God forbid that unions try to influence the Labour Party

9 July 2013

I think it was the arrival into the debate of those Blairite ghosts Mandelson and Reid which helped me make my mind up. Somehow, Ed Miliband has been coerced into taking on the Unite union on the grounds that they are doing shady business on the matter of selecting candidates. Mandelson and Reid are both demanding Miliband stand firm (an interesting thought) and stick it to Len McCluskey: Unite is trying to influence Labour’s agenda, they howl. Well god forbid that unions have any input into the Labour Party’s policies. I don’t know what Len and the boys have been up to, but the real disgrace about candidate selection is the regularity with which bien pensant London-based party apparatchiks are foisted on constituencies with which they have no familiarity and even less affection. At least, with Unite gerrymandering the process, they usually get a local candidate.

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  • welshdai

    Like Mr slimy Hain foisted on the good people of Neath by the unprincipled opportunist Kinnock?

  • Old Fox

    Can you not see, man, that they are all as vile as each other? Do you seriously expect a Labour government to solve any problem or address any concern? Would they bear down on immigration? Would they let competition drive up standards in schools? Would they at least keep the lid on taxation so as not to stifle enterprise? Would they restrain borrowing at a time of profound public and private indebtedness? Would they square up to the rot in the NHS? Would they overcome union-led opposition to vital reform? Would they diminish the number of PC pen pushers and bureaucrats? Would they restore sanity to public life by allowing people to have their say so long as they did not incite violence? Would they be even handed in condemning fascistic violence from Muslim and non-Muslim alike? Your own writings along with the work of many another distinguished journalist point to the answer NO in every one of these cases. So why do you retain any truck with them? All right, all right, the Tories can be an ugly crew; so can the Liberals – but that’s no answer, is it? For goodness sake, complete your intellectual journey and renounce Labour, even if you can’t quite detach yourself from the folly of “socialism”.

  • JonBW

    Exactly, Mr Liddle.

    The Labour Party was taken over in the 90s by Mandelson and his ilk, which is why it is now completely disconnected from working-class voters.

    The smoking ban, which has done to working-class pubs and clubs, and thus to working-class communities, exactly what Thatcherism did to industry, is the most blatant example of Labour’s betrayal of the people who created it.

  • Robert Mitchum

    Don’t dress this up as “the unions” who are influencing Labour policy – it is the commissars at the top. Whenever they have a ballot they rarely achieve a proper majority of members. I’m surprised anyone can put a gloss on this. They are power-mad throw-backs who are desperate to extend their fiefdoms but cannot carry out their activities in the light of day because even the majority of their own members find it unacceptable. It seems not much has changed since the days of Fred Kite in I’m Alright Jack.

  • sunnydayrider

    So what’s new? 50 years ago, I was told I couldn’t have an apprenticeship unless I joined the ETU (commies to the core). At least I had the good sense to stop the 3d out of my 6d weekly union dues being siphoned off to the Laboutr party. To his dying day the Shop Stupid (sorry Steward) never spoke to me again. That was the good bit.

  • Swank

    I can’t stand labour unions. They were moral about 100 years ago in heavy industry, and they were moral about 55 years ago in the teaching profession (my mother-in-law was a part of the movement to unionize, when teachers had nothing much). Since then they have moved towards rank greedy exploitation of an economy and society that already gives them too much, far beyond their value and desserts. And: they are militant and intimidating.

  • Bluesman_1

    The trouble is if (and it is a big if) Citizen Milliband destroys the funding stream from the unions he will start seeking more taxpayer funding for his party. The other 2 will support him as it further does away with the need to engage and ingratiate themselves with the “little people”. Thus the Nomenklatura and their apparatchiks will be the only winners as the thieving vermin filch even more from us.

    • sir_graphus

      I think this is the most pertinent comment I’ve read on the subject anywhere; this move will throw the Labour party into financial chaos which can only be rescued by state funding of political parties. I imagine this will be forthcoming. And thus the political class will have taken another huge step away from the people they are supposed to represent; instead of relying on the enthusiasm of party members for their policies, they can simply award themselves funding from the state, according to a process which will be governed by, themselves, the political class.

  • Abhay

    First the throat-clearing…I am neither left-leaning nor a Labour supporter as most of my comments on Spectator will testify

    Healthy democracies will require adversarial politics – adversarial ideas and policies covering the spectrum of right-left and its up to the people to decide. Trade Unions are a part it and should influence the polity so I for one do not see at the level of principles what could be wrong with a union trying to do that.

    I know little about Len Mc so won’t comment on the procedural issues.

    • Alexsandr

      But trades unions are not representative of the great mass of working people any more. They have retreated to the public sector, in the private sector they are irrelevant.
      So why do they still have the influence they do?

  • Austin Barry

    Ed and his urbane Hampstead cadre have adopted the correct approach with respect to the Unions. I mean just look at McCluskey, do you think the bespectacled (‘Look, I’m an intellectual me’) thug would know which way to pass the port at a Miliband soiree, never mind select a potential MP?

    Much better that the Labour Party selects MPs of the sort represented by Chuka Umunna. They know all about work and disadvantage. Some have even read about it.

  • sir_graphus

    It’s quite easy for us, from the right, to look at Unite and Labour and see the obvious that it becomes less electable if it moves towards its core support, which lies to the left. We recognise that Labour can only win if it adopts centre or even centre-right policies.
    The same is true for the right, unfortunately. We could compile a manifesto of our favourite policies, as UKIP has done, and the result will be that we’ll be very enthusiastic about it. But we’ll still only be able to vote once for it. It will never win an election; floating voters won’t like it enough.
    Unite don’t like it; UKIP supporters don’t like it, but elections are won by the party which grabs the centre ground.

