McCluskey attacks “Blairites”

April 24, 2013 6:13 pm

Today the New Statesman are carrying an interview in which recently re-elected Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey attacks “Blairites” in the Shadow Cabinet – with particular criticism for Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy:

“Ed Miliband must spend most of his waking hours grappling with what lies before him. If he is brave enough to go for something radical, he’ll be the next prime minister. If he gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.”

McCluskey is also critical of Liam Byrne, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair. You can read the full piece here.

This will doubtless receive newspaper coverage tomorrow…

Update: The Labour Party has hit back hard at McCluskey this evening, with a spokesperson for Ed Miliband saying:

“Len McCluskey does not speak for the Labour Party. This attempt to divide the Labour Party is reprehensible.”

“It is the kind of politics that lost Labour many elections in the 1980s. It won’t work, it is wrong, it is disloyal to the party he claims to represent.”

  • dave stone

    This is a welcome counterblast to wrong-headed interventions directed at Ed from the Right.

    Of course the implicit call for the removal of inept shadow ministers will come to nothing. They are backed by a semi-independent undemocratic organisation and may, if pushed, initiate destabilisation on a grand scale with the launch of an SDP Mk2.

    • AlanGiles

      I think Len is right in what he says, however, is there a doctor in the house?. Or at the very least a bottle of smelling salts, as I fear if he reads this, Rob Marchant, and his cohorts, will have a fit of the vapours!

      • dave stone
      • Guest

        Don’t forget Luke Akehurst. Their constant denigrating of anyone who shows type of care or compassion for the poorest in society as “the hard left” (or words to that effect) makes me sick.

        • AlanGiles

          Too true. It doesn’t matter whether the right-winger is Conservative (Duncan-Smith, Grayling) or (so-called) Labour, there is a cold harshness about their attitudes to the poorest in society – yes we feel sorry for you, up to a point, but your problems afre probably of your own making, so, because we will win more votes by being against you rather than for you, hard luck.

          This constant desire people like Smith and Byrne have to put people into “jobs” no matter how poorly paid they are, is not a “concern” for the unemployed but a race to win brownie points to see who is “toughest”.

          It should be a matter of grave concern and indeed, anger that food banks is the only growth industry in Britain (and many of the food banks clients are referred there by the DWP), but whenever do you hear

    • aracataca

      Been at the crystal ball again?

    • Mike Homfray

      I will be surprised if Byrne remains in post for more than another year

      • rekrab

        Murphy ignited the Welfare reforms years back and he is still there? Why is Byrne still in a job when so many voted against his ministerial advice?

    • Chilbaldi

      you really have to stop with your ‘second coming of SDP’ conspiracy theories – they are looking increasingly bonkers.

  • aracataca

    I’ll get killed on here for saying so but frankly I wish both sides ( namely the Blairites and the ‘left’) would shut up and focus on the real enemy- this wrong headed, cruel and heartless government.

    • Mike Homfray

      I think I agree. Though within the party I lean left of centre, I think both sides should support Ed in the very good job he is doing. For what its worth I’d be surprised if any of the three ministers cited will hold those jobs in the next Labour government and I’ll be surprised if Byrne is in the shadow cabinet by the time of the next election. As for McCluskey’s silly threats about a general strike – get real!

      • aracataca

        My guess is that the ‘general strike’ is going to be poorly supported, poorly publicised and totally ineffectual. Of course unlike others on here I can’t foretell the future but I think if it happens it’s going to be a gigantic damp squib whose only likely effect will be to give the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sun and Cameron and his mates an opportunity to launch a propaganda attack against the Labour movement.

      • Chilbaldi

        Interesting that you say that – I cant see Alexander going anywhere tbh. Then again the Scottish Labour in-fighting may account for both him and Murphy, who knows.

      • rekrab

        Lets not forget is was Alexander who secretly opposed Ken for the mayor role.

        • Chilbaldi

          seems that he was justified, looking at the election result.

      • dave stone

        “the three ministers”

        I was going to bet on Murphy becoming the next Labour leader (not because I support him) but the odds were so short I didn’t think it worth bothering.

