Unite statement: Falkirk selection rush is without jus...

Unite statement: Falkirk selection rush is without justification

02 July 2013

The decision to rush ahead with the process of selecting a Labour parliamentary candidate in Falkirk, so denying a vote to a mass of members, and an imposed shortlist of candidates is without any justification and is a further breach of democratic procedures and natural justice. 

Unite has written to the general secretary of the Labour Party demanding that this process is halted immediately pending a full discussion at the Party’s National Executive Committee.

While the Labour Party has continued to deny Unite a copy of the investigation report into Falkirk CLP, yesterday officials from the union were provided the opportunity to study the report at the Party’s head office.

As a result, Unite is more-than-ever convinced  that the measures that have been taken on the basis of the report, in particular the disenfranchisement of around 150 Party members, and the imposition of a regime of “special measures” on the CLP, are unnecessary and are at best an extreme over-reaction, at worst the product of an anti-union agenda.

In particular, Unite notes that the allegations regarding membership malpractice affect no more than a handful out of those who have now been excluded from the selection process. Even if the allegations of irregularities are proved to be correct in that small number of cases – and that remains highly questionable - then this mass exclusion is utterly disproportionate. 

Furthermore, the fact that the investigation apparently drew on material supplied by another candidate for the Labour selection will inevitably cast doubt on its objectivity, the more so since Unite was given no opportunity to see or hear the allegations before the Party decided to act on them.

These circumstances can only reinforce Unite’s conviction that this investigation and report are essentially political in character, and result from the publicly-stated desire of some elements in the Party to minimise trade union involvement in parliamentary selections.

Given that there is no by-election imminent in Falkirk, or any other compelling reason for short-circuiting normal democratic processes, the measures taken against the CLP cannot be supported.  If a very small number of individuals need to be excluded from voting in the selection process after due and proper consideration, then that can be done without also excluding the great mass of those who have joined entirely legitimately within the Party’s rules.

Nor can there be any reason on this basis for abridging the normal process for the shortlisting of candidates, a procedure utterly unrelated to the subject of the investigation and its report.  This entirely irrelevant decision can only be animated by the purpose of excluding particular candidates from the shortlist regardless of rules and democratic procedure.

Unite remains confident that its activities within Falkirk were entirely within the rules of the Party as they stand.  It has done what the Labour Party says it wants – recruit ordinary working men and women to the Party.  It should be added, as a point many commentators wilfully overlook, that once these working men and women are members of the Party, they are entirely free to vote on policies and candidates as they feel best.  They are not bound by any union discipline.

From the foregoing, It is clear that the decisions taken by the Labour NEC officers last week on the basis of a selective and sensational reading of small extracts from the report need to be reviewed as a matter of urgency, and that no action should be taken on the basis of those decisions without a full prior debate at the NEC itself.
For further information contact Alex Flynn on 07967 665 869 or Pauline Doyle on 07976 832861