    • Abhay

      You may be right. But political corruption is also a gift of this toxic centre. Its where everybody is a cynical opportunist, every frontline politician looks the same and there are no policy choices on big issues since everybody is croaking the same nonsense with different bells and whistles.

  • Baron

    You’re missing a thing here, where the Millipede wants to get to is what the ‘we-are-in-it-together’ boy has already ascended, a place where the decision making elite is completely, fully, irrevocably independent from the grass roots interference. The boy of the pink phylum would love to do things to his supporters like the gay marriage stuff, the unions could be abit of a nuisance, hence the need to invent a Clause 4 skirmish, a fake Clause4 at that, and kick the unions in the groins.

    For Baron, this is not unakin to the warring between the BBC and the Old Australian. However much Baron dislikes the Old man he was siding with him if only to deny the broadcasting monstrosity the monopoly to brainwash us, here this chap McCluskey should be backed for the same reason.

    • Lungfish

      I agree Baron- although what you are on about I have no idea!

      • Lungfish

        Apologies Baron for my rudeness, I am shortly buying a place in Hadleigh and demand to meet the old Slav in The Swan Hotel in Lavenham- the place is full of wanky estate agents but serves a good proper ale. I despise estate agents and ‘bankers’ and if you turn up in any sort of tweed ensemble forget it!- regards Baron old blogging friend. I must actually meet you in the flesh, and discuss the Rusky bullets . We need FOUR subs at all times.

        • Robert Taggart

          Will Lupo ‘the wanderer’ ever return ? – to his ‘spawning ground’ ?? !

  • Eyesee

    I am confused. I gather that the unions and in particular Unite, have been exercising influence over the selection of candidates for Labour MP’s and that this is causing consternation across the land, including the Labour leader Ed Miliband. That is right is it not? Only, even back in my earliest working days (and when I was a Union representative) the TGWU sent people to exhort us to exhort our members to vote Labour, neither part of which I had any intention of doing. The misnamed ‘political levy’ was only ever seen as a fundraiser for Labour, not for politics in general and I don’t think anyone ever saw it any other way. And surely the selection of Ed Miliband as Leader was due to Union input, how else could he defeat his more popular brother? That all of the above is corrupt is not in doubt, but those who do not desire a totalitarian state have always accepted that this is the way of Left wing politics. If not for corruption it couldn’t get off the ground at all. So, we kinda already knew much of this was going on, but suddenly it’s wrong and shouldn’t be happening? It never should! Funny isn’t it, how this, police smearing people, listening in to private conversations, hospitals killing people (and again, suddenly not being OK!), social workers who seem more psychopath, greenies being seen for what they are; political activists or greedy businessmen (or MP’s) and all the rest, is all coming out now, A sort of cleansing Zeitgeist.

  • allymax bruce

    In the realist perspective of Marxism, ‘what goes around, comes around.
    Long live the Revolution'; again !

    • Lungfish

      um- monkey does what monkey does- mainly looks after himself and his close associates, after that perhaps think about the starving lonely old granny down the road.

  • DougS

    “…. At least, with Unite gerrymandering the process, they usually get a local candidate….”

    A good point, but not always the case.

    Tony Blair: ‘Sedgefield’ – pardon?

    David Miliband: ‘South Shields’ – hello?

    Not that it’s any different with the Tories though. I’m sure that the (upper crust) metropolitan elite make damned sure that their favourites get the very-safe seats.

    Ed Miliband might just shoot himself in the foot over the ‘unions’ tiff – inertia is a very powerful force. If you have to opt in to pay the political levy, I think that about 95% won’t bother.

    • rodliddle

      Tone wasn’t selected via the offices of Unite, was he?

      • David Lindsay

        T&G, yes. Making him a Unite-sponsored MP for his last few weeks in Parliament.

    • mightymark

      I had the impression that Tony Blair as actually very popular in Sedgefield where he won the party nomination in a fair fight (he wasn’t “parachuted in” as the expression goes)after having been taken enthusiastically under the wing of local agent John Burton. He was loudly cheered at the Trimdon Labour Club after each of his three election victories. Certainly some such parachuting has led to resentment but generally we have accepted the idea of people representing constituencies with which they have little connection. Churchill first seat was Oldham – some way from Blenheim geographically and in just about every other way, while Michael Foot represented Ebbw Vale without noticeable complaint despite not even being Welsh.

  • gerontius

    Maybe I’m being a bit over the top here, but I have long felt that the great catastrophe for the working class of this country was not the depredations of Margaret Thatcher, but the loss of The Labour Party to a gang of middle class carpetbaggers, so for all his faults, good for McCluskey .

    • DougS

      Agree with all but the last eight words.

    • John Lea

      You could make the exact same point about the Tories – a party that has traditionally attracted and represented the aspirational working classes and lower middle-classes, who have been taken over by a bunch of West London liberals.

      • Curnonsky

        The two parties should rename themselves the Hampstead Reds and the Notting Hill Toffs.

    • Abhay

      You are not over the top. That is the situation.
      What is the use of a political party if its core ideas and base are abandoned? Its just a clutch of cynical opportunists then. Who needs that toxicity?

    • rodliddle

      yes, 100 times, yes.

    • Robert Mitchum

      Agree with DougS. McCluskey seems to have more in common with Leonid Brezhnev than Keir Hardie.

    • Old Fox

      No, the real catastrophe for the working class was the invention of the Labour party. It has demoralised, pauperised and lobotomised them. Robbed of their localities by mass immigration, robbed of their identity by “multiculturalism”, robbed of their will to live by money for nothing they now welter on “welfare” whilst immigrants get on with the work. They were even robbed of their education by the abolition of grammar schools and apprenticeships – training which actually reflected their talents and fitted them for the world. The British people have had no more determined, pitiless and successful enemy than Labour and its poisonous disciples.

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