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Breaking the link with the unions is not warranted by Falkirk & would be fundamentally wrong

Labour Union linkIt’s time to quieten down over Falkirk and await the true facts now that Ed Miliband has referred the whole matter to the police. As long as this row goes on, it only benefits two interests. One is the Blairites who have been seeking to break the link with the union for the last two decades, and now see this as their best opportunity by painting McCluskey as a union autocrat who needs to be brought down by Miliband in a show of strength – as though they themselves are the innocents who’ve never resorted to shady or illicit manoeuvres to stuff the PLP with their own kind. The other is of course the Tories for whom this episode is manna from heaven, giving them endless opportunity to berate Labour as the cat’s paw of the unions – as though they themselves are not firmly in the pay of the banks for whom they provide far more favours than Labour has ever done for the unions.

Not that this matter should be glossed over. It should be dealt with, once all the facts are clear and known, strictly in accordance with the party’s rules. But it should not be left at that. There has been a long history of machinations over parliamentary selections stretching back from the beginning of Blair interregnum in 1994, as Gaye Johnston reminded us in her letter to the Guardian yesterday. This should be taken as an opportunity to clear the decks of any misfeasance in this area, by extending or changing the party’s rules to prevent any of these shenanigans being perpetrated in future.

It should be made explicit in the party’s rulebook that any national or regional official who favoured any particular candidate by giving them prior access to the constituency membership list, or by intervening to aid them in any other way, would be disciplined, and sacked if the offence was repeated. The NEC should not set up their own selection panels except in the most exceptional circumstances as agreed by the full NEC, and even then the panel should include an equal number of persons chosen by the CLP itself. The names of those granted postal votes should be made known to all the candidates at the start of the selection process, and at the end the postal votes should be counted in the presence of all the candidates. And in order to prevent candidates, whether backed by the unions or by Progress’ £3 millions grant from Sainsbury, from securing an unfair advantage, a low limit should be put on the total expenditure permitted for any one candidate on pain of disqualification if the limit were breached.


  1. Chris Watts says:

    I believe that the unintended consequences of Tory pernicious meddling in the affairs between the Labour Party and Unions will ultimately strengthen the historic bond. Michael Fallon’s crass Hypocrisy on BBC Newsnight was there for all to see and did the Labour movement no disservice.
    Although I have personal reservation with regards to Mr McCluskey’s media approach, If the outcome delivers a selection process that levels the playing field, then that can only be for the good of the movement going forward, redressing the imbalance that favours Progress influences.
    Without wanting sound like a graduate of “The University of the bleeding-obvious”, united we stand, divided we fall. We must defend the trade union link.

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