Ross Clark Ross Clark

Can Labour be trusted with Britain’s security when it can’t manage its own?

During the Blair years the security guards at Labour party conferences had a reputation for over-zealous intervention – remember the sight of octogenarian Walter Wolfgang being manhandled out of his seat and ejected from the chamber for daring to heckle Jack Straw over the Iraq War? Appropriately enough, under Corbyn, Labour’s conference security has the opposite problem – it seems to have been unilaterally-disarmed. As Guido Fawkes reveals this morning there is a serious possibility that this year’s event, scheduled to take place in Liverpool next month, will have to be cancelled owing to the party’s inability to organise security for the event. The problem goes back to last year when the party’s grandees high-mindedly decided to boycott G4S. Trouble is that the company – in spite of its failures during the 2012 Olympics – is rather a market-leader in covering large events like party conferences and it hasn’t proved easy to find a replacement. Of five firms invited to quote for the job, three said they didn’t want it and a fourth has since withdrawn. The only one which remains in the running is a local firm, Showsec. And Showsec, it turns out, has an even worse reputation with the GMB union than does G4S, being accused of trying to prevent the unionisation of its workforce. GMB has demanded the company, too, be dropped. A message from Labour HQ to Iain McNicol of the GMB reads:

We are therefore in the very difficult position of having to appoint a potentially anti-union organisation to a high profile role at annual conference. We do not have other options to pursue and are under pressure from the Home Office to make an appointment very soon. It must be noted that should we be unable to appoint a security contractor it is within the power of the Home Office/police to stop conference taking place.

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