Labour told to seek more 'experts in life'

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Labour Editor

The Parliamentary Labour Party is full of "luvvies", lawyers and economists who know little or nothing about life, according to the leader of one of Britain's largest unions.

The Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union is among the party's most loyal affiliates. But Davey Hall, recently elected president in succession to the right-winger Bill Jordan, has urged the Labour leadership to attract potential MPs who are more in touch with ordinary electors.

According to union sources, Mr Hall's remarks - at the AEEU women's conference in Eastbourne yesterday - were not only a reference to Tony Blair's arts world devotees like Lord Attenborough and Barbara Follett, but also to a record of potential MPs known as "Tony's List".

This is said to be a catalogue of prospective candidates who would be loyal to the Labour leader, but union officials say it has superseded "Emily's List" - a roll call of women being groomed and pushed to enter parliament. Mr Hall told delegates: "It is crucial that our political representatives are in touch with the people that put them in parliament. Of course we need experts in economics and experts in law, but above all we need experts in life."

The speech was also targeted at Michael Wills, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, Labour's treasury spokesman. Also a friend of Peter Mandelson, MP for Hartlepool and Mr Blair's public relations guru, Mr Wills has since become a television producer. More importantly for the union, he beat the shop steward Jim D'avila, an AEEU candidate, to become parliamentary candidate for Swindon North amid claims of ballot irregularities.

Mr Hall is angry about the treatment of Mr D'avila, who took legal action over alleged fraud in the selection.

Labour's national executive voted against a new election and will choose the prospective MP from the five original candidates.