Labour owes Stevie Deans an apology

January 23, 2014 at 11:55 am (democracy, good people, labour party, law, police, posted by JD, reblogged, solidarity, truth, unions, Unite the union, workers)

By Jon Lansman (at Left Futures, 22 Jan):

Stevie Deans and Grangemouth

Yesterday [ie 21 Jan], the Scottish police confirmed that they had found “no evidence of any criminality” in their inquiry into the activities of Stevie Deans, who was until three months ago full-time convenor at the Ineos plant at Grangemouth (where he’d worked for 25 years) and Chair of Unite in Scotland as well as the sometime Chair of Falkirk Labour Party.

This is the second time, allegations against Stevie Deans have been investigated and dismissed by the Scottish police, the first referral having come from the Labour Party, the second from INEOS. Unsurprisingly, Unite yesterday condemned the fact that “the police’s time has been wasted by vexatious complaints and their attentions diverted from catching real criminals and solving real crimes“.

Labour regards the whole affair as closed, especially now that Karen Whitefield, the former MSP, has been selected as the Labour candidate for Falkirk, but there is no truth and reconciliation process in Labour’s rule book. Stevie Deans may have lost his job, Karie Murphy denied the opportunity to seek the nomination, Tom Watson lost his place in the shadow cabinet, and hundreds of people recruited to the Labour Party denied any participation in the selection, but no apologies are required it seems.

The whole affair was talked up by politicians (including some then in the shadow cabinet) and bloggers associated with Progress, making allegations of ballot-rigging based on nothing more than rumour and speculation, with the express purpose of persuading Ed Miliband to smash what’s left of union influence in the party.

The Labour Party’s investigators failed to speak to Stevie Deans or Karie Murphy who were suspended without a hearing, on the basis of a secret report, and Unite the Union, and its general secretary, were subjected to months of unjustified abuse.

Ed Miliband, on the back of his condemnation of the “machine politics” he claimed was evident in Falkirk, did indeed propose the most radical change in the relationship between the party and the unions, which he continues to seek in some form in spite of the collapse of the justification for doing so.

Stevie Deans and Karie Murphy deserve some apologies.  So do Labour’s affiliated trade unions. And the biggest apologies should come from those associated with Progress. 

What we are shortly likely to get instead from those associated with Progress, whatever appears in the Collins report, is criticism of Ed Miliband for not going far enough to smash what’s left of union influence.


  1. Labour owes Stevie Deans an apology | OzHouse said,

    […] Jan 23 2014 by admin […]

  2. Mike Killingworth said,

    Well, how much influence should Trade Unions have in the selection of Labour candidates? Before anyone rushes to answer in their favour, remember that of the four black MPs elected to the hitherto all-white Parliamentary Party in 1987, only one (Bernie Grant) had substantial TU backing.

    Originally, of course, Union influence (by which is meant the Unions’ bureaucratic leadership) was almost total: there was no individual Party membership and pensioners & housewives (of whom there were a lot 80 & 90 years ago) might get a tiny say via Co-op delegations – or they might not. But the “horny handed son of toil” fantasy has been obsolete for a full generation now. The distinction between affiliated and non-affiliated Unions speaks more of historical than present-day realities, and the introduction of fixed-term Parliaments surely means that open primaries (say in the October before the General Election in May the following year) are bound to come. (I assume all Parties would hold open primaries, and would do so simultaneously – the same date could be used also for such referenda as the politicians of the day thought desirable.)

    And open primaries would probably lead to an increase in Union influence, through the Unions’ cheque books ensuring that more people knew of their preferred candidate. To defend the present system is to defend not the Party-Union link but the “smoke-filled rooms” and the power of Union bureaucrats who might be Trotskyists of a sort (as Grant was and Jeremy Corbyn may still be) – or who might not. Be careful of defending the power of full-time officials just because you approve of one in a particular case. Most of them are not even social democrats, let alone socialists.

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