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”. “We believe that it should be possible for local union representatives to fulfil their main union duties in one day a week or less”. Gold star.

Union-Backed Labour ‘Charity’ Warned Over Neutrality

The ‘Family and Childcare Trust’, a so-called charity made up of union-backed Labour luvvies, has been warned by the Charity Commission over its surprising inability to remain politically neutral. The Trust’s chief executive Anand Shukla is a former Labour candidate, and it used to be run by Bad Al Campbell’s missus Fiona Millar. By their own admission, this definitely unbiased charity “has worked with Unison to provide support to local campaigning groups against cuts”. Hardly a shock then that the Charity Commission warns that “public perceptions of its independence could have been adversely affected”. They are taking action, confirming to Rob Wilson MP that they will: “contact the charity trustees to raise this issue and provide regulatory advice on the need to maintain the charity’s independence”. Tut, tut.

Carpet-Bagging Commies of the World, Unite!

Richard Burgon is a classic example of a union-backed carpet bagger. Endorsed by Unite, the GMB, the CWU, ASLEF and UCATT, Burgon will be the candidate for anywhere that will take him, already trying and failing in Rotherham and Barnsley Central. This week, with Unite sponsoring him all the way, literally providing the free beer and sandwiches, he will host a Q&A session alongside Leeds East MP George Mudie, who he now hopes to succeed.

According to the website of the Communist Party of Britain, Burgon is a regular attendee of communist events across the North. He was the guest speaker at the annual Yorkshire Communists’ Red October meeting, which apparently consisted of “celebrations of the Russian Revolution of 1917 by declaring ‘Red October’ throughout the region”. Back in 2011, Burgon was a tutor at the self-described “Communist University of the North”, where among other things students paid homage to military dictator Fidel Castro. If he ever manages to win a selection, Burgon might just become the looniest loony left in parliament…

Miliband’s Union Henchman Forced to Apologise to Commons

Miliband’s “Spokesman on Trade Unions & Industrial Relations” Ian Murray will be forced to apologise to the House this afternoon by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner after he failed to declare his interests regarding his union paymasters while legislating on, ironically, the Transparency in Lobbying Bill. Whoops.

Fightback Against Union Funded Classroom Propaganda

Labour are getting their knickers in a twist over a party information pack sent from CCHQ to schools. Trade union funded websites are claiming it breaches the Education Act of 1996 ruling that says political issues must be presented neutrally in classroom. Which is rather patronising to teachers, who they clearly presume will simply regurgitate the leaflet to their pupils.

Talking of balance, let’s have a look at what else is being sent to schools:

“Labour’s biggest backer, Unite, wants all unions to develop “a programme of political education for young workers” to demonstrate the “positive and practical workplace benefits of union membership for young people”. The union is calling on the Trades Union Congress to “consider how this can be developed for young people in education or members of young people’s campaigning organisations”. The Department for Education says it has no powers to stop head teachers from letting union staff into schools to talk to children but has warned of the need to “maintain political balance” in the classroom “at all times”.”

This summer, Unite launched a series of videos aimed at teaching children how to organise public protests, make placards and fight against corporations and the evils of privatisation through the power of trade unions:

Weirdly the videos even attempt to use subliminal messaging, the fictional town featured is called ‘Tethergo’, an anagram of ‘together’. The videos were made to be shown in the sinister-sounding Personal, Social, Health and Economic lessons, in conjunction with union speakers visiting schools. Coincidentally Labour want to lower the voting age to 16…

And what about the NUT. Here, via the Spectator, is a leaflet they distribute in schools:

Sounds like the Tories are simply trying to “maintain political balance” in the classroom “at all times”.

Unite to Labour:No Reform, No Primaries, Unions Control Selections

redlen
The Collins review into Labour’s links with the unions has evoked a response from Len McCluskey. Guido has the official response of the Unite Executive Council. In summary it is “Sod Off Mililband”.

  • Unite refuses to accept any reduction in the 50% union conference vote.
  • Unite still intends to support the selection of their own candidates.
  • Absolutely opposes open primaries which would dilute their power to control selections.

The unions have pretty much killed off Miliband’s reform plans…

N.B. Unite’s response, in full, is here [PDF].

PCS Union Calls for Repeat of Northern Rock

This letter delivered to MPs’ offices this week is just plain weird. Claiming to be from the special few who remain at Britain’s ill-fated Socialist Party, and also representing the militant PCS trade union, their plan to “support the Co-op” is quite something:

“Here is the battle plan agreed by the PCS, the Socialist Party, the trade unions and the unemployed. If you are not yet a customer at the Co-op bank, open an account now. If you are a trade unionist, unemployed or a socialist, go to another bank’s cash point and withdraw some cash. Then take the cash and pay it into your account at your local Co-op bank. Keep doing this until queues form outside every Co-op bank. Imagine it like the scenes outside Northern Rock a few years ago. Then customers were forming massive queues to withdraw money. This time massive queues will be formed by customers trying to pay money into the bank.”

