All right Jack?
- 3 Mar 08, 10:13 PM
Gordon Brown looks set for some embarrassment when the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party meets next Monday (10 March 2008) to pick a new General Secretary following last autumn’s resignation of Peter Watt over the David Abrahams proxy loans affair. The Prime Minister’s candidate is David Pitt-Watson, who was recruited by the party from the City of London in 1997 and spent a couple of years as Labour’s finance director and assistant general secretary, when he was credited with helping turn round Labour’s finances. Yet most of Pitt-Watson’s career has been spent in the City, where until recently he ran Hermes Focus Asset Management, and where he has built a reputation as a leading advocate of greater activism by shareholders. Pitt-Watson, who’s been rejected for the post in the past, was also a significant financial backer of Gordon Brown’s leadership election. He is seem by the Prime Minister and his allies as having sufficient business brain and enough of an independent background to shake the party up following its recent funding scandals, but also to sort out the party’s mounting debts once more.
But the current favourite for the job is Mike Griffiths, who chaired the Labour NEC last year and is national political officer of the AMICUS section of the trade union Unite.
A rough tally of NEC members by the BBC’s Political Research Unit suggests that Griffiths has most of the union votes, whilst Pitt-Watson will get the backing of most of the parliamentary establishment. The PRU’s very rough reckoning is 15-12 to Griffiths, but much could happen, of course, between now and next Monday.
The decision presents huge problems for the Labour Party Treasurer Jack Dromey, the husband of Labour’s deputy leader (and party chairman) Harriet Harman. Should he vote with his union colleague Mike Griffiths – since Dromey is also deputy general secretary of the other Unite section, the TGWU? Or, as he would probably prefer, should he go along with his wife and Gordon Brown, and support David Pitt-Watson?
As Labour Party Treasurer Dromey will presumably want a general secretary who tells him rather more about how Labour raises its funds than the last two general secretaries ever did. When it came to both the notorious Labour loans affair, and the proxy donations by David Abrahams, Matt Carter and Peter Watt kept Mr. Dromey completely in the dark.