The real reason Labour will never publish the Falkirk report

by Atul Hatwal

Yesterday Labour members in Falkirk gathered for their annual general meeting. They elected a new party chairman, Gray Allan, and once again the party attempted to move on from the disastrous parliamentary selection process. The new chair’s first statement clearly frames the date for the new selection vote as the point where the party will try to claim closure,

“On 8 December, in Falkirk, we will select a candidate to fight this seat for the next general election. The priority for us is to work to regain the trust of the people of Falkirk so that we can be confident of a victory in this constituency.”

But no matter how much the party wants the Falkirk farrago to go away, there is a problem.

The constituency remains in special measures, Labour HQ is running the selection process and no CLP member who joined later than March 12th 2012 can participate in the vote. All of this despite the official party line being that no group or individual has been found to have broken any rules.

This contradiction is the reason the questions keep coming. The missing link is the unpublished report into the selection process conducted by Labour officials.

The report was the basis for the action taken in Falkrik and sets out the detail of what went wrong. The allegations contained in it ignited civil war within the Labour movement between the party leadership and Unite and have driven media coverage so catastrophic that Gray Allan was moved to talk about regaining “the trust of the people of Falkirk” if Labour is to win again in what should be a rock solid Labour seat.

Until the report is published, it will be impossible for Labour to successfully move on.

Publication of the report is certainly what the members of Falkirk CLP want. Two weeks ago, Gray Allan said,

“The party should let us see the report, so that we can have a healing process and put this to bed.”

Last Friday, the Guardian reported Brian Capaloff, a member of the local executive as saying,

“The only way they are going to make these allegations of irregularities go away is for this report to be seen.”

And yesterday at the Falkirk AGM, members were reportedly asking again about publication.

Unfortunately, local members are going to be waiting an awfully long time.

The party point blank refuses to publish and so far there has been no leak of the report.

In a political world where the name of Dr.David Kelly was ushered into the public domain at the height of the media mole-hunt for Andrew Giligan’s source, and the findings of the Hutton report into Dr.Kelly’s death were leaked to the Sun before its official publication, this level of secrecy is extraordinary.

Now, the real reason that Labour’s report on Falkirk has been subject to greater security than matters of war and peace, has become clearer.

Last week, Uncut published a piece examining the contradictions in Labour’s official version of events. Leaked e-mails and internal reports from Unite, published by the Sunday Times, make a compelling case that the leader’s office agreed Unite’s strategy in Falkirk and Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, agreed to relax recruitment requirements for the “union-join” scheme.

A few days after we published the post, a source from Labour HQ contacted Uncut with word of the rumour doing the rounds at Brewer’s Green on the reason that the report will never be published. They said,

“What people don’t get is that Iain [McNicol] is our chief executive. The guys who did the inquiry report to him. But given what’s in the report, he obviously didn’t tell them about any deal with Unite.

The Ineos leaks tell us all we need to know about what was going on behind the scenes. If the report is published, then the general secretary and Ed’s office will have some impossible questions to answer”

The respective roles of the general secretary and leader’s office in agreeing the report are critical.

If Iain McNicol did agree to change the recruitment rules for the “union join” scheme and then didn’t tell his own staff, who were writing the report, his position would be untenable.

If Ed Miliband’s office did know and agree Unite’s strategy in Falkirk, but then signed-off a report lambasting the strategy as “manipulating party processes”, fundamental questions would be asked about the leader’s honesty.

It would escalate the crisis in Falkirk to a new level. The problems would no longer be confined to a far flung Scottish constituency. The new focus would be Labour HQ at Brewer’s Green, and the most senior officials in the party: the general secretary and the leader’s office.

And that’s why the party’s report on Falkirk will never be published.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut


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19 Responses to “The real reason Labour will never publish the Falkirk report”

  1. Unite should cut all donations to the Labour Party directly until the report has been published it’s really that simple.

