Senior Labour figures distance themselves from potential Olympic disruption

February 29, 2012 11:30 am

Senior Labour figures have come out against the suggestion from Unite’s Len McCluskey that there was the potential for disruption of the Olympics from trade unions. Ed Miliband tweeted this morning that:

“Any threat to the Olympics is totally unacceptable and wrong. This is a celebration for the whole country and must not be disrupted.”

Deputy Leader Harriet Harman said that McCluskey was “aboslutely wrong to even float the notion”:

“Len McCluskey is absolutely wrong to even float the notion that there should be any trade union disruptions or anything that would disrupt the Olympics.” 

“The Olympics are going to be a fantastically important thing for London and the whole country.  It is inconceivable that trade union members would want to disrupt something that they’ve been very much a part of.” 

“I have spoken to Len McCluskey this morning and said that both Ed Miliband and I think he is wrong and we think that he shouldn’t even have been floating the prospect.” 

“We all need to be rallying behind the Olympics. It is going to be an important opportunity for Britain and is going to affect our jobs, our economic growth in the future and the prosperity of this country.”

Labour’s Olympics spokeswoman Tessa Jowell said:

“No one in our country looking forward to the Olympics, no athlete preparing, and none of our thousands of potential visitors, would understand or sympathise with any disruption to the Olympic Games.

“If this is a negotiation it should take place in private. Unions and employers should get together and sort it out without threats or disruption to Britain’s Olympics.”

And a spokesperson for Labour’s Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said:

“Ken’s position is unequivocal, there must be no disruption of the Games from any quarter. Ken will work hardest to ensure there is no disruption to the Olympics not least because it was Ken who successfully worked to secure the Games in the first place.”

“The Tories have sought to make this an issue in the Mayoral election. Ken’s background makes him better qualified to handle the pressures London is under than the Tory Mayor Boris Johnson. For example, there were less tube strikes under Ken in two mayoral terms that in one term of Boris Johnson.”

“On the specific industrial issue of the bus workers’ dispute, it is an indictment of Boris Johnson’s administration that in the run-up to the Olympics this is still completely unresolved.  It’s clear from his comments today that Boris Johnson no intention of dealing with the thorny employment issues on the bus network, which are a growing source of potential conflict. That is an untenable position. The Tory mayor has failed to get a grip: for four years we’ve had bluster – words but no action – and we now need clear leadership.”

“London needs a Mayor that puts Londoners first not someone who thinks it’s acceptable to have a second job earning £250,000 on top of his mayoral salary.”

  • JC

    Not too fussed about the Olympics. It’s London anyway, so too far and too expensive for me to go. I think Unite should go ahead and find out how much public support they really have. This would be an ideological move and maybe provoke some civil disobedience. Might not be the way Len McCluskey wanted though.

  • treborc

    If ever a game has been sold to the highest bidder this is it, nothing about these games register as being sport any more , everything associated with this is money.

    It was sold as the London games, it will make money for the people who run it, the people associated with it, the ticket allocation is to the rich, people spending £10,000 buying up tickets to try and get the ticket they want, the vast majority of the athletics will be allocated to the rich the powerful the MPs, Ministers from all over the world.

    The prostitutes who will move in and take over anything and everything will be the only working people at these games .

    When government have to spend billions , changing routes for trains buses and build massive building to have two weeks of so called sport.

    Sorry the Olympic games has become big business for London/America not the rest of the country, yet the rest of the country has to pay a share so Miliband and his band of New labour can sit and watch it and think see the working class have jobs picking up litter, clearing bins and sweeping up.

    New labour at it’s best

    • Dave Postles

      for London;
      for Dow Chemicals (Union Carbide/Bhopal);
      for Coe (£350k p.a.).

      Not interested, thanks.

      • dave stone

        I’m a big sports enthusiast and participant. What breaks my heart is the missed opportunity: every area of sport and related non-competitive activities, at the amateur, level could have been transformed throughout the UK with billions spent on the three week Olympic jamboree.

        • treborc

          Sport is now very big business and sporting people assets, to be bought and sold. I was involved for a short time training disabled  people for the games, until Brown cut the funding to pennies.

          But I may well watch the Para-Olympics, I know a few from Wales.

          • derek

            We’ve known about the recession since 2008, 4 years have past and the Olympic funds didn’t recede? they grew bigger, 80 million being spent on fire works and the only one really smiling is the massively over paid Seb-Coe. 

          • treborc

            It’s only money

          • derek

            Yeah! that’s true but it’s money corporate business doesn’t give to workfare individuals?

          • treborc

             Well labour held the workfare baton up, and they kept wages low with immigration and of course JSA way to low to live on.

            Not a hell of a difference between Tory and labour these days both are  in hoc  to bankers as we are now as tax payers.

  • John Ruddy

    Disappointing that Ed couldnt have said something along the lines of:
    “While I, like millions of others are looking forward to the Olympics, and we certainly dont want to see them disrupted, it is understandable that the severe pressures being put on public sector workers, and Bus drivers in particular are not being addressed, etc…. etc”
    Rather than the knee-jerk reaction we have seen.

    • UKAzeri

      and then Murdoch and other corporate press would savage us and everything  we stand for.

