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On bringing in the Police to an internal party row

Dixon of Dock GreenSo Labour has handed over its Falkirk report to the police — not something to do lightly. If serious wrongdoing has taken place and it constitutes criminal activity then this it may be justified, but we can’t know that it has until at least a redacted version of Labour’s report is published as it should be. It was a serious escalation of the stand-off between the party leadership and Unite, however, and there is an argument against having done so put eloquently this morning by Kevin Maguire in the Mirror:

Ed Miliband and low rent Tory MP Henry “who?” Smith deserve a rocket for wasting police time.

Dragging the boys and girls in blue into Labour’s Falkirk selection row is a ludicrous abuse of the police.

Cops should be catching muggers, burglars, rapists and murderers – not deciding who may or may not be a member of a political party.

Internal rules should be investigated internally, preferably with the report published.

Instead Labour is a party suddenly suffering a nervous breakdown, dis-United when it should Unite.

If any serious wrongdoing has taken place, criminal or not, Left Futures will condemn it as should Unite. We are not in favour of rigging selections. Not in Erith and Thamesmead. Not in Falkirk. Not anywhere. Nor is Unite.

If any individual members of Unite have been involved in any such serious wrongdoing, Unite should take action against them too. However, neither Unite nor its leadership can be held responsible for what may have been done without their authority or knowledge.

In the absence of any concrete information about what has happened, which does not include the chinese whispers originating with the tiny number of people who have read the secret report into what happened, what we can say is this:

  • Anyone “signed up” to the party without their knowledge isn’t very likely to show up at a selection meeting (Michael Crick at C4 News claims there were just two complaints from such people). This cannot be an attempt to “rig” the selection, it can only be through incompetence and slapdash procedures. It is therefore not “serious wrongdoing”.
  • Anyone who filled in the bank details on a direct debit form for someone else is likely to be a family member or very close friend (that is what I am told happened but I cannot verify it). If it was done with their prior consent to joining the party, then this in itself is not, in my opinion, “serious wrongdoing”. It may or may not be part of an attempt to “rig” the selection, but that is a separate issue.
  • If anyone was recruited on the basis that they would support a particular candidate, or by a candidate themselves with their own money (as is alleged by Michael Crick at C4 News about Progress backed Greg Poynton but not, so far as I know, about Karie Murphy), that does, in my view constitute “serious wrongdoing”. However, even this is not of a nature that I would report to the police.


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