  2. swatantra says:

    I have every confidence that a ‘leaked’ copy will emerge and see the light of day.
    Its best to get these embarassments out of the way now, and not trouble Labour come the GE.
    We’ves seen so many campaigns before being derailed by little incidents like Jennifers Ear and Mrs Duffy, blown quite out of proportion, by a hostile media.

  3. Ex-labour says:

    I’m sure at some point someone within Labour who has some ethics and integrity will leak the report. The more labour and Miliband obfuscate the more time there is for rumours to circulate and passions to inflame. If Watson is prepared to criticise Miliband publicly then there is absolutely something in the report that will turn the fan shit brown. Miliband will then claim he’s being smeared again 8-)) . Sorry couldn’t resist that one.

    @swatantra

    Hostile media ? The usual suspects ie BBC have been totally silent on this……now there’s a surprise! If anyone listened to Radio 4 today and heard Evan Davis trying to defend Labour, Balls and Miliband over the Crystal Methodist you would have thought he was a member of the Shadow Cabinet.

  4. swatantra says:

    You cannot demonise a whole movement just because of the activities of one errant individual like Flowers. Somehow, he slipped under the radar and brought the whole Coop Bank into disrepute. But he was ably assisted by people like Osborne trying to sell the idea of the Coop Bank taking on liabilities like Lloyds TSB and Britannia. Its not the first time a Bank and certainly won’t be the last time a Bank was hoodwinked by shysters. We’ve had Barings, Fred the Shread and RBS and HSBC in trouble.
    Incidently the BBC is impartial, and will remain so. But the Tory Press is not.
    The Crystal Methodist will be crucified, and deservedly so.

  5. steve says:

    swatantra: “The Crystal Methodist will be crucified, and deservedly so.”

    A Labour/Cooperative party member buys £300 of illegal drugs and deserves to be crucified.

    A Labour Prime Minister betrays U.K. armed forces by leading the country into an unnecessary and counter-productive war, costing hundreds of thousands of lives, and now he roams the world (and bedrooms – allegedly) raking in millions of pounds.

    It’s a funny old world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBk1HrWBniY#t=14

  6. james says:

    @Swatantra – it’s not `demonising a whole movement` – it’s suggesting that there’s a culture of complacency every bit as bad as the tories. That’s the trouble with today’s labour lot and their nexus of power ie police federation, unite etc is that they think they can lead the terms of the debate without answering questions that would enable that debate ie the pf saying `what did Mitchell really say?` before answering `why did you lie to the public` (answer – because at the time everyone was baying for the tories blood so the PF felt that anything went).

    It’s the same with Falkirk`why won’t you release the report?` (answer: because the shit will hit the fan and smear Miliband without any help from the tories)

    And now we come to Flowers. `How did Flowers get his job? (answer: `because he was Labour and labour help each other regardless of merit`). The same reason why this soft loan happened – a loan that would never be granted to any ordinary joe.

    So before Labour go on about `being on the side of ordinary people` you need to clear that one up along with all the rest. It’s no good saying you’re the angels and the arbiter of all morals and high standards if you fall anyway short yourselves. People don’t care what you say about the Tories as you regard them as evil (or your narrative has been that for the past three years). As one sows so one reaps.

  7. Danny says:

    Atul, here’s a little helper for you…

    Ed Miliband is bad. Unions are bad. Tony Blair is good.

    Copy & paste. It would save your fingers having to type a complete article and would save your imagination having to create fictions around Falkirk. Just copy & paste once a week. Then you could create regular platforms from which people can attack Labour ideals and the Labour leadership in a matter of seconds and free yourself up more time to (re)write the history of the Labour Party.

  8. Robert says:

    This is a non-story. The original process was dodgy but it has apparently been difficult to prove that anybody broke any rules. Re-running the process with only members that joined before March 2012 is a reasonable approach.

  9. Harry says:

    SWATANTRA;

    The BBC impartial – you are having a laugh surely! Where is the Falkirk debate? Where are the views of Labour members in Falkirk being aired, or the Union for that matter – and I am not a big fan of Unite by the way.

