Quote of the Day

Len McCluskey promises Ed a blank cheque and law breaking to fight the Tories…

“.. we will not let Labour fight for this programme with one hand tied behind its back. We will be up against the party of the rich, bought and paid for by the rich… Unite will do its bit to make sure that the next election is not financially lop-sided because democracy demands a fair fight…

The Conservative Party should not assume that we will put respect for unjust laws ahead of our duty to fight exploitation and ruthless employers. We will fight for our members within the law where possible. But let the Tories be in no doubt that if they push us outside of the law, they will be responsible for the consequences, not us.”

Stay CLASS-y: Wife-Beater Tells Labour to Put Up Taxes

The Unite front group CLASS, despite their own gender failings, is devoted to furthering equal rights and women’s causes. So Guido was surprised to see them happily embrace such a controversial figure this afternoon.

Funnily enough the very left wing, but not right on, ‘think tank’ failed to ask Thomas Piketty about the time he assaulted his girlfriend:

‘After the charges were dropped, the French news agency AFP quoted a source close to Ms Filippetti as saying: “Mr Piketty has acknowledged the facts of the violence against Ms Filippetti and has apologised, so in the interests of the families and children, she did not proceed.” When the allegations re-surfaced in the media at the weekend, Mr Piketty confirmed that he had been arrested but contested the claims.’

Instead MPs and activists lapped up the discredited Frenchman’s thoughts on why the 50% rate of tax is not high enough. That’s right, Labour are spending one of their precious few days before the next election discussing putting taxes up with an economist who beat up his ex-girlfriend.

10 People Who Signed Up to Uber Because of the Cabbie Strike

The London cabbie strike is one of the stupidest industrial protests ever, literally driving business to their new rivals. Uber is reporting an 850% increase in app downloads today:

https://twitter.com/daniel_barnett/status/476741186301198336

Use this link to download the app and you get your first £10 ride free

Unions Buy Labour’s Support in London Taxi Wars

Guido’s London readers will know that the capital’s rival taxi firms have descended into open warfare in recent weeks. Militant black cab drivers are having a hissy fit about being priced out of the market by Uber, who use an app to calculate the journey distance and fee, relay the information to the driver and usually offer a considerably lower fare for the punter in a much nicer car. It is an example of the market working to provide the best price for the consumer. As the Institute of Directors points out:

“When the tide of new technology is coming in fast, it’s unwise to stand still and hope it stops at your feet. It’s all well and good to say that companies such as Uber must fit into the UK’s regulatory framework, but there’s a powerful case to make that the UK’s regulatory framework has been overtaken by digital innovation and, in some areas, is no longer fit for purpose.”

Guido understands that the GMB union has infiltrated the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, the black cabbies’ trade union, to lobby politicians against Uber. Indeed it was a GMB-sponsored Labour MP, Graham Morris, who tabled the Westminster Hall debate on this issue in April.

To little surprise, Labour have sided with a closed shop producer’s protection racket against consumers. Today, Labour have officially adopted the black cab position. Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh, who is also sponsored by the GMB, has launched an attack on Uber this morning:

“Labour welcome Transport for London’s decision to seek a High Court ruling on taximeters. Apps like Uber which involve a contract for vehicle hire must conform to the same high standards of safety, licensing and insurance as the rest of the taxi and private hire industry. It is neither black cab nor minicab, which is why it is vital that a court decides if it fits into the UK’s regulatory framework. The safety of the travelling public must not be put at risk.”

A Labour Shadow Secretary of State going back to the bad old days of formulating party policy based on the demands of her union paymasters. Not only that, Creagh is prioritising the vested interests of a party donor over the interests of the hard-pressed consumers her party is supposed to represent. Uber tell Guido that they go ‘above and beyond other operators in the industry in terms of safety’ and are confident that the High Court will agree with TFL. Guido thinks the rest of the industry should work out how they can bring their service up to scratch rather than trying to run a more competent rival out of town.

