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The plot thickens over Labour's Falkirk scandal

By Mark Wallace
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Ed MilibandWhile Ed Miliband fights off calls to publish the investigative report into Unite’s attempt to seize control of the Falkirk Constituency Labour Party (CLP), he has admitted that no less than 14 CLPs are in “special measures” due to attempts to unduly influence candidate selections.

“Special measures” mean that the central party has taken direct control of selections, vetting new members and so on in order to prevent the skewing of the selection process.

14 is a remarkable number of CLPs to be in such serious trouble. The scale of the problem suggests Labour has a serious cultural issue that means people think it’s acceptable to attempt such coups, and a procedural issue which means that evidently quite a few get close to succeeding.

Labour’s defence line is that Falkirk is the only seat where union malpractice is the problem. But that seems to make the issue worse, not better. If this was solely Unite trying to stage a takeover, that would be bad enough, but now we learn there are plenty other groups and individuals pursuing such campaigns.

In short, Labour is riven with factionalism which the leadership and the NEC are apparently incapable of nipping it in the bud.

Their helplessness is evident from the period of time many of the 14 CLPs have been in administrative limbo – several have been in special measures since 2005 and one has been centrally controlled for 18 years.

It is now clear that the problem goes far beyond Falkirk, and the factionalism goes far beyond Unite. While the Times reports that some Conservative Associations have been taken into special measures in the past, I'm not aware of any that have been so treated for reasons of a political takeover, and I've certainly never heard of any being centrally controlled for 18 years. It seems Labour is under attack from within, and cannot effectively defend itself.