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Time to stop the secrecy

When this newspaper first wrote about Labour's Falkirk problems, most people believed it raised issues that were confined to one Scottish town in the central belt.

Unite's blatant attempt to help Karie Murphy by recruiting new members seemed suspicious, but no-one predicted the ructions it would cause.

Five months after our first story, it is now one of the major political stories of the year and has presented Ed Miliband with his biggest crisis.

Not only has the row created a standoff between Labour and Unite, the party's biggest donor – but it was followed by the resignation of election co-ordinator Tom Watson and the suspensions of Murphy and local constituency chair, Stevie Deans. More importantly, it seems inevitable that Falkirk will lead to the most radical set of internal reforms since Tony Blair's Clause 4 moment.

The end result will be a redrawing of the historic relationship between affiliated unions and the party. As we reveal today, the fiasco is spilling out into other areas of public life.

According to a Unite official, the union threatened to shut the refinery in Grangemouth unless Ineos rescinded the suspension of Deans, who works at the plant.

Many of the new members recruited by Unite apparently worked for Ineos.

Strike action would have been catastrophic: the plant is one of Scotland's lifelines, and a shutdown would have had costly implications.

This never-ending saga comes back to one key point: Labour's refusal to publish its report into what happened in Falkirk has backfired badly.

It has also undermined Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, whose own party executive has not been given a copy of the report.

Miliband should realise the damage this secrecy is causing and release the dossier as soon as possible.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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