        If Ed wins in 2015 the three ministers will most likely be put to work in whatever irrelevant committee can be matched to their absence of talent but if Ed loses the consequences will be cataclysmic (aracataca – the crystal ball is particularly vivid this evening).

    • Alex Otley

      I agree that airing the dirty laundry in public is not a good idea, especially with important local elections and a looming general election. Labour’s poll lead is a bit precarious at the moment (fingers crossed just a temporary Thatcher bounce) and disunity looks bad. However, it was the Blairites who started this first. McCluskey’s intervention may be a bit inelegant and the tone doesn’t help, but he does have a point.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    As an outsider, am I wrong to interpret this very public “falling out” of Labour and the unions as a sign that personal relationships between Unite the Union and Ed Miliband have completely failed? If they have not, why not have this little dog-fight behind the “closed doors”?

    If there is to be a general strike, then Ed Miliband’s intervention in such terms means the strike has already completely failed in a political sense, even before it happens. Or, Ed has placed Labour into an unpopular position if the strike gains support. It seems stark to create this dangerous possibility. Possibly brave of Ed, but it is the high stakes.

    Such a strike, in the face of Labour opposition, asks people to choose between supporting their union, or their party. It will be interesting to see which prevails.

    And if there is a strike, with such divisions already apparent, how secure is the large cheque from Unite to Labour for next year? I assume that Miliband’s team have already thought that through, and accept the consequences for the funding.

    • Alex Otley

      The ‘falling out’ is nowhere near as serious as it sounds. Miliband just wants everybody to shut up.

      Miliband didn’t back any of the other strikes either. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an example of the Labour Party officially supporting any strike. Nevertheless, the membership tends to be more sympathetic. I see no reason that this, if it comes to it, will be any different.

      Unite will not break its affiliation with the Labour Party. Despite this setback, Miliband is still the most left wing leader since 1994. The unions know what happens when they try to do politics outside of the Labour Party (TUSC beaten by Elvis in Eastleigh), and Unite have put a lot of effort into engaging with the Party – strengthening the union link, not weakening it. They would be mad to change anything now.

      • Chilbaldi

        Most left wing leader since 1992 you mean.

        • Alex Otley

          Fair enough. I know how much that must upset you.

    • AlanGiles

      Jaime, after the death of Mrs Thatcher ,many of the old New Labour corpses came to life again – John Reid (the more famous one), Blunkett, Mandelson, Milburn, not to mention chief ghoul, Blair. We even got that potty article on here by Mr patel last week about the “good things” Mrs Thatcher did.
      It cannot be much of a surprise if, as a reaction to that, you get people who have very different views on what labour should be doing make their opinions public as well.
      If Blair and his little helpers wanted to give “advice” to Miliband, they could have so done in private. they chose to use the media, so they must expect to be replied to publically.

  • rekrab

    A spokesperson for Ed Miliband? was it Tony B?
    Wait for tomorrows release from Unison and the GMB…….ouch! Ssssssh!

  • Chilbaldi

    erm, Douglas Alexander was Brownite not Blairite.

    Cant be bothered to tackle how wrong McCluskey is with the rest of what he’s saying as it is late and I fear I’d be wasting my fingertips on here.

    Says it all about Unite really. The choice we had was to elect an anti-Labour trot or McCluskey.

    • rekrab

      What? Alexander and Murphy are amongst the rotten core of Blairites.

      • AlanGiles

        They are careerists, just like so many of the unprincipled shower. When it was a career opportunity to be Blairites they were Blairites, when Brown took over they became Brownites: a bit like political call-girls “I can be anything you want me to be, darling”.

        I have little doubt, to further their careers, if by some chance, Denis Skinner became leader of Labour today and had a chance of winning in 2015 Byrne, Murphy et al would become ardent “Skinnerites” overnight.

        I always remember how Dawn Primorello leapt overnight from being on the left of the Labour party to one of the most virginal Blairites.

