Last night a would-be Labour Parliamentary candidate, who contested the Hornsey & Wood Green selection, hit out on Twitter at the “autocratic monopoly” produced by Unite’s influence on selections. Mandy Richards singled out selections in Hornsey & Wood Green and Lewisham, arguing that they have not been getting the media attention they deserve and that Unite’s influence is blocking a “progressive Labour agenda”.
In Hornsey & Wood Green the selection was won by Unite member Catherine West, who was personally congratulated on Twitter by Unite’s Len McCluskey on her selection and is a member of Unite herself.
Unite has also been a consistent large donor to the Hornsey & Wood Green Labour party over the last decade, exceeded that of any individual or business in the list of donations declared to the Electoral Commission and also donating more than any other trade union. Further to that, Unite’s leaked political strategy document talks of spending an extra £10,000 per seat on work to mobilising union votes for Labour in places such as Hornsey & Wood Green – even though the same document also acknowledges that the majority of Unite’s own members are not Labour voters.
Disputes over the power of unions are nothing new to the local Labour Party. Hornsey Labour Party Chair Adam Jogee complained in 2010 that, “Ed [Miliband] has trashed our record to appease the unions”.
UPDATE: The Evening Standard has also covered this story –
Mandy Richards, a London activist who has stood in recent selection battles, accused Unite of creating an “autocratic monopoly”. She put the spotlight on contests at Lewisham Deptford and Hornsey & Wood Green where she claimed Unite’s influence was blocking a “progressive Labour agenda”.
Unite paid membership subscriptions of new members in scores of seats under a scheme that was axed by Ed Miliband last week after concerns it was being used to sway selection contests.