If you listen closely after the words, “And now over to Unite’s Len McCluskey”, you will hear a distant wailing.
That, my friends, is the sound of innocent Labour poll advantages being brutally and horrifically murdered.
What seems like a simple phrase of introduction is actually a sort of modern day equivalent of Thomas à Becket sounding off about an annoying vicar in the presence of a couple of blokes with swords, the only difference being that ol’ Tommo didn’t actually mean any harm by his oral gesticulations.
It is customary when spats such as the trade union vs Progress hoedown arise to turn a weary eye away from the handbags, and mutter something about needing to "unite around the big issues" or warn of "the dangers of infighting" and how the punters aren’t interested in "petty squabbles". And all of that is true, but the latest bit of muscle-flexing on the parts of the GMB and Unite unions point to something more sinister afoot.
A leaked document purporting to comprise Unite’s “political strategy” last week, suggested that the union “flood” the local constituency Labour parties with Unite members, which would be marshalled by central command, with the aim of delivering the union’s strategy within the party.
I call this sort of thing “doing an Incitatus”. One theory of the Emperor Caligula’s decision to make his horse a senator was not because he was bonkers, but because his nag – Incitatus – would be guaranteed to be a vote for him within a hostile forum.
In these post-toga times, it’s known as entryism, and was the favoured tactic of the Militant Tendency in the 1980s, when their plan was to take over the machinery of the Labour Party from within.
Apart from nearly destroying the Labour Party, and precipitating the breakaway group that later became the SDP, it allowed the party to languish in opposition until the Tonemeister’s crew were elected in 1997.
Given that the Unite document talks of the “bitter disappointment” of the last Labour government, it would seem that languishing in opposition is all part of the game plan. Why compromise your halo by getting involved in negotiation to make people’s lives a little bit better when you can sing songs about the purity of your motives from the sidelines, eh?
I think it’s about more than this, though. The GMB’s desire to oust Progress from the Labour fold on the grounds that they are a “party within a party” looks ludicrous in its hypocrisy given brother union Unite’s apparent aspirations.
Progress is a couple of blokes with a blog, yet the unions have fingers in every financial and political pie baked in the Labour HQ oven.
Getting rid of Progress is about silencing voices of dissent.
I carry no particular brief for the organisation – they turned me down for a job once, the bastards – but on this occasion I’m on the picket line with them, brandishing a placard inscribed with the only quote of Voltaire that anyone can remember.
Just to say, I am a member of Unite. Goddamn, I love my representatives and have pickled my liver with them on many an occasion. They’ve always pulled out all the stops when I’ve needed help, and listened to my wailings.
Frankly, if my branch were in charge of the farm, I’d be proud to call myself a member. They do what the leadership is meant to do: they protect the interests of their members.
But this is not about the union membership, the downtrodden masses. It’s about power and control for its own sake.
Just as I was suspicious that the BA strike (organised by Unite) was less about the workers and more about crowbarring McCluskey into the membership’s subconscious in advance of the general secretary elections, I don’t reckon that this is for our benefit.
Actually, it’s difficult to see who would benefit from Unite’s proposals. Apart from, of course, the barons who appear to want to turn the Labour Party into the last outpost of the union’s public relations team in Westminster.
A more obvious analogy of the Incitatus strategy is to liken this to the Greeks hoving into view with a large gift-wrapped horse for the Trojan kids.
For the time being, I think that we all need to be careful of any passing equine intent on silencing debate and installing its own henchmen in the interests of enforcing the democracy.