UK Politics

Ed Miliband PMQs briefing notes left in Commons toilets

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Media captionDavid Cameron claims Labour questions at PMQs are "written by Len McCluskey"

Ed Miliband's briefing notes for Prime Minister's Questions - revealing his planned lines of attack against David Cameron - have been revealed.

The notes are understood to have been accidentally left in a House of Commons toilet by a junior aide.

They suggest the Labour leader was braced for attacks on Labour's relationship with the unions.

A row about the alleged influence of the Unite union on candidate selection dominated this week's session.

Labour sources have accepted the notes - left near the division lobby in the House of Commons - are genuine. It is understood they were left in the toilet by Jonathan Reynolds, who is Mr Miliband's parliamentary private secretary.

'Working for me'

The notes include pre-prepared lines on Tom Watson, campaign organiser for the Labour party, one of whose assistants was a candidate in a controversial candidate selection process in Falkirk.

The notes, which cover two and half sides of A4 paper, are divided into different headings.

They include the lines: "I'll take Tom Watson over Andy Coulson any day and I'd far rather have Tom Watson working for me who led the campaign on the phone hacking scandal than have brought Andy Coulson into the heart of Downing Street."

Mr Miliband went on to raise Mr Coulson, the PM's former director of communications who is facing charges of phone hacking and bribing public officials during his former career as a journalist, in Wednesday's clash.

But he did not mention Mr Watson - a former close ally of Gordon Brown who is Labour's deputy chairman - and also omitted the line in the notes saying the party was "taking action" over the Falkirk affair.

Unite, the UK's largest union, is at the centre of a row over the selection of a new Labour candidate to fight the next election in the Scottish constituency.

Labour's National Executive Committee has taken control of the process from the local party after allegations of interference by Unite and an as yet unpublished Labour report has found evidence of unions packing local membership lists.

Labour insist Mr Miliband has moved swiftly and decisively to order an inquiry into Falkirk within hours of allegations being raised, but senior figures have called for the report into the affair to be published and warned it risks damaging the party.

'Union script'

Mr Cameron seized on the issue at the weekly session of PM's questions, challenging Mr Miliband on his links with the trade unions and claiming "we have a situation in this country where we have got one of our political parties where it has become apparent votes are being bought, people are being signed up without consent".

Mr Cameron said Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, who backed Ed Miliband in the 2010 Labour leadership contest, "wrote the questions" for the opposition leader and dictated policy on issues like education and health.

"He is taking his script from the trade unions, who don't like choice, don't like new schools, don't like free schools," he said.

"They want to control everything. What we know is that one organisation they have got control of. We see it in black and white - they have taken control of the Labour Party."

In response, Mr Miliband said he was happy to debate the issue of ethics, claiming Mr Cameron had had "dinners for donors in Downing Street, given a tax cut to his Christmas card list and brought Andy Coulson into the heart of Downing Street".

"The idea that he is lecturing us on ethics takes double standards to a whole new level."

'In contempt'

Unite has threatened legal action against Labour, saying it has been a victim of a "smear campaign" and an attempt by the party to impose a candidate from Westminster.

Mr McCluskey, who was elected to a second term as Unite leader earlier this year, said Mr Cameron appeared to have an "obsession" with him but had "nothing to say" on the real issues facing people.

"He also reminded the millions of trade unionists in this country that they are not welcome in the Conservative party, and indeed that they hold trade union members in contempt."

He added: "There can be absolutely no question about who runs the Labour Party. It is Ed Miliband and he has my full support.

"Yes, there may be issues we disagree on - that is allowed in a democratic party - but Unite is fully behind Ed Miliband."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said unions were an important part of an industrial democracy but "they can't bully and get their way within the Labour Party".

"It seems what has happened in Falkirk is that Unite have overstepped the mark and they should remember Ed Miliband runs the Labour Party, not Unite," he added.

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