There’s an interesting article from Allegra Stratton in the Guardian today, reporting on changes to the Labour Party’s rule book. Union leaders are said to have blamed party General Secretary Ray Collins for unilatterally shrinking the power of the unions on the NEC. If changes have been made undemocratically (and LabourList will be looking into these accusations) then that is clearly something which Labour members should be concerned about. However there are a number of assertions in the article that shouldn’t go unchallenged – not least why a former Assistant General Secretary of Unite would be trying to damage Labour/union link.
Stratton states that Collins “backed David not Ed Miliband”. Whilst we at LabourList wouldn’t claim to know how Ray Collins voted in the leadership election, his alleged support managed to pass us by during the leadership contest, despite LabourList being arguably the most complete resource for leadership election news. Furthermore, it would be highly irregular for a serving general secretary (who after all was the “master of ceremonies” for the leadership conference) to give their open backing to any candidate. While it’s no secret that many within Victoria Street would have preferred David to his brother, it’s unlikely that Ray Collins was opening backing the elder Miliband.
The article also suggests that Ed Miliband “ennobled Collins shortly after becoming leader on the proviso he stood down – but so far Collins hasn’t budged”. Again, it’s not for LabourList to suggest why Miliband chose to elevate Collins to the Lords (although he certainly isn’t the first general secretary to become a member of the Lords), but it’s odd to suggest that Collins “hasn’t budged” – in fact the party announced back in Novermber that Collins would remain in place for “Over the coming year or so”. Yet only three and a half months later reports are suggesting that he’s dragging his heels.
On the contrary, LabourList understands that the process for choosing a new General Secretary will be underway shortly, with a new person in place by the end of the year.