With all this talk about Falkirk, what about Deptford? That is the constituency where Cllr Vicky Foxcroft has been chosen to succeed Dame Joan Ruddock as the Labour candidate. This is just one seat where the horse has already bolted. Unite, the union, has already got their candidate in place.
Cllr Foxcroft works full time for Unite. Indeed, so far as I can work out she has never had a proper job. She started out as a student union sabbatical – as "Chair" of Labour Students and a member of the National Union of Students. Her CV proceeds as follows:
June 2002 – August 2005
Research Officer. AEEU.
August 2005 – February 2009
Political Officer. Amicus the Union
February 2009 – Present
Finance Sector Officer / Unite the Union
Certainly her views are left wing. She opposes welfare reform – even the £26,000 limit to Housing Benefit. Indeed she opposes any spending cuts – imagining that however many billions are needed can be effortlessly raised through a Financial Transactions Tax. This opposition to cuts does not seem to apply to Lewisham Council – where she voted in favour of them. She also supported a 1.75% Council Tax rise. But why not a huge Council tax rise, secured by referendum, which would have avoided any cuts?
She also got some publicity for attacking Gordon Brown's friend Charlie Whelan as a bully.
Unite have a series of far left policies. They broadly support a Communist programme – support Cuba, support the Morning Star, nationalise "key industries", civil disobedience, sympathy strikes, class war… It's all there. Does Cllr Foxcroft really agree with all this stuff? Maybe she doesn't. Her husband sells promotions for UKTV. They are home owners.
How much does she earn? Her boss Len McCluskey is on £122,434. The union will pay her much less than that. On the other hand she picks up nearly £10,000 in councillor allowances. I would guess she is probably earning enough to be a higher rate taxpayer – over £41,451. The relevance of this is that Mr McCluskey says he wants more working class MPs. Is Cllr Foxcroft working class?
Mr McCluskey says:
"It is certainly our belief that Labour needs more trade unionists in Parliament, as opposed to seats being handed out on a grace-and-favour basis to Oxbridge-educated “special advisers”, but we make no apology for that."
My own suspicion is that Cllr Foxcroft is not as keen on Marxism as Mr McCluskey. Yet he is still her boss and perhaps it is just a bit awkward for her to break ranks with him. ("Bonasera, Bonasera. What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?" as Don Corleone says in Ken Livingstone's favourite film, The Godfather.) Perhaps Cllr Foxcroft's first loyalty is to the Labour Party rather than to her main employer. Perhaps she believes in the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, and the free enterprise system rather than sharing Mr McCluskey's preference for Marxism. Perhaps, whatever efforts Unite put in to secure her selection, the procedures were entirely proper.
However, wouldn't it be a good idea to check? Possibly to suspend her status as a Parliamentary candidate and to see if there was undue influence? Also to check that she is happy to repudiate the abhorrent extremism that is her union's official policy?