Coffee House

Len McCluskey: Unite could start donating to other parties

1 April 2014

1 April 2014

Len McCluskey spoke to the press gallery lunch on April Fools’ Day. It would have been more fitting had the Unite leader not been such an impressive, witty, and thorough speaker. And much of what he said wasn’t very jokey at all: Ed Miliband, I suspect, will not be chuckling away as McCluskey’s remarks are relayed to him.

The Unite leader told the Press Gallery that there could be a situation where his union votes to change its rules so that it can donate to political parties other than Labour. Labour, he told the listening hacks, is ‘at a crossroads’ and he fears for its future if the party loses in 2015:

‘Only if we change our rules, within Unite’s rules, we are affiliated to the Labour party. We cannot give any financial support to any other political party. So the rules within Unite would need to be changed, not by Len McCluskey – I know some of your papers think I have this huge power to flick switches on and off – but by our rules conference. Can I ever envisage a rules conference voting to disaffiliate from Labour? I can, I can, and that’s a challenge to Ed Miliband because I believe the Labour party is at a crossroads, this is a watershed, Labour consistently has to demonstrate that it is our voice, we created it. At the beginning of the last century, ordinary working people sat down… to create a party of labour so that we had a voice in the political arena.

‘Is Labour still that voice? I’m hoping the answer to that is yes, but we are at a stage in politics at the moment where just bumbling along in the old ways is not going to happen any more. People will put those questions under deeper scrutiny. And unless Ed and the Labour leadership demonstrate that they are on the side, just as Johann Lamont and Scottish Labour have got their task, then I can envisage a debate taking place if Labour lost the election next May I fear for the future of the Labour party and so these are serious debates at this point in time in our history we have to kind of consider all of those issues, at the moment, though that’s not on our agenda.’

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Which parties could those be? Well, McCluskey made clear to the lunch that Labour could not offer a ‘pale’ version of austerity and that it had to be radical: he said, half-jokingly that he’d only join a Miliband cabinet if it were ‘radical’ and if the Labour leader asked him personally. But he also explained that Unite had not taken an official position on Scottish independence because to do so would split the union in half: many of its members support the SNP. So perhaps Alex Salmond’s party would feature in that debate about funds.

He gave the strangest of answers to a question about whether he had confidence in Douglas Alexander as Labour’s election chief, saying: ‘He’s our leader.’ He then pulled a face. Everyone else in the room pulled a face as they wondered whether, rather than brief that he should be sacked as some of Alexander’s colleagues have in the past few days, McCluskey was promoting him.


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Show comments
  • Curnonsky

    Designer stubble, designer glasses, multi-hued hair – this is a vain man, miffed he doesn’t get the attention or wield the power he thinks he deserves. He is throwing a tantrum and threatening to take his ball home unless Ed and Ed beg him on bended knee to stay (not that he was ever going anywhere).

    • Fergus Pickering

      He is very ugly, isn’t he? No wonder Labour is importing pretty boys like Tristram Hunt. It’s a pity the pretty ones are so stupid.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    I’m worried about Chainbridge Honey Farm. It’s in Northumberland (Oh Joyous Place) but on the banks of yon Tweed. Will Wee ‘Eck deploy his Home Guard to stop those Imperialist Apis acting as latter day Reivers?

    I think we should be told.

  • allymax bruce

    “he also explained that Unite had not taken an official position on
    Scottish independence because to do so would split the union in half:
    many of its members support the SNP. So perhaps Alex Salmond’s party
    would feature in that debate about funds.”
    Interesting analysis, Isabel; COSLA in Scotland are fragmenting by the minute. Is that a sign the Unions in Scotland are preparing to accept a break up of constitutional structure?
    A Scottish Independence Yes vote this Sept’ could very-well do the Trade Unions a favour!

    • komment

      Pragmatism, sempre pragmatism.

  • CharlietheChump

    Why should Unite cough up all this cash and not get what it wants? McCluskey is just stating the obvious.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    I’ll donate £4.50 for a bleedin’ shave…

  • MirthaTidville

    What this article(unsuprisingly leaves out) is Mc Cluskeys comments on UKIP, reported by the BBC..quote:

    “”There is a danger that Labour take UKIP for granted. What Labour has to do is fill the vacuum. The reason UKIP is gaining is because people are thinking all political parties are the same, not dealing with their concerns over immigration or Europe.”

    The first and probably the only time I find myself in agreement with him

  • Rossspeak

    What Len and his ilk forget, and cannot accept,is that the vast majority of jobs for the “new working people” are being created in SME’s and service Industries where there is a totally different attitude to work, colleagues and customers.
    Len is a dinosaur walking, and represents a rapidly shrinking so called “working class” attitude.

    • Rowdie111

      Sounds much like Miliband & Co to me.

  • swatnan

    Len, you’re welcome to donate to the Co-operative Party; we have values in common and a work ethic.

    • Rowdie111

      Wow…your having a try…..you’d better be careful on your way home!

  • Rowdie111

    The more Ken McCluskey keeps mouthing off, the more Labour will lose votes.

    • Shazza

      Red Ed will move left and ensure that the Public Sector, Welfare junkies, workshy, immigrants and all who believe that the private sector should exist only to fulfill Labour’s tax and spend manifesto, will ensure that he strolls into No.10.

      • Andy

        Red Ed basically wants a one party state. He doesn’t believe in the concept of Private Property, save his own of course.

        • Shazza

          None of those Bolinger Bolsheviks do – Benn, Harman etc.

        • telemachus

          The underlying advantage of a one party, one ideology state is that it will give us a wide space for manoeuvring, which otherwise could not have been achieved. These manoeuvres could be interpreted as deviations from ideological doctrine or deception of the masses, but on the operational level they are important for maintaining stability in the country, and for achieving progress in economic and social spheres.

          • CharlietheChump

            Or, as usual, just your delusions

          • Andy

            I see. Your ideas lead, inexorably, to the gates of Auschwitz. You will very soon begin to murder all those who oppose you.

            • telemachus

              Andy
              You are a unique poster
              I would be happy to accede to your suggestion

          • allymax bruce

            Double-Speak.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            T0$$

          • Fergus Pickering

            Ah tele. You are a treasure!

            • telemachus

              See my comment to you re age on the NHS thread

  • Tom Tom

    Douglas Alexander is south of his native border

    • allymax bruce

      No, he’s fine where he is.

      • Kitty MLB

        Douglas Alexander is a failed leftie and a failed Scot.
        he is not worthy… So should stay where he is- until
        we boot him out .

        • telemachus

          Douglas Alexander: said ‘We paid a price because the trust that Scotland had placed in us … was found wanting.’

          He has called for Scotland to be given more freedom over tax-raising powers, employment law and control over the Crown Estates.

          Acknowledge his contribution

    • komment

      Do you mean his intellect is south of the border?

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