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Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

Labour’s
Falkirk branch in “special measures” due to fear of trades union infiltration

The
national Labour Party has taken
control of candidate selection
for the constituency following concerns that
trade unionists might have been “packing membership lists” in order to secure
their preferred candidate.

Sitting
MP Eric Joyce was suspended from the party after admitting to assaulting four
people in the Commons. The party plan to select his replacement from an
all-woman shortlist, but has decided to exclude any member who joined after
Joyce announced that he was stepping down, in order to “preserve the integrity
of the Labour Party” following the presumably dire results of an internal
enquiry.

When
I was still a student at Manchester, I read a fascinating book – whose name
sadly escapes me now – about the struggling between moderates and Militant infiltrators
in a constituency Labour party (I think it was Lincoln) during the 1970s. One
of the book’s biggest themes was an overwhelming sense of frustration that the
party proved ill-prepared to defend itself against well-organised entryism.

Dan
Hodges has reported
on moves by some of Labour’s larger union backers to
get more directly involved in candidate selection and policy formation, hot on
the heels of clinching the leadership for ‘Red Ed’, and comparisons to the
Seventies and Eighties have
been drawn
in all sorts of circles. Yet in Falkirk at least the central
party machine has moved decisively against the mischief makers, a state of
affairs which opens up a real gulf between today’s far-left manoeuvring and the
struggle against Militant.

Unite’s
response, apart from getting the name of the constituency wrong, blames this action
on the shadowy influence of “Blairite pressure”, which apparently aims to totally exclude
trade union influence from the party. Given the current state of the Blairites,
that seems hard to believe.

Sinn
Fein spinners shoot themselves in the foot

The
running down of two nationalist members of the Northern Ireland Assembly by an
armoured PSNI land rover sounds like a compelling story, especially since one of
them even walked away with injuries. Such would have been the hopes of Sinn
Fein spinners after Gerry Kelly took an impromptu
ride on the front grill
of a police vehicle during a public disturbance.

However,
the nationalists overreached themselves by releasing a video of the incident
which does their case no favours, as this
article
in the Belfast Telegraph spells it out. Quite aside from the fact
that it shows Kelly trying to order the police around (which he has no authority to do), the video shows the eminent reasonableness of the police
response from start to finish.

Far
from cruelly running Kelly down, the PSNI truck nosed into him – almost
certainly expecting him to get out of the way – and when he elected to cling to
the front carried him forward for all of six seconds before stopping and, upon
request, giving him the driver’s details. Callous police brutality this was
not.

SNP
plan pre-poll closure of the Scottish Parliament

The
SNP have drawn up plans to suspend
the Scottish parliament
for a month in the run up to the independence
referendum next year.

According
to the Scottish government, it is intended to help manage the restrictions placed
on parliament and other public bodies in the “short campaign” before polling by
moving the recess into that space. SNP ministers will also enter a form of
purdah, where they can’t make public announcements in a governmental capacity
which might influence the result one way or the other.

On
the other hand, the opposition claim that Salmond is bringing the business of
devolved government to a halt in order to allow the SNP to focus all their
resources on the referendum campaign, rather than legislating and being
scrutinised by the opposition. They also maintain that it means there will be
nobody to hold the SNP government to account during the sensitive period before
the vote (when it will still be governing, parliament or not).

I’m
quite sure that Scotland will manage to survive, somehow, if temporarily robbed
of its devolved chamber. Yet given their previous form it is hard to give too
much credit to Nationalist indignation at the suggestion that they might be
using their government position to try to skew the referendum playing field.

Petition
against naming children’s park after IRA member

Henry
Reilly, the UKIP representative on Newry and Mourne District Council, has
publicly backed
a petition against the naming of a children’s playground
after a convicted member of the IRA. The park is currently named after Raymond
McCreesh, who was convicted in 1977 for multiple offences including conspiracy
to murder, and died in the 1981 hunger strikes.

The
petition, which can be
found here
, states that signatories are in favour of so naming public
spaces in Northern Ireland that “every person in Northern Ireland feels welcome”.
The council say that they are cooperating with an enquiry by the Equality
Commission into the name.

The
Aberdeen Donside by-election result is in…

…and
according to Labour blogger Ian Smart, everybody
lost
.

The
SNP held
onto their wafer-thin majority
in the Scottish parliament, albeit with a
much reduced lead over Labour. Mark McDonald’s majority is just over 2,000, down
from the almost 7,200 vote lead secured by the SNP at the 2011 election.
Meanwhile Labour apparently selected badly and failed to attract enough
switches from other unionist parties to put them over the top.

Alas,
the Liberal Democrats overtook the Tories for third place, but in happier news
at least our vote didn’t seem to go anywhere else – there was only a 0.44
per cent swing away
from the Tories, despite a potential twofold squeeze on
our vote: first UKIP sallying into the seat (falling just short of retaining
their deposit, much to Alex Salmond’s delight); second Labour apparently making
a hard unionist pitch to Tory voters as the viable anti-nationalist option. So
either our voters simply weren’t much moved by these appeals, or there were
some fascinating switches happening.

The
Scottish Democratic Alliance brought up the rear with 35 votes, suggesting the
comments section of Tory Hoose was
out in force in Aberdeen.

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