Posts Tagged ‘Falkirk West’

Miliband bags the Oscar, but McCluskey wins Best Supporting Leader

12/07/2013, 01:20:36 PM

by Kevin Meagher

As he toured the television studios following Ed Miliband’s speech on Tuesday, Len McCluskey avoided the bear traps. He didn’t let the media frame his response. He was relaxed and reflective, positive, even, about the historic changes to party-union relations that had just been announced.

Producers will have wondered if they had booked the right Len McCluskey.

He didn’t really sound like the ogre we have been used to reading about; the fixer-in-chief wielding power and patronage to fulfil his diabolical scheme. Labour’s Dr. Evil running Unite from some disused volcano in a South Pacific island.

There was no finger-jabbing, or dark threats. Subtly made-over, McCluskey appeared before us in a snappy dark suit and designer specs, sporting a hint of designer stubble; more internet entrepreneur than industrial dinosaur.

He had decided to give Ed Miliband the boost he needed. There was no thumping return serve to the suggestion that union power should be diluted in the party. He lobbed the ball gently back across the net. The Leader’s speech was “very bold, very brave and could be historic” he said.

Encouraging ordinary trade unionists to become fully involved in the party was something he “unequivocally welcomed”. He pledged co-operation in now working out how the changes will take effect.

And then there was the accent. The Liverpool brogue does stridency brilliantly. But it has another setting: mellifluousness. ‘Len the Mellifluous’ is not what Daily Mail leader writers were expecting, but that’s what we got. It’s hard to characterise someone as a belligerent rabble-rouser when they speak softly and reasonably.

So a triumph of media training? That is too glib. McCluskey is a seasoned negotiator. You don’t get to be general secretary of the country’s biggest union without having different settings for different occasions.


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Handing the Falkirk report to the police is a good first step. But more is needed.

05/07/2013, 01:27:50 PM

by Atul Hatwal

So news breaks this lunchtime that the party is handing the report into Falkirk West to the police. Good.

On Wednesday this week, Uncut was first with the news that the Fraud Act had potentially been breached. Yesterday, we broke the news that the party was refusing to commit to handing over evidence of any illegality to the police and relevant authorities.

In the post yesterday, we called for the party ‘s legal advisers to look at the report and asses whether any evidence of law-breaking was uncovered during the course of the NEC inquiry. This morning the Labour party did exactly that and as expected has found it extremely likely that the law has been breached.

The party is making the right moves to clean up this mess. But there is unfinished business. Handing the report to the police will address the potential breach of the Fraud Act.

However, the Data Protection Act has also very likely been breached and this is within the remit of the Information Commissioner rather than the police.

The party inquiry will have found evidence of this breach, not least with the complaints of Unite members who found that they had been signed-up to the Labour party without their knowledge.

To complete the cleansing, the party should handover this is evidence of law-breaking to the Information Commissioner and ask him to investigate.

Only then will the party truly begin to move on from the disaster in Falkirk West.

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New Falkirk twist: Now Labour refuse to commit to pass evidence of law-breaking to the police

04/07/2013, 07:00:33 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Another day, another Falkirk West farrago. Labour has now managed to tie itself in knots over what to do with evidence of illegal activities, uncovered as a result of the party’s inquiries.

The current position is that Labour will not commit to handing over any evidence of suspected law-breaking to the police or relevant authorities.

To recap, this sorry affair was kicked off when local Unite members complained to the party about being recruited into Labour without their knowledge.

In late May, the Sunday Herald carried details of one of the letters of complaint, originally sent in March, that ultimately triggered the NEC inquiry,

“Myself and two family members have been enrolled by Unite…I or my family did not fill in or sign any forms and wish to know what information the party holds about my family… I have concerns as to the way Unite in Falkirk are recruiting party members.”

On this basis, two laws appear to have been broken – the 1998 Data Protection Act and the 2006 Fraud Act.

Just over a month ago Uncut reported that angry members in Falkirk West were considering reporting Unite to the Information Commissioner because of a breach of their data protection rights.

Under the terms of the Act, each individual must have agreed before their personal details are passed to a different organisation.

At the point where Unite members’ personal details were registered with the Labour party, without their consent being first granted, the law will have been broken.

Then, yesterday Uncut reported on the likelihood of a breach of the Fraud Act. Whoever completed the bogus applications and validated them would have contravened section 2 of the Act under the terms of “false misrepresentation”

Submitting completed forms to the Labour party, without the new members’ consent, would have constituted false misrepresentation.

Two laws, two breaches. One to do with peoples’ rights over their personal information, the other with the act of someone deliberately falsifying membership forms.


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New allegations of fraud and interference with party investigations emerge from Falkirk West

03/07/2013, 07:00:02 AM

by Atul Hatwal

For the past few days, the debacle in Falkirk West has been the main news story relating to the Labour party. The allegations of entryism by Unite are well known as is Labour’s response: to place the constituency in special measures and bar anyone who joined after 12th March 2012 from voting in the parliamentary selection.

