Peter Hoskin

Charlie Whelan’s role in Labour’s election campaign

Charlie Whelan's role in Labour's election campaign
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If you want a sense of how much work Charlie Whelan and Unite are doing on behalf of Gordon Brown, then I'd recommend you read Rachel Sylvester's column in the Times this morning.  There are the millions of pounds in funding, via the taxpayer, of course.  There's Unite's "virtual phone bank," canvassing votes for Labour.  And then there's Whelan himself – now almost as involved as ever with the Downing Street operation, and "working closely" with Douglas Alexander on Labour's election campaign.  This is, I remind you, the Charlie Whelan who was copied into the Smeargate emails, and whose other indiscretions are better described by Martin Bright and Nick Cohen, here and here.

In many respects, the influence of Unite and Whelan is one of the great unexploded scandals of British politics.  But, with the election so close now, the Tories probably shouldn't spend too much time trying to detonate it.  As with the bullying and the Ashcroft stories, I suspect that voters have more than had their fill of what seem to Westminster-centric arguments – and would rather hear about the actual issues and policies at hand.  That's fair enough.  But it doesn't make any of this ok.