      Unfortunatly the unions are getting more agressive ( for obvious and well understood reasons) and there s little we can do until a critical mass of Britons stop thinking purely of themselves. In other words consumers need to become citizens again before this country goes forward.


    • dave stone

      I agree. But he’s too much of a politician to do that as he has to keep everyone on side. You can imagine the accusations of anti-business rhetoric from the scallops and celeriac 
      purée  munching PLP Surrender Tendency if ever Ed expressed even muted sympathy with the concerns of trade unionists.

      Heaven forbid, they might even cross the floor.

    • treborc

      Poor old Ed does look totally out of it, when they get attacked over funding, they should be screaming better to be funded by Union members then bankers, but you have  have the reply ready it takes six script writers for Ed

  • All Thats Left

    You can always tell how dumb a political idea is by gauging what the reaction would have been amongst Cameron and his cronies – and, make no mistake, the Tories would have been beaming from ear to ear, when they heard this nugget. It will be incredibly unpopular and totally self-defeating. I only hope that the comrades at Unite, have a big think about it! 

    I expand in the following piece:

  • Paul Barker

    If Labour were serious in condemning McCluskey they could tell him to take his money & go, except your bankrupt so you cant.

    • UKAzeri

      would you agree that the Tories should do the same with the bankers/city corporations?

      • Paul Barker

        Yes, Parties should rely on jumble sales & quiz nights. The libdems manage without Big Business or Union Levies, so can Labour & Tories.

        • UKAzeri

          I’d sign up to that!

    • John Ruddy

      You ARE from Conservative Central Office and I claim my £5!

      Dave’s just said the same thing!

      Except the money Labour gets isnt from “the union”, or indeed dished out at the personal pleasure of Len McLusky – like the donations from big business to the tories are dished out at the disrection of the management. Its the numerous small donations from each of its members. Who may or may not agree with Len.

  • Chilbaldi

    “The Tories have sought to make this an issue in the Mayoral election. Ken’s background makes him better qualified to handle the pressures London is under than the Tory Mayor Boris Johnson. For example, there were less tube strikes under Ken in two mayoral terms that in one term of Boris Johnson.”

    FEWER tube strikes, FEWER!

    (not to mention “than” instead of “that”)

    • GuyM

      You mean to say that Unions who basically own the Labour party through funding and votes are more likely to strike under the Tories than their own party?

      Who’d have guessed that… amazing.

      • dave stone

        No. You’ve got the wrong end of the stick. There’s nothing amazing about this at all. One is a more capable manager than the other.

        Johnson makes an ideological issue of the task while Ken simply gets on with the job and delivers for London.

        • Winston_from_the_Ministry

          You mean Ken drops his pants without putting up an argument.

      • derek

        Well! I’m wise to the tory spies and I can ruin the government plans and I say what I think that the tories stink because I am a union man.

        • treborc

          yes sadly being a Union man these days are harder then singing a song.

          • derek

            I don’t know about that? as a former convener I’d often use lyrical talk to enthuse, try it? it’s up lifting and resultful because I always read between the lines!

    • Jonathan Roberts

      Good spot. Sadly too many Labour Party emails/press releases are distributed with spelling and/or grammatical errors.  There is a sloppiness about our communications that hardly inspires trust.  It might sound petty but I always think a badly written message dimishes authority and suggests a lack of professionalism – which in turn detracts from the substance.

  • KonradBaxter

    As a famous admiral once said “It’s a trap!”

    If these strikes / disruption go ahead that will give the Tories more ammunition they need to crush certain unions with public backing.

  • GuyM

    I’d just like to thank McCluskey for a fantastically timed intervention.

    Are you sure he’s not paid by the Tories?

  • J98243

    I’m pleased to hear this news, what MPs fail to realise is that union action is not about creating sympathy it’s about causing disruption and making people listen! This is how strike action should be, it’s not something that should be a slight inconvenience for the Government it’s something that should cause a large amount of inconvenience! I hope this goes ahead and I hope it is listened to, I have always voted Labour and I’m very disapointed that they are distancing themselves from this, it’s no time for soft politics.

  • Stoprisk

    The UK is at Great risk from ConDem policies. Cameron is, in my observation, in league
    with Salafist dictators and Al Qaeda. I call the mayor Bin Laden Boris becuause he is
    risking the lives of Londoners by cutting back essential RMT personnel on the tube.
    Between the two they expose us, deliberately, to massive Al Qaeda terrorist RISK.
    RMT members are doing their duty to God, the Queen and the Public by refusing
    to risk the lives of Londoners and our Olympic visitors. Al Qaeda tried it before,
    and they will again. All the while Cameron is arming Al Qaeda rebels in Syria
    but Bahrain is OK. Why ? Because Bahrain is a Salafist dictatorship. Trade
    Unions are banned in Saudi Arabia and Boris wants no RMT drivers. Why ?
    Ask the right questions and STOP terrorist RISK before it is too late !

  • Stoprisk

    Absolutely, we need to STOP RISK and Bin Laden supporting Boris is
    a massive RISK as he sacked vital tube workers so Al Qaeda can do
    their worst and there will be no experienced anti-terror RMT
    people to spot the terrorists and STOP EVIL.
    This is not about needless disruption, it IS about saving LIVES !

    STOP terrorist RISK !
    STOP conDemnation !
    Protect the UK:OK !


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