LABOUR SELECTION ROW: Party and union leaders lock horns

Labour leader Ed Miliband is angry about the issues in Falkirk
Labour leader Ed Miliband is angry about the issues in Falkirk
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Labour bosses and the Unite union have traded more verbal blows as the row over Falkirk rages on.

The argument centres on the selection process for a candidate to represent the party in the 2015 General Election.

Unite has been accused of underhand tactics to ensure its preferred choice gets the nomination, a charge the union vehemently denies.

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Now Labour leader Ed Miliband has entered the fray to explain the hard line that has been taken over the past 24 hours

He said: “I am incredibly angry about what’s happened in Falkirk because I feel the good name of Labour Party members, trade union members and the Labour Party has been besmirched by the behaviour of a few individuals – that’s why we’ve suspended the local party, that’s why we’ve now suspended two individuals, and that’s why we’re also clear that we’re closing down the scheme that allowed this abuse to happen.

“I’m not going to have abuse of membership procedures and Parliamentary selections in my part, and I want to be clear about that to the leadership of Unite the union in particular.”

Unite leader Len McCluskey had earlier called on the Labour Party to ‘‘restore integrity to its discredited inquiry’’ into the selection campaign by handing the entire process over to an independent third party.

Denouncing the party’s own investigation as ‘‘scandalous in its shortcomings’’, Mr McCluskey said in a letter to the party general secretary Iain McNichol that the report was ‘‘simply a stitch-up designed to produce some evidence, however threadbare, to justify predetermined decisions taken in relation to Falkirk CLP’’.

He added: “Even on the basis of this flimsy report, it is clear that these decisions cannot be justified. There is no emergency which would justify imposing these undemocratic restrictions, since any real problems could easily be addressed before embarking on a parliamentary selection process.

“The report has been used to smear Unite and its members. Even if the allegations of people being signed up to the party without their knowledge were true, this had nothing whatsoever to do with my union.’’