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Picture 2 Last September, Richard Balfe, the one-time Labour MEP who joined the Conservatives in 2002 wrote here about the "very constructive dialogue" which some in the trade union movement are having with the Conservatives. Balfe liaises with the unions on behalf of David Cameron.

However, in this week's New Statesman, the joint general secretary of
Unite, Derek Simpson (pictured), reveals that he told Mr Balfe to "get lost" when
he sought a dialogue:

“I come from the old school. I don't think there is any advantage in talking to the Tories at all. You are just going to get whatever they are going to give you. Quite frankly, it's just waffle. Fortunately, since I'm in my final year [he steps down as leader in December], I won't have to be in that situation. Which is why I told Richard Balfe to get lost."

"The idea that they have changed is completely wrong. Lord Ashcroft – he's basically bought the party and is waiting for power. The cabinet wouldn't be able to resist whatever Ashcroft wants. They are already mouthing off about what they are going to do about the unions. I just wouldn't talk to them, personally. Waste of time."

How very constructive.

Later in the interview he gives his backing to Ed Miliband as the next Labour leader.

Jonathan Isaby

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