Len McCluskey fires back at Jim Murphy as Labour link to be debated at Unite conference


Scottish section of the union set for political autonomy

LEN MCCLUSKEY, general secretary of Unite, said Jim Murphy was trying to make him a “bogeyman” for Labour’s failure out of “arrogance”, as the party’s biggest donor announced that there would be a debate at its rules conference in July over the Labour link.

Murphy announced on Saturday that he would be standing down in one month’s time as leader of the Scottish party after proposing widespread reforms, and he attacked McCluskey’s influence in the party, saying that the party’s leadership should not be influenced by “the grudges and grievances of one man”. (Click here to read more).

McCluskey, who called on Murphy to step down last Thursday and said prior to his election last year as leader that he would be “political death” for the party in Scotland, responded to Murphy’s attack by saying he was trying to make him the “bogeyman” out of the same “arrogance” that had led to the party’s failure north of the border.

McCluskey stated: “He represented the ideology that has completely alienated [voters]…not just in the election, not just in the [independence] referendum, but for years.

“Since 2008 the SNP have been gaining ground and Scottish Labour have displayed an arrogance that unfortunately led us to where we were at the general election.

“The majority of my members in Scotland voted SNP. What I predicted would happen with Jim Murphy unfortunately came to pass.”

The BBC revealed on Monday [18 May] that Unite will debate disaffiliation from Labour at its rules conference in July, and expect motions to that effect to come in from branches in Scotland and England.

The union, which has nearly one and a half million members and is the largest in the country, is already set to debate giving its Scottish section political autonomy in a motion proposed by the party’s Scottish committee and backed by its Scottish general secretary, Pat Rafferty. (Click here to read more).

McCluskey warned that the issue of the Labour link could be reconsidered by the party leadership if it does not show that it is “the voice of ordinary working people, that they are the voice of organised labour”.

He added: “It is up to them. If they don’t, if they kind of inject more disillusionment in the party then the pressure will grow from our members to rethink. It is certainly already growing in Scotland.

“We have a rules conference in my union in July and there’s already a number of resolutions from Scotland seeking to release them from the rule that kind of limits us just to the Labour Party.”

Out of the four Labour candidates standing for UK party leader, Andy Burnham is rumoured to be the favoured one by the trade unions, but McCluskey said that he currently had no favoured candidate, but said it was essential that “the correct leader emerged”.

Murphy is likely to propose changes to the party which would limit union influence in Scottish Labour.

Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour deputy leader, is set to take over as acting leader once Murphy resigns, and is currently the favourite to become permanent leader after Neil Findlay, on the left of the party, ruled himself out.

Picture courtesy of BBC