Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/24119

Posted on 16 December 2016 at 13:42 GMT

Unite general secretary election - fight the Blairites, vote Len McCluskey

Jobs demo in Birmingham called by the Unite trade union , photo Paul Mattsson

Jobs demo in Birmingham called by the Unite trade union , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

The Unite General Secretary election has been brought forward 12 months to run alongside those for the Executive Council which will start in January - the actual ballot will be from 27 March to 28 April.

The Socialist Party is supporting Len McCluskey. Under his leadership, the union has taken a more militant stance with a whole number of disputes. It has been far more responsive to rank and file pressure, particularly in construction, which was once dominated by right-wing officials.

On his watch, no repudiation letters have been issued for unofficial action. Actually, some has been sanctioned, such as on Crossrail in the last few weeks. In the summer, Unite members working on Fawley Oil Refinery took strike action to ensure that migrant workers were paid the agreed rate.

We believe Unite can play a far more leading role in arguing for mass joint strike action to face down Tory austerity. It is supporting the NHS demo on 4 March, exerting pressure on the likes of Unison, the biggest NHS union that disgracefully is refusing to endorse the march.

Gerard Coyne, the union's West Midlands regional secretary has announced that he will challenge Len McCluskey. For the Socialist Party, this election is a fundamental clash about the political and industrial strategy of the biggest union in the country. Coyne is the candidate of the Blairites and behind them the capitalist Establishment, who see the election as an opportunity to strike a blow, not just against Len McCluskey but also Jeremy Corbyn in Labour - "Show me your friends and I'll show who you are."

From the opposite standpoint, they share our view that Labour is now two parties in one and are hell-bent on defeating any attempt to consolidate Corbyn's victory by transforming it into a vehicle for workers.

When launching his candidature, Coyne attacked McCluskey, "I believe they (Unite members) want a general secretary who spends less time trying to run the Labour party and more time looking after their interests." But this 'non-political' line hides his true agenda, which is to bolster the Labour right - the Guardian reports that Coyne wouldn't answer questions on whether Unite would continue to support Corbyn if he became General Secretary.

Len McCluskey, Durham miners' gala 2015, photo Paul Mattsson

Len McCluskey, Durham miners' gala 2015, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

We believe in this election that the left in the union should support Len McCluskey against this right-wing attack. We have had criticisms of Len and will continue to put forward an independent position but the seriousness of this challenge shouldn't be ignored. We do not agree with those on the left who we believe are too dismissive of the right-wing challenge as justification for standing an alternative left candidate. It is a needless risk to threaten to split the left vote and allow Coyne a bigger opportunity to win which would throw the union back.

To meet the challenge, Len should launch an energetic public election campaign with rallies in the main cities to re-state a left programme industrially and politically. Prior to the Labour leadership challenge of Owen Smith, Jeremy Corbyn's leadership had drifted but the whip of counter-revolution ignited a campaign of mass proportions as not just left Labour members but many outside the party realised what was at stake.

Similarly now, Len should follow this example on a platform of no return to partnership with the bosses; co-ordinated action against the Tories, their cuts and anti-union laws; taking on the Blairites in Labour through the union's policy of supporting mandatory re-selection, moved at Unite's policy conference this summer by a Socialist Party member and recommended by the Executive Committee.

He should also champion the motion that was passed at Unite's National Sector Industrial Committee for workers in local government, that calls on Labour councillors (the vast majority of whom oppose Jeremy Corbyn) to move no-cuts budgets in Labour councils.

The Socialist Party has four members on the United Left slate for the EC elections (which also supports Len for general secretary). This could develop the fighting influence we are building within the union. Alongside a decisive defeat of the right wing around Coyne, this should be the basis to move Unite to a more fighting position.


Corbyn can win

The Fabian Society has claimed that the Labour Party could receive as little as 20% of the vote at the next general election.

The Fabians, an affiliated group inside the Labour Party, argue that Corbyn must prepare to form a coalition with the Lib Dems or Scottish National Party in order to get into government.

This is more than just pessimism - it is part of an ongoing campaign to undermine Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership using the idea that he and his policies are unpopular and unelectable.

On the contrary, the programme on which Corbyn ran his leadership campaigns - a 10 an hour minimum wage, investment in public services, rent control and building council housing etc - offers the only chance to win support from the mass of working class people.

