17 March 2010

BA and Unite: Enter Lord Mandelson

There is lots of noise out there about the BA dispute.  Contingency plans are being put in place and meetings are to happen with the comrades from across the pond.

Then we come to Team Cameron, who should be leaving the history of the Labour party well alone.  As Hopi Sen rightly says, “the Tory attack on the Labour-Union link is fundamentally dishonest – and worse, a political mistake”.

We will have to wait to see if the strike gets called off.  Due to the logistics involved, the cut-off to avoid any knock-on effects at the weekend is probably today or tomorrow at the latest.

Meanwhile, we return to the relationship between the Labour party and Unite.  At long last, the wait is over.  Patrick Wintour reports that Lord Mandelson has decided to act:

Downing Street has been forced to intervene to stop Unite, the country's largest union, parachuting more of its own candidates into safe Labour seats.

The move comes amid allegations inside the party that a covert operation is under way to ensure that senior figures in the union – one of Labour's biggest donors – win Labour strongholds.

No 10 took the unusual step of intervening in the candidate selection process following protests from senior party figures, including Lord Mandelson.

Not only is Mandelson attempting to curtail the activities of Charlie Whelan but also of Tom Watson, who was the ringleader of Brown’s plot in 2006, which forced Blair to announce that he would resign:

There is concern in some circles that Tom Watson, a former Unite official and minister close to Brown, is playing an influential role in selecting shortlists for constituencies where MPs are standing down. Watson is on the panel as a representative of the government, even though he is no longer a minister.

For the reasons we have discussed, this is very significant intervention by Peter Mandelson.  If he succeeds, and he will, it stops in its tracks the cunning plan that would allow Ed Balls to succeed Brown.

Presumably, he also working behind the scenes to get the strike called off.

We can expect events to move quickly.  Mandelson will not anything to get in the way of Labour’s narrative in the lead up to the Budget and the critical pre-dissolution period.  Then there is PMQs later….Watch this space.

Over and above all that, it is crucial that the New Labour project continues and the party chooses the right leader as a successor to Gordon Brown.

Peter Mandelson has to ensure this happens.

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1 comment:

  1. The New Labour project is already dead. It relied on money from rich individuals to fund it. Blair's cash for honours, Brown's switch to relying on union money and playing class warfare mean there is no going back.

    Will there be many Blairite MP's left anyway? With so many of the current Labour MP's leaving the sinking ship/getting voted out, and with Unite taking over the party machinery and making sure any new faces are Brownites who will be left to vote for a Blairite leader?

    Vote labour get Balls. Dont vote labour get Balls.