Excl: participant in Unison election ‘collusion’ revealed as ally of Enfield council leader

enfield road sign

The SKWAWKBOX has carried a series of exclusives on the Enfield council selections scandal, where Council leader Nesil Caliskan is at the centre of an investigation by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) into the ‘irregularities’ that occurred during the selection process to elect Labour candidates, including the deselection of all black candidates.

The beneficiaries of these and other procedural ‘irregularities’ then promptly elected Ms Caliskan as the new council leader, ousting an incumbent popular across the local party. Ms Caliskan and her family are on the right of the party, close to Enfield North MP Joan Ryan who earlier this month lost a vote of no confidence after a membership rebellion. Caliskan’s sister, Eda Cazimoglu, was an unsuccessful candidate on the Labour First/Progress ‘slate’ in the recent NEC elections.

Now, in a new twist to that scandal, the previously-unrevealed identity of a woman involved in a secretly-recorded union meeting slammed by a judge for its manipulation of a major election in the UK’s (now) largest trade union can be confirmed as a close ally of Ms Caliskan on the council.

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Cllr Claire Stewart

Councillor Claire Stewart is standing for a vacant seat on Enfield’s important Scrutiny and Overview Committee. The Committee’s role is to scrutinise the whole of the council’s functions and responsibilities and ensure that proper procedures have been followed. Enfield’s Labour councillors are due to vote on the vacant post tomorrow.

In May 2017, Judge Mary Stacey upheld a complaint against Unison’s former London regional secretary, Linda Perks, who had been secretly recorded urging officials to break union rules in a bid to secure the reelection of Dave Prentice as Unison general secretary.

But until now the identity of the second woman referred to on the tape as “Claire” has remained unknown.

Claire Stewart, who at the time of the Unison leadership election was employed as an organiser in the union’s London regional office, had suggested using a planned lobby of parliament to distract activists into voting the “wrong way”.

Ms Stewart was recorded (17m 47s) saying:

So the two weeks you have mentioned before and after the opening of the ballot would that be a good two weeks to, kind of, tie up the branches to vote the wrong way in this other activity [lobby of parliament] – laughter – if I have one branch vote the wrong way I could get them to convert their intention.

Linda Perks replied: “Yes excellent idea, lobby of parliament – that is a good idea Claire.”

The judge was scathing in her criticism:

The tone of the meeting is utterly partisan – branches that have chosen to support candidates other than Mr Prentis are described as “unfriendly” and all other candidates are referred to as the opposition. At one point [Linda Perks] praises the initiative of one of her staff members [Claire Stewart] for suggesting the lobby of Parliament about the trade union bill be used to “tie up branches to vote the wrong way”.

The judge concluded by saying how distressed union activists would be to discover that they had been misled. She ruled:

The collusion of the Greater London Regional Management Team and other staff was deeply concerning… It is not hard to see how distressing it would be to activists to learn that a rally of parliament against the Trade Union Bill would be used as a device to distract them from the election campaign.

Cllr Stewart is a close associate and supporter of new Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan, who is at the centre of the NEC investigation into the irregularities that occurred during the selection process to elect Labour candidates.

A senior local Labour official told the SKWAWKBOX that the revelations were ‘shocking’ in the context of the party investigation and the local political situation, claiming that a group on the right of the party is ‘drunk on power and out of control’:

These revelations are truly shocking. Joan Ryan, Nesil Caliskan, and their supporters seem drunk on power and out of control. It cannot be right that someone with a record of collusion in electoral malpractice should be appointed to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee. It’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Cllr Stewart declined to put any comment on the record except for the following:

I have put myself forward for a voluntary position to cover for someone who is sick.

Further information:

Transcript of the secretly-recorded Unison meeting

Judge’s ruling

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