        That is the problem when career ambitions take over from conviction and principle. It merely makes the hand-wringing for the sick and disabled from Labour look the complete farce it is. ATOS and WCA was a wonderful idea when Labour introduced it, now the Tories crack the whip it’s a different matter, but a bad policy is a bad policy whoever introduces it – and, much as they hate to admit it (many even deny it!) It was LABOUR who created the present conditions.

    • Alex Otley

      That’s why he voted for David Miliband then?

  • Daniel Speight

    Well I guess it had to happen. The message to the Blairites is As you sow so shall you reap. They have been picking fights on a fairly regular basis since Ed Miliband won the leadership contest. The most recent carping from the sidelines by Blair started another bout from the usual suspects including LL’s own Rob Marchant. McCluskey, who it should be remembered has just won reelection against those to left of both him and Labour, comes into the fray both feet first.

    Byrne, the ex-City man, is really not worth talking about. He is about as far right as you can get and not be expelled by UKIP, let alone Labour. Alexander and Murphy are archetypal apparatchiks with neither having done an honest days work in lives. Murphy is my own bete noire as the thought of him representing Labour on defense and possibly being responsible for safety of British troops in the future fills me with misgivings.

    The most interesting part of the interview was McCluskey pointing out that the rules used in selecting candidates for the European elections were those designed by Blairites to fix it for their own candidates. This doesn’t make it right, but should give added impetus for the party to democratize its internal organization pronto. Still, the unions have thought for sometime that compared to Sainsburys they don’t get their money’s worth.

    Last of all it maybe better if Ed Miliband, who played that left card to get elected, at least responds to criticism from the different wings of the party in a similar manner. In other words Tony Blair deserved a similarly sharp rebuke as Len McCluskey or McCluskey deserved a similarly mild rebuke as Blair.

    • Alex Otley

      Quite right. It’s extremely rich of Blairites to complain when the crooked system that was rigged in their favour works against them as times change. They have done nothing but undermine the party since 2010. Their leaders act almost like an entryist group.

  • Alex Otley

    Everybody was part of Gorin Brown’s team apart from John McDonnell and your hero John Reid. Not sure what Andy Burnham has to do with this.

  • rekrab

    Pot, Kettle? undermine, divide and rule to secure the phony legacy? your farting against thunder John, Blairism failed!

  • dave stone

    You misunderstand the internal dynamics of both the Labour Party and the Trade Unions. Len (who opposes the ‘proposed’ general strike) has kept himself on-side with his members via a call for an alternative to disastrous austerity policies. And Ed is able present himself as dealing with matters resolutely, showing that he isn’t a pawn of the Unions.

    Ian Paisley was a supreme exponent of this style of politics – readily resorting to loud-mouthed bluster to keep the more volatile of his supporters with him but, at the negotiating table, deploying the approach of a hard-headed pragmatist.

    Only the Right have had their hats knocked off – as Len points out, finding themselves victims of the stitch-up processes they’ve used to their own advantage for so long and in finding that their entitlement attitude is past its sell-by date.

  • AlanGiles

    So?. Doesn;t change the fact that he is a Byrne-ite on welfare. The Tory appeasers, of which I suspect, Mr Reid, you are one.

  • AlanGiles

    John. half the time I don’t know what you are saying. I was making the point that to the careerist they will be @rse-lickingly loyal to whomever becomes leader – just as long as he stands a chance of winning. The Blairites happily became Brownites till it became clear he wouldn’t win

  • AlanGiles

    ““Len McCluskey does not speak for the Labour Party. This attempt to divide the Labour Party is reprehensible.””

    But it is quite OK for Blair to do it (because anything he says is important and he won three elections), and his useful idiots like John Reid (the famous one) and David Blunkett, Rob Marchant etc

    • ColinAdkins

      Alan my point exactly. Thanks for making it.

  • AlanGiles

    Frank Field your hero?. One of Mrs Thatchers friends. One of Nicholas Soames mates and confidante of the repulsive Duncan-Smith?. I always suspected you were in the wrong party, J.R.

    Could you possibly be working for the Havering Conservative Party?

  • AlanGiles

    …. and you will do that by basically endorsing the Coalition policies on welfare, like that nice Mr Byrne?


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