The Tories Unite strategy has been so effective, even Peter Mandelson is peddling it. Led by Mandelson, Labour’s isolated right has questioned Unite’s influence
over candidate selection. James Purnell’s preferred successor, Jonny Reynolds, was omitted from the Stalybridge and Hyde shortlist, compiled by the NEC, which has two Unite members on its board. Mandelson and Purnell have urged Downing Street to reopen the race. For its part, Unite responded. One of its preferred candidates for the seat, Glyn Ford, who failed to make the cut, demanded a right to appeal also.
The Tories’ must be ecstatic. Their strategy, initially conceived to nullify the Ashcroft scandal, is paying unimagined dividends. Brigades of the Labour movement still bray for James Purnell’s blood, but a deep-seated mutual enmity between Mandelson and Whelan, crude personifications of New and Old Labour, lie at the heart of the row. In the dying moments of this parliament, Stalybridge and Hyde has precipitated a skirmish in the coming battle for Labour’s future.