Labour and Falkirk(17 Posts)
Here's today's BBC article on this
I hadn't realised it had become a police matter.
Is this likely to be tip of iceberg, or are Labour's selection process going to prove corrupt in a widespread way?
Can you imagine if it were the Tories, this thread would've exploded by now and been at least 10pages long.
Chipstick10 Yes. The BBC are playing it down too; it's certainly a sharp contrast to their salivating reporting of every twist and turn about Lord Ashcroft!
<thicko alert> I'm just reading about this and can't quite figure out what the issue is. Has Tom Watson done something illegal/unethical? What did he do that warrated his resignation? Did he resign in protest or was he pushed, or was it needed because of something he did? Did he know about the unite members being signed up as labour members? How does this 'rig' a selection process if those who were being signed up didn't know they were being signed up so not aware they had a say? I just don't really understand this story at all.
If anyone has an idiot-proof explanation for me, I'm all ears
I'll have a go Bunchy. Someone can correct me if I am wrong.
Basically members of the Labour party get to vote on their local parliamentary candidate. That's fair enough and as you'd expect. Only Unite signed up and paid the Labour party membership fees for a lot of their Union members.
So let me give you an example. I find out one day that I've been signed up to the Conservative party and that someone else has paid my membership fees. Except wait...i didn't want to join...otherwise clearly I'd have done it myself!
The question is why Unite would do such a thing? In short what's in it for them? Was it an act of true altruism as the union is claiming? Or something more nefarious?
The suspicion/fear is that Unite would have used this opportunity to push it's own preferred candidate by stacking the odds in their favour?
From what I've read it's probably not illegal but clearly to anyone with half a brain it's not the sort of thing you want to see in a free election.
I wonder if the Unite leadership see the irony in claiming they've done absolutely nothing wrong but then by the same token pillory tax avoiders who also technically have done nothing wrong either?
The following Economist article is a very interesting read.
The telling paragraphs for me are:
"A copy of Unites political strategy, leaked in early 2012, outlines a step-by-step plan to reclaim the party by flooding it with union members."
"...the unions have fallen into the hands of ageing dinosaurs who treat disengaged memberships as personal power blocks. The allegations about Falkirk are entirely consistent with the trend."
Milliband doesn't seem to have many answers to this one. His handling of this, I suspect, will end his career. After all the cock-ups and controversies facing the Coalition he's still not managed to deliver a killer blow. Now that he's diverted trying to dream up some 'Clause 4 moment' in answer to the unions I think it's all over bar the shouting.
Ok thanks for that. I still don't quite understand Tom Watson's resignation as election co-ordinator or whatever he was. From what I've read, his female deputy was the one putting in the membership forms, or knew about it, but he didn't or claims ignorance? This is where I'm getting confused. I still don't get how the voting for candidates would be rigged if the people signed up knew nothing about that, so I can't imagine they'd take up the chance to vote on a party candidate they have no interest in - not having actually signed up to the party in the 1st place.
It all sounds pretty murky though, even if its not actually illegal. Interesting that Ed Milliband got the leadership through the backing of the unions but is now facing having to deal with the 'dark side' of the very backing that put him where he is now.
Well the big fear of course would have been could Unite have voted en masse on behalf of the members they signed up? I would hope not.
I'd like to think this was more a case of a union thinking if they've got loads of union members in the local party that when the ballot paper dropped through the letterbox that they'd be more likely to vote for a fellow union member.
The bottom line is that their tactics were very unethical and more something we'd expect to see in some backwater African dictatorship.
As for Milliband, he's making noises about the mending the relationship with the unions but let's face it, Labour can't break the link because that's where their funding comes from. In short, he simply cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds.
Miliband is quoted here as saying he'll make politics 'more open, more transparent and more trusted' by reforming Labour links with the unions.
From such commentary as there was over the weekend, it seems that corrupt practices were not limited to Falkirk.
Given the usually pillorying of those who act without integrity, it's surprising this thread is so quiet.
Well done Ed Milibland. Well done for selling your party down the river and bowing to Blatcherite pressure. I hope the unions drop your party like a hot rock. I bet the Tories are laughing their tiny bollocks off.
I does seem a bit suicidal of him to go down this route, given he is where he is because of union backing, and they depend so much on the union subs for income. Not quite sure which direction this will lead Labour in, but I cannot fathom the logic behind this move. It's very odd. I cannot imagine people coming to Labour in their droves outwith union involvement/subs, to fund them with membership. That seems to be where he is heading with this, but I personally think it's overly optomistic on his part.
Labour are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The whole country over the last 30 years has moved significantly to the right. Tony Blair only got elected after new Labour dumped the old lefty policies and moved into Tory territory.
The meteoric rise of UKIP rather than say Socialist Worker Party is further evidence of a step to the right.
But Labour are largely funded by unions. And their biggest donors have been taken over by left wing dinosaurs such as Bob Crow and Len McCluskey who are on record for being very left wing.
Now the unions are tired of donating to Labour yet not seeing their policies being pushed. And now it seems they're stooping to dubious practices to load Labour full of their cronies in an attempt to exert more influence.
So Miliband is in a pickle. Continue to accept Union donations and kowtow to their policies which are plainly at odds with most of the voters. Or move away from them and lose their funding leaving a huge hole in the party's finances.
I'll be impressed if he can pull this one off. When push comes to shove, he who pays the piper calls the shots.
Bone headed unions dragging Labour back into the 1970's will be the death of the whole left-wing movement. The likes of Benn, Foot and Scargill lost this argument in the 70's, 80's and 90's and the country is even further to the right now than it was back then. Ironically, the only sustained period of Labour success came when the party distanced itself from the left. That the unions are trying to systematically undo this 'progress' tells you that they are living in cloud cuckoo land.
One problem that the unions have is that they only really represent public sector workers. The union 'take-up' rate amongst private sector employees - and particularly amongst the middle classes (the group Labour need to appeal to in order to form a government) - is much lower.
Labour are rapidly painting themselves into being seen as the party of the public sector employees, long term unemployed and (I would also add) recent immigrants. This is not a recipe to win over Middle England.
The unions are just trying it on. They know which side their bread is buttered on. What other party are they going to back if not Labour? Even with a Tony Blair lead Labour, the unions did well, a lot better than they do under the Tories.
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