“A leaked internal Labour document shows that the trade unions put pressure on Rachel Reeves, then Shadow Pensions Minister, to amend the Pensions Bill. Rachel Reeves election campaign received £3,000 in donations from Unite the union – one of the trade unions putting pressure on her to make amendments to the Bill.”

Warsi has written to Miliband to complain, but Guido’s not going to  hold his breath for her letter being filed anywhere other than the bin. When will Reeves apologise to the House, or were they just making an example of Kate Green?

 

Labour's Kate Green Forced to Apologise to House

Yesterday Guido broke the news of Kate Green MP and her undeclared special interest involvement with the GMB union. To sum it up, they donate to her campaigns and she does their bidding in the House, including directly amending legislation. Well today she pre-empted a point of order on the very subject and apologised outright, saying she should have declared an interest. The Speaker called it “gracious” despite being aware that the Tories were planning on raising it moments later. Presumably the precedent is now set for every union funded Labour MP to have to make such a declaration before scrutinising any law that may affect the minority interest of said union?

UPDATE: Sky News’ Sophy Ridge reports “I have learned that the Tory backbencher Aidan Burley has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards asking him to investigate a potential breach of the Code of Conduct.”

Union Funded Labour MPs Blocking Debate on Union Funding

The parliamentary campaign against Pilgrims is hotting up. After the bombastic adjournment debate two weeks ago, yesterday plans for full three-hour debate on the issue was put to the Backbench Business Committee. The proposal from Jesse Norman was rejected, despite support from the LibDems and the DUP.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Jeremy Corbyn:

“I’m not a defender or supporter of ISIS.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

Updates: Who’s Standing? Who’s Standing Down? Updates: Who’s Standing? Who’s Standing Down?
Tories Mistakenly Share Private Conference Call PIN with Opposition Tories Mistakenly Share Private Conference Call PIN with Opposition
Len and Seamus’s Champaign Celebration Len and Seamus’s Champaign Celebration
Campaign Report: 48 Days To Go Campaign Report: 48 Days To Go
Campaign Report: 49 Days to Go Campaign Report: 49 Days to Go
Listen: Dawn Butler Car Crash Interview Listen: Dawn Butler Car Crash Interview
Manifesto Lookahead: Six Tory Policies in Peril Manifesto Lookahead: Six Tory Policies in Peril
McVey for Upminster? McVey for Upminster?
Watch: Corbyn Crowd Boos and Shouts Down ITV Question Watch: Corbyn Crowd Boos and Shouts Down ITV Question
Coalition of the Others Still Behind Tories Coalition of the Others Still Behind Tories
NEC Swerves Corbyn Loyalty Pledge NEC Swerves Corbyn Loyalty Pledge
Watch: Barry Gardiner Loses It on Sky News Watch: Barry Gardiner Loses It on Sky News
CCHQ Caught on Hop: Not Enough Tory Candidates CCHQ Caught on Hop: Not Enough Tory Candidates
Campaign Report – 50 Days to Go Campaign Report – 50 Days to Go
PMQs Sketch PMQs Sketch
Osborne Quits as MP Osborne Quits as MP
Will Tories Drop MOAB on Corbyn? Will Tories Drop MOAB on Corbyn?
Corbyn Getting Beers in Early Corbyn Getting Beers in Early
Labour Staff Told: No Slogan, No Key Seats List, No Budget Labour Staff Told: No Slogan, No Key Seats List, No Budget
BREAKING: May Calls Snap Election BREAKING: May Calls Snap Election