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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ed falls out with the unions

I have used this blog on a number of occasions in recent weeks to highlight the growing rift within the Labour party over the demand by various Blairites that Ed Miliband tack right on issues such as welfare reform if he is to win the next election.

Now the BBC reports that those tensions have erupted again in an extraordinary spat between the Labour leader and one of his biggest funders.

They say that Ed Miliband has called the leader of Labour's biggest donor union "reprehensible", and accused him of seeking to "divide" the party. He was responding to remarks by Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, that Labour will be "cast into the dustbin of history" if it is "seduced" by supporters of Tony Blair:

Mr McCluskey did "not speak for the party", said Mr Miliband's spokesman,

The Labour leader was elected with union backing, but Mr McCluskey criticised several members of his team.

He told the New Statesman magazine that listening to figures such as shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy and shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne, could lead to defeat, and urged Mr Miliband to go into the 2015 general election with "a team that he's confident in".
He said: "Ed Miliband must spend most of his waking hours grappling with what lies before him.

"If he is brave enough to go for something radical, he'll be the next prime minister. If he gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he'll be defeated and he'll be cast into the dustbin of history."

He added: "Liam Byrne certainly doesn't reflect the views of my members and of our union's policy,

"I think some of the terminology that he uses is regrettable and I think it will damage Labour. Ed's got to figure out what his team will be."

Mr McCluskey also said: "We believe that Ed should try to create a radical alternative. My personal fear, and that of my union, is that if he goes to the electorate with an austerity-lite programme, then he will get defeated."

But a spokesman for Mr Miliband said: "Len McCluskey does not speak for the Labour Party. This attempt to divide the Labour Party is reprehensible. It is the kind of politics that lost Labour many elections in the 1980s.

"It won't work. It is wrong. It is disloyal to the party he claims to represent."

How this will pan out has to be seen but it cannot bode well for a Labour Party that is starting to look increasingly fractious once more.
What will it do for Labour's income stream?
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