Manning ally: "The antics of Assange ... reflect negatively on us all"

David House, an ally of Private Manning, speaks out against Julian Assange

David House, close friend of alleged Wikileaks source Private Manning and one of the US Government's key witnesses in the grand jury aimed at indicting people involved in the organisation, has launched a forthright attack on Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks who is currently esconsed in the Ecuadorian embassy where he is seeking asylum.

House, who tweets as VoxVictoria, wrote the following (read from the bottom, as ever):

As long as #WikiLeaks remains icon of the Open Government movement, the antics of Assange will continue to reflect negatively on us all. 

As long as #WikiLeaks is controlled by Assange, the shortcomings of Assange's leadership will continue to put WikiLeaks' supporters at risk. 

The alleged actions of Bradley Manning have not been edified by the missteps of #WikiLeaks under the direction of Julian Assange. 

I have and will continue to place foremost priority on the support of Open Government whistleblowers and activists. #WikiLeaks 

Assange deviated from these core values. Either he must be replaced at #WikiLeaks, or WikiLeaks must be displaced within OpenGov movement. 

Please, donate to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund: #Manning #WikiLeaks 

With Assange slightly incommunicado in the embassy, it remains to be seen how this attack on his leadership will go down within Wikileaks and the wider movement.

David House arrives to testify at the Wikileaks grand jury on June 15. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.