Len McLacklustre….Two Eds not better than one

Unite boss’s Guardian outburst leaves Labour disunited

Regular Sloggers will know that I’ve been following the Silent War in the Labour Party with increasing interest in recent months. I wrote last week after yet another PMQs debacle that ‘looking at Harriet Harman as she sat behind the Opposition Leader yesterday, it was hard not to conclude that she too thinks her man is beyond hopeless.’

It seems the Harman/Dromey paymeisters inside the Unite Union agree. Although Unite’s own votes (duly delivered to the puppet candidate Ed Miliband in order to defeat his brother) made Edclaymation leader in 2010, its leader – former Liverpool Docker Len McCluskey – stabbed the Labour leader in the front this morning. And surprise surprise, he did so in The Guardian.

Given a column all to himself by the Guardistas, Len had this to say:

‘Ed Balls’s sudden embrace of austerity and the public-sector pay squeeze represents a victory for discredited Blairism at the expense of the party’s core supporters. It also challenges the whole course Ed Miliband has set for the party, and perhaps his leadership itself. Unions in the public sector are bound to unite to oppose the real pay cuts for public-sector workers over the next year. When we do so, it seems we will now be fighting the Labour frontbench as well as the government….Ed Miliband’s leadership has been undermined as he is being dragged back into the swamp of bond market orthodoxy. And this policy coup may not be the end of the matter. Having won on the measures, New Labour will likely come for the man sooner or later. And that way lies the destruction of the Labour party as constituted, as well as certain general election defeat in my view.’

Not that this was Len coming for the man or anything. Like all diehard Union men (McCluskey was a shop steward aged 19) New Labour was always an aberration, and the Miliballs combination an attempt to destroy it forever – with Harman and Unite man Jack Dromey working Edclaymation from behind. And also like all those little Malaprops who used to crowd onto our TV screens thirty years ago, Len has that pretentious tendency to write drivel like ‘the swamp of bond market orthodoxy’. A former supporter of Liverpool Militant in the Derek Hatton era, McCluskey only escaped the Kinnock purge by renouncing his Communist background as the Ginger cock crowed. But he remains part of that dying species of dinosaur convinced that politics is basically about workers v bosses, and financier capitalism v er, something else involving beer and sarnies at Number Ten. Actually, that’s dinosaurist: Len McCluskey is a political amoeba.

But what he’s done now is give the Eds a war on two fronts they cannot possibly win. And the fact that so much venom is aimed at Balls shows just how unwelcome the Two Eds are better than One arrangement always was at Unite – where, for some reason, the Mauler from Morley is deeply disliked.

Of course, the catalyst was Mr Balls’ support for a pay freeze – part of his continuing attempt to position himself as mainstream rather than Cloth Ears Labour. But effectively, a leadership contest has just been announced. However, while the Blairites have their candidate Yvetter Cooper (Mrs Balls) packaged and ready to go, it’s going to be fun watching the Uniters find somebody electable.

Related: How Fixed Parliaments are playing against the Tories.

Jim Murphy, unlikely stalking horse.

Mandelson’s Guardian knife-frenzy against the Two Eds