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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Who runs Labour?

The Daily Telegraph poses the question who runs Labour? They would wouldn't they?

However, for once it is not just that particular broadsheet taking a pop at Ed Miliband's party. It is a question being posed by many other media outlets as well.

As the paper points out the allegations that members of the Unite union tried to fix the selection of a Labour candidate in the Falkirk constituency have blown up into a full scale crisis for that party:

Mr McCluskey accused Mr Miliband of seeking to emulate Tony Blair’s drive to curb the unions, while the Labour leader’s allies suggested that the union chief’s job was on the line. Some party figures are privately speculating that the argument between the former allies will leave at least one suffering fatal political damage.

Unite’s backing helped Mr Miliband take the Labour leadership in 2010, and the union has since given the party more than £8 million in donations.

Mr Miliband had given the union considerable sway over party management, largely through Tom Watson, the shadow cabinet member and general election coordinator, who quit this week over Falkirk

The Labour leader today tacitly accused Mr McCluskey of complicity in trying to rig the Falkirk selection by enrolling union members in the local Labour Party without their knowledge. “We had members being signed up without their knowledge, bad practice, malpractice, and, frankly, instead of defending that kind of thing, Len McCluskey should be condemning it,” he said.

Labour officials said the party had asked Scottish prosecutors whether there was a case for a criminal investigation into the union’s actions in Falkirk.

Sources suggested that enrolling union members in the Labour Party without consent could breach fraud and data protection laws, as well as electoral law.

In return McCluskey has hit back, accusing the Labour leader of “responding to the Tory agenda” and dismissing the potential criminal inquiry:

“It is a nonsense and I’m afraid the way it’s been handled by the Labour Party headquarters is nothing short of disgrace,” he said. “I’m sure the police have got a lot better things to do than this, but we’ll cooperate.” Warning that the issue of Labour’s relations with the unions remained unresolved, Mr McCluskey added: “The police inquiry won’t finish this issue.”

With the Unite leader talking about a “Clause IV moment” and with Mr Miliband’s aides  encouraging Unite officials and leaders of other unions to put pressure on McCluskey to back down or consider his position it is beginning to look like open warfare.

It is no exaggeration to suggest, as one shadow cabinet member has done that Ed Miliband’s credibility is on the line.
After all the S**t that Labour has thrown at the Liberal Democrats since April 2010, all I can say, is that it is well and truly deserved.

Whatever has gone on and what I have read today on individuals allegedly involved, it looks scary and there will be calls for more changes to funding of political parties.

For Labour to hand it over to the police suggests there is more than meets the eye and no doubt heads will roll and will probably see Labour's lead in the polls, tumble.
On Any Questions? this weekend, Emma Reynolds (a late substitute for Chris Mullins - I wonder why?) answered the question "who runs the Labour Party, the members or Len McLuskey?" with: "Ed Miliband runs the Labour Party". No mention of the membership or the executive.
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