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Party fixing: we’ve had enough HP sauce

Sighs of relief (as well as the odd celebration) spread this weekend amongst Labour activists following the announcement of the departure of one of Labour headquarter’s most notorious “fixers” during the New Labour years. It comes as no surprise that Hilary Perrin (HP), the London Regional Director, is to leave the party staff as she was unlikely to survive the next round of “management restructuring”. Although it had ceased to be clear in whose interests HP and her fellow fixers on the party staff were acting once Tony Blair was succeeded by first Gordon Brown and then Ed Miliband, the fixing continued unabated. Amongst the recent examples of misdeeds and the deliberate undermining of Labour’s new direction with which HP is associated are:

  1. The deliberate undermining of new general secretary, Iain McNicol’s attempt to restructure the party staff, clean up the party’s operation and make it fit for purpose – winning the next election. HP was associated with deliberate and  mischevious “leaks” about staff reorganisation to Tory blogger, Guido Fawkes, and other anti-Labour media hacks designed to undermine McNichol’s credibility.
  2. Whilst acting as Ken Livingstone’s campaign manager for the London Mayoral election, HP undermined the effectiveness of the campaign in many ways not least her repeated assertions that Ken couldn’t win to anyone who woud listen and plenty who’d rather not. She was eventually sacked from that role but not before she had caused much damage to Ken’s campaign – perhaps critical damage considering how small the eventual margin of Ken’s defeat was.
  3. In her capacity as a trade union representative, she prevented 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. But her action prevented the identification of one of the most despicable attempts yet at perverting a parliamentary selection process, in spite of a clear male fingerprint being discovered on ripped-up ballot papers.
  4. She abused her position as London Director to circulate a letter from Fiona Twycross, Progress candidate for Labour’s national policy forum, to all party members in London which gave her a clear advantage. Mysteriously, further letters were later circulated using membership details about two other Progress candidates for the  national policy forum – Joan Ryan and youth candidate, Ronit Wolfson. Writing at LabourList, Mark Ferguson proclaimed that this signified:

a return to the fixing culture that in the past threatened to overwhelm the party – a culture that is rotten to the core and cares nothing for real party democracy or a level playing field for all candidates.”

It does look like the days of such HP sauce are over. Not before time. HP may not be the last bad apple in the barrel, but her departure is to be welcomed. Ironically, Ms Perrin is going to work at the GMB Political Department.

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