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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 March 2017

Battle steps up in Unite general secretary election before start of voting

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

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

Rob Williams, Socialist Party industrial organiser

Voting for the Unite general secretary and executive council election opens on 27 March until 19 April. The Socialist Party is backing Len McCluskey for general secretary and we have four members on the United Left slate - Suzanne Muna (London and Eastern), Jamie Cocozza (Scotland), Jimmy Tyson (Construction) and Kevin Bennett (GEMS).

It is no accident that a week before voting starts, Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson was on Radio 4 attacking Len McCluskey, showing that the anti-Corbyn forces in Unite and Labour are coordinating their attack with the full approval and assistance of the media.

They understand the significance of the Unite election for the struggle in Labour. Behind the right-wing candidate Gerard Coyne are the Blairites and the whole capitalist establishment, who were defeated in last year's attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn.

A Coyne leadership would also represent a retreat from the more fighting stance of the union under Len McCluskey's leadership.

Unite has become more militant and more responsive to rank and file pressure. Len has ended the practice of repudiating unofficial action, which has given confidence for unofficial walkouts, for example on Crossrail. He has consistently supported and resourced workplace battles against exploitative employers.

For example, the union is currently leading up to 3,000 BA mixed fleet cabin crew in a dispute against poverty pay, which has so far taken 26 days of strike action. Last summer at Fawley Oil Refinery strike action ensured that migrant workers were paid the nationally agreed rate.

We believe that the left in Unite should support Len McCluskey. The Socialist Party has disagreed with Len McCluskey and others in Unite's leadership on occasion, and will continue to put forward an independent position. However, it is clear that the union has become stronger, more coordinated, more left-leaning and better organised since Len's election.

It must continue on this trajectory in the interests of Unite members and the wider labour movement. We should not ignore the seriousness of the challenge from Coyne. Nor do we agree with the third candidate, Ian Allinson and his supporters, who dismiss the right-wing challenge.

His campaign represents a needless risk which could split the left vote. In the current climate, any weakening of support for Len McCluskey will be trumpeted as disillusionment with socialist ideas and will be presented as a reaction to Unite's support for Corbyn.

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In The Socialist 22 March 2017:


What we think

Tory splits brought to the surface - Corbyn must go on the attack


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories scrap housing benefit for under-21s

Fight Tory attacks on women and children

Socialists demand reply to Livingstone's smear of Militant

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Northern Ireland: divisive election a warning

Jobstown Not Guilty: defend the right to protest

Netherlands: Heavy defeat for austerity government

Yemen: families left to starve by multinationals


Workplace news and analysis

Merseyrail guard found not guilty of "endangering safety"

End the seven-year public sector pay cap!

Aslef offer: unity needed with the RMT

Battle steps up in Unite general secretary election

Derby TAs' strike suspended after new offer

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

March against racism: Refugee Rights has lively bloc

We'll fight to save our NHS!

Biggest ever protest by Orgreave campaigners

Join the march against NHS cuts and privatisation in Cumbria

Battle for Wallsend walk-in NHS service

East London demonstration against A&E closure

Salford: International Women's Day meeting


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

"After seeing the branch's effect in the community, I decided to join"

'I'm writing this to tell you about the plight of disabled people'

Precise, visceral account of working class heroism

The Socialist inbox


 

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