Right-wing Labour feels the pressure from below

THE GROWING swell of rank and file trade union anger at the failure of Labour leader Ed Miliband to speak out against even the cruellest of the Con-Dem Coalition cuts — the withdrawal of disability benefits, the bedroom tax and the piecemeal destruction of the NHS — is starting to have an effect.

It has pushed Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite, which supplies vital funds to the Labour Party, to urge his members to join local constituency Labour Parties and campaign for the selection of genuine working class parliamentary candidates.

But the very idea of working class people becoming actively involved in the parliamentary process has provoked howls of outrage from Miliband and the bourgeois media who are crying foul and calling on the police to investigate “union manipulation” of the selection process in Falkirk.

McCluskey responded last week by calling on the Labour party to restore integrity to its discredited inquiry into the selection campaign in the Falkirk Westminster constituency (as distinguished from the Scottish Parliament constituency) by handing the entire process over to an independent third party.

Denouncing the party’s own “investigation” as scandalous in its shortcomings, McCluskey said in a letter to the party general secretary Iain McNichol that the report was: “Simply a ‘stitch-up’ designed to produce some evidence, however threadbare, to justify predetermined decisions taken in relation to Falkirk CLP.

“Even on the basis of this flimsy report, it is clear that these decisions cannot be justified. There is no emergency which would justify imposing these undemocratic restrictions, since any real problems could easily be addressed before embarking on a parliamentary selection process.

“The report has been used to smear Unite and its members. Even if the allegations of people being signed up to the party without their knowledge were true, this had nothing whatsoever to do with my union.

“It is noteworthy that members of the shadow cabinet have been in the lead in initiating this attack upon Unite. Have they had sight of this report while I, the leader of the union put in the frame, have not had the courtesy of a copy?

“The mishandling of this investigation has been a disgrace. I, however, am obliged to uphold the integrity of Unite, and I can no longer do so on the basis of going along with the activities of a Labour party administration in which I can place no trust.

“I will therefore be publicly proposing that an independent inquiry be held into all circumstances relating to Falkirk CLP and the conduct of all parties involved, including Unite, the Labour party centrally (including the Compliance Unit) and in Scotland, the officers of the CLP itself, and all those who have sought or are seeking nomination as the Labour PPC.

“Unite will cooperate fully with such an inquiry, and draw appropriate conclusions from any findings regarding our own behaviour. I trust that you will support such an inquiry, will direct all Labour party employees to cooperate with it and encourage other individuals to do likewise.” McCluskey spoke about the success that Unite has had in getting its members selected as Labour candidates.

“Because we’re having some success, suddenly these people are crying foul,” he said. “Well I’m delighted to read it. I’m delighted when Tony Blair and everyone else intervenes because it demonstrates that we are having an impact and an influence and we’ll continue to do so.” He added: “As far as Unite are concerned, we have done nothing wrong,” he said. “We are being attacked mercilessly by the media, we’ve had shadow cabinet members saying that Unite have ‘overstepped the mark’.

“What does that mean? We asked too many of our members to join the Labour Party. We should have told them that the Labour Party was full up perhaps? It is a nonsense.”