    And I think you will find that the Brittania purchase by COOP was under the watch of the man who now claims to have the salvation of our economic situation in his grasp alone! Come to think of it, who was in place during all the bank ailments pre 2010?

  10. Ex-labour says:

    @swatantra

    BBC impartial? Now I’ve heard everything. Even the new DG has admitted that it is a left wing liberal progressive institution as has the previous DG Mark Thompson. Previous employees like Peter Sissons has stated that news coverage was dictated by the latest headline in the Guardian or Independent. Anyone who takes note of its news and political coverage cannot fail to see where it’s affiliations lay. The Evan Davis interview yesterday was an embarrassment to himself and the BBC and any thoughts of impartiality were clearly dropped at the studio door.n

    Hoodwinked by shysters? The man was sacked as a Labour councillor ! If Labour claim they didn’t know this what kind of incompetent fools are running it. Labour live in a glass house but love to throw stones, but don’t like it when one crashes back through the window.

  11. wiliam says:

    For Falkirk,read Old Sarum (pre 1832), and all the ‘rotten’ and ‘pocket’ boroughs that the Great Reform Act abolished.Come the next GE, many voters may wonder what planet parts of the Labour party live on, and vote accordingly.

  12. BenM says:

    Non story.

    @Harry

    BBC Falkirk Coverage:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-25081211

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24821735

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24724670

    Etc etc

    No traction with the public is the problem Tory muck rakers have with Falkirk.

  13. John reid says:

    Danny ,that’s just silly, how about,

    Unions behaved disgracefully in the 70’s and 80’s they put labour out of power for a generation, let Thatcherism in

    Tony Blair the only person who managed to get people to vote labour so we could win in the last 39 years and 2 months,

    Ed miliband must realise this unless he won’t appear to not be in the hands of Mclusky,

  14. Harry says:

    @BenM

    Reporting is one thing – investigation is quite another. Where exactly in these pieces does the BBC actually offer the alternative position? Has the BBC investigated at all by speaking to people in Falkirk, or those whose names were misused in the process, or do we have to rely on the mouthpiece of the Labour press office to give us the full story.

    Another example of shoddy and shameful BBC bias.

  15. paul barker says:

    I note that Linda Gow, the original Falkirk whistleblower has been removed from the shortlist.

  16. BenM says:

    @Harry

    So you want the BBC to join a wild goose chase to soothe your petty prejudice against the Labour Party?

    Millions of other Licence Fee Payers – who obviously have better things to worry about than the internal machinations of a Political Party in a single constituency out of 650 think otherwise.

    No one cares. Rightly in my opinon. So never mind Tories

  17. paul barker says:

    According to The Gaurdian the Milliband Reforms have been watered down again but The Unions still arent satisfied. Ideas being floated are a 5 Year delay in implementation, presumably to 2019 or only applying any change to new Union members – pushing the changes back to Mid-Century.
    I wonder how much of the original plan will be left by March ?

  18. Harry says:

    @BenM

    No I don’t want the BBC to engage in a wild goose chase, and neither do I have a prejudice (petty or otherwise) against the Labour party. I am ‘apolitical’, and if you had read my words as I wrote them and not as you wanted to interpret them, you will see that my comments referred to the lack of investigative journalism that we expect from our national broadcaster.

    My comments apply equally to the many misdemeanours of all political persuasions, but the general perception, even from left leaning forums, is that the weight of the BBC tends to fall more heavily on the right of the political spectrum than the left.

    As on interested observer I do think that the next election is Labour’s to lose, but unless they shine a very clear light on the link with the Unions and the activities and accountability demonstrated in Falkirk, lose they very well might!

  19. Harry says:

    Thanks for that tip Paul – my burning questions are ‘will’ the BBC report this and if so ‘when’? Go on Auntie, make my day, prove me wrong. I am quite happy to eat my words!

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