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Ray Collins is new Labour general secretary

Tony Grew June 13, 2008

The Labour party finally has a new general secretary, months after the last holder of the post resigned amid the scandal surrounding donations.

Ray Collins is currently assistant general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union section of UNITE.

In December he was named the 27th most influential LGBT person in British politics.

Mr Collins was named as the new Labour Party general secretary following a meeting of the National Executive Committee yeserday.

He helped steer the TGWU into a merger with Amicus, creating UNITE, one of the largest trade unions in the country.

Peter Watt resigned as Labour’s general secretary in November 2007 in the wake of the Abrahams scandal after claiming he did not know that third-party donations are illegal.

He had beat Collins, Tony Blair’s choice, to the post in November 2005.

Equity fund chairman David Pitt-Watson was expected to take over as general secretary but despite being urged to do so by the Prime Minister he eventually declined the job.

A wealthy man, it was reported that he feared he could become personally liable for the party’s debts.

Mr Collins, 53, takes the helm as the party is reportedly close to bankruptcy.

In May Electoral Commission figures showed the party was £17.8m in debt.

“I am delighted and proud to have been appointed to this vitally important role by the NEC,” said Mr Collins.

“The Labour Party is a fantastic organisation and I am looking forward to working with members, stakeholders and staff to make sure we are ready to win the next general election.”

Dianne Hayter, Chair of the NEC, said she was thrilled at his appointment.

“Ray brings experience, enthusiasm and excellent organisational, financial and leadership skills to his new role,” she said.

“He is taking on this key role at an important time for the party.

“I look forward to working with Ray as we prepare for future challenges, and making sure that Labour’s values of economic stability coupled with social justice, of action to support families and of substance are put into stark contrast with the shallow salesmanship of David Cameron.”

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