Two of the four candidates seeking election as the next General Secretary of Unite the Union have already won enough branch nominations (175) to get on the ballot paper. Branches can add nominations until 7 June. Voting will be between 5 July and 23 August.
Sharon Graham, head of the union’s Organising Department, announced her 175th nomination on 25 May. On 29 May Howard Beckett, head of the union’s Legal Department, announced that he had 231 nominations. Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner, backed by the union’s United Left (UL), had just 120 nominations (as of a tweet on 26 May), while the hard-right candidate Gerard Coyne is rumoured to have around fifty.
The fact that Turner is struggling even to get on the ballot paper highlights the decline of the UL. In the 2017 General Secretary election the UL secured over a thousand nominations for McCluskey. The UL backed the rule-change which increased the number of branch nominations needed to get on the ballot paper from 50 to over 150. The change was designed to exclude rank-and-file candidates. But now its own candidate may possibly fall victim to it...
A hundred of Beckett’s nominations have come from Scottish branches. The union’s Scottish bureaucracy and its fake “Progressive United Left Scotland” (PULS) have clearly delivered for him. Graham’s employees in the Scottish Organising Department must now be regretting the effort they put into building (PULS) over the past four years in order to undermine genuine rank-and-file activists.
With Graham and Beckett competing for the let’s-not-bother-with-the-Labour-Party-vote — both have promised “no more blank cheques” for Labour — even Coyne has been able to say something relatively sensible: “Unite members do better with Labour in government. You won’t see me playing student politics and threatening to pull our funding from the Labour Party.”
That is not all there is to it in the choice Unite members will have to make after 5 July; but on this front Unite members are left with a choice between anti-politics (Graham/Beckett), humdrum politics (Turner) and right-wing politics (Coyne).
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