Socialist Worker

Unite’s shadowy links with New Labour

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2148

Sections of the Unite union have become further embroiled in New Labour’s attempts to set up a website to smear the Tories.

It has emerged that two secret meetings relating to the plans took place at the Unite union’s headquarters.

Labour Party general secretary Ray Collins, a former Unite official, chaired a secret meeting last December on the Labour Party’s internet strategy.

The meeting took place in the office of Charlie Whelan – Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor – who is now the political director of Unite.


Two other men, whose leaked emails later brought the smear scandal to light, were also at the meeting – Damian McBride and Derek Draper.

Unite press officer Andrew Dodgshon was in the room as well as Daily Mirror journalist Kevin Maguire.

Collins and Maguire admitted attending the meeting but insisted they did not know about the smear plans.

The crisis in Labour is breaking out elsewhere.

The Labour Party’s selection process to choose a prospective MP for the seat of Erith and Thamesmead has been mired in controversy for weeks.

The selection has now been suspended after the box containing postal votes for the contest was found with a broken seal.

It later turned out the ballot box had been sat in a cupboard in Labour Party headquarters when the seal was broken. The ballot papers inside were torn up.

This fiasco has come about as sections of Labour’s leadership fall out over how to lose the next election.

One prospective candidate is Georgia Gould, the daughter of Tony Blair’s former pollster Lord Gould of Brookwood.

She received campaigning help from the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and Alistair Campbell.

Gould had been expected to win after rumours of a surge in postal votes for her.

On the other side is Rachel Maskell, a Unite union official, whose campaign is being run by Charlie Wheelan.

It has now emerged that the Westminster branch of Unite (Amicus) has challenged the selection of Maskell as the union’s candidate.

The Blairites and Brownites are turning on each other and bickering as they run out of ideas.

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Article information

Tue 21 Apr 2009, 18:29 BST
Issue No. 2148
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