Loony Lefties Abuse Tube Staff Working to Get You Home

Spare a thought for the brave strike breakers who are working in the face of union aggression this evening…

Coffee Shop Offer of the Day

The Grill Market cafe in Holborn had this sign up outside their shop this morning in solidarity with London’s commuters. Guido popped along for a cuppa just as they were taking it down, gagged by the hordes of striking RMT workers sitting at home on Twitter…

H/T @casshorowitx

Austin Mitchell Resignation Confirms Guido Story, Despite DenialGuardian 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:

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“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 breakers have had to to put up with from their trade union affiliated colleagues, not least the General Secretary of the TSSA:

https://twitter.com/pompeygommy/status/431111129176092672

https://twitter.com/ravingleftie/status/431020535191846912

https://twitter.com/CarefreeAndy91/status/431091274004070400

Thank you to those who crossed the picket line in the face of union aggression.

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.” Well with the report leaked this morning, for some reason Watson is keeping quiet, spending the day tweeting about Led Zeppelin. Could that be anything to do with it containing damning evidence that “a batch of approx 40 application forms was received by the party with a letter from Len McCluskey stating that Tom Watson said they were OK”, and that, crucially, regarding Unite’s “recruitment work”, “Tom Watson had given it the go ahead”. The conclusions of the report have Unite bang to rights:

Finally confirming what we knew all along. No wonder Miliband wanted to keep it secret…

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 unions seem to keep control of the purse strings:

“…for too long we have operated with structures which were laid down in a different era which did not anticipate the new forms of communication and community activism available for a modern political party.

And, in a 21st Century political party, it is no longer acceptable or fair for people to give money to it without having made an active choice as individuals to do so.

So every individual member of an affiliated trade union will be given a straight “Yes or No” choice about whether they want to pay a small sum to ensure their union’s voice is heard within the party.

Trade unions will continue to affiliate collectively to Labour but, for the first time, the payment of affiliation fees will become a wholly transparent process based on individual positive consent.

These reforms will be introduced during 2014 and will apply to new members of affiliated organisations first. It will be fully implemented for existing members of such organisations within five years – which is the time frame recommended by successive reports into the future of political funding by Sir Gerald Hayden Phillips and Sir Christopher Kelly.

During this period, affiliated organisations will be encouraged to help the party maximise the number of people who agree to pay an affiliation fee.

At the end of this period, the affiliation of each organisation will be determined by the number of members who have consented to the payment of affiliation fees. Only those who have made a positive choice to pay affiliation fees will be counted.”

These reforms are a good start, unfortunately it is still the case that he who pays the piper calls the tune…

UPDATE: Source says “it’s a five-year plan. And anything political phased in over five years is unlikely to come to pass.”

Miliband Using Unison to Fix Grimsby Seat for Melanie OnnStitch-Up For Austin Mitchell Seat Before He Even Resigns

Dozens of Labour MPs are expected to quit before the next election yet even before they’ve gone the stitching-up of seats has begun. Ed Miliband claims he wants to weaken the union hold over his party, yet he’s happy to play their games when an ally is involved. Guido is expecting an announcement that Labour MP 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.

Back at Labour HQ, increasingly isolated General Secretary Iain McNicol does not enjoy the confidence of Ed Miliband. Since the arrival of Spencer Livermore,  McNicol has been further sidelined. Bored of spending lots of his time touring constituency branches to keep him out of harm’s way in Labour HQ, he is now insisting on being involved in campaign planning meetings. This has proved somewhat irritating to Livermore who wants him out, something to which Miliband is sympathetic. McNicol, who owes his appointment to union votes on the party’s National Executive Committee, is now calling in favours from his union friends to make sure his position is secure against him being pushed out. Given the unions pay Labour HQ’s wages this means Ed Miliband may not get his way. So much for redefining that relationship…

Laws: Teaching Pilgrims Crackdown

The Department for Education have cracked down on taxpayer funded pilgrims. Launching new guidance for schools, David Laws has declared that “no teacher funded by the taxpayer should work full time on union work” and “the Department for Education expects all trade union representatives to spend the majority of their working hours carrying out their school-based jobs”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, says….

“The UKIP vote is going to the Tories. That’s the story of the first week of the campaign.”

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