Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/648/10674

From The Socialist newspaper, 23 November 2010

McCluskey elected Unite general secretary

Len McCluskey has been elected as the general secretary designate of Unite. He will take over from Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson by the beginning of 2012.

Kevin Parslow

His election and the combined vote for Len and Jerry Hicks are a massive rejection of the right in the union. Almost two thirds of members who voted, in a turnout of about 16%, opted for the left candidates who wanted to fight the Con-Dem government's attacks, and those of the Irish government, where Unite is also organised.

Len said following the declaration: "My first task will be to bring our union together and unite it in a campaign against the devastation the government is unleashing against working people and their communities throughout the land."

This result will be welcomed by socialists throughout the union, the largest in the TUC. The United Left (UL) ran a campaign explaining the importance of getting a left candidate elected. It was never certain that Len would win, given the large number of ballot papers going to inactive and pensioner members who might have received Bayliss's material and seen 'red scare' articles in the press. But Bayliss's anti-strike comments, aired in many papers, generally repulsed union activists and would have been a signal to the government and the bosses that the union would roll over and accept the attacks. A general hatred of the policies of the government and the need for a fightback have led to Len's election.

As general secretary and hopefully with a left executive to be elected next spring, Unite's leadership will now be in a position to align itself with those unions such as PCS, RMT and FBU already in the forefront of attacks and leading struggles. Unite's participation on the 23 October demonstration in London against the cuts was a welcome development and hopefully the shape of things to come. This is the best way to prevent a comeback for the right, who may be down but are not totally defeated. Len and the UL must also consider the union's relationship with New Labour, given some of the comments by Labour spokespersons supporting elements of the government's cuts package.

Jerry's vote should only reinforce the struggle for fighting policies. He gained a slightly smaller percentage of the vote than in last year's Amicus election, although still a good vote. But his result raises the question of how to take the left forward in the union. Those UL supporters who chose to back Jerry were excluded from that organisation for the duration of the election.

So now there is talk of Jerry setting up a new 'network' to rival the United Left. Similarly, many UL supporters are angry that Jerry stood following the hustings from which he walked out and could have jeopardised the election of a left general secretary. Some would like to see Jerrys' supporters excluded permanently from UL.

Socialist Party members feel that both those positions would be a mistake. It would be best for the left in the union if Jerry and his supporters rejoined the UL, put forward socialist policies and demands like the election of officials and for them to receive only a workers' wage, as the Socialist Party has been doing. This would help to consolidate the UL as a body fighting our enemies outside and inside the union. Jerry and Len's supporters should also consider whether it is in the interests of the left to have two competing organisations.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility to create a strong left slate for the executive council elections. UL regions are already selecting territorial candidates and the sectoral and national candidates will be selected at the UL meeting on 4 December. It would be a setback if, having won the general secretary election, two 'left' slates were to appear in some or all constituencies, leading to the election of a right-wing executive by default. That would be an obstacle to the needs of the union's members.

Nevertheless, the election of Unite's first general secretary will be seen as a shift to the left in Unite and the trade unions as a whole; however it must be used to lead the struggle for fighting, socialist policies throughout society. The TUC resolution for co-ordinated action to defeat the attacks would receive a resounding boost if its largest union was actively to implement it.

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


In The Socialist 23 November 2010:


Youth Fight for Education

Youth Fight for Education: No cuts, no fees, save EMA!

No to victimisation, defend student protesters!

Defend university access for all!

Universities occupied over fees and cuts


Anti-cuts campaign

Not one job or one service to be cut

Mass organised action can stop cuts

1,000 march in Gloucester against 'scorched earth policy'

Fighting cuts: A militant stance is what's needed

Profiting from the most vulnerable

Government plans are an attack on council tenants

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

Firefighters on the march

McCluskey elected Unite general secretary


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland in crisis

Scotland and Wales: Don't accept the 'hand you have been dealt'

Cholera epidemic sparks clashes between Haitians and UN troops

Massive food price hikes spell disaster for poorest people


 

Home   |   The Socialist 23 November 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Len McCluskey:

triangleAnti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness

triangleBarts strike - 'Up the ante' if necessary

triangleThree thousand attend Burston strike commemoration rally

triangleStrike together for better pay

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

Unite:

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

triangleGig economy exploiter Uber loses London licence

Election:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/10/17

Cleaners

Justice for Tube cleaners demo

11/10/17

Salford

Salford Unison condemns pay cuts

11/10/17

Royal Mail

CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

11/10/17

Carlisle

Carlisle NHS campaigners hand in petition to MP

11/10/17

Green

Don't wreck our rec! Campaigning to save green space in Standish

11/10/17

Fire

No more fire deaths - ensure safety now!

11/10/17

Cardiff

Cardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg

11/10/17

John McDonnell

Manchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation

11/10/17

Orgreave

Join the Orgreave Halloween rally

11/10/17

Union

Workplace news in brief

11/10/17

Democratic rights

Who's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

6/10/17

Northern Ireland

Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

5/10/17

Runcorn

Too much to cross the Mersey

4/10/17

Royal Mail

Set for national strike action

4/10/17

London

Supporting the general strike in Catalonia

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive 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...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle16 Oct Teesside Socialist Party: After the party conferences

triangle17 Oct London: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2