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Monday 13 April 2020

Labour Leak And Emilie Oldknow

While many Labour members agree that now is not the time to indulge in acts of internecine blood-letting, the leaked internal report into the party’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints has given new leader Keir Starmer a serious problem: the individual widely believed to be his choice to replace Jennie Formby as General Secretary has come out of this with her reputation damaged, and probably irretrievably so.
Emilie Oldknow

Emilie Oldknow, who is now COO for UNISON, was previously Labour’s regional director for the East Midlands, and later executive director for governance, membership and party services. She stood unsuccessfully for the Sherwood constituency in 2010. Her experience should make her an outstanding candidate for General Secretary.
Except for that leaked report and its revelation of hyper-partisan unpleasantness within Labour ranks. Ms Oldknow was part of the party machine where the likes of Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband were considered too left-wing (Burnham has responded by telling “Always felt like the Party machine opposed my pro-public NHS & social care policies between 2010 & 2015. Not sure I had even-handed treatment from them in either the 2010 or 2015 leadership elections”). She was definitely around in 2015.
And she was definitely around when the question of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone came up: was he to be expelled from the party? The report tells “WhatsApp discussions among senior Labour HQ staff show that LOTO [Jeremy Corbyn] was unhappy with the NCC panel’s decision to suspend Ken Livingstone for another year rather than expel him”.

There was more. “Emilie Oldknow wrote that ‘Karie [Murphy] has been telling shadow cabinet members that I’ve orchestrated the Ken situation so … Tom [Watson] got his people on the panel to make a soft decision, all to embarrass JC and create a crisis'”. That, if true, is sufficient to have her straight out the door on a gross misconduct charge.
After one Tweeter concluded “This is the most damning quote I’ve found thus far: Emilie Oldknow saying she had Tom Watson delay the expulsion of Ken Livingston to embarrass Jeremy Corbyn, despite his demanding a resolution”, Diane Abbott asked “So is Emily Oldknow seriously going to be [Keir Starmer’s] pick for [Labour] General Secretary? Surely she should never be employed by the Labour Party in any capacity ever again?
It got worse: another exchange recorded in the report shows Ms Oldknow describing Katy Clark (Corbyn’s political secretary) as “Pube head” and “Smelly cow”, going on to also say of Karie Murphy (Corbyn’s chief of staff) “Karie is actually fat too”.

Former Crewe and Nantwich MP Laura Smith did not mince her words at the sight of that. “Anyone in the Labour Party calling this report self indulgent and calling for this stuff to be ignored is a complete and utter hypocrite. This exposes bullying and racism at such a massive scale. Own it, face it and sort it out for goodness sake”.
There is no need for blood-letting, though - just the confirmation that Ms Oldknow will not be the next General Secretary. Followed by swift action on anyone else proved to have behaved in that manner. But Starmer must know that he cannot evade on this.

Then he can move on to the easy part - going after the Tories.
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Malcolm Redfellow said...

There is no need for blood-letting, though ...
Quite correct. But this document is an end-to-end stitch-up: it's the Formby crew getting their retaliation in first, putting the boot in on the previous incumbents.

Your (otherwise simplistic) conclusion misses the essential point. There are three big Trade Unions. It appears each, in turn, gets the nomination for General Secretary: McNicol was Political Officer of the GMB; Formby was Unite's political director; Oldknow is Chief Operator (in more ways than title) for Unison — and on that rotation it's Dave Prentis's shout.

Yet Unison, big as it is, lacks the sheer financial impact of Unite (especially with Len McCluskey's direction of his political fund). Starmer declared he had £10k from Unison — while Long-Bailey had £215,000 from Unite. Admittedly, Unison has a neat trick of doing the printing, sending the bill, but failing to claim the debt.

Which brings me back to the main event.

The time is now for a professional, not political General Secretary. Of course the Left will kick, scream and throw the toys out of the pram if the nominee doesn't fit the mould. Just now, competence (with a strong nose and a muck shovel) are what is needed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, although I can't say it was a good read. I had wondered why this got coverage in The Guardian but I see now that they were only telling half the story: an exercise in damage limitation, I suppose.

A Boy Called Mick said...

Hi Malcolm I think you made a mistake. The evidence of the report is that if the nominee for Sec or Leader of party doesn't fit the mold it's actually the Right who kick scream and throw toys out of pram . Doh it's hard to draw a conclusion when you need no evidence

GrahamBC said...

