Former children's minister Tim Loughton. Photo: YouTube screengrab
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Former children's minister: "I'll name and shame Commons paedophiles"

Tim Loughton MP is threatening to name past high-profile “suspected paedophiles” in the Commons unless the government launches a full inquiry into historic MP sex abuse cases.

The former children’s minister Tim Loughton is considering using parliamentary privilege – immunity from legal action for a politician speaking in parliament – to “name and shame” high-profile past members of parliament suspected to be paedophiles.

Loughton, writing in the Daily Mail, is responding to the government’s decision not to implement an over-arching inquiry into the historical allegations of a paedophile ring operating in Westminster in the Eighties. A dossier containing the details of the allegations passed on to the then home secretary Leon Brittan has been lost – a revelation about which Loughton says he’s “gravely concerned”.

Both No 10 and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have voiced their belief that it’s best for the police to pursue these fresh inquiries, rather than launching a full inquiry into the alleged past ring of MP paedophiles. Clegg has said the police are in the “best position” to deal with the allegations, rather than the government calling an inquiry.

He added:

My view is, given the very serious criminal nature of these allegations, namely that there was a circle of people who hid what they were doing… abusing vulnerable children in children's homes, the only way to deliver justice, even in the years afterwards, is allow the police to get to the bottom of these things.

A spokesperson for the PM said: “If there are allegations or evidence then people should bring them forward to the appropriate authorities… We are saying very clearly that where there is wrong-doing it is absolutely right it should be the police who look into these matters.”

But Loughton, the Labour MP Simon Danczuk who has been at the forefront of fighting for these investigations, and 130 MPs who have been backing Danczuk's call for a “Hillsborough-style” inquiry, will be disappointed by this response.

The Home Office has until Monday to account for the missing dossier under the instruction of home affairs select committee chair Keith Vaz MP. With this development in sight, and Loughton’s threat to name names, it looks like this story – which has so far remained relatively under the radar – will be significantly bigger next week.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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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.