A glimpse of this was shown by the huge turnouts to his leadership rallies and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party or signed up to vote for him.

This must be consolidated by turning his programme into Labour's programme, and kicking out the Blairites who stand for exactly the opposite policies.

All those who have backed Corbyn, including Len McCluskey, must stand firm behind this idea.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 16 December 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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






Related links:

Unite:

triangleLow-paid cabin crew protest in middle of 16-day stoppage

triangleMears workers escalate action to all-out strike

triangleVote for action to save Ford plant

triangleConference opens debate on Labour and pledges to fight anti-union laws

triangle'Jubilant' hospital workers strike against poverty pay in east London

Len McCluskey:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

triangleUnions call for action after Grenfell

triangleCorbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

triangleAfter the Unite elections - now turn outwards

Election:

triangleBlairite EU rebellion: no to the bosses' Single Market

triangleSouth-East London Socialist Party: Britain after the election - Socialism back on the agenda

triangleTories may have broken election laws... again

Union:

triangleCourt victory for PCS and all trade unions

triangleStriking Barts health workers show 'fighting trade unionism'

Labour:

triangleSupport Barts NHS striking cleaners and porters!

Right-wing:

triangleWales: Corbyn's left surge refutes right-wing Labour doomsayers

Socialist Party:

triangleLambeth Socialist Party: What is Socialism?

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleBin workers step up action

Cuts:

triangleEducation cuts: Tories buckling under public pressure

Labour Party:

triangleThis bosses' government must go

Fawley:

triangleFawley strike defeats 'race to bottom' exploitation of migrant workers

Local government:

triangleUnison must back Corbyn's pledge to abolish zero-hour contracts with action

Crossrail:

triangleCrossrail action in defence of victimised union rep

Anti-union laws:

triangleKick out the Tories: For a Corbyn-led government

Austerity:

triangleWeakened Tories forced into Northern Ireland abortion u-turn

West Midlands:

triangleTories win West Midlands mayor - the complete failure of the Labour right

Migrant workers:

triangleNo to racist scapegoating: oppose the far right

Militant:

triangleFrom Militant to the Socialist Party - what you thought

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

25/7/17

PCS

Court victory for PCS and all trade unions

19/7/17

Education

Education cuts: Tories buckling under public pressure

12/7/17

Trade unions

The left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

12/7/17

Refugees

G20 betrays refugees created by its own policies

12/7/17

Anti-austerity

This bosses' government must go

5/7/17

Abortion

Weakened Tories forced into Northern Ireland abortion u-turn

5/7/17

LGBT

Pride 2017: we need a fighting, socialist movement for LGBT+ rights

5/7/17

Pay

Public sector wages - Pay up!

5/7/17

Grenfell Tower

Fight establishment's Grenfell insults: no to cover-up, safety for all!

5/7/17

Tuition Fees

Tories' tuition fees wobble: fight for free education!

5/7/17

EU

Blairite EU rebellion: no to the bosses' Single Market

3/7/17

Demo

1 July demo: anger and enthusiasm shows potential mass movement

29/6/17

Ireland

Verdict in Jobstown case - All defendants cleared by jury!

28/6/17

Anti-austerity

Step up the fight to kick out Tories and Blairites

28/6/17

School

Students 'skirt' school uniform issue!

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


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

triangle25 Jul Court victory for PCS and all trade unions

Unite Barts NHS cleaners and porters strike demo July 15

triangle21 Jul Support Barts NHS striking cleaners and porters!

triangle21 Jul Grenfell survivors tell Tories: 'Step down and resign'

triangle20 Jul Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations meeting reveals huge anger...

On the joint Junior doctors and teachers demonstration 26-4-16, photo by Paul Mattsson

triangle19 Jul Education cuts: Tories buckling under public pressure

triangle14 Jul 10% pay increase accompanied by cuts and job losses

triangle12 Jul DWP announces office closures and job losses

More ...

triangle25 Jul Derby Socialist Party: Mother Jones - US labour pioneer

triangle26 Jul Caerphilly Socialist Party: Global socialism - Report from CWI school

triangle26 Jul Hackney Socialist Party: Racism in the US and Britain

triangle27 Jul Swansea Socialist Party: Building a Marxist International

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

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