After going all out over the Falkirk selection row, Labour rather quietly issued a statement this afternoon conceding that neither Unite’s candidate Karie Murphy, nor constituency party chair Stephen Deans, nor the union itself were guilty of any wrongdoing. The party’s statement said:
‘The Labour Party began an internal process to examine the controversy surrounding the selection of a parliamentary candidate for Falkirk. At each step Labour’s general secretary and NEC have acted quickly to protect the interest of the party.
‘Since Labour began its internal process key evidence has been withdrawn and further evidence provided by individuals concerned. Karie Murphy and Steve Deans, who were suspended, will now be reinstated as they have not been guilty of any wrongdoing. No organisation or individual has been found to have breached the rules as they stood at the time.
‘The general secretary has determined that given these circumstances Labour should move to select its candidate for Falkirk West.
‘These steps will enable Labour in Falkirk without further delay to choose a candidate and prepare for the general election.’
But Murphy has also withdrawn from the selection process, saying:
‘Recently I have met with senior colleagues from both Unite and the Labour Party and have agreed that reconciliation and unity are paramount. It is therefore with great sadness that I must withdraw my name from any consideration to be the Labour party candidate for Falkirk.’
This is a bit confusing: why would a candidate withdraw from the process when they’ve just been cleared? But the implications of this are serious for Ed Miliband too: it was the Falkirk row that led him to announce his reforms to the party’s trade union link in the first place. Now he will have to attend the TUC conference next week having accepted that Unite didn’t take part in the alleged signing up without knowledge of new members to influence the selection process. The gathering in Bournemouth could be even more awkward than the Labour leader anticipated. But he also has Tom Watson breathing down his neck: the former Labour general election co-ordinator vowed earlier this week to ‘fight very hard to retain the fundamental link between the party and Labour movement’. Now that sounds a little more threatening to those reforms announced by Ed, which Watson has denounced this evening as ‘rash’.Tags: Falkirk, Labour, TUC, UK politics, Unite