Posts Tagged ‘Iain McNicol’

The real reason Labour will never publish the Falkirk report

25/11/2013, 09:40:30 AM

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 The missing link is the unpublished report into the selection process conducted by Labour officials.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.

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New revelations expose contradictions in the Labour leadership’s story on Falkirk

19/11/2013, 01:36:38 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Another week and yet more twists in the Falkirk story.

Over the weekend, Unite’s response to the Labour party’s internal report on Falkirk was published by the Sunday Times (£). It sheds more light on Labour HQ’s involvement in the affair as well as revealing an important new allegation of malpractice.

To understand what happened, we need to wind the clock back to last December.

Unite had sent large batches of new Falkirk membership applications to Labour head office for approval. The bulk of these were Unite members joining the party under the terms of the now defunct “union join” scheme. This allowed Unite, or any union, to pay the first year’s membership subscription for any of their members who wanted to join Labour, as long as the application included the new recruits’ direct debit details to cover future years’ subscriptions.

Rapid processing of these applications was required if these new members were to be eligible to participate in the selection. According to party rules, new members can only take part in picking the prospective parliamentary candidate if they have “six months continuous membership of the Labour party (any constituency) at the freeze date.”

The freeze date is the point at which the selection process is declared open. Given the Falkirk selection was expected to take place in May or June, timing was tight for Unite’s surge of new recruits from November and December 2012 to have built up “six months continuous membership”.

There was almost no margin for delay.

But delay is exactly what happened. Suspicious party officials flagged several applications, worrying that party processes were being manipulated and because direct debit details were frequently missing.

This presented two challenges for Unite and Labour.

First, adding the missing direct debits would have been very time consuming, significantly delaying registration of the new members.

Second, even if these memberships could be somehow quickly readied to be put on the system, late January would have been too late to qualify if the contest was held in the first half of the year.

Labour HQ’s role in fixing these problems reveals the depth of the party’s involvement in backing Unite’s strategy in Falkirk.

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Labour’s head office in “chaos” as Livermore begins his first day in charge

18/11/2013, 07:00:54 AM

This morning, Spencer Livermore will step across the threshold of Labour’s Brewer’s Green HQ and formally take charge of Labour’s general election preparations.

As we previously reported, Ed Miliband’s personal appointment of the former Gordon Brown protégé as campaign director effectively sidelines the party’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, the party’s chief official, who was appointed by the party’s National Executive Committee in 2011.

Ahead of Livermore’s arrival, the atmosphere at Brewer’s Green is tense, with one well-placed insider describing it as “chaos” as the fallout from the botched Falkirk selection continues to play out in the media spotlight.

“There’s a total breakdown of trust between the general secretary’s team and the leader’s office,” says the insider.

“The staff are completely paralysed. It’s like a sitcom being played out before us”.

Yet this is a sideshow compared to the potential calamity next spring as Ed Miliband seeks to drive through his landmark changes to the way affiliated trade unions fund the party.

Miliband is staking everything on getting a new opt-in arrangement where millions of ordinary trade unionists choose to support the party, rather than have union chiefs wielding their chequebooks on their members’ behalf.

Party sources claim that Miliband sleepwalked into announcing the reforms without really understanding their full implications.

“Virtually the entire staff understood you’re ending the collective link but even the most senior advisers to Ed didn’t realise” says one insider.

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Is the average Labour party salary really £43k per year?

24/10/2013, 02:34:20 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Last week Uncut carried news of another restructure at Labour HQ, with the party’s executive directors now reporting to Spencer Livermore instead of general secretary, Iain McNicol. It prompted one member of the team at Brewer’s Green to get in touch and draw our attention to something very peculiar: the strange case of the Labour party wage bill.

Normally a political party’s wage bill rises in the run-up to a general election as new staff are taken-on to gear up for battle. It then falls immediately following the contest, with parties’ reverting to their core staff team, until the election drum-beat sounds again later in the new electoral cycle.

Or, at least that’s how things used to be. Since 2010, Labour has taken a very different path.

After the general election, rather than the numbers in the staff team falling, they went up. In 2010, according to the Labour party accounts it employed an average of 247 full time equivalent employees (assuming part-time staff are 0.5 of a full time equivalent or fte). One year later, the number had risen to 288 fte with the party wage bill rising from £12.2m in 2010 to £13.1m in 2011.

Partially this was a result of moving from government to opposition, with large numbers of advisers moving from the civil service payroll onto the Labour party’s books. But even then, it was quite striking for numbers and costs to rise so steeply.

By way of comparison, in 2010, according to the Conservative party accounts, the average number of staff employed was 221 at a cost of £11.7m.

This means in 2011, at the point in the electoral cycle when costs should have been at their lowest, Labour was employing 67 more staff than the Tories had had to fight the general election and spending £1.4m more on its wage bill.

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McNicol sidelined in coup as Miliband asserts control over party machine

20/10/2013, 07:00:09 AM

At 1pm last Thursday, Labour party staff were summoned to the Buckingham Room on the first floor of the party’s Brewer’s Gate head office.

Ed Miliband, flanked by Douglas Alexander, his newly-appointed ‘Chair of General Election Strategy’ introduced Spencer Livermore as the party’s new campaigns director who will now be tasked with day-to-day control of the party’s election campaign.

Livermore, reading from a prepared script, announced that in future, the party’s seven executive directors would report directly to him – bypassing Iain McNicol, the party’s General Secretary.

Uncut can reveal that the announcement came as a total shock to most senior staff who knew nothing about the changes – including, it is said, NcNicol himself.

Appointed to run the party’s organisation by a vote of the governing National Executive Committee, both McNicol and the NEC have been effectively usurped by Miliband’s team in an organisational coup.

“It was a brutal meeting” said one eyewitness.

“It’s been obvious for some time that they were going to do something. Iain is not Ed’s man”.

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