Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Falkirk, Labour and Unite

I have no interest in whom the people of Falkirk elect as their MP at the next general election, but I am interested in the manoeuvring that is going on behind the scenes in an attempt to influence the choice of the Labour candidate. It is claimed that the Unite union has been enrolling its members in the constituency as Labour party members, and it has even been suggested that they have been paying the membership fees, and in some cases enrolling individual  union members without their knowledge. The resultant spat has led to the resignation of Tom Watson as Labour's election organiser and also  to certain matters being referred to the local police.

The Labour party receives millions of pounds each year from the trade union "Unite" and its far-left leader Len McCluskey. Provided that this money comes from the Union's political fund and members have been given the chance to opt out, such donations are perfectly legal. However, it now appears that the union is making demands of the party such as requiring all Labour election candidates, both local and national, to be trade union members, and demanding the right to select their own candidates for some constituencies. Dependant on whom you read or listen to, it appears that McCluskey is trying, in effect, to become Labour's puppet master, pulling the strings and instructing Milliband on his policies. It should be remembered that Milliband was only elected leader of the party because of the union vote, probably because they thought that he would be more likely to comply with their demands than his big brother.

Now I have no objection in Labour moving to the left; I believe it will improve the chances of UKIP at the next election with them gaining the votes of those erstwhile Labour supporters who don't approve of the leftwards move, but would never change and vote Tory.

But suppose this was the Conservative party. The Tories receive considerable sums of money from business supporters. Let us consider a mythical company, let's call it "BigSuperShop plc" with branches in every town, giving the same amount of money to the Tories as Unite gives to Labour, and that this company uses its position to urge all its customers and shareholders to vote Tory. Let's take it further and imagine that this company demands that the Tories let it appoint a certain percentage of the Tory candidates in Tory held constituencies. Even further, it then demands that all Tory candidates should be shareholders in the company and that the company should have the right to veto any Tory policy.
Can you imagine the outrage throughout the country? But this no more than what Unite is effectively demanding of the Labour Party so why shouldn't BigSuperShop plc demand the same of the Tories?
So far the Tory response to the actions of Unite has been relatively muted, probably because what happens at Falkirk is of little interest to them. Nevertheless the Tories should respond to the events if only to highlight the indecisiveness and weakness of Milliband and his subservience to trade union power.

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