U.K. Labour Party Conference Under Threat After G4S Boycott

  • Party voted not to use security firm due to Israel links
  • Unions threaten picket to protest alternative provider

Britain’s opposition Labour Party may be forced to cancel its annual conference because it can’t find a security provider that’s acceptable to its membership.

The conference is due to start in Liverpool, north west England, on Sept. 24, with the announcement of the winner of the party’s leadership contest. But it will only be allowed to go ahead if there’s adequate protection for the event, attended by former government ministers and a potential terrorist target.

Last year, Labour’s governing National Executive Committee voted to stop using G4S Plc, which has provided conference security for more than 20 years, because of the company’s activities in Israel. Showsec International Ltd won the contract instead, but the GMB union, one of Labour’s financial backers, objected because Showsec hasn’t signed a formal union recognition agreement.

The GMB said it will demonstrate outside the conference if Showsec provides security. That would mean senior party figures, including leader Jeremy Corbyn, would have to cross a picket line to get in.

Labour then returned to G4S to ask it to help avert the crisis, The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday, citing unidentified people at the company, but executives said it is now too late for it to step back in.

“This is a large, complex event, which we would ordinarily plan up to a year in advance,” Managing Director for G4S Events (UK), Eric Alexander, said in an e-mailed statement. “Security officers need to be cleared and accredited to work, detailed risk assessments made, safety and security plans with the Home Office and local police forces drawn up and supporting logistics, such as security equipment and staff accommodation, put in place.”

There will be one Labour-related meeting taking place in Liverpool in any event. Momentum, the socialist pressure group set up to support Corbyn, is organizing its own event that week, under the title “The World Transformed.”

The Labour Party said it does not comment on commercial negotiations.