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McCluskey urges Miliband to ‘step back from the brink ...

McCluskey urges Miliband to ‘step back from the brink of ruinous division’

06 July 2013

Writing in tomorrow’s (Sunday 7 July) Sunday Mirror, the leader of Unite, Len McCluskey urges Ed Miliband to ‘step back from the brink of ruinous division’, not to ‘let the Tories set our agenda’ and that ‘it is time to reunite.’

In the piece he says that the row over Labour selection procedures is about ‘who can play a part in our politics’ and that ‘if your son and daughter fancies becoming a Labour MP, forget it. They have more chance cleaning the Commons than being elected to it.’

He goes on to write that Unite’s desire to get more ordinary working class candidates in to parliament has ‘upset those who are more used to parachuting favoured candidates in to safe Labour seats on a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch yours basis.’ Nine per cent of Labour MPs are from a ‘manual’ background and just four per cent in total.

As a result he writes that: "we have been smeared by the usual suspects – the Tories and the right-wing media, who want Labour weakened. Shamefully, some in Labour’s own ranks have joined in."

Asserting that Unite has worked entirely within the rules in Falkirk he denounces the Labour party’s investigation as a ‘shoddy fraud’ and repeated his call for an independent inquiry that looks at everyone’s behaviour as ‘the way to get to the truth and clear the air.’

Len McCluskey’s Sunday Mirror article in full is as follows:

If your son and daughter fancies becoming a Labour MP, forget it.  They have more chance cleaning in the Commons than being elected to it. That is what the row over Labour selection procedures is really about – who can play a part in our politics.

Today, parliament is increasingly the preserve of an out-of-touch elite – Oxbridge-educated special advisers who glide from university to think tank to the green benches without ever sniffing the air of the real world.

That is what Unite is trying to change. We want to give our democracy back to ordinary working people.

We say they need to be given a fair crack of the whip in the Labour party in particular – the party that was founded to represent working people, because the establishment of a century ago ignored them. The party that wants to make Britain a fairer place should start by putting its own house in order.

That is what caused the Falkirk argument. Unite was working completely within the rules to secure the selection of a working-class woman as Labour candidate, someone with 30 years membership of the party.

That has upset those who are more used to parachuting favoured candidates into safe Labour seats on a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch yours basis. They are also angry that Unite is supporting candidates who want radical policies. I make no apologies for that. Unite is proud that it is trying to reclaim Labour from the people that bought in to the free-market myth wholesale, who bet the country’s future on the City of London – and who sometimes fiddled their expenses while they were at it.

For our efforts we have been smeared by the usual suspects – the Tories and the right-wing media, who want to see both trade unions and Labour weakened. Shamefully, some in Labour’s own ranks have joined in. For the record, Unite has worked entirely within the rules in Falkirk, and the party investigation into what has gone on there is a shoddy fraud.

Let me be clear, we are happy to cooperate with the police, but we reject the idea that any criminal wrongdoing has occurred. I believe that a proper independent inquiry into Falkirk, conducted by a figure with the necessary expertise, looking at everyone’s behaviour is the way to get to the truth and clear the air.

If Unite is found to have made mistakes, I will put my hands up and draw the lessons. Let the Labour party say the same.

That has to be a better way than the present shambles. Labour’s attack on Unite is alienating tens of thousands of decent people from the party at a time when we should all be pulling together to take on this rotten government and its policies causing so much misery.

So I urge Ed Miliband. Step back from the brink of a ruinous division.

Don’t let Blairite diehards like Lord Mandelson be your back-seat drivers. They still haven’t learned the lessons from the disappointments of New Labour.  

And don’t let the Tories set our agenda. They are wrecking Britain. Their only hope is to wreck Labour too. This week the party’s leaders have played into their hands. It is time to reunite.

ENDS

For further information call Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861 or Alex Flynn on 07967 665869