Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 October 2010

Unite general secretary election: Right wing candidate on another planet

Backed by Murdoch's press and somehow able to fund full-page adverts in newspapers, it's not surprising that Les Bayliss, right-wing candidate for Unite general secretary, condemns strike action, particularly that of the BA cabin crew recently. In an interview with the Guardian he said the BA dispute: "Demonstrated that the union militancy that characterised the 1970s and 1980s did not work... It was like looking at an episode of Life on Mars."

Kevin Parslow

But it's Bayliss who must be living on another planet if he thinks the trade union movement can stand idly by and watch hundreds of thousands of jobs go in the Con-Dem assault on the working class. It would be dangerous to immobilise the largest union in Britain at this crucial time for our class. That makes it necessary to vigorously campaign for the United Left candidate Len McCluskey as the first general secretary of the 1.5 million-member union.

There is clear support for Len in the union's ranks. In nominations he won by far the most, 829 branch and workplace nominations, compared to 214 for Bayliss, 137 for Jerry Hicks and 96 for Gail Cartmail. But victory cannot be guaranteed as it is clear that Bayliss does not appeal to the activists but is attempting to win over the more inert members who are not involved in day-to-day struggles.

That is why Socialist Party members have warned that, despite his radical programme in this election, we cannot support Jerry Hicks in this first-past-the-post election. Jerry is putting forward, amongst other policies, the ideas of the election of union officials and a workers' wage for them. The Socialist Party supports these demands but we fight for them in the union's structures and the United Left organisation within the union. Socialist MPs implemented this policy in the 1980s and early 1990s.

On the other hand, Len has raised the Liverpool struggles of the 1980s and the poll tax campaign as examples of how Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose government in the 1980s was far stronger than the current Con-Dem coalition, could be forced to back down and even to resign by mass struggles of our class.

The danger is of Jerry's intervention splitting the left vote and letting in Bayliss. Jerry won a very credible 40,000 votes in last year's Amicus election but Bayliss's sponsor, retiring joint general secretary Derek Simpson, got 60,000! Bayliss has support in the ex-T&G side too. So socialists have to battle to ensure that the right wing is removed from power in the union.

But socialists will not give Len or Jerry a blank cheque. Neither supports disaffiliation from the Labour Party, but even Len has been forced to say that if his proposal to increase resources into the party doesn't work, he will have to consider another strategy!

Extra 'resources' can only mean human ones, as the union has thrown millions of pounds down the Labour Party drain, so where will he find new members? Not amongst workers disgusted by the New Labour government or by Labour councils carrying out cuts.

Despite Ed Miliband being elected as Labour leader with the votes of trade unionists, it is already clear that he is distancing himself from the unions' demands. He and many other Labour MPs were absent from the vote on John McDonnell's private member's bill to eradicate technicalities as a reason to thwart strike action.

Whoever is elected general secretary of Unite now will face a period of struggles on the industrial and political scenes. This will put enormous pressure on all union leaders to deliver and fight, therefore the prospect of having a left union leader elected is important.

Unite members' participation on the demos on 23 October was welcome and working with the other left-led unions will be important in the battle against the cuts. Only a victory for Len McCluskey could begin to move Unite in this direction.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 27 October 2010:

Anti-cuts campaign

Stop cuts through mass action

Thousands march against cuts

20,000 march in Edinburgh against cuts

Wales says: don't break the poor

Northern Ireland: build a new party

Police attack Bristol demonstration

Wave of protests against Con-Dem cuts

Join the protests

Socialist Students

Organise to stop education cuts!

Youth Fight for Jobs and Socialist Students day of action

Youth Fight for Jobs conference - 4 December

Step forward for TUC youth unemployment demo

Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010: Weekend of discussion and debate 6-7 November

Socialist Party feature

Mass action urgent against programme for poverty

Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing cuts will mean more evictions and social cleansing

Axeman Osborne slashes disabled people's benefits

Government bludgeons workers' pensions

How the rich beat the taxman

On your bus, IDS!

Bolton: Police brutality exposed

Franchising torture

Socialist Party workplace news

Victory to London firefighters!

BA bosses try to control union

Disaster for local government

Unite general secretary election: Right wing candidate on another planet


Home   |   The Socialist 27 October 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action

triangleBin strike: council humiliated in court battle - but war isn't over yet


triangleNasty party out the Tories

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance


triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories torn - bin them now


triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

Len McCluskey:

triangleAnti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni



PCS ballots members on the pay cap


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice