Saturday, 29 November 2014

Jim Murphy hatchet jobs: a short series to cut out and keep

And so to the surprise of, well, no-one, we last week learned that Tom Watson MP had decided to stick the boot into Jim Murphy as the bookies' favourite to be Scottish leader. Just as his former flat-mate, Len McCluskey did a couple of weeks before, as we reported here, and seemingly by pretending, somewhat disingenuously, to admire him:
"Don't get me wrong, I like Jim Murphy's aggressive, lead-from-the-front approach. And he can win marathons for political endurance."
Yeah, right. 
"Yet he will be the first to know that his association with the leadership of the Better Together campaign is disastrous positioning."
Ah, so that will be the Better Together campaign that won the votes of the majority of the Scottish electorate. Yes, what a disaster for him.

Also, judging by past performance, expect more of these kind of pieces over the next couple of weeks, as we lead up to the Scottish leadership election finale in December; it would not be going out too much on a limb to predict a further piece from Owen Jones, say. Or the Guardian's Seumas Milne. Familiar, friendly faces to the Unite boss.

Happily, I suspect that Scottish Labour members may just have become a little fed up of being told what to think by Unite.

Especially after what happened in Falkirk.

STOP PRESS: I just found this further hatchet job at the Huffington Post by a chap called John Wight. However, I'm not sure if it really counts for my collection, as (a) he is not either a "proper" journalist or a key party figure, and (b) the bonkers Wight is also a fan of genocidal dictator Bashar Assad, as my good friends at Harry's Place helpfully point out.

STOP PRESS (II): I underestimated Owen Jones (see above), who actually got there first. In this wonderfully apocalyptic piece entitled "The grim reaper is knocking for Scottish Labour", Jones explains the evil Blairites' cunning plan to spoil everything:
So who is being lined up as Lamont’s successor? The arch-Blairite, staunchly pro-war Westminster machine politician, Jim Murphy.
To be fair, though, this is not a proper hatchet job, as the whole piece is not dedicated to Murphy. It's more of, say, a drive-by shooting.

STOP PRESS (III): on a related topic, thanks to Paul Hutcheon for pointing out to me his piece in today's Scottish Sunday Herald, on how the unions are using the ballot packs they send out to members to "help" them to vote in their preferred way (despite the fact that the ballot is One Member, One Vote and therefore members choose, not union leaders).

The GMB have repeated the stunt they pulled in the UK leadership election of 2010 in including only campaign literature from their preferred candidate (and not the other two). The most shameless was, predictably, Unite, who included a "mock" ballot paper along with the real one, with a cross in Neil Findlay's name. As a "senior party source" said, it's "desperate stuff".

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The case for party discipline

Last week, a member of the party’s governing body, the NEC, encouraged a crowd of people to go round to the homes of public servants (£) and “peacefully” demonstrate outside.

Presumably as Unite “peacefully”
demonstrated at the homes of Grangemouth oil refinery managers, during last summer’s botched industrial dispute. It is a technique latterly championed by the union, known as “leveraging” (in fact, so excited is it by its novel idea that the union now has created a merged Organising and Leverage Department, to help promote it further).

The reality: when someone’s child dare not go outside to play, or has to ask its parents who the angry crowd of people shouting outside their garden gate are, or it is an unacceptable crossing of the line between legitimate and non-legitimate targets.

It is, needless to say, intimidation, by any other name. It is bullying.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Two thoughts for Remembrance Sunday in Europe

Two thoughts for this day, on which Europe commemorates the sacrifices of millions during the first half of the last century, to defend the continent from the oppression of dictators.

As luck would have it, today is also a quarter of a century since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Last night Germany celebrated the most important moment in its postwar history, what Angela Merkel called the "miracle" which signalled the end of Communism and Russian's hitherto-unquestioned domination of Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, the Russian tanks rumble into Ukraine's Luhansk province, unhindered by any meaningful sanction by a Europe and America hobbled by their own isolationism; tanks put there by a leader who now claims the partition of Poland between the Soviets and the Nazis was justified.

How short our memories.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Unite’s reaction to Jim Murphy’s candidacy tells us all we need to know about why it’s important

Last Saturday, after some days of deliberation, Jim Murphy announced his candidacy for the Scottish Labour leadership.

Within hours, Unite had put out a statement:

“Unite’s representative members will soon decide who to nominate on behalf of our union. On the basis of this speech, it is extremely difficult for them to find much to find hope that Jim Murphy is offering the genuine, positive change in Scottish Labour they seek.”
Notice first how Unite members are being given a completely free choice of candidate, and that its leadership is not trying to influence them at all (there's a little irony in there if you look for it). In fact, this effect of denying a level playing-field to leadership candidates in the union vote – that is, trying to distort the One Member, One Vote (OMOV) process – was one of the main reasons for the Collins reforms.

By Monday they had announced the results of a poll claiming that “working people” (i.e. Unite members: the union sees no irony in considering the two identical) wanted an MSP in the role and not an MP. Oh, wait a minute, which of the declared candidates is not an MSP…?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Ring out the church bells...

...Lutfur Rahman is finally banged to rights and central government has taken control of council finances. I cannot imagine that his position will be tenable for much longer.

For those not familiar with the reasons for my joy, I invite you to read these pieces.

UPDATE 06NOV: It is also worth - for the humour value - reading Rahman's own response in the linked Telegraph piece, on quite possibly one of the biggest abuses of power and public funds in my lifetime:
“The report highlights flaws in processes. These are regrettable. We will learn from this report and strengthen our procedures accordingly,” he said.
"Flaws in our processes", indeed.

I suppose that Derek Hatton must have said something similar in the dying days of Liverpool City Council.
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