This is incredibly tone deaf, officials clearly shown to be working against the party, being incredibly rude and unpleasant, if not racist, yet your response is to continue factional manoeuvres.

zen_lobster said...

Tim - just as an aside someone has added an ellipsis in that bit about Livingstone, making it look as if she (Oldknow) had asked Watson to fix the vote, but the report itself just reports Oldknow saying that Murphy had been going around saying that Oldknow had been telling people that she'd asked Watson to fix the vote.

Sorry if that is confusing.

Anonymous said...

How many more examples are needed before it finally sinks in that this right wing corruption of the Labour Party is SYSTEMIC. It's not fragmented or rogue individuals. It's outright evil deliberately concocted and injected into the Labour movement, not just the Labour Party. It has long rotted away the unions too. The result has been 40 years of a de facto one party state, a not-so-pale imitation of the Rogue Nation USA.

The seeds of it were planted long ago at the beginnings of the crackpot Cold War and McCarthyism. You can find them in the recorded history of CIA creations like (to name just a few) the laughably-named International Press Institute, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the American Newspaper Guild, the Front Royal "training school" for unions in Virginia - The American Institute for Free Labour Development, Encounter "magazine", Socialist Commentary "magazine", United World Federalists, all of which led US sociologist Professor Christopher Lasch to write:

" "What should a 'freethinker'do" asks the Sunday Times of London (May 14th, 1967) "when he finds that his free thought has been subsidised by a ruthlessly aggressive intelligence agency as part of the international cold war?" It would seem the answer to this must be that, according to the curious values which prevail in American society, he should make a redoubled effort to salvage the reputation of organisations that have been compromised, it would seem, beyond redemption. Far from "reforming themselves" - Encounter and the Congress for Cultural Freedom have vindicated the very men who led them into disaster."

Sound familiar?

When all that was exposed, the CIA shifted covert funding to "charitable" foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie who picked up the tab, though the overall strategy was switched to Operation Mockingbird. Shades of contemporary British "think tanks" and millionaire/billionaire funders. Only the names and channels change. That's the way the system works.

In 1972, for example, the-then admirable Insight team at the Sunday Times produced a devastating article which exposed CIA corruption of some Labour MPs. The editor Harold Evans - later an American citizen - immediately spiked it. It never saw the light of day.

The above is but a tiny description of the beginnings long term undermining and sabotage of the Labour movement, not just in Britain but across Europe and the Americas.

This latest episode is merely a continuity of the same old rottenness and corruption. Unchecked, it will destroy democracy and free thinking. This time the consequences would be even worse than Nazism. Don't kid yourself how deep it runs. The evidence and symptoms are there for anybody who wants to look and take it seriously.

Derek said...

Dear Malcolm ,
How could someone using the ascribed languge about a colleague be possibly described as ‘professional’ , except perhaps in the usage normally referring to prostitutes . ‘Buggins Turn’ or not this could easily turn out to be nail number 1 in the coffin of the new administration , with so much to prove .

Anonymous said...

Skwarkbox has now posted that Starmer had the report as soon as he was elected, with this in mind he selected oldknow for GS in the full knowledge that these accusations were hanging over her, so I think he will still want her in there, thanks for the leaking I say, it may now be impossible for her to take the job.

OJOD said...

Everybody who campaigned earnestly in 2017 should be livid. Don't deflect, this isn't a simple left Vs right issue. It's about the integrity of an organisation, it's our Watergate.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm thinks it's time for a PROFESSIONAL General Secretary. I agree.. so perhaps NOT somebody who calls colleagues pube head, smelly cow, and fat.. i.e. NOT the vile Emilie Oldknow.

Rosie said...

At last the evidence about what we long suspected. Trawling social media of members like me , a member for 35 years, to find anti-Blairites and 'trots' then implying 9000 names were anti semites and letting the media run with this idea. Then actively working to ensure we lost in 2017. Jeremy (not the brightest but a good man) was intentionally vilified and his character assassinated based on hatred by staff appointed in the image of McNicol, paid by mass membership fees and our donations, reflecting the mindset of career politicians prepared to prop up the Tories. Expel them. Starmer will not survive if he does not and wrongly focuses on the leakers and creators.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. Try again.

Anonymous said...

What an embarrassing load of nonsense. The hypocrisy and lack of self awareness of the right of the Labour party never ceases to amaze me.