Monday, 20 March 2017

Unrepresentative Unions

The Observer pulled a big scoop the other day with its story about Labour Party 'entryism' involving Len McCluskey's Unite trade union and the Jeremy Corbyn supporting pressure group Momentum. 

Sounds like the 1980s all over again, Miltant Mark 2 perhaps - with small, highly organised, and unrepresentative groups of trade union activists working together to hijack Labour and turn the party into a centralised left-wing sect.

Len McCluskey is constantly throwing his weight around inside the UK and Scottish Labour parties without any mandate from Unite members to behave in this way - with support for Labour standing at less than 25% across the UK and around only 15% in Scotland.

Yet the Observer reports suggest that a deal has already been done with McCluskey to have Unite affiliate to Momentum which is, in effect, a Jeremy Corbyn fan club.

Read the full story in the link to The Observer below.

Secret tape reveals Momentum plot to seize control of Labour

Exclusive: Grassroots group hopes to harness power of UK’s largest union, Unite, and secure succession after Jeremy Corbyn

Labour activist calls for hard left to take over party – audio

By Toby Helm and Alex Hacillo - The Observer

A hard-left plot by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn to seize permanent control of the Labour party and consolidate their power by formally joining forces with the super-union Unite can be revealed by the Observer.

The plans, described on Saturday by Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson as “entryism” and a covert attempt by a leftwing faction to take over the party, were spelled out in detail by Jon Lansman, the founder of the grassroots organisation Momentum, who was secretly recorded addressing supporters at a meeting of a new branch of the organisation in Richmond, south London, on 1 March.

On the tape, obtained by the Observer, Lansman issues a call to arms to Momentum supporters, saying they need to make sure the left is far better represented in key positions at all levels of the party so they have control over the levers of power when Corbyn departs and the succession is decided.

Most controversially, Lansman says that if his ally Len McCluskey secures re-election as general secretary of Unite in an internal election next month, the super-union will then link directly to Momentum by formally affiliating to it, in what critics fear would amount to a massive shift of power and financial resources to the pro-Corbyn left.

Announcing what he implies is a done deal with McCluskey, Lansman tells the audience: “Assuming that Len McCluskey wins the general secretaryship, which I think he will, Unite will affiliate to Momentum and will fully participate in Momentum, as will the CWU [the Communications Workers’ Union].”

The extent to which the left is mobilising behind the scenes and looking to Unite to back it at national and constituency levels will greatly alarm Labour moderates. Lansman spells out how Momentum currently lacks money. His mention of a link-up with Unite will invite inevitable speculation that the country’s biggest union – and Labour’s largest donor – is preparing to give money, as well as organisational support, to Momentum, too.

London Labour (19/12/17)

If anything, the term 'London Labour' is proving to be a much bigger problem for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the People's Party than was ever the case for three time election winner Tony Blair.

Because while New Labour always featured lots of prominent Scots, including Gordon Brown, John Reid, Robin Cook and Alistair Darling to balance the UK party leadership, Jeremy Corbyn seems to have gone native with a very London-centric team.

Jezza's key advisers and spokespeople are all London based and his kitchen cabinet boasts such luminaries as John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone, the former London Mayor.   

When you include others now on the party payroll such as the former Guardian columnist Seumas Milne and 'fellow travellers' like Lindsey German and Andrew Murray from Stop the War Coalition, Labour seems to be heading back to the bad old days of the 1980s when, for a time, London Labour Briefing threatened to rule the party's roost.

Labour's top-heavy London team is making the party look ridiculous as Jeremy Corbyn surrounds himself with like-minded people who may share his politics, but haven't a clue what they're doing.

Diane Abbott for example who said the other day that it was "too late now" for the party to recover in Scotland in time for next year's Scottish Parliament elections.

I imagine Labour in Scotland need that kind of comment like they need another hole in the head at the moment and the Scottish party hit back at Abbott by saying that "Nobody up here takes her seriously".  

As the old saying goes, with friends like these............


London Labour (04/01/16)

Recent events suggest that the Labour Party is hurtling back to the 1980s when a small band of activists from London Labour Briefing (LLB) threatened to rule the political roost. 

The LLB drew its political inspiration from a highly organised group of activists, largely Trotskyites and their fellow travellers, who were vocal and visible at times, but for the most part were restricted to the fringes of the Labour Party.

The new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn along with key allies like Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott could be counted amongst the LLB's numbers over the years.

Fast forward to 2015 and the extent to which the People's Party has lost its way can be measured in the comments of Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow international development secretary, and Ken Livingstone a recently appointed Labour defence spokesperson.

Diane Abbott believes that "on balance Mao did more good than harm" while Ken Livingstone told a BBC Question Time audience that Tony Blair was to blame for the murderous 7/7 bombings in London. 

Ken Livingstone: Tony Blair to blame for 7/7 bombing

BBC - UK Politics

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been criticised for suggesting Tony Blair was to blame for the deaths of 52 people in the 7 July London bombings. 

Mr Livingstone said on Question Time the then-prime minister ignored a security service warning that invading Iraq would make the UK a terror target.

Labour MP Mike Gapes called the comment "despicable", while Labour backbencher Ian Austindubbed it a "disgrace".

Four suicide bombers targeted London's Underground and a bus on 7 July 2005.

Mr Livingstone said: "When Tony Blair was told by the security services, 'If you go into Iraq, we will be a target for terrorism', and he ignored that advice, and it killed 52 Londoners."

He added: "If we had not invaded Iraq those four men would not have gone out and killed 52 Londoners. We know that."

Comedian and former Labour political advisor Matt Forde challenged Mr Livingstone on his comments, saying: "This idea that you can absolve the people that killed those innocent Londoners by blaming Tony Blair is shameful.

"Blame it on the people who carried out the atrocity."

'Gave their lives'

Mr Livingstone, who was mayor at the time of the 2005 attacks, responded: "Go and look what they put on their website. They did those killings because of our invasion of Iraq.

"They gave their lives, they said what they believed, they took Londoners' lives in protest against our invasion of Iraq.

"And we were lied to by Tony Blair about Iraq, there were no weapons of mass destruction."

Conservative Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock, who was also on the panel, said Mr Livingstone was letting IS and other violent militant groups "off the hook" and "we should not be giving them excuses".

A number of Labour MPs criticised the comments, John Woodcock tweeting that "no-one has the mandate to side with suicide bombers". 

Image copyright - AFP GettyImage caption - The 7 July attacks on a bus and three London underground trains killed 52 people and injured hundreds more

And Mr Gapes said Mr Livingstone had "sunk to a new low", claiming his comments amounted to saying "terrorism is never the fault of perpetrators".

A Downing Street spokesman said it was up to Mr Livingstone to justify his comments, stating that "it almost goes without saying that the prime minister does not agree with them".

Mr Livingstone, who is a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, caused controversy recently when he suggested a Labour MP who had criticised his appointment as co-convenor of the party's defence review needed "psychiatric help".

He subsequently apologised for the comments but only after being told to do so by leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The UK joined the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, despite failing to secure a second UN resolution justifying the use of force.