Posts Tagged ‘Special measures’

Labour’s real problem with ‘tolerated entryism’

05/07/2013, 06:58:52 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Confirmation earlier this week that 14 constituency Labour parties are in “special measures” but only one – Falkirk – seems to have anything to do with the swirl of allegations surrounding Unite, begs the obvious question:  what about the other 13?

Looking at that list, at least some of those suspensions are because of irregular recruiting practices by ethnic groups in order to affect the result of council and parliamentary selection processes. Indeed, four of the fourteen are in Birmingham, where six Labour councillors were convicted of electoral fraud in 2005, with the judge in the case saying their behaviour would not “disgrace a banana republic”.

This is, of course, a subject usually tucked away in the ‘dirty laundry’ file with party chiefs wary about cracking down on this sort of behaviour out of a misplaced sense of not wanting to castigate ethnic groups. Unfortunately this soft-soaping merely sees the problem persist, with many of the 14 suspended parties effectively in limbo for years.

Back in 1999, the party’s North West regional office received complaints of irregularities in the selection of council candidates in Oldham (the town’s two constituency Labour parties are included among the list of 14).

The dozen or so regular branch members of Alexandra ward Labour party were joined by 300 new Asian party members for the annual meeting to select the candidate to stand in the local elections. The sitting (White) councillor was duly deselected. The same hammer-to-crack-a-walnut tactic was then employed in other local selections.

The Oldham Independent Review, into the 2001 riots in the town, chaired by David Ritchie, succinctly explained what had been happening:

“…[L]arge numbers of new members have been registered shortly before some ward selection meetings and although they apparently comply with Labour Party rules on eligibility to vote, our informants had good grounds to question their allegiance to the Party. One of them when challenged professed that he normally voted Liberal Democrat. Some meetings to choose candidates have been disfigured by threats of violence and other disorderly behaviour, and in one case a selection meeting needed heavy police presence.”


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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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