England's Labour Party Facing Civil War

England's Labour Party Facing Civil War

The Labour Party in England is plagued by a civil war. The leader of their biggest financial backer, Len McCluskey of the trade union Unite, is battling the Party’s leader, Ed Milliband.

Former Home Secretary Lord Reid, a member of the Labour Party and former ally of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, said Mr McCluskey, if left unchecked, would lead Labour:

into political oblivion . . . I am in no doubt the leader of Unite wants to impose an ideological direction on the Labour Party that would lead us into political oblivion, as it did in the 1970s and 1980s. Ed Miliband didn’t particularly go looking for this fight. This fight came to him. But I think he understands, as everyone else in the Labour Party does, a struggle of this nature is a determining struggle about the direction of the Labour Party. I have no doubt in my mind that the direction in which Ed Miliband wants to move, which is as an open, modern, relevant party.

Miliband is expected to put new rules in place to block McCluskey, including new candidates for office signing a code of conduct, and a financial cap so that union-backed candidates cannot outspend any other candidates.

There are reports that Unite signed up more than 100 new members to have their candidate Karie Murphy selected, even though some of the members who signed up didn’t know they were members of the Labour Party. Ms. Murphy has been suspended by Labour.  She had served as the office manager for Labour party MP Tom Watson, who has quit his job as Labour’s vice-chairman and General Election co-ordinator.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps told Miliband  to investigate the scandal, saying, “Until you reveal how deep this scandal goes, people will draw their own conclusions about your ability to lead the country.”