But, new information has emerged that suggests the problems maybe even more serious. The latest allegations centre on a potential breach of the 2006 fraud act and a subsequent attempt to induce those who had complained , to change their testimony before the national party could investigate.

The Unite defence against claims of foul play in the constituency has been that the recruitment of union members, with their annual subscription paid by the union, is within party rules.

This is true, but only on the condition that the new members would actually be willing to pay the subscription themselves and want to join the Labour party to participate as individuals, not as part of a bloc interested only in manipulating selection processes.

In terms of payment of subscriptions, the rules are clear:

“It is an abuse of party rules for one individual or faction to ‘buy’ party membership for other individuals or groups of individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to pay their own subscriptions. “ Clause II Membership procedures, Chapter 2 Membership rules, Labour party rulebook 2013

As they are on the motivation of new recruits for joining the party,

“iii. The party is anxious to encourage the recruitment of new members and to ensure that new members are properly welcomed into the party and opportunities offered to enable their full participation in all aspects of party life.

iv. The party is, however, concerned that no individual or faction should recruit members improperly in order to seek to manipulate our democratic procedures.

v. The health and democracy of the party depends on the efforts and genuine participation of individuals who support the aims of the party, wish to join the party and get involved with our activities. The recruitment of large numbers of ‘paper members’, who have no wish to participate except at the behest of others in an attempt to manipulate party processes, undermines our internal democracy and is unacceptable to the party as a whole.” Sub-sections (iii)-(v), Section A, Appendix 2 NEC procedural guidelines on membership recruitment and retention, Labour party rulebook 2013

The party investigation into Falkirk West was prompted by complaints made by two families who mysteriously found that they had suddenly become Labour party members, despite never signing the forms to join the party.

They complained to the local party, to local councillors, and sources suggest, the police.


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Unite found guilty of entryism in Falkirk West, but who within Labour was complicit?

26/06/2013, 07:00:04 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Yesterday evening, as politicians and the media prepared for today’s debate on the spending review, Labour’s press office found the ideal time to bury some bad news.

The result of the NEC inquiry into the Falkirk West parliamentary selection was finally announced.

The party has decided that the surge in Unite members joining the local party was sufficiently suspicious to warrant action.

Falkirk West CLP has been placed in “special measures” and members who joined the party after March 12th last year (the date Eric Joyce MP announced he would be stepping down) will now not be eligible to participate in the parliamentary candidate selection, which rules out the new Unite caucus.

Effectively, the party has found Unite guilty of entryism.

It’s a major decision to accuse Labour’s biggest donor of packing a constituency with ringers and trying to subvert a parliamentary selection, but one that was inescapable given the facts.

Uncut understands that in the last three months of 2012, the membership of Falkirk West CLP increased by over half – from 200 members, it grew by 130 to 330.

These weren’t members attracted by the magic of Arnie Graf’s community organising, or an inspirational Ed Miliband speech.

They were shipped in, en masse, by Unite.

In October last year, Labour party HQ started to receive packs of membership forms accompanied by a single cheque, cut by the union, to pay for all of the members’ annual subscriptions.

As the forms piled up at head office in Brewers Green in London, party officials started to get nervous.

Normally, membership applications are processed within days and contact is quickly made by the party with the new member.

Not so for Falkirk West.


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Revealed: Unite about to be investigated by the information commissioner for Falkirk fix

29/05/2013, 07:00:31 AM

by Atul Hatwal

This week, the Labour party report into irregularities in the selection process for Falkirk West’s prospective parliamentary candidate, will be published. The selection procedure was suspended two weeks ago following allegations that Unite was fixing the contest in favour of its candidate – Karie Murphy.

The party had hoped to draw a line under the affair with the publication of the report. But, regardless of the findings of the inquiry, the row is likely to rumble on with the government’s privacy watchdog, the information commissioner, set to be called in.

The suspension of the selection was prompted by two main charges: that Unite members were signed-up for Labour party membership, with their subscription paid, without being told; and Unite and Murphy had privileged access to the local Labour party membership list.

Last week in the Herald, details of a letter of complaint sent to the Scottish party emerged. In it, a Unite member, living in Falkirk West wrote,

“Myself and two family members have been enrolled by Unite…I or my family did not fill in or sign any forms and wish to know what information the party holds about my family.”

Further allegations have been made that Karie Murphy and Unite have used the Falkirk West membership list to contact CLP members without members’ permission on at least two occasions.

If either of these claims is found to be true, Unite will have significantly breached the Data Protection Act.

Under the terms of the Act, each individual must have agreed before their personal details are passed to a different organisation. The law could not be clearer: point 1 of schedule 2 of the Act, which governs the conditions for personal data being used or “processed” by an organisation, states

“The data subject has given his consent to the processing”

At the point where Unite members’ personal details were registered with the Labour party, without their consent being first granted, the law would have been broken.

At the point where Falkirk West Labour party members had their details passed to Unite, without their prior consent, the law would, once again, have been broken.


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