Charles Chauvel inadvertently reinforced for many the belief that Labour is captured by the unions. Karl du Fresne explains why and also how this will likely cause trouble between the Greens and Labour:
In other words, transparency’s all very well when it’s wicked professional lobbyists and corporates who are under scrutiny, but Chauvel thinks people like Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly and secretary Peter Conway – two of the lobbyists outed last week as having swipe cards giving them special access to Parliament – should be allowed to continue flying under the radar. They are, he says, “less sinister” than the other sort of lobbyist. Well, he would say that, given Labour’s need to protect its friends and benefactors in the unions.But hang on. Either we have transparency or we don’t. Chauvel wants us to believe that union lobbyists are all honourable people with unimpeachable motives, so can be relied on to go about their business without scrutiny, while anyone representing business is by definition “sinister” and cannot be trusted. Good luck with that, as they say. He also expects us to assume that all charities, churches and NGOs are by definition beyond suspicion when many of them are highly politicised and should be subjected to exactly the same rules of transparency as everyone else.
The trouble with Chauvel’s panicky back-pedalling is that it immediately creates the suspicion that Labour and the unions have something to hide. The public are not stupid: they will think it very telling that Labour and the unions are the only people baulking at the Walker bill.
It also hints at the tensions that would inevitably arise in a Labour-Greens coalition, where the well-intentioned idealism of Green MPs like Walker would sit very uncomfortably alongside the murky realpolitik practised by Labour.