Few Labour politicians are willing to discuss the true nature of the old New Labour party. Just over a year ago, we argued that the party machine was corrupt and rotten. A hard hitting attack that received almost no response. No rebuttal. No complaint. Just one supportive comment. Many people seem to prefer not to discuss it. That machine was still in evidence in Liverpool at Labour’s most recent conference, one year into the new regime. But today, decisive steps were taken to dismantle it. Conveniently sandwiched between the Autumn statement and the biggest strike in Britain for many decades, it has been a quiet revolution which will receive little media attention.
The party’s new General Secretary, Iain McNicol, announced the departure of his two deputies, Alicia Kennedy and Chris Lennie, the latter being the candidate he beat for his job in spite of the preference of the Leader’s advisors. It was presented as a reorganisation, albeit a “radical reform”. We shall not repeat here Iain’s warm words of thanks, but we’ll happily add our own. To Iain. It will be widely welcomed, if not much discussed.
We trust and believe that it will be a change that will flow throughout the organisation, to deliver a wholly new culture in which the party’s staff can be relied upon, once again, to observe the civil service principles of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.
This reorganisation follows closely on the heels of the sacking of Hillary Perrin, another leading relic of the old machine. She was removed last month as Regional Director of the London Labour Party, responsible for overseeing Ken Livingstone’s campaign for London Mayor, for doing her utmost to undermine Ken’s campaign. She had been appointed by Ray Collins, Iain McNicol’s predecessor, to that job only months beforehand, a job for which she was at least as well suited as Count Dracula for the head of the National Blood Service.
In her capacity as a trade union representative, she was also responsible for preventing the finger-printing of Labour headquarters staff in the inquiry into the tampering with the ballot box in the Erith and Thamesmead parliamentary selection. No-one we know would dream of suggesting that, in doing so, she was acting other than in the interest of protecting the human rights of her members.