Anyone would have thought they’ve been hanging out with Rev Flowers…

Ed Gives in to Unite

5-YEAR-PLAN
In the Guardian Patrick Wintour is reporting that Labour are going to shelve any idea of reforming trade union control of the Labour Party before the general election for fear of losing funding. Jim Kelly, chair of the London region of Unite, is blunt:

“Our executive has got to keep a collective voice and that collective voice has to be expressed through the block vote at a decision-making party conference where unions keep 50% of the vote. That is the main point.

If unions stand together, with half the votes at Labour’s conference, and supported by many constituency parties worried about the severe threat to the party’s finances from Ed Miliband’s proposals, as well as the negative impact on the left within the party, then the link can be successfully defended.”

The unions have Ed Miliband by the purse-strings. He isn’t strong enough to stand up to Len…

*Do nothing.

Labour MP Doubles Up on Taxpayer Cash to Pals

Full marks to Labour foghorn Tom Blenkinsop, who is missing no opportunity to line the pockets of his paymasters with taxpayers’ money. Blenkinsop is a classic ‘re-renter’, he claimed £4,000 last year for constituency office rent in a building owned by his own local Guisborough Labour Party. Apparently fleecing the taxpayer by recycling cash to his party is not enough for Blenkinsop, however.

The Middlesbrough MP also claims £10,200-a-year on expenses to rent his London home. IPSA documents show that Blenkinsop’s landlord is one Christian Matheson, who also happens to be Unite’s industrial officer and the Labour ­parliamentary candidate for Chester, one of Unite’s infamous list of 41 seats they planned to take over. Coincidentally, Unite have given Blenkinsop £2,000 since 2010. A prime example of a Labour MP pushing the limits of the rules to sort out his party and his trade union with taxpayer cash…

How Much "New Evidence" Does Ed Need?

falkirk480

Miliband did not have time to make the short journey from Edinburgh to Falkirk last week, but he couldn’t have been clearer about where he stood:

“I think it’s important we look at anything that is said to be new evidence.”

Five days later and that “new evidence” of which Ed spoke has arrived – three different, damning pieces of new evidence, in fact. The Sunday Times had awkward emails from Unite lackey Tom Warnett, who helped run the campaign of Tom Watson’s close personal friend Karie Murphy:

“Joining a member by cheque and one they haven’t even written themselves will mean a lot of drop off after the first year, so it’s not ideal in the long term, but should be okay for the selection… I sent them up with a letter saying Tom Watson had approved them and a cheque to cover the membership fees.”

On Monday came evidence that one of Miliband’s helpers, Emilie Oldknow, also the wife of Jon Ashworth MP, was in contact with Steve Deans about Falkirk as early as January. Deans wrote to Emilie:

“I’m sorry to bother you again but you are probably aware that we have been working hard in Falkirk West to organise and recruit members. There have been some membership processing issues that Tom Watson has been helpful in resolving. Tom has asked that you send me an updated list for Falkirk West and the wider Westminster list to enable us to validate these memberships.”

Then this morning Labour General secretary Iain McNicol’s role in the scandal was exposed. That is three pieces of hard new evidence since only last week. Guido understands we can expect more later in the week and over the weekend. Don’t hold your breath that Miliband will reopen his inquiry…

Labour's Iain McNicol Condemns Himself

fixing-llThe role played by Labour’s unpopular General Secretary, Iain McNicol, in the Falkirk scandal was laid bare in this morning’s Times. Emails implicate him in the stitch up as far back as January, yet McNicol has not always been so tolerant of Labour staff bending the rules. At the height of Labour’s internal “Blairites under the bed” paranoia back in 2012, Guido revealed that McNicol had written to all party staff demanding they stay out of selections:

From: Iain_McNicol

Date: 1 June 2012 12:04:13 GMT+01:00

To: All_Staff
Subject: Staff and Internal Elections

Dear All,

Over the past week I have received a number of complaints about staff interfering with internal elections.

Although no rules have been broken, the spirit of the rules has been tested and the timings questionable. With NPF and NEC as well as Police Commissioner elections coming up, there is a lot of attention being given to these key selections.

Recently emails have gone out to members from some people seeking to gain positions in these elections. I must remind staff that helping candidates to contact members whilst they are seeking election unless it is part of your constituency responsibilities is not acceptable.

I came into this job to change the way our party operates. I want to create a party that empowers and respects its staff, but at the same time I want to create a party that is open and transparent. To this end I have asked the chair of the NEC – Michael Cashman and Executive Director for Governance and Party Service, Emilie Oldknow alongside chair of the JTUC, Ray Walker to work on a code of conduct for staff covering internal elections as I do not feel the current staff handbook deals sufficiently with the issue.

I hope that staff based in head office, across the nations and regions and those working in local offices understand the severity of the issue. Upholding our own rules and remaining fair is the role of all our staff and any failure to do so can only undermine our internal democracy which does us no favours.

