Saturday, 14 November 2009

Gangs of Westminster


Being a member of that select company of parliamentarians must sure enough count as one of the most lucrative career choices for someone on the make, even with all the recent noise about expenses. The Glasgow North East by-election which Labour managed to comfortably hold on too on Thursday sees another young man join his tribal gang on the lush green benches of Westminster; and must be to much relief of Gordon Brown. Modern politics is very much like a jostle of forcing your way and pushing others about in order to run the system of capitalism.

Before I forget, it’s worth noting at this point even though Labour won the seat, there’s no hiding the fact that a massive 67 per cent shunned this by-election.

Labour has now begun to open up their general election campaign in the aftermath of this election. With only five months left of this government’s full term in office, we can expect to see things begin to hot up between the Gangs of Westminster. Yesterday the Guardian carried a report that Brown was in the process of putting the finishing touches to a Labour election team that is expected to be headed by Lord Mandelson and may yet include Alastair Campbell, back into the fray to try to win a fourth term.

Tony Blair's favourite headcounter Lord Gould is also being approached to play a part in the campaign.

It is also expected said the Guardian; that Charlie Whelan, the national political officer for the Unite union and a close confidant of Brown, will be given a role in the election forthcoming.

Well I found that very interesting reading. Charlie Whelan is a blast from my past; I’ve had many a beer with Charlie when we were both members of Tower Hamlets Trades Council about 20 plus years ago. To be honest I didn’t have much time for him then and not that much for him now. Back then, I recollect that he was some short of a Maoist and worked as a researcher for the AEEU. He was seen as a ‘character’ and hung around with T&G activists of the communist variety who were all frustrated trade union bureaucrats in waiting, dominant in both the Grater London Trades Council (GLATs) and the South East Region of the TUC.

When New Labour was elected in 1997, Whelan was spin doctor to Brown who as we know was Chancellor in Blair’s administration.

Whelan the son of a former career civil servant went to the Ottershaw School, a private boarding school in Surrey. He studied Politics at the City of London Polytechnic (which became the London Guildhall University in 1992).

In 1980 Whelan became a foreign exchange dealer in the city. From 1981-92 he was a researcher and assistant to Jimmy Airlie of the AEEU. Whelan use to bore the socks of me when he kept banging on about football but was popular with the other delegates to the Trades Council, he beat me in a vote for a position on an organising committee set up by GLATs to help the miners in their 84/85 strike. I had problems with Whelan and the tank’s my name for the Communist Party at the time, they didn’t approve of me and another delegate, when we kept getting arrested outside the South African Embassy every Friday for two years, during that apartheid time.

Well as time moved on I left the trades council, moved back up north for a time and forgot all about Whelan, then one day I could hardly believe my eyes when Whelan was being interview on TV and as Brown’s spokesperson, what a small world or what?

Well Whelan went on to make quite a name for himself and at the hart of New Labour in the early years. In 1999, he stepped down as an aide to Mr. Brown following revelations about the secret loan from Geoffrey Robinson to Peter Mandselson that forced the dismissal of both men as ministers.
This April the Daly Telegraph in an article describes Whelan as a former City trader from Surrey who changed career and reinvented himself as a trade union official with a distinct Cockney accent and became Mr. Brown's spokesman in 1992.
Whelan became a significantly influential figure at Westminster, actively promoting Mr. Brown's agenda and interests, undermining his perceived enemies, including Tony Blair and his Cabinet allies and took a hit for his boss when he resigned from his post, since then he has made a good living as journalist, actor and now trade union official, his business is skullduggery a member of Labour mafia, a gang member whose loyalty to the godfather is proven beyond any doubt. If Whelan returns and stands besides the godfather will this mean that the general election may become a very dirty fight. After all both Whelan and Mandy have and hold all the talents between them.

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1 comment:

Chris H said...

A fascinating post there! Interesting as always.

It does show the influence of the titled in the LP and makes me wonder if being a reformed leftie isn't a requirement for working at the higher echelons.

As an aside I started my metallurgy degree at the City of London Poly back in the early 80s. Aldgate East building. Then they turfed us out to Thames Poly at Woolwhich.

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