After several days thinking through their options, Young Dave and his jolly clever chaps have decided that the root of all evil on Pa Broon’s patch, and key to the upcoming industrial action at BA, is Unite’s political officer Charlie Whelan. So it was that Cameron majored in Unite bashing at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), advancing his cause very little in the process.
Why the idea of Whelan as bogeyman? Ah well. Even in Labour circles, Charlie Whelan is not universally popular: as one of Brown’s associates in the late 90s, he was believed to be behind the revelation of mortgage impropriety concerning the man now known as Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole. Tories have tried to include him in the Draper and McBride email affair. And now Unite have called their members at BA out on strike.
But the argument that a trade union’s Political officer should have the power to pull rank on his General Secretaries (Unite, being formed from two smaller unions, has two of these) and magically call off a strike is ridiculous. The best that he might manage is to make communication between those General Secretaries and his old boss a bit easier.
But for the Tories, there is a pressing need to demonise Whelan as a way of deflecting the Ashcroft question, so he will continue to get it in the neck, whatever his real power.