After such great results in May, of which you all contributed, I hope we can have a summer where we build on these successes that lead to us being a one term opposition. Creating a fair, open and transparent party is a vital step in the right direction.

Yours

Iain

Iain McNicol
General Secretary

The following month McNicol told LabourList:

“…as long as I am General Secretary a fixing culture will not be tolerated and I want to make sure that the party understand its role in internal elections and administrates them fairly, never interfering in them.”

Yet behind the scenes he himself was doing dirty deals with “Lennie”:

“I will personally collect their direct-debit details once we have given them a reason to support the Labour Party. I will do this after the selection process, this is what Lennie [McCluskey] agreed with the Labour Party GS [McNicol]“

So much for that “fair, open and transparent party” he promised. Perhaps a good read of the internal party report would help, or is the fact McNicol is implicated a key reason Labour will not release the document?

Top 10 Q3 Donors

It’s donations day again. The top ten donors in Q3 were:

Unite the Union : £777,740
USDAW: £618,849
Mr John Griffin: £500,000
The Co-operative Group (CWS) Ltd: £389,723
UNISON: £372,603
GMB: £297,698
Mr Michael S Farmer: £250,000
Mr James R Lupton: £250,000
Communication Workers Union (CWU): £186,409
Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd: Liberal Democrats £167,667

Ed still happy to take Lennie’s dirty dollar. Top tory donor John Griffin is that lovely chap from Addison Lee. The other eye catching figure is Labour is £12.3m in the red, Tories to the £1.8m. Irony.

Wilfully Blind Watson

Tom Watson could hardly have chosen a more unfortunate moment to launch a heart-rending defence of one of his cabal. The Sun has a recording of Watson taking to the stage with comedian Matt Forde to stick up for his close personal friend and staff member Karie Murphy:

20131113-100659.jpg“Bizarrely to me, he decided to report my office manager to the police for potential fraud. And I thought, ‘are you f…’ I nearly swore there, ‘are you joking?’ She’s running for selection, she’s not robbing a bank. I felt I had a duty of care so I spent a couple of weeks really drilling down into the detail, and when I did I realised the allegations against my staff member and another member of the party were total bullshit. Her reputation had been totally destroyed. An injustice was done to those people. It’s amazing how my own leader can be so wrong. But he was. It’s hard for me to say this, but Ed just got it wrong on Falkirk. He was given information, or a report, that was inaccurate and omitted some key facts, and took judgements that really harmed the individuals involved in a grotesque way. I suspect privately he is a little bit embarrassed about it.”

Talking of embarrassment, by coincidence today’s Times has some rather awkward Falkirk emails revealing Labour’s dodgy recruitment deal with Unite, written by one Karie Murphy:

“I will personally collect their direct-debit details once we have given them a reason to support the Labour Party. I will do this after the selection process, this is what Lennie [McCluskey] agreed with the Labour Party GS [McNicol]”

“It’s amazing how he can be so wrong…”

Unite Cancels Christmas

 After claiming only yesterday that Unite the union exists to “help save communities from devastation, put food on workers’ tables, presents under the Christmas tree and hope in people’s lives” it looks like Lennie the “Grinch” McCluskey has stolen Christmas, with Unite announcing a strike hitting card and present deliveries. Their website reports:

“Parcel deliveries in London could be severely hit in the run-up to Christmas, after staff at UPS Parcels voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over unreasonable workloads and alleged bullying. The 120 drivers and loaders, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, who work at the Camden depot – the biggest UPS depot in Europe – have voted by a massive 91 per cent to take strike action.”

Won’t someone think of the children?

H/T @pickardje.

Unite’s Beef With the TPA

Guido thought he had herd it all, but the Taxpayers Alliance have raised the steaks with their suggestion of saving money on grass-cutting by using cattle and sheep to graze on council land. Clearly a vealy good way to provide the taxpayer with value. Surprise, surprise then that Unite are milking it, coming out with an udderly ridiculous statement trying to butcher the policy:

“The credibility of the Taxpayers’ Alliance has to be seriously questioned when ideas taken from medieval times, such as grazing sheep, are wheeled out in its endless quest for publicity. Has the alliance worked out how much it is going to cost to buy these animals and pay the substantial veterinary bills? The prospect we face is hundreds of these animals freely roaming around municipal parks ignoring health and safety considerations when children are playing – and being a prime target for urban rustlers.”

That’s grazy talk.

Rich’s Monday Morning View

deans480

You can buy the original artwork here.

Will Len Save ‘Simple Stevie’?

So union bod Stevie Deans jumped before he was pushed as the Unite official at Grangemouth after the weekend’s exposure of his dirty tricks and attempts to stitch up the Falkirk selection for Karie Murphy on office hours. A source familiar with the situation chuckles “Len got the local dafty to sort it out and surprise surprise he’s f**ked it all up.” Yet speculation is rife that we have not heard the last of ‘Simple Stevie’ just yet.[…] Read the rest

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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

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