First, a bit of absurdity.
1. The official conclusion of the Labour Party’s report into Falkirk West is:
“No organisation or person has been found to have breached the rules”.
“We have suspended the party in Falkirk. We have had an investigation. We are completely changing the way the Labour Party does things, and our relationship with the trade unions. We have stopped the system of getting members direct through the Unions that may well have been being abused. We have stopped any members who were recruited under that process from being part of the selection process. The National Executive Committee will be looking after the selection process. The local party is in ‘special measures’, and the controversial candidate is no longer standing. What more should the Labour Party do?”
The Labour’s Party’s position is, then, that around 40% of party members in Falkirk West CLP have been excluded from voting in a selection process because nothing untoward occurred in their recruitment. This absurdity is a consequence of trying to fix something behind the scenes while being afraid to address the central issue – which is of course the Unite leadership’s overweening power within the Labour Party.
Today, Ed Miliband explained that the reason for all the confusion about people not knowing they were members was that the memberships were bought as a present. YOU WHAT? Ed, that’s a lawyer dancing on the head of a pin when he knows his client is guilty; not a leader facing a serious moral challenge which may define his very leadership and determine whether or not he will be prime minister.
I suppose the Labour Party can take a look at the payment itself to see how it was made and who actually made it. That would provide a clue, no?
But here’s another thing the Labour Party could do. It could simply cross-reference the ‘new members’ with the electoral register, to see if they actually exist as billed? Not a bad idea, no? I mean, given that multiple members were recruited from some households and that being on the electoral register is a requirement of party membership, that might also present a clue or two about whether bogus members were signed up? Just a thought, like?
In fact, here’s what the Labour Party knows happened in a large number of cases, because it has all the information.
People were approached in the pub and at work. Some agreed to ‘join’ members of their family. In the latter cases, family members were joined up as if they lived with their parents in spite of the fact that they’d left home years ago; married daughters were signed up under maiden names they’d not used for many years. Much reportage has focussed upon one family, the Kanes, members of which claim not to have known they’d been signed up , but this is simply because a puzzled Lorraine Kane discovered her entire family had been signed up (when 5 membership cards dropped through the door) and then happened to bump into a local Labour councillor whom she knew and mention how weird it was.
So how many cases are there where names appear upon the Labour membership list but not on the electoral register? The Labour Party knows the number exactly. It’s been reported that Labour initially concluded that 112 memberships (out of a total membership of around 250) are questionable – coming from a combination of forgery, co-ersion and badgering. Certainly, a simple matching of the membership list and the electoral register will yield that sort of number, one imagines. It is perfectly reasonable to infer from all of this that there a quite a few people who originated in the Falkirk area who have no idea that they are Labour members today.
So where is the Labour Party on the issue today?
Well, it’s official position today was: “It’s a long way from it being a matter for Unite or a matter for us if your dad signs you up without telling you“. In other words, it’s not a matter for the Labour Party, and its completely within its rules, if someone signs you up as a member but doesn’t tell you.
I’ll let that insane statement, a recipe for corruption, speak for itself.
For now, though, let’s ponder upon this.
Stephen Deans (for it is he) approaches a bloke in a pub. Deans: “Fancy joining the Labour Party, mate”? Bloke: “How much is that going to cost me?” Deans: “£15 to you mate; special introductory offer”. Bloke: ‘Only £15? Jesus, that’s a bargain. Can I give you £75 instead and join up my wife and 3 grown-up kids too? They’d love that as a present to each; birthday and Christmas together I shouldn’t wonder’. Deans: ‘Tell you what, you give me that now and I’ll collect next year’s couple of hundred quid same time, same place?”. Bloke: “Here you are (hands over money). But, you know what, I think I won’t bother telling my family about the brilliant presents I’ve just bought them”. Deans: “Why’s that?”. Bloke: “I’ve absolutely no idea”. Deans: “Er, right then. Can you give me the names and addresses of your family?”. Bloke: “Can i sign them up as if they all still live with me? And can I use my daughters’ maiden names even ‘though they haven’t used them for years?” Deans: “Erm, yeah, if you want. That’s all in order”. Bloke: “And can I simply never tell them about this whole episode, in spite of me giving you all this money for their presents?”. Deans: “Sure, mate. That’s allowed too, according to party rules. No need for them to know at all. We’ll just keep the whole thing to ourselves”.
Likely? Well, it’s the story Ed Miliband’s advisers are resting his reputation upon.
(from 1752 on clip)