by Atul Hatwal
Another day and yet more revelations from Grangemouth. This morning’s Daily Mail carried details of how Unite targeted Ineos executives at home as part of a strategy called “leverage campaigning.” While most members of the Labour movement will read anything in the Mail about unions with a level of scepticism, on this occasion the basic facts seem to be incontrovertible.
The Mail reports that as part of “leverage campaigning” 30 Unite members descended on the home of an Ineos executive during the school holidays to stage a protest on his drive. In response, Unite haven’t denied any details of what happened, but have defended the actions as “legitimate in the context of an industrial dispute.” On their website there is a section that describes “leverage campaigning,”
“Leverage is a process whereby the Union commits resources and time to making all interested parties aware of the treatment received by Unite members at the hands of an employer. Those interested parties may include shareholders of the employer; competitors of the employer; communities within which the employer operates; customers of the employer and the market place of the employer.”
Many in the Labour movement will simply shrug and think “so what.” But that’s not good enough. Its time for a bit of consistency.
If the Daily Mail was wrong to go after Ed Miliband’s father, then its wrong for Unite to target senior managers’ families.
It was despicable of the Daily Mail to attack Ralph Miliband to hurt his son. It’s equally disgraceful to harass peoples’ families and neighbours simply because they happen to be managers at a firm in an industrial dispute.
The outrage from the Labour party on the Daily Mail’s piece on Ralph Miliband was voluble and justified. Silence on Unite’s antics now will abrogate any moral authority the party had in criticising the Mail. Morality isn’t a one-way street. Principles don’t apply selectively. Either everyone connected with an adversary is fair game, or they’re not.
Labour needs to decide whether it believes in total war, where the families and friends or political opponents are justified targets. Or if it still holds to the values so loudly declared over the Ralph Miliband article, where they are off limits.
If it is the former, then the fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, friends and neighbours of Labour politicians should make sure they have never done anything that might merit a news story.
But, if it is the latter, then the Labour party should condemn Unite’s tactics.