Howard Beckett (pictured, right), head of Unite the Union’s Legal Department, announced on 20 August that he will stand for election as the union’s General Secretary.
In online hustings held in mid-July the millionaire solicitor had sought to win the backing of the United Left, the “Broad Left” in Unite. He lost to Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner (pictured, left).
Beckett whinged that the vote had been marred by procedural deficiencies and irregularities, using the increasingly whacky Skawkbox website as his main media outlet. The United Left provided a detailed rebuttal of Beckett’s complaints.
One condition of seeking endorsement from the United Left to be a General Secretary candidate is agreement to abide by the outcome, win or lose. Beckett’s flagrant breach of that agreement has underlined yet again his lack of integrity, principle and moral scruples.
Beckett’s unbridled careerism, largely built upon fake-left macho posturing, is now splitting the United Left.
237 of Beckett’s 367 votes were provided by the “Progressive United Left Scotland” (PULS), set up by Unite Scottish full-timers in 2016 and run under their patronage ever since. PULS has now publicly backed Beckett’s decision to stand.
Some of PULS’s staunchest and longest-standing supporters in the United Left at all-Britain level, such as Kev Terry and Jayne Taylor, are now posting material on social media suggesting that PULS are a bunch of lying charlatans.
Under United Left rules, Beckett now faces expulsion. In a fit of full-timer-stage-managed fake indignation, Beckett’s supporters will quit the United Left in solidarity with their millionaire martyr.
There is something more serious buried beneath this mutual backstabbing: the need for a rank-and-file candidate to stand for Unite General Secretary — or at least to attempt to win the 150 branch nominations needed to do so — so that the eventual General Secretary election is not a choice between different factions of the Unite bureaucracy.